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Biomedical/Bioengineering or Medicine?

  • 1.  Biomedical/Bioengineering or Medicine?

    Posted 07-01-2020 13:15

    Hello, fellow chemical engineering students!

    I hope you and your family are safe and well during these trying times.

    In a few more years, I will be graduating with a Bachelor's Degree in Chemical Engineering. I want to pursue higher education, but I'm not sure whether to take a Master's in Biomedical/Bioengineering or a Doctor in Medicine (I'm interested in both, by the way. In fact, if there's only a way to directly integrate chemical engineering knowledge while being a doctor, or vice versa, I'd be glad to pursue that). I've been torn between the two because of several pros and cons I've collected over months of research:

    MS in Biomedical/bioengineering --> PhD in the same field or in a closely related field
    Pros:
    > Less expensive. My parents can most likely afford sending me to a respectable university if I pursue this.
    > Less number of years of study, thus I can help support our family sooner
    > Robots might replace doctors (This is potentially the future) in the future. Thus, employment demand will be high. (Even if I take a master's in ChemE, demand will still be high because of the world's increasing interest in renewable energy and in solutions to combating climate change)
    > Less tight schedule. I think a work-life balance would be more possible here.
    Cons:
    > A career in this field does not make a lot of money in our country (I want to be rich in the future to be able to help more people). Famous chemical engineers/biomedical engineers only become rich when they decide to found their own companies. I'm not at all very good with anything that's business-related (I can try, but I'm not sure if I'm interested enough).
    > A bioengineer/biomedical engineer needs tools to do his thing. He would always need to go to the laboratory or the company facility to work.
    > There are no prominent biotechnology companies in our country (I thought of building one, but like I said, I suck at anything business-related). Moreover, it's very difficult to have a successful career in this field in our country (Trivia: Only one university offers a bachelor's degree in biomedical engineering here).
    > A one-year or two-year master's in this field would either be very specific on certain topics (e.g.: tissue engineering, prosthetics, etc.) or would consist of introductory lectures in many topics. Either way, a specialization in this field would make it difficult for the engineer to transfer knowledge across other fields.

    Doctor of Medicine --> Surgeon
    Pros:
    > A doctor can go to far-flung areas and help provide quality healthcare to those in need, barehanded (or almost barehanded). Thus, a doctor might be able to help improve lives more and easier.
    > Doctors generally earn more compared to other professions, even in developing countries.
    > It's more ideal to practice medicine and work on research (bioengineering-related) during your free time than to work on research most of the time and practice medicine as a sideline.
    > The unimaginable personal satisfaction of saving a life with your two hands
    Cons:
    > Very expensive. We can't afford this unless I get a scholarship, which will be very difficult considering that I don't have stellar grades.
    > Very competitive environment. In our country, there are a lot of unemployed licensed physicians.
    > Considering my interest towards neurosurgery or cardiothoracic surgery, it will take many years before I become an expert and earn enough to support my family. Add this to the super tight schedule.
    > I don't know what I'll do if I won't be able to get into a respectable medical school :( I want to pass many application forms and take the MCAT, and my parents support me with this. However, I'm worried about spending a lot of money for these processes yet not being able to enter in any good university.

    I hope to hear your comments/advice on my dilemma. Additionally, kindly correct me if I'm wrong regarding the pros and cons that I've researched on the Internet and heard from other people. Thank you and stay indoors!



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    Antoinette Joy L. Argonza
    IV - BS Chemical Engineering
    De La Salle University
    Manila, Philippines
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  • 2.  RE: Biomedical/Bioengineering or Medicine?

    Posted 07-01-2020 17:38
    Hello Antoinette, how are you? I'm doing great! I hope you're fine and safe as well.

    First of all, I'd like to remember you that no matter what someone says, in the end you should follow your heart and how well you will feel doing whatever you choose to do. I don't think we have, in the student central (we are mostly undergraduate students) any career coach or something like this. Also, I want to congratulate you for doing such research. It's really impressive, and it will certainly help you.

