Why and How Medics Should Think Beyond Medicine
Updated: Nov 15, 2020
Often you tend to hear medical students say that they are focused solely on studying Medicine and “have wanted to be a doctor forever”. There is often a look of surprise when anyone suggests a post-degree career outside of healthcare. Which is understandable when you realise you’re going to be studying such a rigorous degree for a large part of your life; tunnel vision begins to kick in. You start to forget about the many other routes available to you and surround yourself with “everything Medicine”. For many, this traditional route is justified, but are you selling yourself short by ‘just’ graduating as a doctor?
As many of us are aware, the study of Medicine is not limited to Biochemistry, Physiology and Anatomy, but also importantly encompasses human behaviour. This exposure does not only give medics a platform to fix medical problems but also one where they can provide a unique perspective on global issues. Learning how humans interact and behave can equip future medical professionals with a high level of emotional intelligence. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen healthcare ‘entangled’ with social and political matters showing the increasing need for medical students to think laterally and be educated on critical social topics to be modern-day doctors of tomorrow. With the constant influx of new developments in technology and Politics alike, there is a growing need for future doctors to think beyond the stethoscope and act as advocates for modern science.
Here are four ways that you can use to start thinking beyond Medicine.
During the lockdown, I decided to complete virtual internship experiences with the Bright Network in Technology and Business, Operations and Management. Upon speaking to representatives from firms such as Google, Accenture and Goldman Sachs, I began to see how the corporate sector is proactive in solving customer problems. I instantly drew parallels with the healthcare system, and how we meet patient needs but also saw the unique opportunity for medics to learn macro skills such as management, innovation and leadership. Many shy away from the corporate world due to its profit-centred motivations, but there is a lot that can be learnt and brought back to healthcare to influence patient care on a larger scale. To learn these macro skills, I would recommend platforms like InsideSherpa, Coursera, Skillshare and Future Learn, where you can do flexible courses in a range of industries and get certificates.
LinkedIn is a brilliant social media platform where there is a short supply of medics, probably due to us having a guaranteed job. It’s an excellent way to build meaningful relationships with a range of different professionals and also to learn how people in your field are adding value. It is essential to recognise that there are other opportunities for you to dive into and actively dive into them. Try to build a network around these opportunities, keep and enrich it as you would with your medical colleagues.
Podcasts are a great way to begin expanding your horizons. My personal favourites are
“Big Picture Medicine” and "Scrubbed In". “Big Picture Medicine” is a podcast that delves
deeper into the “future of medicine” and interviews the “trailblazers who are shaping it”.
It’s a great way to pick up on gems dropped by doctors who are more than just their title
but have been successful in other fields. “Scrubbed In” is a friendly podcast hosted by
two junior doctors in the UK (Dr Abdul Rahyead and Dr Ahamodur Choudhury). Both
discuss their journey from medical school to becoming doctors and also the valuable
lessons they picked up along the way. A particular episode that covers how to think and
act beyond medicine is “Episode 8: Tips on How to Make your £9,000/Year Degree
For those not aware, intercalation is an additional year of study on top of your Medicine
degree programme where medics can get another degree in a range of courses.
Intercalation is inevitable for most, but in some medical schools, it is optional. However,
it acts as a brilliant opportunity to hone in on your interests outside of Medicine and
develop it into a strong academic standing (many courses give the option to obtain a
Masters in Science or Masters in Research). Hence, it is a way where you can think
beyond Medicine and discover fields that pique your interests.
To conclude, thinking beyond Medicine can provide new insights for medical students and potentially foster innovation. Actively removing yourself from the ‘bubble of medics’ may also birth a new creative outlet. It is also vital to understand that the ample skillset obtained from studying Medicine can be applied not only in healthcare but to tackle the significant issues of today.
Written by Adewale Kukoyi