18 May 2021
Throughout my time studying Medical Science at ARU, I would get asked what course I was studying and, after answering, more often than not it would be followed up with a question along the lines of ‘So what can you do career wise with that?’
Personally, I always found this question could be answered many ways because what couldn’t you do with a degree in Medical Science? A quick Google search will always give the generic answer of scientist or researcher, which are possible routes but are too vague to gain any insight. So, I have collated a list with possible routes that could be taken with this degree.
Firstly, let’s make sure we understand what it means to be a researcher. I’m sure the first image that comes to mind is someone in a white lab coat collecting data from experiments or trials. While this isn’t exactly wrong, being a researcher can involve multiple different disciplines and roles. I’ll explain using the COVID-19 vaccine as an example; You would have those that would initially generate the idea for how the vaccine would work, those that would test these ideas in a lab to see if the vaccine would work, you would then have those that would administer/test the vaccine in clinical trials, the collection of data and statistical analysis of this data (the vaccines efficacy, side effects etc) and then those that would publish these findings for peer review. Depending on the size of the research team and the idea being researched these roles would be either shared or assigned individually. Alternatively, you can have research teams that collect data via different methods such as surveys or even researchers that write systematic reviews or meta-analyses (there are some roles that just involve the searching of literature and innovations in the science world!). Seeing as Medical Science covers such a range of content there is a lot of freedom for the research you could specialise in.
This one seems self-explanatory but using just this term doesn’t give a good idea of what kind of career this would be. When looking at careers that involve the word ‘scientist’ it always best to check the job description, as this word can be used very loosely. The main scientist roles that pop up for Medical Science would be lab-based ones, such as a Biomedical Scientist. Clinical scientist is a nice umbrella term for these as it usually describes jobs that would be in hospital labs, for example a haematology lab. There would be a lot of jobs that mix the ‘roles’ of scientist and researcher together.
It is actually quite common for students from Medical Science to go into medical sales as it can be a great learning opportunity, and the knowledge you gain from your course is very attractive to the employers. The products you would be selling can vary from pharmaceuticals, to hospital equipment, to medical equipment for home use. It would be worth noting that despite the science aspect, it is still a sales role which means you would have to be comfortable with speaking on the telephone, believe in the product you are selling and you would have to be money motivated to an extent.
It is increasingly popular for students from Medical Science to pursue medicine or healthcare after the course, either by pursuing medicine at undergraduate level or studying a postgraduate such as Physician Associate. This career option is pretty broad, but my advice would be to do a lot of research before undertaking a second undergraduate degree as it would mean an another four/five years at university for Medicine or 2 years postgraduate study for Physician Associate. These course in themselves also involve a lot of specialisms and different career opportunities.
This career option is actually a great way to put all the skills and knowledge you have obtained from the course into practice. These writing jobs can vary greatly from working for a scientific journal, researching and publishing papers or working for publishing companies to write medical information for the public. If you have a passion for writing and assignments are a breeze for you this could be the role for you. However, it is worth mentioning this career path doesn’t offer instant reward as you would probably need to work freelance for a few years as most employers want experience. It is also desirable to have a masters, but not essential.
With a Medical Science degree, some students choose to go into secondary school teaching, gaining their teaching qualification whilst they teach.
I know this doesn’t seem like a career option but here me out. There are a wide range of postgraduate courses that relate to Medical Science which could create even more career options. Examples of this would be public health jobs, forensics, microbiology etc. Although it is a long way off this further study could lead you to pursuing a PhD, that can give you a good start as a researcher.
This list is most definitely not extensive, as roles within Medical Science can be very fluid depending on your passions, experience and specialisms. My biggest piece of advice when searching for career options is to be open minded with your search and to always look at the job descriptions, as something you think isn’t related to Medical Science at all may be the perfect role for you. I would also definitely recommend looking at different jobs which are available on websites such as Reed, Indeed or LinkedIn as new roles are always being created. A few websites that you could check out which go into further detail for what I have mention is Prospects and NHS jobs.