Careers in Medical Sciences
By Shyamala Elango
Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery are the two first professional undergraduate degrees awarded upon graduation from medical school in medicine and surgery by universities in various countries. The names suggest that they are two separate degrees; however, in practice, they are usually treated as one and awarded together. Also, there are degrees specific to Dentistry, Nursing and Veterinary medicine as well. Medical science students learn in-depth about the human body; developing skills and knowledge on how the human body functions and how it reacts to disease and the drugs that are used to treat disease. Graduates may enter a diverse range of roles including graduate-entry clinical medicine, academic research, pharmaceuticals and broader consulting roles. Remember, the essential personal qualities for a doctor are compassion, resourcefulness, boundless energy and perseverance.
Given the prestige associated with the medical professions, and the extremely challenging nature of most medical careers, it’s unsurprising that getting into medical school is extremely competitive. In order to gain a place at a top medical school, it’s necessary to demonstrate exceptional grades in science subjects (especially Chemistry and Biology), as well as showing evidence of commitment to the field. This will usually mean gaining work experience, perhaps at a local healthcare centre, private consultancy or another type of care facility such as an elderly care home. This is a profession that can demand a lot both intellectually and emotionally, with an intensive and time-consuming workload.
Medical Course Overview
There are generally three approaches to the training provided at medical school: the traditional pre-clinical and clinical course, an integrated course, or the newer courses specialising in multi or inter-professional learning. As well as allowing you to specialise in a particular division of medicine, medical degrees also provide students with the practical skills needed for specialised hands-on tasks (from taking a blood sample to complex surgical procedures), and the ‘people skills’ needed for interaction with patients and relatives.
Within medical careers, you’ll find a large amount of variation in salaries, depending on which medical specialisations you choose and the level of expertise you reach.
Working as a General Physician
The majority of medical degree graduates go on to become practising physicians – the traditional hands-on role of diagnosing and treating patients, working in a hospital or surgery.
Some graduates of medical degrees choose to go into medical research, using their expertise to contribute to the understanding of diseases, and the development of new diagnostic techniques and treatments. This could mean researching the causes of different illnesses, examining the effectiveness of new drugs, or working on advancing medical technologies such as those involved in developing artificial limbs, fertility treatments and gene therapy.
Nursing is one of the emerging career fields in medical sciences. It is a profession within the health care sector focused on the care of individuals, families, and communities so they may attain, maintain, or recover optimal health and quality of life. Beyond the physical support and care they provide, registered nurses provide emotional support to patients and patients’ family members. They may educate patients and the general public on disease management, special diet plans and medical conditions.
A veterinary physician is a professional who practices veterinary medicine by treating disease, disorder, and injury in non-human animals. Job duties range from cleaning teeth and inspecting hooves to major surgery and animal euthanasia. In addition to an undergraduate degree, preferably in a science- or biology-related field, veterinarians must hold doctoral degrees in Veterinary Medicine, pass a national licensing examination and meet any other country-specific requirements for licensing or certification.
Dieticians work directly with people to create nutritional programmes toward preventing disease and maintaining health. To be a dietician, you must achieve specific training and credentials.
General paediatricians are doctors who work with babies, children and adolescents. Paediatric physicians must have general medical knowledge and an understanding of how treatments affect different developmental growth stages.
Dentists provide oral health services to adults and children. Most dentists obtain an undergraduate degree before completing a 4-year dental programme. Postgraduate requirements, such as a residency, may also be required. All dentists must be licensed by the country in which they practice.