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Topic Title: I'm a doctor, but want to be an engineer. A lot of people think I'm mad.
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Created On: 08 October 2013 01:52 AM
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 08 October 2013 01:52 AM
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Joined: 08 October 2013


I have always been creative. I like to build things and I have a flair and love for good design. Solving mathematical problems, programming, inventing, sketching. I live and breathe these things and spend so much of my free time doing these things that I need to be dragged away a lot of the time!

Now here's the issue. I went into medicine with a lot of misconceptions, and I ignored a strong desire to pursue engineering by convincing myself (with more than gentle encouragement from my parents) that medicine was a good option because I would be solving problems in order to help people, with a stable and well paid job and even satisfaction with the engineering aspects if I were to become a surgeon.

I enjoyed the engineering aspects of medicine throughout medical school, and took a year out to do a BSc in biomedical engineering.

I then qualified as a doctor, and quickly discovered that medicine just doesn't attract very many engineering minds. Doctors function mainly on memorised knowledge, on facts, figures and protocols. There doesn't seem to be much calculation or complex problem solving. Don't get me wrong, the result of healthcare on the whole is illness cured and lives saved and disease prevention, but in practical terms the job really does feel like being an automaton sometimes. Pattern recognition on a day to day basis, refining and developing an ability to recognise specific patterns on illness based on signs and symptoms. Memorise the treatment. Commence the treatment. Repeat ad infinitum until you're doing it automatically.

There's actually very little creative thought in being a doctor in my opinion. The engineers seem to do the work of developing the drugs, the delivery systems, the devices, implants, the infrastructure that runs the hospital. It is engineers who seem to design the world we use. I want to be a designer, a creator. The problem solving I crave so much just isn't sufficient to keep me interested in life as a doctor.

So what are my prospects in terms of converting to engineering? I have a medical degree (which would demonstrate teamwork, communication skills, working under intense time pressure, liaising with multi-disciplinary teams, commitment and hard work etc), and a first class engineering degree on the table.

Thanks very much,

Edited: 08 October 2013 at 02:15 AM by mikeymms
 10 October 2013 01:31 PM
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Pretty good I would have thought. Unlike medicine you do not actually need any particular set of qualifications and training (or indeed any at all!) to practice as an engineer. Your big challenge is to persuade a company to give you your first job, but in this you are no worse off than most engineering graduates - and in fact much better off than most in that you do have experience beyond an engineering degree.

Although it's not my area, I would have thought companies in the biomed enginering field would be glad to have you, with both the engineering and application knowledge you will have. Best thing to do is just start applying, scour the job websites for roughly the right jobs (don't worry if you don't meet all the criteria), and don't be embarrassed about applying "cold" to any companies you know of that work in the field.

Do be prepared for lots of rejections and lots of "no response"s - it won't be personal. All newly qualified engineers find this, it is the challenge of finding the right person to be the right fit in the right company. If you can achieve a ratio better than 100 applications : 10 responses : 1 request for interview you will be doing pretty well!

If you are an IET member you can be put in touch with an IET Mentor who may well be able to advise you how to word your application and how to make the right approach.

Good luck!

Andy Millar CEng MIET CMgr MCMI

"The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress." Joseph Joubert
 26 February 2014 05:41 AM
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Yes If you want to learn new thing this is not a bad thing because knowledge have never ends. If you want to gain something then go for it. One thing in the life is very important to stay happy. If your happiness in to become an engineer then go for it.

 05 March 2014 05:58 AM
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Hi Mike:

I saw your post today morning when I was searching for Doctor-Engineer forum. Its been one year since you posted this and I would be curious to know what are you pursuing currently.

I think you have a great chance to work with medical device firms in my opinion.

 18 March 2014 07:06 PM
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Originally posted by: amillar
If you can achieve a ratio better than 100 applications : 10 responses : 1 request for interview you will be doing pretty well!

That sounds demoralising and not something I would follow. You can improve your chances considerably by taking the following steps:

If after the first 10 applications you don't get any response, then apply for a post lower than your expectations; after a few months start applying for higher level jobs and bingo!

For example, qualified graduate engineer fails to get any response or job offer after first few applications; applies for and gets a job as a technician; after a few months, applies for senior position elsewhere - with experience - and bags their first job at their first attempt. That's what happened to me.

If Michael is still looking for a job, he should try and look for a technician level job; take advantage of the hands on experience and then apply for senior posts.

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