Why do doctors have to be intelligent

Become a doctor? Truth about medical school and the job

The profession of doctor was and is usually highly regarded by society. The image of the “demigods in white” has still not completely disappeared from the minds of the population in 2020 either. Often the medical students are ascribed extremely high cognitive abilities and so the work of the medical doctor is often perceived as a dream job. Contrary to this expectation, many trained specialists advise against studying and show the dark side of the profession: Long, inflexible services, too little patient contact, too much bureaucracy! Perhaps you have even asked yourself whether you will even be able to graduate and whether you should therefore become a doctor at all. We answer all of these questions in this post.

Am I suitable for studying medicine?

This question is not that easy to answer because it has to be examined from several angles. First of all, you have to show the university to which you are applying that you are “suitable”. This is decided by the university in the application process.

If you have received one of the coveted study places, then you have to find out how hardworking and stress-resistant you are. However, all of these points do not yet take into account your personal character and interpersonal skills. Again, it's important to find out how good you actually are at dealing with people.

At the end of the training, there is the practice of the medical profession, which is ultimately also connected with lifelong further training, a lot of responsibility and perfect time management. We deliberately leave out the financial aspect in this article, as we are convinced that the salary should not have a primary influence on the motivation for studying.

The application hurdle

In order to study medicine, you first have to apply. Sounds easier than it is. Since 2020 there has been a revised application process, which in some cases drastically changes the chances of getting a study place. During the application phase you will have to decide which quota you would like to apply for:

In some of these quotas you will have to complete various medical tests (e.g. HAM-Nat, TMS), which in particular test your cognitive abilities and your scientific understanding. Your psychosocial skills usually fall by the wayside in these tests. With the new regulation of the admission procedure, however, at some universities you will also be awarded points for a completed vocational training, for example.

"Can I get the degree?" - The truth about studying medicine

Assuming you've made it into your degree: What do you need to get through successfully? In the following we have created a small list of properties that are important for a positive course of study:

  • Perseverance
  • Stress tolerance
  • Diligence
  • Willpower

During the medical studies (especially in the standard course) you will be literally “flooded” with knowledge in the first two years. Spread over the years, new content is added over and over again. However, old content is rarely removed from the catalog of learning objectives. This often leads to a feeling of being overwhelmed. You should therefore not lose touch in the first two years (pre-clinical)! The exams are usually scheduled once or twice a week in the form of oral certificates. In addition, there are a few written exams. However, this can vary from university to university.

How intelligent do I have to be to study?

As you can see in our list above, we don't count “intelligence” (cognitive skills) among the most important qualities for studying medicine. As a rule, if you successfully pass the entrance test, you have all the necessary requirements for studying. Some science exams may even be easier! It is much more important to be able to withstand the pressure of the lecturers and to always find an answer to the question “Why am I doing all this to myself?”. That sounds tough at first, but it is quite feasible with the goal in mind - don't worry! So if you want to study medicine, you don't necessarily have to be an exceptional talent.

How well do I have to be able to memorize?

A common stereotype is that medical students just have to memorize just about anything. In fact, you have to remember a lot of things without much context in order to be able to create a basic knowledge base. But don't worry: practice makes perfect! Above all, hard work is required here. That is why we have not put the attribute “memory” on our list of the most important properties.

What does a good Abitur say about the ability to study?

Applicants often discuss this question. The frustration is great when you z. B. with a high school diploma of 2.0 does not get a place at university, although one would like to become a doctor out of deep conviction. In fact, the Abitur says relatively little about the graduate's intelligence or cognitive abilities. Nevertheless, a certain ambition and diligence, i.e. a work ethic, can be derived. However, there are various other factors that also influence the grade point average (e.g. teacher, life situation, etc.).

Some high school graduates do not yet know at that age what they want to do later on and therefore do not make any effort at school. Others are generally so-called "late bloomers" and only realize far too late how important a good Abitur can be in terms of career choice. In summary, qualities such as diligence, willpower and perseverance are still higher in the arrangement if it is only about successfully completing the course.

The working life

The professional life of a medical doctor is extremely varied. Contrary to many expectations, however, the real work cannot be compared with the everyday life depicted in "Grey's Anatomy". According to many medical professionals, the medical role has changed a lot over the years. Too little time for too many patients! That makes both sides dissatisfied. Contact decreases, especially in the clinic, and the treatment becomes more impersonal. This has been proven to lead to poorer therapeutic success. In addition, there is the documentation, which now makes up a large part of the medical work.

But what keeps you motivated to go to the hospital and treat people day after day under immense time pressure and for countless hours of overtime? For the majority of medical professionals, the answer is always the same: "The feeling of having done something good and being able to go to sleep with a clear conscience". Some even claim that “being a doctor” is not a profession for them. It would be much more of a calling. It is more than a job!


In the end, only you can decide for yourself whether you should study medicine or not. You should always be clear about the advantages and disadvantages of studying and working for you. If you are ready to move for your university place and to invest a large part of your time in studying, especially in the first two years of the standard course, then medicine could be something for you. It is important to keep an eye on the bigger picture, even if the studies are sometimes very exhausting. Ultimately, the doors are open to you in a wide variety of professions.