How to Answer the Question, "Why Do You Want to Be a Doctor?"

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published April 25, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

If you're applying to medical school, you may partake in an admissions interview. The interview helps medical schools determine if you're a good fit. One of the most important questions the interviewer may ask is why you chose this career path, so knowing how to answer effectively can improve your chances of being accepted. In this article, we discuss why medical school interviewers ask, "Why do you want to be a doctor?", explain how to answer this question, give you tips for preparing for your interview, and offer example answers to help you prepare yours.

Related: Interview Questions for School: What They Are and Examples

Why do medical school interviewers ask, "Why do you want to be a doctor?"

Medical school interviewers typically ask the question, "Why do you want to be a doctor?" to assess applicants' knowledge and passion for the health care industry. They want to make sure the applicant has a strong motivation for helping people, for example. This can also simply help them get to know the applicant better in seeing how the applicant responds to pointed questions.

Related: 5 Steps to Become a Doctor

How to answer, "Why do you want to become a doctor?"

Preparing a potential answer to this question before your interview can help you feel more calm and confident. Examining yourself, your experience, and your passion can help you create an appropriate response to this question. Here are some steps you can follow to accomplish this:

1. Consider your primary motivations for studying medicine

Start by considering what motivated you to start studying medicine. Everyone is going to have their own answer, but admissions officers typically just want to see if you're passionate about your work and want to become a doctor for a good reason. One of the most common reasons is the ability to help people. This is the main focus of a doctor's career, so it's a good motivating factor. Focus on highlighting your passion in your response, and avoid discussing rudimentary topics such as the role's salary. Giving an honest response about your motivations can help you make a good impression on the interviewer.

Related: What Should I Go to School For? (With Career Options)

2. Tell a story that explains when you first wanted to become a doctor

Once you determine what your motivation is for becoming a doctor, try to link that reason with a personal story. This can make your answer seem more honest. It can also help the interviewer emotionally connect with you and get to know you better, which can create trust and a sincere bond, improving your chances of being accepted.

Think of any times you had an experience with doctors or other health care professionals. For example, you may want to share a personal experience if you or your family member had extended treatment from a doctor that influenced your decision to pursue this career path.

3. Discuss future opportunities you want to pursue

Include any details about your future career goals to show the admissions officer you've thought about your career path. Consider mentioning a desire to improve as a doctor in a specific way. For example, you may be interested in learning more about why your community has a higher rate of diabetes than surrounding communities. Discussing your future goals and the opportunities you want to pursue can highlight your passion for the health care industry. It can also show the admissions officer that you plan to achieve various goals while attending their school and after graduation.

Related: How Long Does It Take to Become a Doctor? (With Job Info)

4. Highlight your knowledge and expertise

Finally, complete your answer by highlighting your current knowledge and expertise. Mention skills you have that medical schools typically look for, such as critical thinking or communication skills, and times you've used these skills successfully. You can then talk about the knowledge you already have and your desire to further your learning. This shows the interviewer you're passionate about continuing your education and growing as a doctor.

Tips for preparing for your medical school interview

To help you prepare for your medical school interview and improve your chances of being accepted, here are some tips to consider:

  • Research the school. Start preparing for your interview by researching the school and determining why you applied to attend. This can help you easily answer questions like, "Why did you apply to our school?"

  • Prepare your answers. While researching, look for potential questions the interviewer may ask you beyond why you want to be a doctor. Then prepare potential answers for all of them so you can already know what to expect.

  • Hold a mock interview. Consider holding a mock interview with a family member or friend, getting them to ask you questions and provide feedback. This can help you improve your answers and the way you act in the interview, such as using the right volume and speed.

  • Dress professionally. The interview is your chance to make a good first impression and a large part of that is the way you present yourself. Pick out a professional outfit you feel comfortable in so you aren't adjusting it throughout the interview.

  • Arrive early. Another way to make a good first impression is to arrive early for your interview. This also shows you have good time-management skills and are motivated for the day's tasks.

Example answers for, "Why do you want to be a doctor?"

To help you prepare for your medical school interview and think of a response for this important question, consider the following example answers:

Example 1

"When I was younger, I had an older sister who was pregnant. There was so much joy shared between our family that we couldn't wait to welcome our little new family member. A few weeks before she was due, a problem arose, and my sister had to be rushed to the hospital. There was a complication with her pregnancy, putting her and her baby's lives at risk. The doctors taking care of her made the decision to deliver the baby early, saving my sister's life. Thankfully, they both fully recovered and are living healthy lives.

This situation exposed me to the possibility of loss at a young age. I was so fascinated and focused on what needed to be done to save them that I went to the library to learn more about the condition. I wanted to know everything about pregnancy and potential complications. This focus developed into a passion, as I wanted to work toward helping other women and their babies. The doctors who saved my sister's and niece's lives inspired me that day and spurred my fascination for medicine."

Example 2

"When I was in high school, my freshman year biology teacher taught us a procedure to determine the type of blood for a sample. She taught us about all the differences of the biological makeup for each type and that when we add a certain liquid, they react differently, showing us the blood type to which they belong. Each step intrigued and fascinated me so much that I could have spent the rest of the day in that class. This led to my interest in the topic of blood-borne pathogens and the medical field in general.

That class developed my passion for science, especially biology. Not only do I want to conduct more research, but it would be rewarding knowing that my efforts could help other people and make life better for the many patients I hope to treat."

Example 3

"Being in the medical field is a family tradition. Both my mother and father are doctors in different fields. As a young child, I admired the profession but wasn't sure it was a good match for me. Eventually, as I got older, my father took me to work, and I loved what I saw. It was enjoyable to see my father helping people, and how his patients valued his commitment to them. The attention, care, and advice my father gave were truly amazing to see, and watching him in action inspired me to follow this career path.

After that, I looked for any opportunity I could to volunteer in the medical community. I started by volunteering at blood drives and helping register people for the flu vaccine. I also took CPR and first responder classes and volunteered for those positions at community events and summer camps. I'm passionate about helping people and being able to continue the work my parents have been doing their entire careers."

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