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PhD vs Graduate Entry Medicine

  • 29-05-2013 4:55pm
    Registered Users Posts: 3 Bio90


    I'm just looking for a little bit of advice. I graduated from NUIM (biomedical science) last year and am just about to finish an MSc in translational medicine.

    I'm torn between the ideas of either pursuing a PhD or going into graduate entry medicine. Obviously getting either is in no way simple and it'll take a serious amount of work and/or luck to get either.

    At the moment the more traditional route is to do a PhD but having experience working with PhD students and postdocs, I'm not too sure. Work in what you're interested in (in regards to post-PhD) is very hard to come by and even then, the money is hardly great. PhD's are becoming so common that it's pretty much a necessity to get any science-related job without being capped at that level for good.

    Another aspect of lab work I have a problem with is basically how isolating it can be. Scientists generally aren't exactly "people people" and, for lack of a better word, there's no craic or any kind of enjoyment (and I've worked in a lab with a large number of researchers all together). The lack of contact with anyone personable seems to be a big problem for me, I'm hardly very outgoing but the lab environment feels very isolating.
    However even through those negatives, a PhD is paying, which would be a welcome change from working a part-time job at night and attending college during the day. It would provide me with the ability to go higher as there is a glass ceiling both in academics and industry.

    On the other hand, grad entry medicine would require me to get a loan of a huge amount of money and I'd have to continue working part-time jobs to help fund myself. Another problem is the fact that I only received a 2.2 in my undergrad. Due to complications I sat all my final exams at once but NUIM might allow me to repeat to bring it up to a 2.1. (And yes I know a 2.2 will also hinder me in getting a PhD, but unlike medicine, it does not make it impossible in Ireland). But I've yet to sit the GAMSATs so I could do both next year. If I went this route I'd basically be around 28 finishing my MBBS which is then followed by working tough hours as a junior doctor.

    Has anyone gone this route? How have you found work after finishing?

    On the positive side, being a medical doctor usually brings with it a decent wage, a whole lot more employment opportunities and it is in itself a trade that can be applied easily in other countries if I were to emigrate later (provided I pass the respective country's examination). Medicine also gives the opportunity to be working with people every day in a relatively social environment instead of by yourself at a fume hood splitting cell lines.

    Whatever route I choose/manage to get into, I'll be 100% committed and I understand the difficulties of both.

    Apologies for the length but if anyone manages to trudge through it, do you have any advice??


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,759 ✭✭✭ jive

    Do you have any interest in going into the biotechnology, pharmaceutical or biopharmaceutical industry? There's a lot of jobs involved in such industries which don't involve working on your own or with the somewhat socially inept scientists which are fairly commonplace in research labs in my experience (not all of them obviously but more so than in any other workplace I've been in!).

    I wouldn't bother doing med simply for the wage. It will be a long haul before you start making decent money and even then you earn your money, if you are aiming to qualify as a doctor here then you will have to do a grotesque amount of hours in the hospital training and working. Also medicine isn't exactly the most social job, at least not more so than many other jobs out there.

    "PhD's are becoming so common that it's pretty much a necessity to get any science-related job without being capped at that level for good."

    I'd disagree with this. PhD's are rarely a requirement for any job outside of R&D in industry. If you wanted to work in a university or w/e then obviously a PhD would be required but other than that I'd only recommend doing a PhD if you REALLY wanted to which you don't seem to so, based solely on your post, I wouldn't recommend it. I also wouldn't recommend doing medicine for the money, there are other ways to make good money and again being a medical doctor is the type of job which you would really want to enjoy.

    I'd just recommend doing what you're interested in. If you're interested in medicine and being a doctor then go for it. If you're interested in doing a PhD and have an idea of what you want to do after obtaining your PhD then go for that. There is a lot more to the science industry than lab work so I'd suggest researching further in that regard if you have any interest in it. That's about all I have to offer, sorry if it's a bit general and cliché but from my experience it is true.