Answering “why do you want to become a doctor?” is essential, but difficult during medical school interviews or when writing a medical school personal statement. I'll share how I answered this common medical school interview question, plus tips on how to prepare for it and ace your interview.

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Article Contents
5 min read

How to Answer “Why Do You Want to Become a Doctor?” How to Structure Your Answer to “Why Do You Want to Become a Doctor?” How NOT to Answer “Why Do You Want to Become a Doctor” Why Do You Want to Become a Doctor? How to Brainstorm Your Answer Why Do You Want to Become a Doctor? Sample Answer FAQs

How to Answer “Why Do You Want to Become a Doctor?”

I was asked “Why do you want to be a doctor?”, in pretty much every medical school interview I went to. This is the ultimate ice-breaker that can come up in medical school interview questions. It’s a question that’s so simple on the surface but can become painfully obvious to the interviewer if you don’t give an authentic, convincing, and genuine answer.

So, let’s get into the mind of an interviewer for a second and think about why someone is asking this question, and what information they are hoping to get from it:

  1. When someone is asking this question, they want to know your personal journey and how you decided that medicine is the career path you want. They want to know what your initial and subsequent influences were for you to choose medicine.
  2. They also want to know your inner motivation for pursuing a career in medicine, and that these motivations are appropriate/suitable for a career in medicine. Also, what impact do you wish to make in the field?
  3. Do these influences and inner motivations for pursuing a career in medicine come across as genuine or are they cliché and don’t seem authentic?

I kept all these considerations in mind when coming up with my answer for this question. Truthfully, it took writing my personal statement and a lot of internal self-reflection to be able to answer this question well. I had to personally start from the beginning at what was my early inspiration for medicine.

I created a timeline of my early inspiration and then asked myself: what is the thread that led me to the next experience? What did I learn from that experience? Which of these experiences contributed the most in my journey toward medicine? I drafted little stories after each clinical, volunteer and research experience in my CV to see if there were some underlying threads and themes. 

How to Structure Your Answer to “Why Do You Want to Become a Doctor?”

1. Share Your Early Influences Towards Medicine

So, to answer the first consideration listed above: I want you to ask yourself, what was your journey to medicine. What were those early or initial influences for you?

For some it can be parents or other family members in the field or medicine for others, it could be themselves or a family member having gone through an illness and seeing how a physician helped them navigate this. For others, it could be an interest in the sciences or the human body. I would try your best to identify what that is for you. I asked myself when did first have an awareness of the field of medicine and worked from there.

2. Discuss How Your Interest in Becoming a Doctor Evolved

Now ask yourself, how did these influences evolve over time? What experiences did you accumulate that shaped this desire to pursue a medical career?

3. Conclude with Your Mission Statement for Wanting to Become a Doctor

Then finally, I would encourage you to end with a mission statement about what your impact in the field of medicine will be. This can be your take-home message to the interviewer about what sort of role you might fulfill in their medical school, or even in the medical community at large. This will also answer the second consideration above,: which is what are your motivations for pursuing a career in medicine?

Try to do this in 1 to 2 sentences as concisely as possible.

How NOT to Answer “Why Do You Want to Become a Doctor”

So far, I went over how to answer this question. Let’s also go over how NOT to answer this question, or what to avoid when answering this question.

Don’t Read From Your CV

The first thing I would avoid is to regurgitate your entire medical school resume or CV. Be selective about which experiences were impactful to you in deciding you wanted to go into medicine.

A way you can determine which experiences to include in your answer is: have one that is the initial influence, then have 2 or 3 experiences that show how that influence evolved. It can be an impactful course, tutoring job, research project, volunteer experience or clinical experience. It can be any of the extracurriculars you’ve spent significant time in. Then try to end with something that solidified your interest in pursuing the career and your overall mission statement.

Don’t Let Your Motivation for Becoming a Doctor be About Someone Else

The next thing I would avoid in your answer is anything along the lines of pursuing medicine because you want to carry on a legacy, or because your parents told you to.

