14 November, 2017
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The answer to “What you can do with your medical degree, “is only limited by your imagination, ambition and perseverance. Medical degrees are changing, from courses embedded within conservative traditionalism, teaching science and clinical reasoning. To the degrees of the future, developing adaptable professionals with adaptable skill sets.
In this piece, I shall discuss the customary clinical roles graduates occupy, but also the many other pursuits medical professionals undertake in our didactic field. From GP, to Hollywood Doctor to medical poet, there is a wide range of careers Doctors occupy.
The diversity of the careers medical graduates undertake reflects the learning undertaken in modern medical degrees. The days are gone from simply cramming anatomy, physiology, pharmacology etc. Now, as medical curriculums recognize the pluralistic requirements of the societies doctors serve, they have adapted how and what they teach. Medical curriculums endeavour to teach students to work as scientists, researchers, and academics’. They build students into professionals, who appreciate public health, social, psychological and cultural factors surrounding different populations. Knowing the relevant law so that doctors can advocate for their patients. Building a whole empathetic, professional and competent doctor rather than a walking encyclopedia.
Medical graduates work within clinics, practicing clinical medicine, treating people and the diseases that they suffer from. I’m going to guess you were aware of this fact, but, did you know the wide variety of medical areas? Not only is there the division into General practice, surgery and physicians but in total, over 60 different specialty areas, medical practitioners operate within. This range in itself demonstrates the variety of the medical world, you can sub-specialize in a niche area, or practice widely; such as a Rural Generalist.
Medical Doctors are academics, and actively participate in areas such as research and medical education. It is very common for physicians to work clinically and participate in research pertinent to their medical area. Allowing them to further contribute to the medical community, one based on building on the knowledge of previous generations. Following from this, many Doctors work in Medical Education, developing the skills of the future generations of Doctors. Teaching from older Doctors is crucial to developing future Doctors, as is the research community influencing clinical guidelines. Research and Medical Education is crucial to the development of the medical community’s knowledge base and skills, which is why many Doctors pursue this as a career. If you're interested in looking at further study in the medical field, PostgradAustralia is a great platform that allows you to compare explore and compare your options and interests, and even apply for different courses around Australia.
Doctors are actively involved in social justice, working as advocates for vulnerable people and working towards positive social change in the community. This can be as Public Health Physicians conducting health research to persuade policy development to address key health and social issues. Or working directly in policy development, advising and leading political and government bodies in tackling issues such as disease outbreaks, health inequalities and global health injustices. These avenues allow medical graduates with a passion for public health, politics and human rights to use all their skills to represent not just single patients, but, instead large groups of people and evoke positive change.
I am sure you have heard of Atul Gawande, he is just one example of a Doctor who has branched out into the world of literature. Using his literary prowess to communicate his experiences as a doctor and as person more broadly. Using your medical degree to engage with the public through many mediums such as books, blogs, vlogs and documentaries contributes to dialogue between the public and the medical community. It's so important for the breakdown of the barriers between us, it enhances transparency and further improved doctor – patient relationships.
So many other career options exist using a MD that I simply don’t have the space or time to elucidate such. However, some notably areas that people with MD’s work in include; technology/ biomedical device development and innovation, entertainment ( I attended a talk by the on-set Doctor for Survivor it was amazing ) , medical photography and filmography.
Finally, leaving the medical profession is okay to. Medicine is an amazing career, but if you ever feel that it’s not for you anymore that’s perfectly fine. Always remember to put yourself first and follow something you find truly meaningful and fulfilling. I hope you found this piece slightly less overwhelming than it was for me researching the different careers there are for medical graduates.