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Need Advice: Is microbiology the right career for me?

Need Advice: Is microbiology the right career for me? - Microbiology Forum

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  #1  
Old 03-02-2011, 05:03 PM
Pipette Filler
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Default Need Advice: Is microbiology the right career for me?



The more I read about microbiology the more I love micro, but at the same time my fascination with microbiology is increasing my confidence that micro is what I want to do in life is decreasing.

1. Research sound fun for a while, but the higher you move up the less time you get to spend in the lab, which does not appeal to me.

2. Academia sounds good, but the fact that finding a tenured position is increasingly difficult does not help. I would be required to do research (in addition to teaching) in academia and so I'd face the same problems with research mentioned above.


Finally, What I actually want to do as a microbiologist:

I don't know if what I want to do is realistic or if I should consider another career (such as journalism??? human rights... ).
I want to create my own non-profit or join an already established non-profit and work to decrease the effects of infectious diseases in developing nations. I want to make a long term difference by teaching the laypeople how to avoid infectious diseases as well as educate doctors and nurses on how to better treat infectious diseases. In addition I will provide training to microbiologists in developing nations so that they can keep their skills current, as well as establish inexpensive and sustainable public health/medical microbiology labs and schools so that way I make a difference in the long term health of the people. I'm frustrated when I see governments send millions of dollers and hundreds of nurses to developing countries for short term medical relief missions, I want to focus on developing long term improvements in health so that these developing nations can (perhaps slowly) start helping themselves.

Is this goal realistically possible or should I consider another career?
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Old 03-02-2011, 05:26 PM
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Default Re: Need Advice: Is microbiology the right career for me?

Heopfully the user [Only registered users see links. ] will drop by, he knows a lot about the micro field.

None-the-less, the concerns you have may be overblown.

Firstly, there are a lot of micro jobs outside of academia - food production, amongst others. Even within academia, non-faculty positions such as research associates do exist, and would allow you to do research without having to deal too much with the office-work.

That said, faculty positions are not as bad as you seem to think. While I do spend a lot of time in my office, that time is spent planning experiments, developing ideas, etc - which, at least for me, is the fun part. Plus, if you make the effort, you can keep working in the lab.

I'd also point out that academia is not the only possibility for research jobs. Pharma and biotech have research positions, which are generally easier to get into than faculty positions. There are also a lot of micro jobs in places like public health offices, military research institutes, various government officies, and so forth. All would offer you the opportunity to engage in research, without a lot of the overhead that comes along with a faculty job.

As for your NPO questions, I cannot say. The WHO and similar organisations may have opportunities like you're talking about - you'd have to look closer at their operations to see if that is the case.

I'll end with the same advice I always give - find something you enjoy. Life is far too short to hate your job.

Bryan
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Old 03-02-2011, 10:31 PM
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Default Re: Need Advice: Is microbiology the right career for me?

Well, you do make a good argument in favor of research, but I just don't feel that a career in research is right for me. Although I am sure I'll do some research on my way towards a PhD, and I look forward to that research, but after that I don't see myself being a researcher although I might be involved in some research on the side.

I will have to look into what opportunities WHO offers, but I wonder what is the likelyhood that an organization like WHO is going to need someone to do what I want to do? If there are 100 microbiologists per every job that I want then perhaps my chances of getting the job I want are unrealistic?

