Not Exactly A People Person? How To Use A Medical Degree For Research Instead

Posted on: 5 March 2018


It is not uncommon to start a degree and then discover just as you are finishing your coursework that it may just be the wrong path for you. Do not feel bad; being a doctor, nurse, clinician, etc., is not for everyone, as not everyone can be a "people person." However, all is not lost yet. You can still use your medical degree. You can go into medical research so you can still help people, but not have to treat patients directly. As you come to the end of your coursework for your medical degree, here is how you can head toward medical research programs for students instead of internships in clinics.

Look for Research Opportunities on Your College Campus

College campuses always have some type of research going on. If there are no medical research opportunities on campus, consult with the instructors. Many of them are often working on their own research projects on the side and could probably use a lab assistant. Sometimes the professors even advertise for lab assistants in order to give students research opportunities in which the students might be interested.

Check With Pharmaceutical Companies

Pharmaceutical companies always need research technicians. Regular openings occur several times a year, so it helps to check with these companies often. You would be assisting these companies in testing and delivery of their new medications, as well as assisting in clinical trials. Most of the work is lab work, but it is invaluable to patients. 

Apply to Research Hospitals

Research hospitals are hospitals that treat patients, but they also perform research, utilize new and experimental treatments on patients, and create new treatments for patients that have tried everything else. You spend about half your time in a lab, and the other half of the time treating patients, although you could eventually work your way up to a full-time position doing just research and forensic analysis.

Paper Product Companies Need Researchers Too

Companies that produce consumer paper products such as diapers, feminine hygiene products, and incontinence products need researchers, too. In this type of research, you are looking to improve these products so that they are non-irritiating, maintain dryness, and prevent infections. You would also be developing and testing new products that can benefit women, infants, toddlers, and older adults. Research nurses are typically responsible for the clinical trials, releasing you from this part of the research.

Do Not Forget About Chemical Companies

In addition to all of the above, medical researchers are needed at chemical companies as well. Your role here is to determine the dangers of each chemical on the human body. Does it cause breathing problems? Is it dangerous to get a particular chemical on the skin or in the eyes? Is the chemical safe for use in its intended capacity? These are just some of the many medical questions you have to answer and problems you need to resolve before the company can begin marketing the products.

Finally, Check USMLE Scientific Research Program Boards

The research boards sponsored or approved by the United States Medical Licensing Examination (or USMLE) board are pre-approved scientific research programs. Notices for available programs are posted regularly. Medical students who have decided that they would rather go into research can check these boards for programs that would help them obtain the requirements and credits needed to enter the research field instead of the direct care field.

Applications for any kind of research program must be made early. Late applications for any research program are generally not accepted. There is also quite a bit of competition for the more interesting programs, so it helps to apply as early as possible.