What to do with a biology degree besides medical school. If you went to college and majored in biology, there are a lot of career paths both within and outside of healthcare that you can pursue other than medical school. Let’s be honest only a few people can enter medical school. The slots are limited.
Most people come into the healthcare field to help people in their communities. This is a very noble cause. Not getting into med school should not be a deterrent to dissuade you from this goal. You can still pursue your goal, by entering into an alternate career within healthcare.
Below I have listed all the common fields and careers in healthcare as well as some outside of healthcare if you have changed your mind altogether.
Biology Degree Alternatives within Healthcare
Become a Dentist after a biology degree
If you are not sure about med school anymore you should definitely look into dentistry as a career. Dentistry is one of those careers in healthcare in which you have complete autonomy as a practitioner. This includes the ability to make decisions, make diagnoses and prescribe treatment to the patients. Unlike most of the other careers on this list, dentistry is a completely separate career path. It includes a study about human teeth and how to fix them. Dentistry is a four-year program and you would have to go through dental school and residency to become a dental practitioner. In some countries, you can also get your dental license after four years of dental school and one year of internship. But in the US you would have to undergo a residency to get your self board certified.
Become a Pharmacist after a biology degree
You can also look into the field of pharmacy. Pharm D is the doctorate given to pharmacists. It stands for doctor of pharmacy. It is a field that deals with the prescription and use of medical drugs, and their manufacturing process. It does not entitle the ability to diagnose patients and prescribe medications to them. But it goes in-depth into how drugs are made. Where processes are used in small and large scale extraction of drugs. Which drugs can be harvested from the various plants and animals. It also goes in-depth into the art of identifying new drugs and chemicals, researching them, and bringing new life-saving medications to the market. It also deals with the dispensing of medications in pharmacies so that people get the right dosage and refill of their medications.
So it is a great career to pursue. Especially if you want to enter the manufacturing side of pharmacy studies. It can be lucrative to enter one of the big pharma companies and help the whole population on a larger scale.
Become a Physiotherapist after a biology degree
Physiotherapy is one of those fields which an essential part of healthcare. Physiotherapists pursue the doctor of physiotherapy degree (DPT). DPT focuses on teaching ways to maneuver the body to facilitate healing, rehabilitation (especially after trauma), prevent the development of diseases, and regaining normal muscular strength after periods of nonuse. It also deals with the rehab of patients that underwent nerve damage, spinal cord injuries, and brain tumors or diseases. It also deals with the health maintenance of sport and fitness athletes.
Physiotherapy is not a pseudoscience. It is a truly scientific field. It doesn’t promise any miracles or wonders as your average quack would. This is the major kickback that this field has had to face in certain countries including the US. Most people believe it to be quackery. Which is far from the case. Physiotherapy is essential for surgical patients. If the patients go through abdominal surgery chest physiotherapy will almost always be advised, except in certain cases. Similarly, patients who experience broken bones will most definitely be prescribed limb physiotherapy after the cast is removed or the operation has been performed on the limb.
So, if you want to consider this field as a career path, by all means, go ahead. Don’t get stereotyped by the crowd knowledge, the reality is far far different.
Become a Psychologist after a biology degree
Psychology is a great career to follow after a biology degree. Most colleges and universities will have a psychology major in either arts or science. If you took any of these courses while in college you are golden. As the upcoming studies will be very similar to ones you previously learned. You will now be pursuing a PsyD as a graduate course. The degree given after the program is of Doctor of Psychology. Most graduate-level courses will further allow students to enter specific fields within psychology such as marketing psychology, clinical psychology, research psychology, etc. You can then go on further in the field and achieve a doctorate in psychology.
The type of career in psychology will mostly depend on the field in psychology that you chose to enter. If you focused more on marketing psychology, you would be looking towards entering fields such as mega-store chains and helping them increase their sales.
If you focused on clinical psychology, then you would enter the clinical field and work directly with patients with mental disorders and needs.
If you focused on research psychology then you would be looking forward to a career in research of the human mind as well as teaching. You would have to pursue a doctorate and would look forward to being granted tenure at a university.
So psychology is one of the alternatives that gives a bit of freedom in career choice after you enter the field.
Become a Podiatrist after a biology degree
Podiatry is one of those careers that very less known in the general population. It deals with the ailments of the feet ranging from the diabetic foot all the way to bone fracture management and flaps. But it is one of the specialized fields. It deals with only the feet up to the ankle joint. You will also be working alongside other medical specialties such as IM, orthopedic surgery, general surgery, vascular, plastic, and neurosurgery as a team. The regulations for practice vary between different countries and also among different states in the US.
