So You Want to be a Doctor?

Starting this week, we will begin a new series entitled “So you want to be a…” in which we will be able to interview people in several different professions/majors in order to get a better idea of what to expect in each of these fields.  We are hoping to do this every few weeks so let us know what you think.  This week we were able to interview a family practice doctor, Dr. Toran MacArthur.


Interviewer:  What made you want to be a doctor?

Dr. MacArthur:  I grew up liking science and physiology, how the body worked.  Honestly, I like the challenge of it too.  I liked that it was hard and took effort.  I also love working with people.

Interviewer:  What are the educational requirements for that particular field?

Dr. MacArthur:  High school diploma, bachelor’s degree, medical degree (4 years each).  You would then do a Residency training, which is a specialization training.  That can take around 3 to 5 years, though for some specialties it can be 7+ years.

Interviewer:  Where did you do your schooling?

Dr. MacArthur:  Undergraduate was at BYU, Graduate school was at the University of Utah.  My residency was at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, but I was place in Huntsville which is where I primarily worked.

Interviewer:  What was your favorite aspect of your academic experience?

Dr. MacArthur:  I liked the book work, but I liked it better when I went to rotations where we were able to participate in more hands-on experience.  As an undergraduate I liked being in classes with other motivated learners and I like being able to take a lot of science classes as well as English classes, as I was an English major.  I liked the variety.  The last thing I liked in regard to rotations were burn unit, pediatric oncology, family medicine, general surgery, and psychiatry.

Interviewer:  What was the hardest part of your academic experience?

Dr. MacArthur:  Medical school and residency were grueling.  Not only was it a heavy load but you often would have to be on-call, causing you to have to stay up all night every few days.

Interviewer:  What is the average salary available in that field?

Dr. MacArthur:  I am in family medicine.  The typical range for my field is $200,000-$400,000 a year.  Those in certain specialties, however, can make up to over $1,000,000 a year.

Interviewer:  What is your favorite aspect of your job?

Dr. MacArthur:  Just being involved with people’s lives and helping them with various problems.  I also do like the challenge of figuring out a diagnosis and treatment for each person.

Interviewer:  What is the hardest part of your job?

Dr. MacArthur:  Honestly the hardest parts are probably keeping up with documentation and keeping up with the workload in general.

Interviewer:  What are some things you have had to overcome to better succeed in your job?

Dr. MacArthur:  To be effective I’ve had to learn to organize and lead a team.  I have to help the team as a whole to function well.  It’s not just me involved, it’s a whole group of us having to work together.

Interviewer:  What is one piece of advice you would give to someone who is trying to decide what occupation to go into?

Dr. MacArthur: In general, be open minded to new or different opportunities and be willing to challenge yourself without fear.  If you’re looking into medicine specifically, get to know people practicing in different specialties and ask what they like in their specialty and what they don’t like so you can better see what you identify with.