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Q2: What career could I have where I could help people, and be a scientist, but not get credit by writing papers or articles and getting published, I don’t want to be in front of everything, but I don’t want to be in background either, I want my career to be fulfilling and have purpose and to see my work help people and make lives matter and easier!

Hi, my name is Miracle and I’m about to start college in the fall, but I’m not sure what to major in and I was hoping that having a scientist answer my questions then that might give me some insight on what to major in. I know these aren’t ideal questions, but I’ve always loved science and science fiction in general, and I want to be a scientist and , I just don’t know what scientist to be. I want my career to be fulfilling and have purpose and to see my work help people. Thank you for your time.

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Kelechi’s Answer

Hello Miracle,
Your desire to help people with your career choice is great. Having a career that seeks to help others as well as having satisfaction doing it: you may want to consider a career in healthcare.

There is a vast field of healthcare you can dabble into without generally having to do any research or writing tones of pages to get a degree. Medical Assistant (MA), Certified Nurse Assistants(CNA), Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) and or, becoming a Registered Nurse (RN) at the associate level would be challenging but you will have less paperwork as against getting a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).

Nursing is a self gratifying field in that you are not only helping others heal but you take pride in being part of the team that made it happen. According to the annual Gallup rating of various professions, nurses are leading the nation in overall ratings for honesty and ethics for the 20th consecutive year (Gallup, 2022). Safe to say that, a career in nursing is a step in the right direction of what you had desired based on your question.

Give it a thought and let me know if you have any more questions.

Remember always "You're who you want to because you want to"


Kelechi recommends the following next steps:

Nursing schools
Prerequisites: Biology/Anatomy/Physiology/chemistry/Microbiology
Application deadline
Thank you comment icon Thank you for the advice, Kelechi. Miracle
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Joseph’s Answer

Maybe I'm misunderstanding what you mean about not wanting to be publishing papers and also not wanting to be only in the background, but that sounds a bit of a conflict to me. I'm wondering whether you've got the idea that if you publish papers it puts you right in front as a science superstar like Einstein etc? That's simply not the case - the majority of scientists publishing papers are comparatively "background" people. As a research scientist, you're focused on a very specific area of research, and yes, that is generally "new" science others haven't done to quite the same level of detail before, but other than that narrow sense, you're not usually "in front of everything", or "taking credit" for much - you're generally just a fairly small part of the academic machine expanding our collective knowledge; you'll have colleagues and peers working alongside you on similar questions and plenty of other support.

In terms of a fulfilling career seeing your work help people and make lives better and easier, a lot of science will do that eventually, although in some fields its a lot more obvious how your work is likely to help people than others. I see some of your questions and tags mention more of the healthcare and biomedical angle, and that's a field where you can often really see a direct impact of your work; that sort of thing sounds like a great fit for you. I'm not sure exactly how your system for picking a major works where you are and what your options are, but it sounds to me that something biochemical, biological or healthcare related could be a good choice, as could several other areas of science. At this stage, unless you have a particular dream to chase, I'd be picking subjects more based on what you're interested in and want to study, rather than worry about exactly what sort of scientist you want to be at the end. Over the course of a degree, it's quite common for your new knowledge to shape and change what you want to do next more specifically.

Coming back to the "don't want to publish" part of the question though, if you really did want to avoid publishing research papers for some reason, I'd point out that there's a lot of analytical laboratory jobs where you're doing routine analysis rather than new science. It's still doing science and producing reports, but because it's routine work rather than new science, it's usually a simpler test results report rather than something that would be published. Again, generally these sort of things would likely be considered "background" roles, but particularly in a medical context, there's plenty of lab work in processing routine analyses like blood samples, tissue cultures and stuff like that, and you can see semi-directly how that work is helping people.
Thank you comment icon Thanks for the advice. Miracle