Some states require working under orthopedic specialists while others allow independent practice. The uncertainty in the career is probably the biggest reason why most students shy away from the field in general. But if you research the field and figure out the details, it can be a very viable field as there are a lot of open slots in the field. The career path in this field will mostly be clinical. Either you would be working in a hospital or as a private practice.
Become a Nurse after a biology degree
Nursing is a very important profession in healthcare. Nurses are involved in the day-to-day care of the patients and are an essential part of any hospital. Nursing can be pursued at an undergraduate level as well as at a graduate level. Most people will pursue nursing as an undergraduate but there is no stopping you to pursue it at a graduate level as well. You will have to undergo the NCLEX to obtain your nursing license. Some countries offer different programs for nursing such as
- Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)
- Registered Nurse (RN)
- Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN)
In these countries, you can become a LPN in as little as 12 months. In the US, while differences occur between states but typically students will need to complete their education, coursework, and hands-on skills and then pass the NCLEX-PN exam to obtain licensure.
To become a RN, you would have to get either an Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree (BSN). RN’s will have a greater scope of practice than LPN but the training is longer. A Professional Nursing ADN program can be completed in as little as 18 to 24 months. You would then need to pass the NCLEX-RN. A BSN can also be completed in as few as 12 to 18 months if you are already a LPN. But if you a fresher it can take up to 33 months.
To climb the nursing ladder and become an APRN you would need a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). A BSN is mandatory to enter a MSN program. You can find more info on these at the American Nursing Association website.
Become a Physician Assistant (PA) after a biology degree
Physician assistants typically will obtain a Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies by completing a three-year program. It is a graduate program available at many universities/colleges. The program needs to be an ARC-PA-accredited graduate program to obtain licensure as a PA. PAs will generally work under a physician and take on responsibilities such as prescribing medication and carrying out routine procedures. PAs are different from Nurse Practitioners. PAs take on the medical roles of charting and medical prescriptions while Nurse Practitioners will take on the nursing roles such as catheter placements, etc. So this can be a career choice within the healthcare field but in most countries and US states, you will not have the level of management and prescription authority that physicians have. You will have to work under the care of a licensed physician.
Become a Radiology or Nuclear Medicine Technician after a biology degree
This is one of those fields that are rarely talked about in the healthcare scenario. Most students will undergo a two to three-year diploma depending on the program and the university offering it. These programs differ very widely in many countries and US states so you would have to check your state or country requirements for enrolling in these programs. These diploma fields can be a great entry point into the healthcare field due to quick enrollment and job guarantees.
Become a Biotechnologist with a biology degree
Biotechnology is one of those fields which is offered both at the undergraduate and the graduate level. Under this degree program, students will be enrolled to study the science of biology and chemistry and its augmentation, improvement, and enhancement using technology. You will take both biology classes and physics and engineering classes. These will help to make you adept in the field. Biotechnologists mostly work in the research field or in many pharmaceutical or medical technology companies. They can work in various capacities all the way from processes to extract insulin from animals and synthesizing insulin in bacteria to designing and perfecting medical instruments such as a colonoscope. So if you can’t decide between engineering and healthcare maybe this field that combines both of the fields may the one to go for you.
Become a Forensic Science expert with a biology degree
Ok, so forensic science helps in the application of the fields of medicine and technology in the establishment of law and justice. The major subjects in the field include chemistry, criminal justice, biology, and computer science. You will be taught ways to figure out the clues necessary to solve a case. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), forensic science technicians earn a median annual salary of $59,150. This number is way lower when you compare it to the other fields in the list. But this field is completely different than the other fields on the list. It focuses on the law and its implementation more than healthcare.
Become a Public Health Specialist
Public health is an important part of every country. Most public health specialists specialize in the management of public immunization and other disease control programs. They deal with the allocation of various resources such as vaccines, etc. They also look into subjects such as diseases prevalent in the community and how to prevent their transmission and devise a community-level cure. They also look into ways of preventing diseases such as malaria and dengue, and also into ways of preventing water-borne diseases in the various areas by the sanitation of water reserves, etc. They operate on a community level but in a specific area or region and not on an individual level like most healthcare fields.
With the recent, Covid-19 crisis we all clearly saw the importance of public health specialists. Countries where public health specialists took immediate measures such as Australia and New Zealand saw very low morbidity and mortality rate. Countries, where no public health programs were in place, saw a very high level of morbidity and mortality rate. So a great demand for public health has risen in wake of the pandemic. This means that the field is ripe for new entrants and is booming.
Summary – What to do with a biology degree besides medical school.
So in summary there a lot of fields in healthcare outside plain med school. This list explains the various healthcare fields in a bit detail. Check out “Biology Degree Alternatives outside Healthcare” to learn the fields outside healthcare that you can pursue after a biology degree.
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