It’s okay to say that your parents were an initial influence, but it’s important to convey how you arrived at this decision for yourself through your own personal exploration.

Don’t Start with a Cliche

Another thing you want to avoid are cliché’s like “I want to go into medicine to help people.” The reason this is cliché is because people in many professions “help people” including teachers, financial consultants, engineers etc.

Distinguish why you want to be a doctor specifically. Somethings that doctors do that some of these other professions don’t is have a DIRECT impact on someone’s health and a deep knowledge about the human body. I would weave this in your answer, especially if you are making the jump from another health profession such as nurse to doctor or PA to MD

Want more tips on how to answer this question? Watch this!

Why Do You Want to Become a Doctor? How to Brainstorm Your Answer

Taking everything we’ve talked about up until now into account, we now can start looking at how you can start thinking about your answer “why do you want to become a doctor?”. Your reason for wanting to become a doctor may jump out at you right away, crystal clear. Or maybe it was a series of choices or events in your life which led you to an interest in medicine. Regardless of where you fall, if you don’t have a ready answer, it’s time to dig deep and start asking yourself some self-reflective questions.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself to get started on creating your personal narrative:

  • What were the defining moments in your life?
  • What were your early experiences with the medical profession? Which ones made an impression on you?
  • When was the moment you decided to apply to medical school? What spurred your decision?
  • Is there someone in your life who inspires you? Why?
  • What qualities do you have that you think would make a good doctor?
  • What started your curiosity or interest in medicine?
  • What experiences do you have that have grown your interest in medicine?
  • What about the medical profession most appeals to you? Why do you want to become a doctor over another related profession?

Why Do You Want to Become a Doctor? Sample Answer


1. How do I answer “why do you want to become a doctor?”

To answer this interview question can be tricky, since it is open-ended and everyone’s answer will be different. To answer it, you need to identity the primary reason why YOU want to become a doctor and how you came to this realization.

2. Why do medical school interviewers ask this question?

Medical school interviewers ask this question because they want to get to know you on a deeper level, but they also want to know your motivations for pursuing a career in medicine. They want to admit students who have a genuine, passionate interest in medicine. 

3. What are some good reasons for becoming a doctor?

Some good reasons for becoming a doctor include helping others, of course, and there are many professional benefits of being a doctor. Medicine is also a diverse, stimulating and interesting field which is constantly evolving and has many career avenues for practitioners to explore. 

4. What is a good answer to this interview question?

A good answer to this interview question will be different for each applicant, but a strong answer will be genuine, self-reflective, well-structured and passionate. Present your personal reasons for pursuing medicine as a career. Use a personal narrative to explain what has drawn you towards medicine.

5. Does my answer to this interview question matter?

Yes, your answer to this question is extremely important. Medical school interviewers are expecting a strong and clear answer. Any uncertainty or insincere reasons you give for wanting to be a doctor may lead to you being rejected as a candidate.

6. How do I structure my answer to this med school interview question?

Start by sharing what sparked your initial interest in medicine, then explain what you did to deepen your interest in becoming a doctor. Finally, explain what the defining moment was or what solidified your decision to become a doctor.

7. Who can help me prepare for my med school interviews?

There are many resources to help you prepare for medical school interviews. One of the best ways is to use mock medical school interviews, as they are the closest simulation to the real deal. You can also seek help from medical school admission consultants, who can give you personalized feedback on your interview answers and interview performance.

8. What should I avoid in my answer to “why do you want to become a doctor?”

Avoid naming money, prestige or job security as reasons why you want to be a doctor. If your parents were doctors or pushed you to become a doctor, this will not be viewed as a good reason by admission committees, either.

9. What are the 3 most important qualities of a good doctor?

There are many qualities that make a good doctor, but above all, doctors need to be excellent listeners and communicators and empathetic and caring to their patients. Doctors need to be advocates for their patients, be able to work well as part of a medical team, and have a desire for lifelong learning.

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting

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