Q: I am currently in my first year of nursing school. I think I would be more interested in exploring biochemistry careers. I have been told that, unless I attend medical school, that this major is limiting. I see lots of biotech companies hiring recent grads with this type of major. What is your experience? Please don’t tell me I have to go to medical school. I would love to work in a research lab. What opportunities are out there? Is there a reasonable career path?
Thank you for your response.
A: You are thinking about fields which are expected to grow – which is a good thing. Graduates with a Bachelor’s in nursing have other opportunities outside of the traditional clinical role. Nurses can pursue opportunities in teaching, research or even pharmaceutical companies. The National Institute of Nursing Research website is worth exploring. Their website is http://www.ninr.nih.gov/.
According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-2011 Edition, published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Biotechnological research and development should continue to drive much faster than average employment growth.” Most scientists, working in research labs, hold undergraduate or graduate degrees in biochemistry, molecular biology, chemistry or a similar major.
David Bernstein, Esq., General Counsel and Chief IP Counsel of Providence-based NABsys, Inc., offers the following advice: “As a general rule, entry-level research positions are filled by individuals with backgrounds in specific areas of science in which the industry is focused. Examples include biochemistry, molecular biology, bioinformatics and relevant engineering disciplines. Additionally, many research positions require an advanced degree.” Bernstein continues, “You may want to consider transferring into a program where you can receive training in biomedical research, or taking additional science classes while you continue your nursing studies. Some biotech companies offer internships or co-op positions, and these can provide an excellent opportunity to gain experience and make important connections in the industry.”
From a recruiting perspective, I can share with you that most of the research roles that we have worked to fill for clients almost always require (or strongly prefer) a Master’s degree or higher.
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Patricia Hunt Sinacole is president of First Beacon Group LLC, a human resources consulting firm in Hopkinton. She works with clients across many industries including technology, biotech and medical devices, financial services, and healthcare, and has over 20 years of human resources experience.
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