I have a 5-year-old daughter. She has expressed a desire to be a Medical Doctor several times. Are there games, books, something on TV she can watch that will ground this idea or give her more perspective? I know she is 5, but she can at least learn more about medical profession if nothing else.

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    I am a doctor, and I never encouraged my kids to follow in my footsteps, because no one but doctors (unless they grow up in a medical family) know what it's like to be a doctor. Even in medical school, what a doctor is/does is incredibly skewed, and most of the medical students (including myself) thought they had made a terrible mistake (luckily, it was great for me!) I don't know what country you're in, but please be aware that most doctors active now in the US wish they had chosen a different career. It's a crisis in the US. Aug 26, 2019 at 21:59
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    @anongoodnurse > I'm in Belgium myself and don't know about doctors specifically, but I actually know very few people not wishing for a different career...
    – Laurent S.
    Aug 27, 2019 at 11:49
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    Despite the success of Doogie Howser, I would recommend against a 5yo being a medical doctor. Aug 27, 2019 at 13:21
  • @LaurentS. - Well said. I guess I think it's so sad because of all the years that go into it, at the very least, 9 years are devoted to getting into the workforce in medicine (am only counting the last two years of university.) That's a long training period to "waste". But your point is well made. Aug 27, 2019 at 15:21
  • No. Just no. Next year she'll want to be an astronaut or a firefighter.
    – user20343
    Aug 28, 2019 at 14:48

3 Answers 3


You've said it yourself: She's five. At this stage in her life, it's pretty much pointless to try and ground her in a specific profession. IMO, you should instead focus on exposing her to a wide variety of activities. Yes, foster interests she has, but don't take any one thing she's interested in too seriously.

That said, of course there are games and books you can get her. You could get her a play doctor's kit, or make an ad-hoc one (see for example https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eGoObtjXD28). If she actually uses her doctor's kit to play doctor with another child, react in a measured and calm way when the play involves nakedness and/or genitals.

Show her how to treat small injuries, such as scrapes from falling down; let her have some band-aids etc to practice and play with. Explain to her what vaccines are for when her next vaccination shot comes up.

As to books, get her something that gets her in touch with her own body (google for "my body children's book" to find a ton of suggestions, and take it from there).

All this isn't geared to fostering a lasting interest in becoming a doctor, but rather at getting her to understand the basics of how her body works and what different parts are for, how to take care of herself etc.

Your daughter might also be interested in doctors because they help other people and she'd like to do that too (kinda like some kids want to become a policeman or private investigator). So besides focusing on books, games and movies with doctors, you might also try to find stories with protagonists who help others, or animals.

I'd be wary of films involving doctors, because many of them are a) depicting clear role distributions with male doctors and female nurses, especially if they're a bit dated, and b) deal either with love interests between said persons, or with ethical issues, both of which are above your daughter's head right now, and c) they never show how exhausting being a doctor (especially in a hospital) is in real life.

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    +1 Good answer! Aug 26, 2019 at 22:13
  • Thanks. Just read your comment to OP's question - that's pretty sad. Aug 26, 2019 at 22:20
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    It's different now than it was when I started. I caught the tail end of the mini-golden age of medicine, and I loved being a doctor. Now, however, it's spirit-crushing "paperwork" (computerized) after accumulating mind-boggling debt. But, yes, it's pretty sad. I have a really good doctor, good in every important way, who wishes every day that she could quit medicine. If I won a big lottery, I'd give her enough to retire tomorrow. Aug 26, 2019 at 22:28
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    For a child that age with interest in doctors/medicine, the show "Doc McStuffins" is age appropriate and may interest her.
    – Meg
    Aug 28, 2019 at 13:18

As I said in my comment, I don't think there is any way to teach someone what being a doctor is like, because it is nothing like anyone who's not a doctor can imagine.

There are kid's books about doctors. There are games about the human body (I remember "Operation" and "The Visible Man"). There are YouTube videos about it. You can share these with her.

