May 13, 2009
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I used to be "premed" (bio major) but now I am kinda lost. I am planning to take my GRE to enter grad school (master's or Ph.D., still am not sure what to pick since some schools have the same subject but there are both degrees) but I don't want to tear myself from the sciences/medical/health. Can you guys help me out in what kind of careers that can be taken from a grad degree that has branched off from biology (physiology, anatomy, biomedical sciences, cellular biology, molecular genetics, neuroscience, public health, health administration, and the list goes on...). I don't want to get a degree and find out that I am stuck without a job/career. I was wondering if any of you can give insight as to what degree you might have had and what job goes along with it. Or if you have any info that you could pass along to me. I have a large scope of interest so any suggestions?
 

wholeheartedly

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I guess the big question here is why do you want to go to grad school? If you're planning to go just because you aren't sure what to do with your bio degree I'd like to tell you hold off for the moment. I'll also tell you to hold off if until you havea clear idea of what you plan to do with it. Of course you should stay flexible and open to different possibilities, I'd just like to advise against just going for the sake of going.

In order to give you the best ideas, it would probably be most helpful to people on here to know more about your interests and what types of things you enjoy doing and learning about. What were your favorite types of classes? Have you done research? If so, did you enjoy it? Would you like looking at things on a reductionist type level such as molecular, genetics, cellular, or are you a more of a big picture system wide or population level type person? Could you see yourself doing diagnostic testing in healthcare setting? Would you rather be looking at chronic or infectious disease patterns in a population like epidemiology or biostats? Do you like to interact with people a lot or a little? Are you a hands on person who likes tinkering? Do you like teaching others and sharing info? How would you feel about writing grants?

Also, keep in mind there are some great rather hidden sci/med related careers that don't require graduate school, though for some of these you can do an advanced degree as well. (I'm not talking about things like nursing either)
 
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NerdyAndrea

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Feb 10, 2010
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I agree with wholeheartedly and if none of those things that wholeheartedly has said apply, look at what you think you want. Maybe you need a different Bachelor's even. There are all kinds of fields that lead in to healthcare of some sort.

Social Science is an opportunity too, or social medicine. There are many things that can be done in your position. Don't go just to go I want to reiterate wholeheartedly's point. Healthcare is a VAST field, and there are opportunities for everything under the sun.
 
May 13, 2009
182
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NJ
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Pre-Medical
It's sad, isn't it? I am interested in whatever I took in my almost done undergrad part (almost done with my bachelors). I feel like I shouldn't have to travel to the opposite side of the world to just get a good job or to get a job period (what paranoids me the most). But in any case, I liked my cells & molecules (an intro bio) genetics, anatomy and physiology classes (I liked microbiology but felt it wasn't different to what I learned before so I am still foggy on this one) I like to number what I am interested in order:

1) The reductionist type

2) Diseases (epidemiology/biostats)

3) Diagnostic testing

4) Lab work (does it fall under diagnostic testing or I am thinking this is all else.

5) Am not sure about teaching even though I have thought about it.

I don't mind being around/working with people but I rather be isolated and doing my own work and just handing it in at the end of the day type thing. But if it was a last resort, then yes I don't mind (I am very friendly person in person but rather shy away).

P.S. I feel like 1 & 2 are both tied more than anything. I like finding "causes," if that makes sense.
 
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wholeheartedly

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ok, since you like the cells and molecules and finding causes graduate school might be an option. I did do grad school for awhile but I'll let someone with a masters or PhD tell you more about that track.

I would like to introduce you to some of the clinical lab sciences, which is what I currently do.

Basically the clinical lab science folks are the one's that do the testing in the hospital that the docs use to diagnose people. We learn A LOT about how the docs use/interpret the results too (disease pathways and processes that result in the abnormal lab values, treatments, drug mechanism of action, different leukemias, etc). A lot of people have the misconception that their blood gets drawn, throat gets swabbed, it goes on a machine and the answer pops out. In reality it doesn't really work like that.

It's something I'd never heard of and stumbled into by accident. I totally fell in love with it. It took me a year and half after my bio degree and it flew by. There are great job opps all over the country, pay is good, and there's more of a shortage than there is for nurses. You can go on to get your masters if you choose, or you can specialize in something like molecular diagnostics or virology.