    That being said, in my humble opinion, I don't know! hahaha. I don't know about how it works in your country, but here in Brazil there's no way of someone becoming a surgeon (after they complete their masters or PhD) unless they graduated from Med School (as a major). Again, that's how it works in Brazil: we have undergraduate students from Medicine. So I question myself if the second path you gave is doable. This way, the only path would be the first one.

    IF that is not the case, I believe the decision you make will ultimately follow your heart. A few points I'd like to raise:

    • Do you want to help in the front-line? Literally saving lifes with your two hands, or;
    • Do you want to be someone that supports the work of dozens of physicians?
    • In an extreme case, if you lose a patient in the operating room (what is possible, after all, there's always a risk, even bigger when we're talking about neurosurgery or cardiothoracic surgery), would you be able to live with it?
    • Would you be able to get a financing in case you don't get a scholarship? Or it would bring financial problems to your family, even with the financing?

    To be really honest, I believe both areas are beautiful, and both have their respective importance in the segment. I'm a strong believer that there aren't better professions than others, and all of them matter. So I don't think this thought should be holding as a con. As I said, I'd try to answer these 4 questions first, and perhaps from there I'd have a final say (if I were in your position). Of course, this can always change if you get a strong feeling for a specific area.

    I hope you'll find the answer you're looking for. Again, this is not easy, and even though I said a lot of things, you have to be sure with yourself. After all, you will be the one living your life. I wish you all the best!

    Best regards,

    ------------------------------
    Bruno Neves
    Student Chapter President at AIChE UFRJ
    Latin America Regional Liaison - ESC
    Publications Subcommittee/Student Central - ESC
    Chemical Engineering Undergraduate - UFRJ
    brunofra@eq.ufrj.br
    Rio De Janeiro - Brazil
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  • 3.  RE: Biomedical/Bioengineering or Medicine?

    Posted 07-02-2020 04:10
    Hi Bruno, thank you very much for your helpful advice! I'm currently on a home-based online class setting, so I'm able to do more Internet research about the things that matter. It's unfortunate that the current pandemic is making the present and the future even more unpredictable, making me more confused about my major decisions considering all factors. Thank you for sharing to me the questions I can ponder about my future career. Good luck to your future career as well!

    ------------------------------
    Antoinette Joy L. Argonza
    IV - BS Chemical Engineering
    De La Salle University
    Manila, Philippines
    ------------------------------



  • 4.  RE: Biomedical/Bioengineering or Medicine?

    Posted 07-02-2020 08:52
    Hello Antoinette!

    It's really nice to hear that you took this spare time to research more about it!

    I forgot to mention that, even though money is a really important factor, and for sure one should pursue it, it definitely shouldn't be your first one priority. When you're good and you love what you do, money is a consequence of your hard work.

    There's a saying my grandmother was used to say: "Kid, love your work. Because, otherwise, you will have to work grumpy and it will be a lot harder for you to prosper". I considered her with some experience in life, so I always think of that when I'm in some kind of doubt regarding this theme.

    Best regards,

    ------------------------------
    Bruno Neves
    Student Chapter President at AIChE UFRJ
    Latin America Regional Liaison - ESC
    Publications Subcommittee/Student Central - ESC
    Chemical Engineering Undergraduate - UFRJ
    brunofra@eq.ufrj.br
    Rio De Janeiro - Brazil
    ------------------------------



  • 5.  RE: Biomedical/Bioengineering or Medicine?

    Posted 07-02-2020 09:55
    I'll keep that in mind. Thank you for the additional advice Bruno!

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    Antoinette Joy L. Argonza
    IV - BS Chemical Engineering
    De La Salle University
    Manila, Philippines
    ------------------------------



  • 6.  RE: Biomedical/Bioengineering or Medicine?

    Posted 07-02-2020 07:57

    Bruno Neves said it all. Since you already started a career in Chemical Engineering, your first option would be preferable!
    To aspire to become a surgeon after studying Chemical Engineering sounds quite odd.






  • 7.  RE: Biomedical/Bioengineering or Medicine?

    Posted 07-02-2020 09:57
    Odd seems to be the new trend nowadays hahah thank you Olanrewaju!

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    Antoinette Joy L. Argonza
    IV - BS Chemical Engineering
    De La Salle University
    Manila, Philippines
    ------------------------------