Medical science pertains to the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of illness. It’s a discipline dedicated to improving quality of life through science. Postgraduate study equips students for careers in medical research and scientific leadership. It provides ample opportunities to gain experience undergoing theses, which can be of benefit to the whole discipline.
The field dates back thousands of years to the early notions of Babylonian, Greek, Chinese, Egyptian and Indian physicians. Hippocrates of ancient Greece is one of the most notable ancient figures in the practice of medical science, born in 460 BCE. As time progressed and methods of acquiring new medical knowledge improved drastically, ancient superstitious practices began giving way to theory and evidence-based alternatives. The study of chemistry, genetics, antibiotics and radiography during the 20th century eventually gave way to modern medical science.
Practitioners today are even more advanced, given they can draw upon the vast knowledge of the past. They continually advance human knowledge of medicine and our capacity to help the sick and injured.
Medical science is a highly rigorous academic discipline, making it best suited to those with a mind for research and large volumes of reading. It’s also for those with a fascination with biology and anatomy in general, as an understanding and passion for both certainly helps. If you’re a studious, patient and disciplined person with these passions, medical science could well be for you.
Postgraduate medical science is available at all levels, from graduate certificates right up to doctorates.
Graduate certificates are short courses, taking six months of full time study to complete or up to one year part time. They tend to focus on specific aspects of medical science, like laboratory quality analysis, medical imaging or regulatory science. As a result, units offered vary wildly between courses. For instance, students from the University of Sydney undergoing medical imaging science have access to units in computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, breast imaging, hybrid imaging and more. Students of regulatory science from the University of Wollongong will learn about the fundamentals of their discipline in addition to applicable research methods. Applicants are therefore advised to consider their career interests carefully before applying. These courses require a bachelor’s degree from a cognate discipline, such as science or engineering, to enter.
Graduate diplomas serve a very similar purpose, with opportunities in medical imaging, medical physics and laboratory quality analysis to name a few. The most distinct difference between these and graduate certificates is the duration, taking one year of full time study or up to two years part time to complete. This minor difference can lead to far more learning opportunities, however. Take any of these courses from the University of Sydney as an example. They offer more units than any person could possible take in six months. The extra time allows for deepened understanding of topics already studied, or the chance to delve into entirely new ones.
Applicants must be from a cognate discipline such as science or engineering, holding a bachelor’s degree in one of these fields.
Master’s degrees also vary in application, although not in the same manner as previous programs. The main point of difference is in whether they’re research or practice focussed. In medical science, research degrees tend to be the norm. James Cook University and similar institutions offer these courses to students who wish to pursue careers in this sort of thing, offering units in research preparation followed by research thesis.
Other institutions, like the University of Newcastle, can have an entirely different focus on practice via the Master of Bioinnovation and Design, for instance. This course in particular is about developing entrepreneurial and managerial skills in conjunction with medical science to produce commercially viable products. Students are therefore advised to consider their career ambitions and choose accordingly.
Admission is granted to students holding four year cognate bachelor degrees or postgraduate qualifications. These programs take two years of full time study to complete, or up to four years part time.
Doctorates allow students to put their expertise to use through an extensive supervised thesis of roughly 70,000 words on a medical science topic of their choice. These programs tend to take four years of full time study to complete, or up to eight years part time. They are offered to students who’ve successfully completed a bachelor’s degree with at least second class honours in a cognate discipline. The degree must have also had a supervised research component to show the student’s competence with research.
The following are just some of the employment opportunities available to postgraduate medical science students.
These professionals put their skills to the advancement of medicine using the abundance of analytical and researcher skills developed through postgraduate study. Companies like CMAX Clinical Researchor Research Australia are ideal examples of employers.
Forensic scientists acquire and interpret biological evidence used in criminal proceedings. These professionals are particularly sought after by government agencies like the AFP. Medical Science graduates are well-suited on account of their scientific reasoning skills and biological knowledge.
The innovation resulting from medical science research is naturally congruous with entrepreneurship. This career path is certainly fraught with risk, but allows graduates to bring their ideas to a wider audience so as to serve their needs.
There are a variety of specialisations for medical science. The following are just a few examples.