Cool things I've gotten to do:

During my internship I went out and drew a blood sample on a patient for a CBC. I put the sample on the analyzer and noticed the counts were off. The machine flagged it as abnormal. I took a drop of the pts. blood, made a smear, stained the slide and put in under the microscope to do a manual count and differential. I noted a very prevalent abnormal lymphocyte type and some other features. I went and told the pathologist that I had a sample that looked like chronic lymphocytic leukemia. He agreed. Technically, only a physician can "diagnose" but often the lab folks notice the weird stuff and bring it to them to look at and officially diagnose.

I've examined culture plates from a blood culture and stool culture on a very sick, septic patient and isolated Salmonella and performed antibiotic sensitivity testing. Looked at the urine of 50 something women under a microscope and saw some nice happy trichomonas guys swimming around.

Other stuff we do, run chemistries, do immunoassays & pcr, blood typing, newborn testing, and compatibility testing, molecular diagnostics, fertility testing, and much more. Courses you'll take: hematology, immunology, parasitology, medical microbiology, clinical chemistry, bloodbanking, body fluid analysis and others.
Here's a link to more info (the pay cited is a bit low compared to what most of my classmates are getting starting out):

http://www.ascp.org/pdf/TheMedicalTechnologistandMedicalLaboratoryTechnician.aspx

If getting really down and dirty with specimens isn't quite your thing and genetics and molecular stuff is more up your alley you can do cytogenetics or cytotechnology. I don't do these myself but here's a link you can read up on it. Most of these programs have an option to do around a 1 year long intensive program after you do your biology bachelors so you don't have to start over from scratch. Pay is also very good and there is high demand for these people as well. The facility here has a one year program for cytotechnology after you complete a bachelors and at one time if they hired you they were forgiving the tuition for the program.

http://www.ascp.org/pdf/Cytotechnologist.aspx

From these to areas you can get involved in research if you work at a larger medical facility.

Lastly, I should mention Pathologists Assistants, which is pretty much a physician assistant to the pathologist (not just working with dead people). Most are Masters programs now. Path assts here make more than Phys. assts and Nurse Practioners.

http://www.explorehealthcareers.org/en/Career.119.aspx

http://www.pathologistsassistants.org/Default.aspx?s=whatisaPA


These are just a few things outside the traditional things most people think of doing in healthcare. I plan to go to medical school, but my lab science background rekindled my interest in infectious disease epidemiology and I'll be working on an MPH in Epi part-time while I work. Hopefully other people will chime in on other lesser known options as well. My biggest advice is to think outside the box and really do your homework before jumping into anything. You really never know what you might find. Good luck.

(for anyone else who might be reading this, other lesser know things include: dosimetrist, cardiac perfusionist* (really cool one)... actually, just go here http://www.explorehealthcareers.org/en/Field.1.aspx and highlight allied health on the left menu for a dropdown list or go here http://www.mayo.edu/mshs/ for a big long list of options).
 
May 13, 2009
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NJ
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Thank you wholeheartedly! I really appreciate your help. I think I can narrow down my decision now.
 

ArkansasRanger

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Thank you wholeheartedly! I really appreciate your help. I think I can narrow down my decision now.
I don't know a lot about the field although I considered it once, and I learned a couple of things. One, some universities offer accelerated track programs for those who already have science degrees or have degrees for people with certain prereq courses. Two, if you're any form of color blind (like me) you're out of luck.
 

wholeheartedly

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I don't know a lot about the field although I considered it once, and I learned a couple of things. One, some universities offer accelerated track programs for those who already have science degrees or have degrees for people with certain prereq courses. Two, if you're any form of color blind (like me) you're out of luck.

There are fast track programs if you already a bachelors.

At my school you weren't out if color blind, you just had to make some adjustments if you were, though I can definitely see where it would complicate things a lot.
 
May 13, 2009
182
1
0
NJ
Status
Pre-Medical
Thank you for all your help! I might consider fast track options. I am sorry to hear that you are color-blind. They use the three colors (red, green and blue) so it might be troublesome. But no I thank God that I am not.