For those of you with degrees in biological sciences...

  1. Can you tell me why you decided to pursue nursing versus working in the biological science field?

    I am seriously considering dropping out of my FNP program to pursue my dream of doing biomedical research. But when I meet with advisors to discuss my options, they try to discourage me from pursuing this route. I've been told numerous times, also by those working in biomedical research, to get a PhD in nursing if I want to do research. The long hours, low pay, and difficulty finding jobs are reasons that I have been told not to pursue this field. But I can't get over the fact that I really feel that I am missing out on my dream. I really don't enjoy nursing and I feel like I am trapped in this career.

    I would like to hear from those who have worked in biomedical research or have bio sci degrees and decided not pursue a research career. Can you give me your perspective on this?
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    Joined: Feb '05; Posts: 552; Likes: 228


  3. by   supermonkeyball
    I would recommend following your heart and instinct. People can only tell you what they do/don't like about their career based on experience. I can tell you that my first degree was in biology and I miss it. I chose to leave working as a lab tech. because I didn't want to get a doctorate/fight for grants and hard to find jobs etc. etc. I wanted something that would be flexible for having a family and provide job security. To be totally honest nursing is harder than I thought it would be, it is very stressful emotionally, physically and mentally. In terms of opportunity there is always something in science as well as nursing, even if you have to work in industry or on a project you're not crazy about. If that is your true passion, I say go for it, things will come together because you will be doing what you really want to. I think the people who are most successful and best at their jobs are the ones who like what they do and believe they can succeed. If you do decide to stay in nursing there is always research to be done too! Best of luck no matter what you decide!
  4. by   AmaurosisFugax
    I did a PhD in molecular biology, did lab research for many years, taught med school pharmacology and then switched careers, am a Medical/Pharmacology Editor now for a medical publishing company.
    Basic research is a harsh field, the struggle to get grants is extreme, the hours (esp while you are a graduate student or post-doc) are very long, & on top of that, the chance of getting a secure job is pretty low. If you want to go into research count on at least 5 yrs for PhD +3-5 yrs post-doc. And since your research may be driven by fundability rather than what you're really interested in, it is not always satisfactory either. Unlike nurses, research is not urgently needed, so universities are not always eager to hire more faculty. Pharmaceutical co. jobs are definitely more rewarding, but very tough to get.
    I currently work with physicians & nurses & ex-researchers. I have found this v. rewarding, esp learning of things that really impact people; lab research sometimes gets way too abstract!
  5. by   EmmaG
    Quote from KatRN,BSN
    But I can't get over the fact that I really feel that I am missing out on my dream. I really don't enjoy nursing and I feel like I am trapped in this career.
    Life's too short to spend it in a career you hate.

    Go for it. Pursue your dream. No matter how it turns out, you won't spend later years wondering "what if".

    Good luck hun.
  6. by   ICRN2008
    I spent three years working in biomedical research labs during my first underrgraduate degree. I observed graduate students putting in 80 hours a week on their projects for months on end, and in some cases the results were not even publishable. I also saw them trying to eek out a living for five to seven years on the $18,000 a year stipend they received from the university. Having an outside job was nearly impossible because of the demands of their research programs. After graduation, they had to look forward to $30000 per year as a post-doc, and they still were going to have to fight it out for a faculty position, and for tenure if they were lucky enough to be hired at all. If the position was halfway across the country, then they had to be willing to pick up and move.

    The grad students were shocked that I was going to come out of undergrad (clinical laboratory science) making almost $20 per hour- to them this was a lot of money.

    For all of these demands and sacrifices, none of the graduate students voiced any regret about their decision to pursue a PhD. They genuinely loved their work, so I don't think that they minded coming into the lab at midnight to check on their experiments. For me it was a little too much job insecurity and too little financial security for me to stomach, so when the time came to go back to school I chose NP. In nursing, you are pretty much guaranteed that you will be able to find a decent-paying job in any area of the country. Plus, I think that I would really miss the patient contact if I went into lab research full-time.

    Good luck with your decision- only you can figure out if the sacrifices are worth it in the end...
  7. by   HealthyRN
    Thanks for everyone's input. It's really not shocking to me because these are the same things that I have heard from everyone when researching the field. I'm still really undecided about what to do and I keep hoping that something will spark my interest in nursing. Maybe I would enjoy doing clinical trials coordination or something similar. Perhaps I would just as happy pursuing a PhD in nursing and conducting nursing research. It would not be laboratory-based, obviously, but maybe I will find something that fascinates me to study within the field of nursing.

    My husband has a research career and although he is not in the biomedical field, he also puts in long hours and sacrifices a lot of his personal life. Despite this, he loves his career and truly doesn't mind working 70-80 hours/wk.
  8. by   ♪♫ in my ♥
    I considered pursuing a PhD in chemistry. I was one of the top 3 students in my program and was being encouraged in that direction. One of the other students did a 1-semester internship and shared with me what he'd seen. It was pretty much what's described above. I just didn't love chemistry enough to put myself through that process with such limited rewards.

    I've worked 70-80 hour weeks and there's nothing that I love so much as to put myself through that unless I have little recourse. In my case, the money was outstanding and that made up for it. But even the $140,000 per year just wasn't worth it in the long run. The pay received by grad students, post docs, and even many staff scientists just isn't worth the stress, uncertainty, competition, hours, and relatively low pay.

    When considering the change into nursing, I again gave some thought to going into biomedical research and I just couldn't bring myself to head down that path.

    You, on the other hand, sound like you understand what's involved and that you've "got the bug." You should seriously consider rolling the dice and doing it. You might be very unhappy otherwise.
  9. by   czyja
    Quote from BSNDec06
    I spent three years working in biomedical research labs during my first underrgraduate degree. I observed graduate students putting in 80 hours a week on their projects for months on end, and in some cases the results were not even publishable.
    I am a re-entry student and I am just finishing my BS in biology at a large research university. For the last three years I have done cancer research in a radiation biology lab using human tissue culture systems. I have decided against a research career for all of the reasons mentioned above. It take, on average, 5 to 7 years to complete a PhD in cell biology. Then one must spend another 3 to 5 years as a post-doc. Following all of this, one can look forward to intellectually rewarding but highly stressful, unstable, and low-paying work. After considerable reflection I realized that my research goals could very well be conducted within the framework of nursing and I am now in the process of applying to direct entry MSN programs.

    That said, you must make the decision for you based on your needs and aspirations. I would urge you to finish the program you are in then do what you are called to do. Talk to some PhD candidates in both bioscience and nursing - see what their thoughts are.