But if you're seriously going to encourage her, start with biology. What germs are, what different blood cells do, little by little how the body works. If she isn't interested in that, you'll have a better grip on why being a doctor appeals to her, and can help her in more targeted ways.

  • I think this is a good approach: direct her to the relevant sciences. However, chemistry is much more relevant than biology for an MD. I'm not saying biology is "wrong"... it's probably a more accessible science for a younger kid.
    – Dancrumb
    Aug 27, 2019 at 0:11
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    @Dancrumb - I'm a doc; my love of Biology (still my love) got me there. Chemistry was...Chemistry, nothing I enjoyed. Organic Chemistry was relevant (hated it but slogged through it with A's). But Biochemistry/Molecular Biology are different, and are, to me, Biology. The Chemistry of Life, not the Chemistry of, well, Chemistry. And, trust me, Chemistry is not more relevant to being the average physician. Drugs are chemicals, but the entire body is made of chemicals. I'm speaking from my experience only. Maybe others came to Medicine through Chemistry. Don't know any, but I rarely ask. Aug 27, 2019 at 3:27
  • nothing beats personal experience, so I 100% defer to you. My experience is secondhand and from the UK, knowing that you can get into medicine without Biology qualifications, but not without Chemistry. That said, your expression of Biology as a way to Medicine is most likely the most frequent path to Medicine that others follow. At the age of 5, then yeah, Biology makes more sense
    – Dancrumb
    Aug 27, 2019 at 13:44
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    @Dancrumb - Ah, I see! Thanks for clarifying! In the name of seeking out what will make a better doctor, there are more med schools accepting students with non-Biology backgrounds (social sciences, etc.) as well. But as Chemistry is (imo) far harder than Biology, it might make sense that Chem majors are more industrious? Intelligent? and thus better candidates for Medicine. I don't know, but that is fascinating! Aug 27, 2019 at 15:18


My son wanted to be a

  • Policeman
  • Firefighter
  • Doctor
  • Dentist
  • Vet
  • Detective
  • Actor
  • Farmer
  • Pilot
  • Train driver
  • Truck driver
  • Chef
  • Paleontologist
  • Musician
  • Magician
  • Exterminator
  • President
  • Programmer like me
  • ... and any other job you can think of, all before he was 5.

He expressed a serious interest in every single one.

I tried to teach him about a couple of them but he lost interest after 2 minutes.

Something you'll learn about kid psychology is that they'll express a keen interest in anything, at the moment - whether it's their future career ambitions - or a jigsaw puzzle they just solved.

Sure, it's good to embrace it - try and teach them! But it's also VERY important to expect or realize that they'll forget about it completely in a week's time, and pick up on the next fad.

If you want to steer them in one direction towards being a doctor, for whatever reason, then just give them only doctor-related toys - fake stethoscopes and that kind of thing, and take away other toys. Then give them a bunch of doctor-related picture books, and take away all other picture books. Try this for a few years and see if they take a liking towards being a doctor.

They might like it, or, you might have just limited their knowledge and curiosity of the world when it is most important in life. Think about it.

  • I don't disagree with you, but my cild announced at 5 that they wanted to be a doctor. Well, it's more adorable than that. Because teir father and I were both doctors, thet thought that they were one as well. When informed it didn't work that way, they said that, well, they would be a doctor. They never waivered, though I tried to point out all the obstacles to getting there. Still, they never wanted to be anything else. Med School graduation was a great day for them! Aug 27, 2019 at 23:40
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    My youngest wanted to be a unicorn...
    – Rory Alsop
    Aug 28, 2019 at 7:04
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    My mum told me she knew I would be in engineering from the moment I took the cot apart - which allowed me to escape, I was under two at the time... But she had to wait for Dad to get home to put it back together...
    – Solar Mike
    Aug 28, 2019 at 12:34
  • @SolarMike - That is priceless! Aug 30, 2019 at 13:12

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