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Medical scientists typically have a Ph.D., usually in biology or a related life science. Some medical scientists get a medical degree instead of a Ph.D., but prefer doing research to practicing as a physician.Education
Students planning careers as medical scientists typically pursue a bachelor’s degree in biology, chemistry, or a related field. Undergraduate students benefit from taking a broad range of classes, including life sciences, physical sciences, and math. Students also typically take courses that develop communication and writing skills, because they must learn to write grants effectively and publish research findings.
After students have completed their undergraduate studies, they typically enter Ph.D. programs. Dual-degree programs are available that pair a Ph.D. with a range of specialized medical degrees. A few degree programs that are commonly paired with Ph.D. studies are Medical Doctor (M.D.), Doctor of Dental Surgery (D.D.S.), Doctor of Dental Medicine (D.M.D.), and Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.). Whereas Ph.D. studies focus on research methods, such as project design and data interpretation, students in dual-degree programs learn both the clinical skills needed to be a physician and the research skills needed to be a scientist.
Graduate programs emphasize both laboratory work and original research. These programs offer prospective medical scientists the opportunity to develop their experiments and, sometimes, to supervise undergraduates. Ph.D. programs culminate in a thesis that the candidate presents before a committee of professors. Students may specialize in a particular field, such as gerontology, neurology, or cancer.
Those who go to medical school spend most of the first 2 years in labs and classrooms, taking courses such as anatomy, biochemistry, physiology, pharmacology, psychology, microbiology, pathology, medical ethics, and medical law. They also learn how to record medical histories, examine patients, and diagnose illnesses. They may be required to participate in residency programs, meeting the same requirements that physicians and surgeons have to fulfill.
Medical scientists often continue their education with postdoctoral work. Postdoctoral work provides additional and more independent lab experience, including experience in specific processes and techniques such as gene splicing, which is transferable to other research projects.Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Medical scientists primarily conduct research and typically do not need licenses or certifications. However, those who administer drugs, gene therapy, or otherwise practice medicine on patients in clinical trials or a private practice need a license to practice as a physician.Important Qualities
Communication skills. Communication is critical, because medical scientists must be able to explain their conclusions. In addition, medical scientists write grant proposals, because grants often are required to fund their research.
Critical-thinking skills. Medical scientists must use their expertise to determine the best method for solving a specific research question.
Data-analysis skills. Medical scientists use statistical techniques, so that they can properly quantify and analyze health research questions.
Decisionmaking skills. Medical scientists must determine what research questions to ask, how best to investigate the questions, and what data will best answer the questions.
Observation skills. Medical scientists conduct experiments that require precise observation of samples and other health data. Any mistake could lead to inconclusive or misleading results.
Average Length of Employment
Top Careers Before Post-Doctoral Scientist
Top Careers After Post-Doctoral Scientist
Hispanic or Latino7.0%
Black or African American1.1%
Unfortunately we don’t have enough data for this section.
University of Florida18.0%
Chicago School of Professional Psychology9.3%
Nova Southeastern University8.7%
University of Kentucky8.1%
Texas A&M University4.3%
University of Washington3.7%
University of California - Los Angeles3.7%
University of Alabama at Birmingham3.7%
University of Nebraska - Lincoln3.7%
University of Pittsburgh -3.7%
University of Iowa3.7%
Forest Institute of Professional Psychology3.1%
University of Central Florida3.1%
University of Colorado at Boulder3.1%
Ohio State University3.1%
Pennsylvania State University3.1%
Iowa State University3.1%
Johns Hopkins University3.1%
Unfortunately we don’t have enough data for this section.
|Job Title||Company||Location||Start Date||Salary|
|Post Doctoral Scholar||University of Kentucky||Lexington, KY||Jul 01, 2015||$129,854|
|Post-Doctoral||Hewlett-Packard Company||Palo Alto, CA||Mar 09, 2015||$110,614 -
|Post-Doctoral Scientist, Clinical Virology/Bioinformatics||Gilead Sciences, Inc.||Foster City, CA||Sep 05, 2015||$87,575 -
|Post-Doctoral Associate||University of Maryland College Park||College Park, MD||May 22, 2016||$79,300|
|Post-Doctoral Associate||University of Maryland College Park||Gaithersburg, MD||Oct 01, 2016||$75,216|
|Post-Doctoral Associate||University of Maryland College Park||Gaithersburg, MD||Jan 10, 2016||$75,216|
|Post Doctoral Associate||University of Florida||Gainesville, FL||Jan 01, 2015||$75,000|
|Scientist Post||Syngenta Flowers, Inc.||Gilroy, CA||Jan 08, 2016||$74,600 -
|Post-Doctoral Associate||University of Maryland College Park||Gaithersburg, MD||Oct 01, 2015||$72,843|
|Post-Doctoral Scientist Traits||Bayer Cropscience LP||Marion, AR||Sep 04, 2015||$72,000|
|Post-Doctoral Scientist Traits||Bayer Cropscience LP||Morrisville, NC||Sep 16, 2015||$72,000|
|Post-Doctoral Associate||University of Maryland College Park||Gaithersburg, MD||Jul 22, 2015||$71,332|
|Post-Doctoral Associate/Physics & Astronomy||Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey||Piscataway, NJ||Sep 09, 2015||$51,000|
|Post-Doctoral Associate||University of Maryland College Park||College Park, MD||Jan 09, 2016||$51,000|
|Post Doctoral Associate||Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey||New Brunswick, NJ||Jan 07, 2016||$51,000|
|Post Doctoral Associate||University of Florida||Gainesville, FL||Oct 01, 2015||$50,840|
|Post-Doctoral Associate||University of Maryland College Park||College Park, MD||Feb 15, 2016||$50,563|
|Post-Doctoral Associate||Virginia Commonwealth University||Richmond, VA||Jan 12, 2016||$50,440|
|Post Doctoral Associate||University of Florida||Wimauma, FL||Mar 13, 2015||$45,000|
|Post Doctoral Associate||University of Florida||Gainesville, FL||Oct 16, 2015||$45,000|
|Post Doctoral Scholar||Oregon State University||Corvallis, OR||Sep 15, 2015||$45,000|
|Post-Doctoral Scientist||Protea Biosiences, Inc.||Morgantown, WV||Sep 15, 2015||$45,000|
|Post Doctoral Associate||University of Florida||Gainesville, FL||Aug 21, 2015||$45,000|
|Post-Doctoral Associate||Virginia Commonwealth University||Richmond, VA||Aug 15, 2016||$45,000|
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CAREERS IN MA â€“ BA,P.Hd,Researcher,Teachers,Lecturers,Job Opportunities,Salary Package
3/6/2014 Non-Faculty Careers in Academia for Science & Engineering PhDs