How to Become a Medical Scientist

How to Become a Medical Scientist

Medical science is an important health discipline that focuses on maintaining good health and preventing illness and disease. Medical scientists are trained professionals that research a variety of human conditions and diseases to improve health and create new treatment and prevention methods.

What does a medical scientist do?

Medical scientists study human biological systems to develop an understanding of the causes of illnesses, diseases, and other health conditions. They conduct biomedical research and development to build a strong knowledge of the life processes in infectious agents such as bacteria and viruses. This helps in proper prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of many conditions. They are involved in the process of creating new medications, treatments, and vaccines. Some medical scientists are also licensed physicians that can administer treatment and medication to patients. They often work with patients in clinical trials to observe the results of treatments and medications and monitor reactions. Many medical scientists are involved in genetic engineering to lead to the discovery of specific genes that are associated with many harmful diseases.

What kind of training does a medical scientist need?

Medical scientists usually need a doctorate degree in biological science. Some medical scientists have medical degrees. Medical scientists typically complete courses in biology, chemistry, physics, engineering, mathematics, and computer science. Most medical scientists pursue postdoctoral positions to gain laboratory experience before they apply for permanent positions. Medical scientists that administer gene or drug therapy to patients and have direct contact with patients must be licensed physicians. They must stay up to date on the current advancements in the field and they often complete continuing education throughout their careers.

What are the prospects for a career as a medical scientist?

Employment of medical scientists is projected to grow faster than average for all professions, increasing 20% from 2006 to 2016 (1). The increased demand for medical research and the increased growth of biotechnology firms will drive job growth.

Job prospects are expected to be good especially for medical scientists with advanced training and extensive experience. Many job openings will occur from the need to replace medical scientists that retire, transfer, or leave the profession for other reasons.

How much do medical scientists make?

As of November 2009, medical scientists with 1 to 4 years experience earn average annual salaries between $37,772 and $90,000. Those with 5 to 9 years experience earn average annual salaries between $42,500 and $78,850 (2).

A career as a medical scientist is an excellent choice for individuals interested in understanding the causes of health conditions and developing treatments and medications. Medical scientists must have a strong medical knowledge and excellent research skills. Organization, patience, motivation, and determination are essential characteristics. Medical scientists must have strong oral and written communication because they often interact with a variety of health professionals and patients. They must also be able to effectively work independently as well as part of a team.

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