When you start out your university career, it can be daunting to make a decision about which degree to pursue. It can be hard to make a choice; as if a going in one direction will limit you forever or force you into a direction that you might not want to go in later.
One of the most versatile degree you can get is a bachelor’s degree in pre-med. With this degree, there are endless options in front of you. Just because you have a degree in pre-med does not mean you have to go on to be a doctor. There are many things you can do with this undergraduate medical degree.
What do you study in pre-med?
Pre-med classes are heavy on science. You will focus on biology, organic chemistry, physics, and chemistry. In fact, even if you wish to become a doctor, you can do so by getting an undergraduate degree in nearly any science degree there is.
Most pre-med courses will also include a focus on English and a math requirement. This could be calculus, statistics, or both. You might also take classes in psychology and sociology, writing, genetics, public health, microbiology, physiology, and ethics.
Going to medical school
This is the most obvious choice after you’ve obtained your pre-med degree; though it’s definitely not the only one. Medical school itself is hardly limiting. With your medical degree you can move into podiatry services or surgery; become a general practitioner or an allergist. There are at least 65 different types of doctors.
From medical school you can also go into dentistry or psychology. You might end up as an oral surgeon in Pomfret, CT or providing preventative oral hygiene services at a school in Las Vegas, NV. You could become a team psychologist working with a professional basketball team or a go into private practice. You might end up as a clinical lab technologist.
If you don’t want to go on to medical school, one great option is to go into teaching. The science courses you pursue in a pre-med major are the perfect foundation for a career as a biology teacher, an engineering teacher, or even a technical education teacher. Although you will have to pursue some credentials as a teacher over time, you can make a very successful career teaching in the sciences and mathematics.
If you can communicate clearly and have plenty of patience, the career of a teacher could be just the right one for your pre-med degree; though if you like working with children you could also work in family medicine or as a pediatric dentist.
Non-medical graduate studies
If you prefer laboratory work to interacting with people or diagnosing diseases, a pre-med degree is also a great foundation for a graduate degree in things like microbiology or epidemiology.
You might go straight into work as a lab technician or a research assistant. You could even work for the Centers for Disease Control helping to identify new diseases and research ways of keeping people safe. Alternatively, you could work for a private pharmaceutical company doing research and development.
Off-shoot medical work
There are quite a few lines of work that are tangentially related to medicine. Many of these positions work in concert with doctors and surgeons to help improve health and wellness for everyone. Some people in these types of jobs may work to solve crimes, while others might provide podiatry services.
You could work in a coroner’s office or with a crime investigation agency. If you appreciate sports and enjoy working with athletes, you might become a physical therapist. If you pursue work as a behavioral therapist, occupational therapist, or behavioral health technician, you may work with people on the margins of society who particularly need your help.
A pre-med degree is also the perfect foundation for a degree in veterinary medicine. As a vet, you work with both animals and the people who own them. You diagnose and treat sick animals and the injured, and you give people advice on how to take care of their animals.
As a vet you could work in the military, in private practice, for the government, in public health, or as a teacher. You might work with military dogs, with people’s pets, or as a farm vet helping people ensure that their livestock thrive. As a vet, you will use many of the same tests and skills that a medical doctor uses.
Lobbyists and advocates
Advocates work on behalf of individuals who are unable to help themselves. Advocates work through community organizations or directly with individuals who need help in attending meetings, understanding documents, or who cannot speak for themselves as all.
Lobbyists keep government officials aware of the needs of businesses, medical professionals, individuals, patients, hospitals, or even insurance companies. All these health organizations need a way to lobby the government to make sure they are not forgotten. They hire people with a science background who can understand their needs and effectively communicate them to others.
Chiropractors are highly trained specialists who perform adjustments to the spinal joints. This helps people to move more easily and improve their spinal motion. Chiropractors also need to be familiar with the general medical history of their patients and know how to advise them on lifestyle issues, such as exercise, diet and sleep.
Some chiropractors may also work with ultrasound scans, specialize in massage therapy, or help athletes or the elderly with rehabilitation. Some chiropractors work in hospitals while others work in private practice. You might work for a sports team, for a school, or even for a private company.
Some people with a pre-med degree decide that they want to go into nursing rather than become a doctor. Though doctors and nurses work together, these are very different jobs. They work together to provide the full medical experience that patients need in order to stay safe and well.
As a nurse you will be able to start working with patients more quickly than if you choose become a doctor. Nurses are in high demand right now and are especially valued for their interpersonal skills in working with patients. If you like working with people in particular, then a job as a nurse may be for you.
If you have an interest in serving your country in the military, but also enjoy working in medicine, then a career that combines these two passions could be right for you. A degree in pre-med is a great way to get started as a military medical specialist.
In the military, you can work in biomedicine, as a behavioral health specialist, in the dental corps, as an ENT or eye specialist, in nutrition or in nursing. You might also work in the mortuary with deceased military personnel; or you could go on the front lines to work directly with soldiers or sailors as they do their jobs.
A pre-med degree can also set you up to work as a nutritionist. A nutritionist is an expert in human physiology and the way that food affects people. Nutritionists may help people generally live a healthier lifestyle, or they may specifically work with people recovering from heart disease or training for a specific physical job.
A nutritionist will also need to understand how weight loss works, the ins and out of hormonal imbalances, and the signs of food allergies. Nutritionists generally work to lay out eating programs for each of their specific clients, or they may work more generally in hospitals, schools, or nursing homes.
A pre-med degree does not force you to become a doctor, though it is a great way to begin that career if such is your dream. With a pre-med degree, all kinds of amazing career options are open to you.