Exploring Options with Your Medical Degree

If you have a medical degree but practicing medicine isn’t something you want, try transferring your skills elsewhere in the industry.
Gradsingapore Author Team
The gradsingapore Team

Medical education and training is a vigorous process that leaves you with an extensive array of experiences and transferable skills, including communication, planning, analysis, time management, problem-solving and the ability to work in teams and make decisions while working under pressure.

So if, after you have graduated with a medical degree, and you wish to leave medicine, there is no need to have a sense of shame or embarrassment – just take your skills with you and remember that your unique skill set has equipped you well and you stand a good chance to succeed.

Find out what your options are

A good way to begin your research into alternative routes is to read up on careers in publications geared towards one specific sector. The careers service centre in your university should be able to provide you with a number of resources.

Run your ideas by a careers advisor and figure out what skills you want to use in employment as well as how you can present yourself to potential employers. On the other hand, you can also visit graduate careers fairs to take a look at what positions are available and what employers are recruiting for.

Use your medical know-how

There are sectors and specialised roles wherein your medical background would be needed, though some positions may require considerable experience or perhaps even retraining or further qualifications.

For example, if you wish to enter medical politics in a senior managerial role such as clinical and medical directorships, working in medicine and gaining a significant amount of experience as a medical practitioner would be required, as do medical committees, councils or national bodies. Some government positions in administration, management, research and policy formation also need people with medical backgrounds.

Alternative medicine, otherwise known as complementary medicine, also calls for specialist training, though your current medical knowledge should give you an advantage in some parts of the training.

Working in medicine for a time is also needed if you wish to go into medical law. However, while you would also need a law degree in order to practice, demand for lawyers who are also medically trained are on the rise. Moreover, if you don’t want to do medico-legal work, there is the option of joining medical protection societies or taking a position as a coroner.

You could even step into the publishing industry by going into medical journalism and informatics where your background in science can afford you some advantages. It is a competitive field, however, and while some training in journalism may help you, you still need to be willing to work your way up from the bottom. There is also the area of medical communications to consider, where the writing of conference papers, training materials and clinical trial reports is involved.

Research is another option, where you will likely develop and run research programmes on top of raising public awareness. Otherwise, you could choose to specialise in areas of medicine sponsored by medical research charities and take up research positions offered there.

Another alternative path is that of sales, linking professionals in healthcare with the pharmaceutical industry.

Other options

There are other fields you could think about, some of which require specialisation or are in the private sector, while others, like crowd doctors, do not need an area of specialty as these doctors are usually employed to provide spectators with medical care at public events.

Roles in the private sector include those in sports and exercise medicine, where practitioners range from those who work as team doctors to others in marathon medicine.

Other alternative careers cover areas such as aviation medicine, where the health and fitness of crew and pilots are assessed before clearance is given to fly. Doctors specialising in dive medicine, however, treat decompression sickness and typically perform medicals on dive teams, ensuring their health and safety.

Maritime medicine, on the other hand, includes managing the medical needs of cargo ship crews to passengers aboard cruises and practitioners would usually travel around aboard the ships. Going into medical relief may also find you travelling often and to dangerous environments to provide medical relief to people where needed, usually in times of emergency.

Forensic psychiatry is another area you can consider, working with offenders exhibiting signs of mental disorder and assessing, treating and rehabilitating them. Forensic pathologists and forensic medical examiners, on the other than, specialise in examining the dead and the living respectively.