Both MD and MD-PhD students can pursue careers as physician scientists. Depending on your interest, there are several different disciplines to choose from, including laboratory science, clinical research, and health services research. Researchers often work at academic medical centers, for the pharmaceutical industry, or with the government. If you’re considering a career in research, it will be important to maximize your research experiences during medical school. You can do this by participating in a research project, taking a gap year for a research scholars program or other structured research experience, or participating in summer research internships..
If you like teaching the next generation, you can choose to use your medical degree to educate other health professionals. Some of the many options include teaching basic science courses to first- and second-year medical students, teaching clinical skills to third- and fourth-year students, supervising student research projects, focused training of residents in their chosen specialty, and teaching nurses or physician assistants.
Physician executives lead and manage health care organizations such as hospital systems, medical schools, and insurance companies, helping them fulfill their mission. These positions occur in every sector of health care and include CEO’s, chiefs of staff, and chief medical officers. Joint degrees in health administration (MHA) or business administration (MBA) can be of value for this career track. Executives spend most of their time on administrative duties, with less time for research, patient care, or teaching.
Beyond these career paths are still many other options for using your medical degree. A small but growing number of medical school graduates are choosing alternative careers such as public health, political advocacy, journalism, and medical informatics. If you want to hold a role in government working to address health issues within society, help communicate about medicine and science to the general public, or crunch data, these careers might be up your alley. While a medical degree will make you highly competitive in these fields, keep in mind there may be additional skills or credentials you’ll need.
The choice is yours, but let us help you understand your options.