“So what do you do at uni?”
“I’m studying medicine.”
“Oh wow, you’re going to be loaded when you qualify, doctors make so much money!”
If I had £1 for every time someone has said something along those lines to me, I wouldn’t have to wait to be qualified to “start rolling in the cash,” I’d be pretty rich now. But what they don’t know is that doctors don’t actually earn as much as people think.
Junior doctors start on about £22,000 in foundation year 1, then move to just over £28,000 in year 2. Doctors in specialty training start on £30,000 and can go up to £69,000, while consultants can earn a basic salary of between £75,000 and £101,000 per year. Finally salaried GPs who are part of a CCG earn between £54,000 to £82,000.
“But that is a lot of money!” Yes at first glance it does look like that, but when you think of how overworked doctors are, the stress, pressure and long hours, and also the medical school debt, costs of studying and paying for exams to specialise- oh yes, the studying never ends, and there’s no guarantee you’ll pass first time, so retaking costs even more money- as well as GMC fees and training fees and registration fees, the pay doesn’t actually seem like much anymore.
What a lot of doctors also struggle with is the balance between having a family and advancing in their careers. With long hours, having to move a lot as junior doctors and the continuous studying to specialise, settling down is something that usually comes later on, which is tougher for women, as pregnancies in older age have more complications. So as someone who would very much love a family one day (God willing), there is no salary big enough to make up for this.
“Then why are you doing medicine, Tai?” Because I love it! I’ve explained here, but to reiterate, the chance to do so much good, and make a difference in people’s lives in some way, is what motivates me. Yes, I have days that I feel overwhelmed with work and go to my “unhappy place,” but thinking of how what I’m learning now could help someone in the future, is what encourages me to keep going, and carry on pushing myself. And I LOVE what I’m doing! It’s hard, true, but I feel such joy when I understand things, and it really is the best feeling. That, and not money, is why I am studying medicine.
Everyone should do what they love and no one has the right to criticise it because they don’t see monetary gain. This is something I feel very strongly about, as it hits a bit close to home. My sister is brilliant, better than me in so many ways, and she is considering teaching for a bit when she completes her French degree. I’m blessed to come from a very understanding family, as my mum and dad aren’t the stereotypical “pushy African parents;” they let us do what we want. However, we do have family friends who seem to think that my sister’s career choice is a poor one, because they reckon she should go into something like banking, “where there’s money.” They think so low of teachers and this really infuriates me, because how can they not see how important good teachers are? Good teachers are the driving force behind many successful people today- all it takes is someone to encourage and believe in you, and you can achieve your potential, and that’s what the best teachers do! Teachers are really under-appreciated in society; they do so much, and the best ones deserve more praise, because the impact they make in the lives of their students really is something. And I truly believe my sister will be a GREAT teacher.
So what am I trying to say? Yes, we live in a world where money is needed to survive, but that shouldn’t stop you from doing what you love. Maybe I’m naive and getting older will make me “wake up to reality,” as many of our family friends seem to think, but today, on the 28th of January 2015, I’m saying that I believe money isn’t everything, and I will never do any job or go into a career that I’m not passionate about. What good is it for someone to gain the world and yet lose or forfeit their very self?