Career Pathways for Biomedical Scientists in Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Journey to Success
 
About this Booklet
The Institutional Challenge to Train and Maintain Biomedical Scientists
Links and Resources
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Tara Sander
Avrum I Gotlieb


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Laurie Menser, Director of ASIP Marketing and Development (lmenser@asip.org)

 

Choosing A Career In Clinical Diagnostics

A career in clinical diagnostics is ideal for biomedical scientists who want to use their basic scientific skills to diagnose the pathogenesis of disease. A clinical lab is focused on performing and developing clinical tests that will directly impact the health and treatment of the patient. This involves using various methods in molecular biology, genetics, chemistry, microbiology, histology, and cytology to identify inherited or acquired disease, conditions, or a patient's predisposition for a disease. Clinical diagnostics can be performed within a hospital setting, academic center, government institution, private industry, or company.
The focus of the clinical laboratory will be dependent upon the institution in which it resides. Many company-based laboratories offer a large menu of diagnostic services that are utilized by numerous hospitals. Hospital-based clinical laboratories are often located within Pathology departments and offer a variety of tests, dependent on the needs of the 20institution. Within academic institutions, there are also opportunities to perform translational research and bring projects from the bench to the bedside. This is often done by working with research scientists to identify a novel biomarker of disease and develop a diagnostic test for use in the clinical laboratory. A career in this field can be very rewarding, because you are using science to directly impact the clinical treatment and care of patients. As such, the science is held to a very high standard of quality and there are various regulatory policies and procedures that must be adhered to. A biomedical scientist may be required by some laboratories to obtain special training and certification.

Choosing Teaching As A Career
After completing a postdoctoral period or even graduate school, you may wish to devote your career to teaching, usually at the college, university, or high school level. You may need teaching certification in various jurisdictions to join the teaching fraternity. Being well informed is very important, as is searching out a mentor who has made the transition from bench research to full time teaching. Doing some formal teaching, even volunteering to teach, may provide you with a useful experience during your graduate school or postdoctoral training.

Choosing A Career In The Financial Side Of Biomedical Science
You may wish to transition from the lab bench to the financial board room. You may be attracted to the venture capital enterprise, investment banking, or to management consultation. This transition will require that you learn the language of business. There are many transferable traits from the lab that do provide you with important tools in the business world. These include problem solving, critical analysis of texts and data, ability to manage time and people, and to present reports. Thus you are not without business skills after training in the lab; however to gain credibility, formal business training may be useful. An executive MBA, especially those designed for scientists, is one path to choose. There are also many courses and programs that are designed around industry standards and that provide professional designations. You need to explore these thoroughly. Once you make a decision to explore finance, become well informed. Career symposia on alternate or non-traditional careers are very useful. Network with friends and colleagues who have made this transition. Universities have informal "biotechnology clubs" that discuss the financial side of the biomedical enterprise. This is a good way to identify mentors and hear from people in the field.