The biggest problem with finding something I enjoy is that often things are not as they seem... Growing up I wanted to be a vet because I loved animals, but I didn't think I could handle euthanizing any animals, and eventually I decided it was more important to help people, although I see nothing wrong with being a vet and I still love animals. So next I decided to become a doctor, but after a while I realized nursing was closer to what I wanted to do and I got accepted into a good nursing school and loved it, but my nursing professor told me to find another career because I was no good at nursing. So here I am considering a career in micro because I do well in biology, I took a course in introductory microbiology and loved it, and I've done a fair amount of reading on microbiology and find it interesting.
The problem is "what am I going to be doing on an average day as a microbiologist"? Despite being socially awkward, I want to be directly involved with people, whether that means teaching villagers about the need to use mosquito netting, or advising doctors on which antibiotics to use. I know that every day won't be action packed and intense, tracking down dangerous microbes like some kind of hollywood fantasy, but I don't want to get stuck with a career I thought I would enjoy, but in reality is not what I thought it would be like. Nevertheless, I thank you for your advice, which I believe holds true despite my concerns.
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Old 03-03-2011, 05:18 PM
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Default Re: Need Advice: Is microbiology the right career for me?

Micro is a great education, but your Public Health goal either warrants a pathology or MD/Epidemiology or Public Health credential.

That said my advice to you is to stay idealistic and enthused about your goal. Those qualitites are what gets you the individual into top programs and grant monies. Your whole public health sector goals you mention are exactly goals being pitched by the Bill Gates Foundation--for views on healthcare in Africa. And I can tell you the people that pitch those goals are helluva charismatic and connected---not bad company to keep.

Assuming you are very charismatic, I would tell you to find a great Micro professor.
Tell him you want to accomplish your goals from a pure Microbiology standpoint, and you want to learn enough Microbiology to communicate the knowledge as well as him/her.
All great PhDs/Professors should have mentees, and that's what you should have a mentor to get you started----learn and read a lot about your field, and observe the character traits that makes your mentor so effective.

Then either use the connections or traits you acquire to get the Public Health credential, and so on to your goal.
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Old 03-03-2011, 05:33 PM
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Smile Re: Need Advice: Is microbiology the right career for me?

Quote:
Originally Posted by H Singh View Post
but after a while I realized nursing was closer to what I wanted to do and I got accepted into a good nursing school and loved it, but my nursing professor told me to find another career because I was no good at nursing. So here I am considering a career in micro because I do well in biology, I took a course in introductory microbiology and loved it, and I've done a fair amount of reading on microbiology and find it interesting.
If you are an RN go into Public Health/Epidemiology for grad school and focus on pathogen transmitted diseases.
Also 1 professor is 1 opinion, doesn't mean you have to follow it. Make your own decisions.
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Old 03-03-2011, 10:10 PM
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Default Re: Need Advice: Is microbiology the right career for me?

Some MPH programs allow students to focus on infectious diseases, so what if I got my BS in biology focusing on micro, or specifically got a BS in micro and then got my MPH with a focus on infectious diseases instead of getting a PhD in microbiology and a MPH?
Would I be qualified to teach doctors/nurses about how to deal with infectious diseases with only an MPH focused on infectious disease?

Obviously I need a firm foundation in micro in order to achieve my goals, but at the same time it is not like I am making new discoveries or performing original research, mostly I'd be taking the stuff we already know about infectious diseases and showing others how to do it and find more effecient ways of doing it. If I need to get a PhD then fine I'll do it, but if I don't need a Phd then I don't see the point in all that time, money and effort.


Thank you, your advice is very helpful.
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Old 03-03-2011, 10:14 PM
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Default Re: Need Advice: Is microbiology the right career for me?

I loved nursing school, but for some reason I was no good at nursing despite the fact I'm great at biology and most other subjects. Nursing is both an art and science which requires a special person.
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Old 03-04-2011, 03:40 AM
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Smile Re: Need Advice: Is microbiology the right career for me?

Quote:
Originally Posted by H Singh View Post
BS in micro and then got my MPH with a focus on infectious diseases instead of getting a PhD in microbiology and a MPH?

Would I be qualified to teach doctors/nurses about how to deal with infectious diseases with only an MPH focused on infectious disease?
If you are an RN, go straight to Masters. If not and you need a Bachelor's then yes get one in Microbiology. Then apply to grad school, seek out those located within Health Science Centers, and go for MPH-epidemiology/infectious etc. or PhD in Pathology.
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