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Programs Career options

  1. Oct 7, 2016 #1
    I’m a Master’s student in math at a Canadian university. I am in a dilemma where I cannot decide which career path to choose. I have a very deep interest in math and computer science, but I am not sure if I want to dedicate my life to a research based job in that field. I have participated in research programs during my undergrad, and I found it very enjoyable. However, there are a couple of things putting me off from it. One of them is being able to make a meaningful contribution. The main reason I initially became interested in this career path was the possibility of contributing to the advancement of science (as naive as that sounds). But I soon discovered that there are very smart people working in academia, and any contributions that I am able to make will no doubt be minor.

    In terms of other options, one of them is medical school. I have already taken the MCAT and completed the prerequisite courses, so this could be another great option for me. If anyone has any advice, it would be appreciated.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 8, 2016 #2


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    Realizing that you're not likely to make an earth-shattering advance in science is all a part of maturing, I think. But that doesn't mean that it's not worth trying. For what it's worth, sometimes the reason someone else is able to make a major advancement is because hundreds of other people have made small ones. It's not exclusively the giants we stand on, but the intricate towers of people.

    It's also important to remember that you're not deciding on a career at this point, rather, you're deciding how to educate yourself. Once you have that education, you then start making career choices. And I realized the two are strongly correlated. But if you were to pursue mathematics or computer science at a PhD level, there's still a good chance that you'll end up doing something unrelated to those as a career. But you'll have some very useful tools in your toolbox.

    With respect to medicine, because it's a professional degree there's a much higher chance that you'll end up working in the same field you sought education in. it's also important to remember that physicians can have opportunities to do research. Most often its a lot more along the lines of comparing one treatment with another, but there's no reason you couldn't draw on your interests in mathematics and computer science to do something along those lines - maybe something like computer assisted diagnosis, or some kind of biological modelling. A lot can come down to your particular field and your skills in the art of collaboration. One of the main advantages to this path is that there is always a demand for physicians. It's one of the rare professions these days that can still be considered a meal ticket. And though it's a long road, there is gold at the end of it. (Not sure the same is true for a PhD.)

    On the "cons" side remember that physicians have a lot of demands on their time and their bread and butter comes from treating patients. This means the clinical hours can be very long, especially at first. And research is almost never their primary function.
  4. Oct 9, 2016 #3
    Thanks for that. One of the options I am considering are an MD/PhD program, perhaps in a field like bioinformatics, in which case research would be the primary job.
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