reasons to become a doctor

7 Doctors’ Stories on Their Reasons for Becoming a Doctor

Written by: Kristine Thorndyke

Being a doctor isn’t easy – doctors often work long hours in high stress situations so they can help people who can’t help themselves. For that reason, it’s crucial to think about your internal motivation in considering the journey to become a doctor. Here are some personal accounts from medical professionals on their reasons to become a doctor, so you can decide if being a doctor is the right fit for you.

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Dr. Stacie Kahan

Endocrine and General Surgery, White Plains Hospital

dr stacie

“I never wanted to feel helpless again.”

Dr. Kahan decided to pursue medicine because of a personal experience as a child. At a family dinner, one of her aunts, who suffered from Lou Gehrig’s disease, started choking on her food. Dr. Kahan found herself stunned, completely frozen in place; She didn’t know what to do in the moment. Luckily, her dad stepped in and performed the Heimlich maneuver.

Dr. Kahan decided that she didn’t want to sit still and watch people suffer. Her reason to become a doctor was her wanting to learn more and help people that were in pain. Now, as a surgeon, she takes away people’s pain and helps them with curative operations.

Dr. Darrell G. Kirch

President and CEO of Association of American Medical Colleges

dr. kirch

“The helplessness of watching 31 people onboard die led to a critical moment of clarity for me. After desperately trying to help those in and around the burning wreckage, I knew that I wanted to join a profession committed to helping others.”

Dr. Kirch witnessed a tragedy. A plane crash in the Rockies left dozens of people dead and wounded. After witnessing this catastrophe, Dr. Kirch was overcome with the desire to help people, so he switched his major from philosophy to medicine.

Related: 6 Medical Student Blogs You Should Read if You’re Pre-Med

Now, Dr. Kirch sees prospective doctors and young medical professionals suffering from burnout due to the intense competition in landing residencies and junior job positions. Breaking into the medical field is difficult, but Kirch is still optimistic. Despite the high rates of burnout, he finds himself impressed by the energy and excitement of new graduates because they all share the same values – the drive to contribute to the public good. He helps people remember their reason of becoming a doctor and get back to their purpose in the healthcare field.

Related: A Day in the Life of a Med Student 

Dr. Manju Hapke

Family Medicine, Think Whole Person Healthcare

dr. manju

“I believe my colleagues will agree that the driving force in a doctor’s career is a passion to help people. The human body and the human spirit are amazing, and when you have the opportunity to lend your skills and strengths to help people when they need it most, it is the most incredibly fulfilling moment of your life.”

Dr. Hapke emphasizes that it is important to take care of patients while looking at the entirety of their lifestyle – a method employed by Think Whole Person Healthcare. She cares about the patients she works with, so she does not only diagnose problems. She cares about their day-to-day lives and the way their habits develop into health issues. By coordinating with a team of different specialists, they can monitor more aspects of a patient’s life and keep them healthier before they develop serious health complications. Her belief in broad, preventative care is crucial to her work, and it leads to better health outcomes for the patients she helps!  

Dr. Nicole Haig Jasper

Emergency Medicine, Coliseum Medical Center

Dr. Nicole Haig Jasper

“I decided to become a physician because I am a “people person” and I have an innate desire to see people happy and healthy.”

When she goes into work, Dr. Jasper meets patients, their friends, and their family. She loves hearing their unique stories about the details that shape her patients’ lives. She values the unpredictable nature of her job, knowing that she will work with different people with different ailments every day. Most importantly, her reason to becoming a doctor is leaving at the end of the day knowing that she made a positive impact on all the people she helped throughout her shift.

Related: How Many Volunteer Hours Do You Need for Med School?

Dr. Michael Rice

Gastroenterologist, Michigan Medicine

“It was a desire to serve others that ultimately drove my decision to become a physician.”

Early in his medical training, Dr. Rice had the opportunity to emotionally connect with patients he cared for. The personal connection that he built with patients reinforced his passion for serving people, since he could see them improve and heal during the healthcare process. Later in his career, he found that working with servicemen and servicewomen in need was a humbling and rewarding experience and gave him a deeper meaning of why he became a doctor. Furthermore, Dr. Rice is inspired by the admirable work and goodwill he sees in young, upcoming medical professionals.

Dr. Rice is a gastroenterologist, which is #5 in our list of highest doctor specialty salaries. See what other specialties made our top 30 list! 

Dr. Brian Haas

Hospital Medicine, Centerpoint Hospital

dr brian haas

“I remember being terrified and wishing that I understood more of what was going on. At that point I decided that I needed to become a doctor so that I could understand myself as well as to help others to be less afraid than I had been.”

Dr. Haas found out that he had a heart condition during a sports physical in his senior year of high school. He wasn’t allowed to do any strenuous activities until his doctors learned more about his condition. This left Dr. Haas unsettled; he didn’t understand his body and he was terrified. In order to understand his condition, Dr. Haas decided to explore the medical field and learn more about his ailment. Since he had the experience of being scared and confused, he does everything he can to alleviate similar feelings in his patients. His emotional experience in high school became his reason to become a doctor and to help others that feel the same way he once did.

Dr. Barbara Bergin

Orthopaedic Surgeon, Texas Orthopedics, Sports & Rehabilitation Associates

dr. barbara

“There’s so much opportunity now to help patients help themselves.”

Dr. Bergin sees healthcare settings as a way to educate patients about their conditions. Some doctors worry about people self-diagnosing themselves with ailments, but Dr. Bergin suggests that people have an educational hunger for knowledge relating to their health. As a result, Dr. Bergin educates her patients about their conditions. This helps people in the long term, since they can understand their bodies themselves and make their own decisions that proactively prevent damage to their bodies. Medicine goes beyond a simple diagnosis for Dr. Bergin. She gives people the chance to learn, which helps them live life to the fullest.

Do you have a story behind your reasons to become a doctor? We’d love to hear it and feature it here for our readers! Email us at with your inspirational story!

For more inspiration, check out our list of the best books for doctors.

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