sp4k

2+ Year Member
Apr 5, 2016
54
25
Hi everyone,

I just recently defended my PhD thesis and started working in the biotech industry, but still plan to apply to medical schools in a year and pursue the life long dream of becoming a physician.

I read many thread on whether it makes financial sense to become a physician at an older age (I'm 30) etc, and a lot of these thread make a pretty huge assumption that's never mentioned - job security. My PhD is in life sciences, I also have experience in biomedical engineering and generally very strong credentials, but it still took me a few months to find my current job even though I'm in the tri-state area (lots of biotech/pharma companies here). My current boss spent almost three decades at one of the largest pharma companies just to be laid off (they just moved her entire department to the West coast) and struggle to find a job in today's economy even though she has incredibly strong and impressive credentials.

My question then, what's the job security in medicine? Assuming it's pretty comfortable, I'd argue it makes financial sense given how unstable and unpredictable biotech industry is.

Thoughts?
 

amuseddoughnut

2+ Year Member
Aug 15, 2016
55
39
Status
Medical Student (Accepted)
I definitely thought about this before I made my leap. To me, job security is 10x higher as a physician than as a PhD in industry and 3x higher as a physician than as an academic. I have never found a physician that has had any issue whatsoever in getting a job. In contrast, many-a-PhD (including myself) has had the situation of searching for a job for months only to find not quite the right fit/paycheck/opportunities. It seems like physician jobs are also more evenly distributed across the nation, so you could potentially have better location flexibility as a physician.
 

NightWindDriftr

7+ Year Member
Nov 5, 2010
30
27
Status
My question then, what's the job security in medicine? Assuming it's pretty comfortable, I'd argue it makes financial sense given how unstable and unpredictable biotech industry is.

Very secure across specialties. Even more secure depending on the specialty, and if you're willing to relocate. I didn't envy the PhD candidates and PhDs I worked under in undergrad.

I do feel like there's an age where pursuing medicine probably makes poor financial sense, but the 30s isn't it. There are about a half-dozen in my class that are that age and I'm among them.
 
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jl lin

10+ Year Member
Oct 9, 2009
5,098
1,261
There really is no such thing as job security anymore. . . anywhere. There are many forces and factors that make this true. Do what you love or at least really like well.
 

chooks

5+ Year Member
Oct 3, 2014
114
99
Status
Attending Physician
There really is no such thing as job security anymore. . . anywhere. There are many forces and factors that make this true. Do what you love or at least really like well.
This is all to true. Even at the physician level. Hospital and group politics, ebb and flow of work, contracts, etc...all make for an environment that job-wise, is probably less stable than it has been in the past. A science PhD with an MBA in many ways to me seems to be the most secure way to go if that is your thing (and SOOOO much less work). But you really need to look at what will get you up and going in the morning now, in 10 years, and in 20 years.

- chooks
 

Robin-jay

2+ Year Member
Sep 23, 2017
1,976
1,994
Status
Medical Student
This is all to true. Even at the physician level. Hospital and group politics, ebb and flow of work, contracts, etc...all make for an environment that job-wise, is probably less stable than it has been in the past. A science PhD with an MBA in many ways to me seems to be the most secure way to go if that is your thing (and SOOOO much less work). But you really need to look at what will get you up and going in the morning now, in 10 years, and in 20 years.

- chooks
Lol no.
 
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sp4k

2+ Year Member
Apr 5, 2016
54
25
PhD with an MBA is pretty much as secure as any other PhD level job these days. PhD + JD or MD is a different story, same as work in the government. I recently had a conversation about this with my industry mentor, and the situation is worse than I thought. There's a shift where companies pay higher base salaries, but completely stop offering benefits. In fact, there's a a Merck flagship company in the west coast that exists as a separate entity so that they don't have to offer benefits dictated by Merck's policies. I'm sure more and more big companies will follow this trend. This is even worse for startups, where salaries are already lower and benefits are non existent.
 

Alakazam123

2+ Year Member
Jun 2, 2017
394
70
Status
Pre-Medical
The business model for pharma/biotech is unstable, and hence the poor job security. It's all based around M&A. They wait for a startup to generate good pre-clinical data, attain successful IND, and get through phase 1. Then, they buy the startup, fire all the lower-level scientists, and take the drug through phase 2 and 3. Biotech also has a crappy business model in some cases, where some of them base their entire company around one drug. So, if that drug candidate fails, the whole company goes under.

If you want to succeed in the biotech industry, your best bet is to try to get into one of three areas:

1. Process Development
2. Business Development
3. Regulatory Affairs/Medical Affairs

These areas are bulletproof, at least compared to research jobs in industry. The truth is that industrial research is not a gravy-train in biotech. Many pre-clinical research jobs are being outsourced to CROs. These CROs usually just hire people with BS or MS in biomedical fields, to just carry out the grunt work of experiments. Therefore, PhDs are getting crowded out.

On the whole, this is just a terrible time to be a life-sciences PhD. BUT....if you do a PhD in a computational field, the jobs available are amazing, with great job security. Even if you lose your job, it shouldn't be hard to find another one within a few weeks time. Machine learning, data science, AI, NLP, are all in high demand right now. Even if they bust, the skills you acquire are highly transferrable. Getting a PhD in a biomedical field...unfortunately the skills are not very transferrable.
 

Dral

10+ Year Member
Jan 8, 2009
1,855
1,037
Dermatomicroscope
Status
Attending Physician
PhD to MD here. Not even a question that MD job is way more secure than anything I would have gotten in the PhD world.

And someone mentioned that hospitals and things change...Ok, fine. But if I needed to, I could probably get on the phone today and have three or four interviews for another job set up by the end of the day. Worst case scenario, I could start my own practice (admittedly more difficult in the current climate of private equity). That doesn't happen in the PhD world typically.
 
May 24, 2019
282
253
Hi everyone,

I just recently defended my PhD thesis and started working in the biotech industry, but still plan to apply to medical schools in a year and pursue the life long dream of becoming a physician.

I read many thread on whether it makes financial sense to become a physician at an older age (I'm 30) etc, and a lot of these thread make a pretty huge assumption that's never mentioned - job security. My PhD is in life sciences, I also have experience in biomedical engineering and generally very strong credentials, but it still took me a few months to find my current job even though I'm in the tri-state area (lots of biotech/pharma companies here). My current boss spent almost three decades at one of the largest pharma companies just to be laid off (they just moved her entire department to the West coast) and struggle to find a job in today's economy even though she has incredibly strong and impressive credentials.

My question then, what's the job security in medicine? Assuming it's pretty comfortable, I'd argue it makes financial sense given how unstable and unpredictable biotech industry is.

Thoughts?
You are a very smart person... If assuming you are gonna start mcat prep and apply starting next cycle- its gonna take 5-6 years to just get to graduate med school, another 3-8 years depending on specialty; with a average of 250000$ in loans (without potential income you are gonna get starting off now) and you are gonna be an attending in your 40's... Only you can decide if its really worth it.
 
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