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Medicine or Research Scientist?

I went into college thinking of doing medicine with my A-Levels (Maths, Biology and Chemistry) and was planning on going into psychiatry or surgery but I'm starting to have doubts and thinking of becoming a research scientist in either chemistry or biology.
What are the pros and cons of medicine?
I work for a large private healthcare company that develops medicines, medical devices, and surgical techniques. It’s staffed by a broad mixture of engineers and scientists. We do have medical professionals, but they’re typically in sales or corporate.

Most colleagues I’ve had the “why didn’t you study medicine” discussion with mention the human element to the job. Everyone I work with loves improving the quality of lives, but don’t like the low points of working directly with the patient as a doctor or surgeon.

I personally would feel too much responsibility should I not be able to save or help someone. I also wouldn’t be able to deal with giving someone the ultimate bad news.
(edited 1 year ago)
Firstly, if you wish to go into medicine you shouldn't be focusing on any one specialty or range of specialties. No matter what you have to study the whole range of medicine in the medical degree (and I gather surgery is rather light on the ground in most UK medical degrees anyway), and for at least two years as a foundation doctor you have to work in all specialties. So that's 7-8 years you will be spending do all of medicine before you specialise in any one area - and you may well find once you actually experience the area you think you want to do now, you won't like it then.

That aside, you realise that being a research scientist and being a doctor are not mutually exclusive? There are dedicated academic routes through medical training where you also develop research skills and, usually, higher degrees (i.e. doctoral ones). I gather it's also not uncommon in some specialties (medical oncology and some areas of cardiology at the least) to almost necessarily have to do a PhD anyway to be competitive for consultant posts - while that is more of a means to an end, you may find in the end you continue doing more academic work as a consultant, if you are able to negotiate such a role.

Some medical schools also have dedicated MBPhD programmes, allowing you to do a PhD "during" your medical degree (normally after your intercalation year, you essentially intercalate for 3-4 more years and do the PhD as normal then re-integrate into the clinical phase of the course). It's also possible at other medical schools in a more ad hoc arrangement.
Original post by Chris2892
I work for a large private healthcare company that develops medicines, medical devices, and surgical techniques. It’s staffed by a broad mixture of engineers and scientists. We do have medical professionals, but they’re typically in sales or corporate.

Most colleagues I’ve had the “why didn’t you study medicine” discussion with mention the human element to the job. Everyone I work with loves improving the quality of lives, but don’t like the low points of working directly with the patient as a doctor or surgeon.

I personally would feel too much responsibility should I not be able to save or help someone. I also wouldn’t be able to deal with giving someone the ultimate bad news.

Hi! Slightly unrelated, but could you tell me a bit more about the kinds of medicines and techniques being developed where you are? I'm looking to go into biomed research, but I'm not sure if a hospital setup is for me or not.

Thanks! :h:
Original post by sleep_supremacy
Hi! Slightly unrelated, but could you tell me a bit more about the kinds of medicines and techniques being developed where you are? I'm looking to go into biomed research, but I'm not sure if a hospital setup is for me or not.

Thanks! :h:


I can’t speak for medicines, I’m based in skeletal repair and reconstruction. On that side the wider publicly known focus is wound closure, bone retention/growth inducing coatings, artificial tissue printing, robot assisted surgery, AI, electronic brain signal reading robotic limbs, and patient pre- and after-care monitoring (bio implants).

Hospitals doing research to this level are typically university hospitals, like Berlin’s Charité Universitätsmedizin. Otherwise, it’s mostly industry driven R&D functions that do the research with product/service launched aimed at providing treatments for hospitals.
(edited 1 year ago)
Original post by Chris2892
I can’t speak for medicines, I’m based in skeletal repair and reconstruction. On that side the wider publicly known focus is wound closure, bone retention/growth inducing coatings, artificial tissue printing, robot assisted surgery, AI, electronic brain signal reading robotic limbs, and patient pre- and after-care monitoring (bio implants).

Hospitals doing research to this level are typically university hospitals, like Berlin’s Charité Universitätsmedizin. Otherwise, it’s mostly industry driven R&D functions that do the research with product/service launched aimed at providing treatments for hospitals.

That sounds really interesting! From the names I'm assuming this falls more under biotech than biomed?

I'll research more into uni hospitals- it sounds like a good prospect.

Thanks for your reply! :smile:
They’re all rather broad initiatives that require both refined/improved application and a deeper understanding/identification of the underlying principles. In other words, there’s a variety of associated work to be done in the topics you mentioned and more.
Original post by Chris2892
They’re all rather broad initiatives that require both refined/improved application and a deeper understanding/identification of the underlying principles. In other words, there’s a variety of associated work to be done in the topics you mentioned and more.

I'll add it to the bucket list then. Sounds interesting enough.

Could you elaborate on what you meant by 'refined/improved application' and 'associated work'?

Thanks!
Original post by sleep_supremacy
I'll add it to the bucket list then. Sounds interesting enough.

Could you elaborate on what you meant by 'refined/improved application' and 'associated work'?

Thanks!

By refined and improved application I mean… Further work is required to improve patient outcomes in the areas mentioned through the identification and increased understanding of new treatments, bio relationships, adverse and positive effects, and methods of application.

Where the associated work is the scope of work type (function) and studies (student or professor) needed to achieve the above.
Reply 9
Original post by Chris2892
I can’t speak for medicines, I’m based in skeletal repair and reconstruction. On that side the wider publicly known focus is wound closure, bone retention/growth inducing coatings, artificial tissue printing, robot assisted surgery, AI, electronic brain signal reading robotic limbs, and patient pre- and after-care monitoring (bio implants).

Hospitals doing research to this level are typically university hospitals, like Berlin’s Charité Universitätsmedizin. Otherwise, it’s mostly industry driven R&D functions that do the research with product/service launched aimed at providing treatments for hospitals.


Do you think I could get into this with a biomedical science degree?
Reply 10
Original post by yukariluvr
Do you think I could get into this with a biomedical science degree?


Your grade matters for your bachelors, but masters degree and above is where you’d start demonstrating academic and other transferable skills for a R&D employer or university.

Biomedical science is perfect for functions such as biocompatibility, research and testing, clinical studies, human factors, new and commercial product development.

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