Medical graduates can expect fairly secure career prospects (after all, society will always need doctors), with significant financial rewards. Within medical careers, however, you'll find a large amount of variation in salaries, depending on which medical specializations you choose and the level of expertise you reach. A general practitioner, for example, would not expect to earn as much as a neurologist or plastic surgeon.
Working in a hospital or surgery
The majority of medical degree graduates go on to become practising physicians – the traditional hands-on role of diagnosing and treating patients, working in a hospital or surgery. As discussed in the previous section, there are many possible different specializations here, ranging from general practice to highly specialized areas of diagnosis and treatment.
However, beyond roles based in hospitals and surgeries, there are several other alternative settings for medical careers.
Some graduates of medical degrees choose to go into medical research, using their expertise to contribute to the understanding of diseases, and the development of new diagnostic techniques and treatments. This could mean researching the causes of different illnesses, examining the effectiveness of new drugs, or working on advancing medical technologies such as those involved in developing artificial limbs, fertility treatments and gene therapy.
Further options for medical careers
There are also a range of medical career options that take medical graduates out of the more familiar settings for medical care. This include:
· Defence medical services, which employ military and civilian doctors to provide medical support to armed forces personnel around the world.
· Prison health services, where medical professionals provide the same treatment as they would in any hospital or surgery. Knowledge of fields such as mental health and substance abuse would be advantageous in this role.
· Working abroad in developing countries, to help improve access to health care and/or to provide emergency relief. Development work may include establishing medical infrastructures, running clinics and managing medical education programs. Specializations in accident and emergency, obstetrics and gynaecology, public health, infectious diseases and general practice are all in high demand.
· Expedition officers, who are employed to treat holidaymakers on expeditions and trips abroad. In this role, medical professionals should be able to anticipate and prepare for potential dangers such as altitude, gastroenteritis and infections.
Other alternatives to clinical practice
Beyond the various roles associated with health care provision, candidates with the skills and abilities gained from medical degrees are also likely to be highly valued across a broad range of employment sectors. Examples of career options that would combine a medical background with a new field include medical journalism, medical law, pharmaceutical development, medical education, health service management, and health care policy.