Certain things should be obvious to the admission committee members. Interviewing for a spot at a med school, each and every student dreams of helping people, working in healthcare, and earning big along the way. You are still young, your priorities can certainly shift, and talking about a specialization you want to pursue in seven years from now, or about a particular place where you’d like to work once you finally earn the coveted M.D. degree, is by all means a pure speculation… Yet in nine out of ten med school interviews, you will get this question. So how should you deal with it?

First of all, you do not necessarily have to stand out with your answer. It is fine saying the same thing (or a similar one) like many other students. At the end of the day, all of you want to study at med school, earn the M.D. degree, and work in healthcare. It is logical that your answers will be similar. But you can still do a few things to improve your chances of outclassing the other applicants, and getting accepted to the study program. We will look at them right now.

Let’s start with 7 sample answers to the question. I included some unconventional answers in my selection, just to give you an idea of different things you can focus on while trying to make an impression on the admission committee. You will find further notes and explanations below the list of answers.


7 sample answers to “Why do you want to be a doctor?” interview question

  1. I have always felt the calling to help people, and from all professions I find the job of a doctor the most fitting choice for my personality, strengths, and intelligence. What’s more, I am lucky enough to witness how my uncle, an ophthalmologist, makes a positive difference in the life of his patients, helping them to improve their vision dramatically, and return to normal ways of life. He’s been an inspiration for me, and one of the reasons why I decided to pursue a career of a doctor.
  2. I just feel that the health of our population is in catastrophic condition. Two out of three adults are either overweight or obese, and more than 50% of children suffer from diseases of civilization. People are addicted to drugs and sleeping pills, and I really feel that the survival of our specie is in danger. I would like to contribute to some positive changes at this front. Not sure yet how I can do it, but I am sure that an M.D. degree, and the connections I will make while studying at the med school, will help me to achieve my goal. That’s the main reason for my career choice.
  3. I want to be a doctor because I dream of running my own plastic surgery clinic one day. It is an ambitious goal, for sure, but why not to dream big while we are still young? I have an eye for detail, and see a huge market potential in my city. I’d love to make this dream come true, build a brand for myself, and help people look younger than they really are. Needless to say, I am still young, and my priorities may change, with everything I will experience at the med school. As for now, however, this is my goal and the main reason why I opted for med school studies.
  4. I hope to become a doctor to be able to join one of the NGOs working in the Middle East, treating poor people and victims of war conflict. Though I’ve been living in the US for 20 years now, I have never forgotten my roots, and would like to help where help is most needed, once I am qualified to work as a doctor. Obviously I can theoretically go there right now as a volunteer. If I did so, however, my impact would not be as big as the one I could have as an M.D. in the future.
  5. To be honest, I seek prestige and recognition. At the end of the day, life is a competitive affair. Everyone strives to earn big, have a great lifestyle, own big house, take care of a nice family–or of a couple of lovers. I want to be honest with you, and avoid the trash-talk of most other candidates. Sure enough, I see the meaningful purpose in this profession, but so do I see it in social work, or in teaching for example. Compared to teachers or social workers, however, doctors, and specialists in particular, can earn three to five times more money each year. And that’s no small difference…
  6. It is quite a long story. When I was young, I had terrible problems with my lungs, and was hospitalized each year for almost three months. It was extremely difficult to bear with it, skipping school, not being able to participate in outdoors activities, and so on. And the projection was not good–doctors back home said I’d struggle all my life. But then my parents discovered a pulmonary specialist in a Swiss clinic, we traveled there, and I undergone an experimental therapy combined with a lung surgery. Miraculously, six months after the surgery, my lungs were back to full capacity, and the problems have never returned. This doctor had such a profound impact on my life. He is my inspiration, and the reason why I want to be a doctor. I also want to help young people to regain their hope, and resume normal ways of living, after they’ve been struck with some terrible illness.
  7. To be honest, at the moment I do not really know. My goal is to work in healthcare, perhaps even in medical research, because I know that being healthy is the most important thing, and nothing else comes even close to it. But I am still young, and I look forward to meet like-minded intelligent people at the med school, explore different opportunities, and later decide what exactly I want to do with my life and professional career.


The more specific you are, the better

Try to think about yourself in ten years from now. Dare to dream. Imagine what you’d love to do, where you’d love to work, how you’d like to specialize, what impact you’d like to have in the local community, or in the world.

Come up with some vision, a meaningful one, and present it as your main driving force, the reason why you opted for difficult studies at a med school. That’s the way how to impress the admission committee members, and perhaps say something else than the majority of applicants will say.

Needless to say, you do not have to attain this vision in the future. You even do not have to follow it. People change, and so do their priorities. You may dream of something different in four years from now, or even in four weeks from now. When interviewing for a place at a med school, however, having a vision will certainly help you make an impression on the people from med school.

Brutal honesty can do wonders, especially if you have nothing to lose

You may find yourself in a variety of situations in the interviews. Maybe you did not have the very best GPA, or something else didn’t go that well in your application process. In every interview there are some favorites, but you certainly do not belong to the group. They still invited you for the interviews, but you are more of an underdog, someone who can surprise them positively and perhaps win their favor, but that’s all you can hope for, considering your starting position.

In such a case, it makes sense experimenting with unconventional answers. Because saying, more or less, the same thing as candidates with much better academic record will say, isn’t going to take you anywhere.

Interesting attitude is going for brutal honesty. Why not saying that you want to earn BIG, buy a nice holiday villa, and make impression on the most beautiful men/women, being a respected and recognized doctor in the area? In reality many people dream exactly about these things, but they are afraid to admit it, either to themselves, or the admission committee.

Maybe you can be the only truly honest applicant in the interviews? It doesn’t mean that you want to be the doctor only to make a lot of money. Sure enough, you see the meaningful purpose in the work, and whatever. But your primarily reason to go for this hard study program is to belong to the upper class one day, earning big, and enjoying the possibilities the money provide…


Ready to answer this one? I hope so! But it isn’t the only difficult question you will face in your med school interview. Check also 7 sample answers to other tricky questions:

Matthew Chulaw
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