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Astrophysics or medicine?

Hey, I am currently debating between doing astrophysics as a career or medicine. Both equally fascinate me. What responsibilities would an astrophysicist have and how flexible are both careers? #CV23

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Hieu’s Answer

So my sister worked for NASA as a neuroscientist. So there is space on the ground for you to do all kinds of things. Medicine doesn't mean you have to see patients. You can also do research and blend the 2 passions.
Thank you comment icon Oh I’ve never thought of that! Thank you so much :) A good way to look at blending my two passions Samira
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Bhavna’s Answer

Hello Samira,

An astrophysicist is responsible for studying the physical properties of celestial bodies, such as stars, planets, galaxies, and other objects in the universe. They use mathematics and physics to analyze data from telescopes and other instruments to understand the structure and evolution of the universe. Astrophysicists also develop theories about how the universe works and use computer simulations to test their theories. The flexibility of both careers depends on a variety of factors, such as your level of education, experience, and research interests. In general, astrophysics is a highly specialized field that requires a great deal of dedication and hard work. However, there are many opportunities for astrophysicists to work in different areas such as teaching or consulting. Medicine is also a highly specialized field that requires extensive training and experience. However, there are many opportunities for physicians to specialize in different areas or even switch specialties over time.
I hope this helps. Good luck.
Thank you comment icon Thank you, Bhavna! This is really helpful :) Samira
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Adrian’s Answer

Great question. There is no objective answer to the question of whether astronomy or medicine is "better," since the decision ultimately relies on your particular interests, talents, and professional aspirations. Here are some considerations:

Astrophysics:

If you are interested in astronomy, physics, and the secrets of the cosmos, astrophysics may be a better match for you.
Astrophysics careers may lead to employment with space organizations such as NASA or commercial space exploration firms.
Often, complex mathematical models, computer simulations, and telescopic observations are used in astrophysics research to investigate the universe.
The job market for astrophysicists may be quite competitive, and employment opportunities may be confined to certain organizations or locales.

Medicine:

If you have a love for biology, anatomy, and helping others, you may be more suited to a career in medicine.
Medicine careers may lead to employment in hospitals, clinics, research organizations, and private practices.
Working with patients to diagnose and treat diseases, conduct research to discover new treatments and therapies, and contribute to public health efforts are typical medical activities.
Due to an aging population and rising demand for healthcare services, the employment market for healthcare professionals, such as physicians and nurses, is projected to expand in the future years.
The selection between astrophysics and medicine should ultimately be based on your own interests, talents, and professional goals. These areas provide tremendous chances for inquiry, learning, and making a difference in the world.
Thank you comment icon Thank you, Adrian! Samira
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Hisham’s Answer

Study medicine cause;
You will learn and see the whole boy tissues , cells and organs.
You will learn and see the difference between healthy and diseased tissues
You will learn and see the treatment of the majority of known diseases
You will manage the human being anywhere in private clinics or hospitals
So you will see and hear acknowledge from your patients
You will find more careers in or out your country.
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much, Hisham! Samira
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Joseph’s Answer

I studied astrophysics at Leicester, and have a family connection who studied medicine at Cardiff, so a few thoughts from both sides of the coin:

Firstly, astrophysics is a really interesting field if that's what you're into, but it takes a certain type of mind to excel in the subject. It can get quite difficult to conceptualise some of the more abstract concepts at higher level study - I was always very good with understanding physics concepts but by the time 3rd year came around I really struggled with getting a feel for what's going on in subjects like quantum mechanics and stellar dynamics outside of robotically working through the maths without a good conception of what each step meant beyond getting the answer. If you've a real passion for it and think you have the right mind, you should absolutely pursue it, but I get the impression from your other comments that maybe your passion might not really be for astrophysics - you sound more interested in the engineering and rocket science - perhaps an aerospace engineering or space science course would be more your kind of thing than astrophysics?
For understanding the daily responsibilities and flexibility of astrophysics as a career, I highly recommend watching a few of Dr Becky Smethurst's videos on YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XW_qIqLhPkI&ab_channel=Dr.Becky.

In terms the career in medicine, that can also be a lot of hard study; and I'm sure you're aware of recent news regarding strikes - pay, conditions and flexibility for nurses and junior doctors isn't great at the moment - there's a lot of staff in medicine working long hours, stressful conditions and still struggling to pay the bills. From what I can pass on second hand from my family, I understand that once you get past the junior doctor stage, pay and flexibility can be quite a bit better, especially if you take the same option she did of doing locum work - picking and choosing hours to fill in at different hospitals to cover staff shortages - quite a bit of flexibility to pick and choose and opportunities to earn quite a respectable salary - although there's still stumbling blocks for career progression - to go much further in any reasonable timeframe she's essentially had to emigrate overseas.

I hope that's some perspectives from both sides to think about along with what the others have added. I'd also suggest if you're still really torn between the two areas, I'd look into trying to combine them one way or the other - there's fields within physics and space including biophysics and astrobiology that have quite a medical leaning; and there's also applications of medicine that have more of a physics or space leaning - there's a lot of interest in studying how human physiology is affected by the space environment both involving researchers on the ground and astronauts in space. Another (admittedly less space-y) option to combine physics and medicine comes up around nuclear (where I've ended up finding my career) - there's a big crossover of some of the physics I learned studying astro into radiation physics for radiotherapy and radiology in medicine; and in health physics and radiation protection in nuclear.
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much, Joseph! This was extremely helpful and I now have a broader understanding of what I can do to fuse both passions into a sector which requires both. Samira
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