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kristophober 01-14-2016 11:37 AM

jobs for doctors/career change
Hi everyone,
I am a doctor working in the UK. I want to change careers and get into bioinformatics. Can doctors, who have no computer engineering background, join an MS program in bioinformatics? hw r jobs and salaries afterwards? I intend to work and stay in US. do foreigners get visas for jobs, or have to leave after study period is over?
please give your opinion on northeastern univ bioinformatics program from Boston..

thanks 4 ur help :)

blancha 01-14-2016 11:58 AM

You must be out of your mind!

I actually did work with one medical school graduate who did not complete his residency, and switched to a master's in bioinformatics.
He then proceeded to leave his master's without writing his thesis ...
So, he obviously had some personal issues.

Many graduate programs and labs will welcome with open arms any medical school graduate.
Despite any weaknesses they may have in computer science, they have unique insights, given their medical knowledge.
Their salary and general working conditions will be the same as their colleague bioinformaticians though.

The salaries are extremely low in bioinformatics, at least relative to computer scientists, and definitely relative to doctors.
Generally, bioinformaticians get little recognition for their work.

Bioinformaticians are essential members of a research team, but just about never the stars.
They're more part of the support team.
Everyone knows Craig Venter, but does anyone know any of the bioinformaticians who worked with him, without whom the shot-gun sequencing of the human genome would never have been possible?

I have a friend finishing a master's in bioinformatics, and just about to start a medical school degree. This is the right path, not the reverse.

If you want to abandon medicine for research, you could either do a PhD, not in bioinformatics, or just join a research team directly and hope to get some important publications which will allow you to lead your own research group.
You should aim to be a principal investigator, in a field other than pure bioinformatics. Bioinformaticians are more often than not part of the support staff.

If you're interested in bioinformatics, you can just pick up some knowledge on the side. Learn a programming language or two, how to use the Unix command line, and some basic statistics. You'll then know more than just about any medical doctor, and these skills could be useful in research. No need to do a master's.

kristophober 01-14-2016 12:06 PM

by extremely low, how much do you mean?

blancha 01-14-2016 12:20 PM

In Canada, with a Master's and between 2 and 5 years experience, a good salary is about 60,000 CAD/year.
As a comparison, many computer science graduates with just a bachelor's degree, will be making 80,000 CAD/year. I know system administrators who made 100,000 CAD/year just out of school, although this is exceptional.
The average salary for a Canadian doctor is over 300,000 CAD/year !
So, there aren't too many medical doctors switching from medicine to bioinformatics.

The salaries in the U.S. are slightly higher, even without taking into account the exchange rate.
I think a bioinformatician doing the equivalent job in the U.S. could hope to make 70,000 USD/year.

Also, the hours are long, the work hard, and the respect low.
Some researchers consider bioinformaticians to be glorified technicians.

There are definitely worse jobs.
Skilled bioinformaticians are very much in demand, and their working conditions are somewhat better than a run-of-the mill molecular biologist.
If I had my choice of careers, as a medical school graduate, I just wouldn't pick bioinformatics.
I would pick up some basic skills, and aim to lead a research group where I could just pay a bioinformatician to do all the bioinformatics.
I know several M.D.s leading their own research group, without a PhD, so there does appear to be a path for a medical doctor to leave medicine for fundamental research without a PhD.

I would add that I do work on occasion with medical doctors.
Basically, they get all the money, and the credit for my work.
To be fair, they do have to design the research projects, and apply for the funding.

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