Very few students of Medicine dare to openly question their choice of study. Their environment (other students, friends and family) explicitly or implicitly reminds them that they are among the ‘lucky ones’, that they have ‘got it made’, that they are ‘allowed’ to become doctors - an important job. But there are still plenty of students at the School of Medical Sciences who are not happy with their choice of study, be it at the start, halfway through, or near the end of their studies.
There is also a large group of students who doubt their choice of specialization after they have achieved their diploma in general practice (basisarts) and the specialized internship (semi-artsstage - SAS) in the third year of their Master’s programme. There is common habit among Master’s students to pretend confidence with regard to the choice of specialization. This often makes those students with doubts even more uncertain: “All my fellow students know exactly what they want to do and they keep asking me: ‘And you? Do you know what you want to do?’It drives me mad.”
As student advisors, we are familiar with most problems to do with doubts about the choice of programme and specialization during all phases of the programme. Most of the stress proves to be caused by thoughts such as:
- “I have only one chance to make the right choice.”
- “How can I be sure I’m making the right choice?”
- “What if I find out later that the other option was the better choice?”
- “What if I come to regret my choice?”
- “But everyone says I’d be mad to choose... if I have the choice to...”
Try asking yourself the following questions if you are worrying about making the right choice:
- Have you been placed before such important choices at other times?
- How did you make your choice?
- Were you satisfied with the result?
- Are you more of a rational or an emotional type?
- What proportion of the decision-making process is ruled by fear and what proportion by an inquiring and strong mind?
- Do you want to let your life be ruled by fear or by inquisitiveness and strength?
Are you asking yourself the right questions?
Students come to us and tell us their problems. They say that they are unable to formulate an answer to their dilemma. Their question is of the “Shall I do… or shall I do …?”kind. If you cannot answer your own question, even after several weeks, months or even years of consideration, then maybe you are asking the wrong question. No wonder you cannot formulate an answer! But what, then, is the right question? And how can you find an answer to it? Have you tried literature research, or talking to specialists or others, or keeping track of your thought processes in a diary?