When I started this blog, one of the prime objectives was to inform, encourage and educate medical students & young doctors in Bangladesh about career in public health and research. I wrote two blog posts already on this topic- Switching career: Your parents are not your enemies! and Research Career For Medical Students: Bangladesh Perspectives [Part 1] and posted their links on “Platform“; a Facebook based group of medical students and young doctors in Bangladesh.
I had tremendous feedback from enthusiastic aspirants! If I accumulate and synthesize their quires on Facebook messages and/or comments, I would end up having this very question most of the time “I am now studying or doing internship and I am highly interested in research career. What should I do now to move forward to my goal?”
So, today I am going to discuss “7 Baby-Yet-Bold Steps” that will guide these aspirants to their dream of having a research career.
Step 1: Decide what you really want to do in life
Firstly, please do think very carefully and deeply to this very question “what you really want to do in life?” Finding purpose in your aim/dream will help you to work through obstacles, overcome disappointments and endure hardships. It will also adjust your focus and efforts towards your goals. Moreover, if you feel confident about your decision, then you will be able to manage your parents & relatives about this career switching. Because general notion is- every career paths except clinical ones are misleading and have no future!
Step 2: Participate in MOOCs
MOOC means “Massive Open Online Course.” Coursera, Edx and many other universities provide free online courses on different topics of public health and research. These online courses are really helpful in gaining knowledge and skills on basic concepts of research and public health. Invest your free times on these courses and you will never regret! Most of them require 5-8 hours of commitment per week. You will get verified certificates or certificate of accomplishment by fulfilling the requirements of specific course.
Step 3: Contact a professor/senior doctor from your institution who is involved in research activities
As you are gaining some research skills by doing the online courses, you need to start applying those skills in practice. In order to do that, you need to involve in research activities. The best way to get involved is to communicate a professor and/or senior doctor from your institution who is currently doing some sort of research. My experiences say- if you approach them, most likely you would get a positive response. And if you don’t get one, don’t loose hope. You can also seek help from seniors in this regard.
However don’t be super-optimistic about the quality of your research work! The most important thing here is learning. Moreover, it will enrich your CV and show your motivation towards research. Motivation towards research is one of the very essential criteria for getting admission and funding when you apply to universities in abroad.
Step 4: Participate in local training programs/workshops/ conferences
Whenever you get a chance, participate in training programs/workshops/ conferences that are happening in Bangladesh. It will develop your understanding and insights on public health and research. Alongside these are very good avenues to create networks with other people in the field which will help you in many ways; even finding a research job maybe!
There are some regional and international medical students conference where you can present your research work. If you have time and money (!) then explore those opportunities. You will also get chance to visit new places which gives you enormous courage and motivation.
Step 5: Start browsing the webpages
I always love this quote “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” So, when you are moving forward to your goal, make sure you are also making plans for your future endeavors. These include where & when to get a degree (e.g. MPH/Msc in Bangladesh or abroad), how to apply abroad, what requirements are needed to apply abroad etc etc.
To plan these things start browsing the webpages of different universities to know about study prospective and information about the degree/ cost/ scholarships. I would also like to recommend Facebook to find seniors who are now studying/ working in public health and/or research. Facebook is a great platform – Remember this!
Step 6: Brush up your English specially writing skills
As a researcher you will be needing good writing skills in English to write research proposals, abstracts, scientific papers etc. Moreover you have to take standardized exams for applying abroad e.g. IELTS, GRE, TOFEL. As we are not native English speakers, so all of us should try to brush up our English skills.
Step 7: Study and/or do your internship seriously
Finally, I would recommend you to take your medical studies and/or internship seriously. Try to learn as much as possible because these knowledge and skills will always be your assets in future (whatever you do).