In a world where jobs for life are a thing of the past and the key to career success is so often a case of being more ruthless than the next person, it is easy to see why the medical industry can seem like something of an oasis.
Whether pursuing a career as a doctor or nurse, in a support function or aMaster of International Healthcare Management
, you will never be out of work because people will always need medical services. The healthcare field has remained largely immune to the broader economic woes of recent years, and has continued to recruit at all levels when it has seemed every other sector is letting people go. And healthcare is a sector in which caring for the needs of others can take you to the top and reward you with an impressive salary.
Of course, there is always a “but.” Studying medicine takes years of hard work, determination and dedication. Do you think you have what it takes? Here, we take a look at some of the career options across the medical sector, along with the skills and qualifications you will need.
Think of a career in medicine, and you probably envisage yourself as a family doctor, nurse or surgeon in a clinical role. There are a wide range of specialisms to choose from, including everything from general practice to brain surgery and from oncology to pediatrics. While a general medical degree will be a prerequisite for any of them, there comes a time sooner rather than later when you will need to choose your specialism.
It is important to gather as much of a feel for the areas that interest you as possible, and this has to go above and beyond the basic study materials. Attend seminars, read books and publications and most importantly, remember that in the 21st century, the Internet is your friend. Today’s medical students have resources at their fingertips that previous generations could only have dreamed about.
These include both traditional and very modern-day resources, from the online medical journals, which cover all aspects of medicine, to Oncotarget, a specialist publication related to oncology that also makes full use of social media.
Not everyone who studies medicine goes on to practice it in a clinical role. There are many who feel they can make the biggest difference by taking a management or administrative position, either in a medical organization, an advocacy organization or even within the sphere of government health organizations.
As hospitals have been required to operate along ever more “businesslike” lines, an increasing number of doctors are adopting leadership roles in medical facilities. For those who have a flair for business along with a desire to work in medicine and to make a difference to people’s lives, this can be an excellent choice. Just bear in mind that if you go down this route, you are likely to need an additional qualification alongside your medical degree, such as an MBA.
Laboratory and research roles
As human knowledge and technology advances, the role of the clinical researcher is one that is constantly evolving. It provides those doctors who have a passion for being at the cutting edge of innovation with the opportunity to have a huge influence on the future of medical practice.
The field of Molecular Biology of the Cell
used to be one that was largely limited to external research facilities, but today, microbiologists are an intrinsic part of the overall medical team in hospitals, clinics and even universities.
When to decide?
Most students enter medical school with some idea of the career track that they want to follow, and then, many of them proceed along an entirely different route! That is fine, and learning more about the broader industry is part of what going to medical school is all about.
Keep your options open while you can, and remember that it is even possible to change specialties later down the line. For example, many doctors start out in general practice in the early years of their careers before moving into a more specialized role – while others enjoy the variety so much that they remain in general practice for their entire career.
In the end, whichever way you decide to go, you know that you and everyone else in the medical field is playing an important role in saving thousands of lives.
There are not many careers where you can say that, while at the same time having a secure job with great career progression opportunities and a competitive salary.