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A recession-proof career in health

	A recession-proof career in healthAround the world, many university graduates face a shrinking job market. But there is one career sector that will always be in demand – medicine and health.

Even now, doctors and medical specialists enjoy an almost 100% employment rate. And bonus migration points for qualified medical staff in some countries, such as Australia, can also make it easier to work abroad, especially if you’re willing to work in rural areas to start with.

Although that shouldn’t be your only reason for considering a career in health, if you are genuinely interested in helping people and making a difference to their lives, then it can also be a very rewarding career.

‘Medical studies’ is such a broad term. Although your parents may be keen to see you graduate as a doctor or surgeon, there are many other options. This guide will help you choose the best specialisation for your interests and abilities.

The future of global health

Let’s start by looking at what the world may need you to be able to do by the time you graduate. The World Health Organisation indentified three possible health scenarios in its 2003 bulletin.

Emerging infectious diseases: Right now we are facing a new potential global outbreak of swine flu. Recently SARS, AIDS, bird-flu and other pandemics have occurred. Research into vaccinations, and improved diagnosis, will become more and more important as we continue to travel and trade globally, and as these bugs develop resistance to current treatment.

Medical technology: Thanks to changes in our diet and lifestyle, and in our environment, we are developing new health risks. But we will be able to solve them with new medical technology breakthroughs. Biotechnology is emerging as a new specialisation that combines health and engineering.

Sustained health: Investing in public health and social services could improve the health of people from poorer nations, and from the less affluent parts of society, for the long-term. Health administration and public health are becoming increasingly popular disciplines.

What else can I do?

The most obvious career path from a medical degree is to become a doctor. As a GP (general practitioner), you can serve the needs of your local community. Bear in mind that in many countries, this means you will face the same challenges as any other suburban small business owner – despite your lengthy six-year plus degree.

As a doctor you can also work in the emergency department of a hospital, or work with international aid organisations. By having a general knowledge of all kinds of illnesses, you will be equipped to help a wide range of people.

Or you can specialise…

Specialist degrees include surgery, rehabilitation, dentistry, pharmacy, psychology, and many more. Often you can earn a higher salary straight away as a specialist, but entrance requirements are tough and as an intern you will work incredibly long hours.

Some surgery specialisations include anaesthesia, cardiology, neurology, obstetrics and ophthalmology. If you know exactly what you are most interested in, whether it’s helping women deliver babies or removing brain tumours, a specialisation is the best way to make the most difference – and do something you love.

You’ll usually choose your specialisation during your hospital internship – when you get to practice all that theory - but it’s worth choosing a university that has excellent and experienced teachers in that field.

Discover the solution

Many health and medical graduates go on to work in research fields. You may be able develop a cure for cancer or AIDS, or discover better ways to diagnose serious illnesses, before they spread beyond treatment.

You could also work out the perfect way to prevent an illness, whether by vaccination or lifestyle changes. No matter what you research, the results could change, or potentially save, the lives of millions of people.

Alternative health

Shorter health degrees and diplomas are also available in areas as diverse as acupuncture, osteopathy, naturopathy and homeopathy. Many doctors also learn elements of these fields to provide a more holistic health care approach.

Health services are also an important part of our everyday life, and studies in this include aged studies, health counselling, health administration and education.

And don’t forget the importance of nurses, who provide compassionate care for all kinds of patients in hospitals and specialist clinics.

Make sure that the country you plan to work in recognises your qualifications. And check whether you will need to spend additional time studying for the relevant professional body membership.

A six-year undergraduate degree is often just the beginning, with many medical researchers and specialists taking on Masters and PhD programs as well.

Ultimately, health care is one of the most rewarding professions available – no matter what the state of our global economy.

Abishek Abhisheki, who has recently completed a fast-track medicine post-graduate degree at a university in the UK, sums it up best;

“Medicine is one of the last places where one can attempt to live an ethically sound life and not be a pauper.”

“I’m studying and practising out of a sense of duty, but other motivations, such as status and financial reward are equally met. It’s the best job in the world.”

For course options visit our Health, Medicine and Veterinary Studies Courses directory to find out more about studying health abroad.

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