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Steps I need to become a Medical Scientist?

I'm a Senior in High School and I want to be able to get my dream job to help as many people has I can. scientist medical

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Paola’s Answer

Hi Maiya,

I am so happy to read about your passion for research! I have been a physician-scientist for almost 20 years and I can tell you with absolute certainty that it was the best possible career choice that I could make. I spent the first 10 years in academic research, where you apply for research funding from the NIH and other institutions, and focus mostly on discovering new mechanisms of disease. This means that you try to understand what cells and molecules are dysfunctional in people with specific diseases, and what can be done to correct those issues. During the last 10 years, I moved into the pharmaceutical industry, where we take all those discoveries and 'translate' them into new therapies that help literally thousands and thousands of people worldwide. We often receive letters from patients whose lives have been transformed, thanks to these novel therapies. As Gizem said, you can be an MD, an MD/Ph.D., but also many nurses and other healthcare professionals can be part of clinical research, for example running clinical trials. Also, practicing clinicians can be clinical trial investigators, in collaboration with the pharma company leading the trial. I strongly recommend that you start by volunteering at a local university. Research labs (basic or clinical) often need help and they frequently have rotational programs that you can become part of. You can also email some of the researchers in local schools an universities to share your interest, and they can tell you what your options are. The sooner you get involved the better, as this experience will strengthen your application to graduate programs later on.

I wish you all the best!!
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Mireille’s Answer

You've already got good answers above. Since we are talking about steps to become a medical scientist, I though I would add the requirements where I work.
• MD, Ph.D, or Pharm.D or equivalent doctoral degree in Health Sciences
• Experience (2 to 5 years) in medical affairs, clinical and/or health services research (preferably in the pharmaceutical industry)
• Solid understanding of the Canadian health care systems, management; and provincial and national pharmaceutical environment
• Strong analytical skills; ability to critically evaluate clinical studies, whether a protocol or a publication
• Professionalism and excellent interpersonal skills
• Customer-oriented approach and ability to work in cross-functional teams
• Proven strategic thinking skills and ability to interpret and implement strategic directions
• Ability to manage multiple tasks and deal effectively with deadlines
• Creativity, resourcefulness, high energy and flexibility
• Performance driven
• Ability to work under autonomous conditions
• Strong verbal and written communication skills
• Bilingualism (French, English) is an asset.
I speak to undergrad students about my role each year and I always focus on the clinical experience. If you want to work as an expert in clinical/medical science, gaining that experience is so crucial. So I recommend to work as a clinician a few years before becoming a medical scientist, and if possible keep a foot in the practice. Good luck,
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Gizem’s Answer

Hi Maiya!

It is an exciting career choice! Medical scientists usually have a PhD, MD, a dual degree (i.e. MD/PhD), or a similar advanced degree. Since you want to be a scientist in the medical field, ideally, you would want to receive a bachelor's degree in the STEM field. During your senior year in college or after graduation, you can apply graduate programs, medical school (MD or MD/PhD), or similar advanced degree programs. Down the road, you can decide whether you would like to continue your career in an academic or industrial setting.

In line with your interest in scientific research, advanced degree programs put a lot emphasis on research experience in the admission process.
So I would recommend joining a research lab during your undergraduate education. It would help you learn more about scientific research, choose a potential area of study, and experience the life of scientists/researchers.

Best of luck in your studies!