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Bioethics: Scope and Career Opportunities

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Movies like Jurassic Park, Sister's Keeper, Splice, Guzaarish have made us wonder how complicated the technicalities of biotechnology can become. There are resources that can put into good use. But like all things that have potentials of being used for right and wrong, bioengineering or biotechnology, biological research, and medicine, on the whole, can be used for wrong intentions.

Bioethics: Scope and Career Opportunities

Though in many cases what might be considered wrong, by a majority of the society might not be how it is, like in the case of assisted suicide, where a patient who can no longer suffer pain, decides to get drugs or medicine that will put him to death. Countries like Netherlands, Luxembourg, Canada, Belgium, and Switzerland have made assisted suicide legal, while many countries find it ethically and morally wrong.

What is Bioethics?

The concept of ethics thus depends on consensus, and the location of the topic. It depends on culture and morality of the people, and this differs from place to place and time to time. Bioethics thus deals with ethics that are involved in the biological research and medicine, while exploring the complicated and most controversial topics that exist in the medical field. Bioethics involves a focus on subjects like biotechnology, life sciences, medicine, law, philosophy, and politics.

What would you be doing?

Those who would like to build their future in bioethics will be finding opportunities in the academic, clinical or research fields.

With an ever-expanding field of bioethics, universities and medical schools need accomplished professors who can show the right path to the aspiring students. Many divisions of medical and liberal arts are concerned with bioethics, but a professor requires to specialize in one specific topic.

An academic in bioethics can also choose to continue research while educating the public and making them aware of several aspects of ethics related to biotechnology and medicine. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that positions for college professors (post-secondary teachers) would increase by 13% between 2014 and 2024, about as fast as the national average.

Ethical dilemmas are usually involved with medical practices, a firm foundation in the field of medical sciences is a necessity. Some the recent job titles that have come up in the past few years are of cell bioethicist, nurse-bioethicist, historian-bioethicist, hospital administrator-bioethicist.

How to become a Bioethicist?

To begin with, one must take up the science stream with a focus on biology in their 10+2 boards, or its equivalent. Though courses like philosophy and political science which fall under the Arts stream, can be taken, the student will have a stronger hold if they take up a science stream.

At the undergraduate level, the student needs to choose a subject that is closely related to bioethics. The most appropriate could be Bachelors in Biotechnology, or Biology. Some institutions, in the US and other countries, offer a minor in bioethics, along with their major. This can be extremely helpful for students who are focusing on liberal arts and at the same time can learn the nuances of bioethics.

At the post-graduate level, students can specialize in bioethics. Several institutions offer a course in masters. Those who intend to move on to research or academic careers can take up post-doctoral studies.

For those who are interested in health care professions and undertake bioethics:

  • They must take up biology as their core subject in 10+2 or its equivalent.
  • They must either go for MBBS, which is four-year long course and certifies the student as a medical doctor or can take up a Bachelors course in nursing.
  • Certificate Programs and Post Graduate diploma programs with a focus on bioethics will help the students to kick start their career in the field of bioethics.
  • They can also take up Masters programs and pursue Post-doctoral programs to continue their research.

Remuneration for a Bioethicist

According to work.chron.com the average annual salary for a bioethics lawyer was $120,000 as of 2014 and Simplyhired.com reported that the average salary for a bioethicist is $61,815.
In 2015, the BLS reported that medical bioethicist earned average annual salaries of $93,730. An employment increase of 8% was predicted for the decade spanning 2014 through 2024.

Top institutions offering a course in Bioethics in India

  • Astron Institute, Haryana
  • Indian Council of Medical Research, Karnataka
  • PSG Center for Research and Bioethics, Tamil Nadu

Top institutions offering a course in Bioethics around the world

  • Columbia University, USA
  • Harvard Medical School Centre for Bioethics, USA
  • Centre for Bioethics, University of Philadelphia, USA
  • King's College, London
  • University of Kentucky, USA
  • University of Bristol, UK

Also Read: Online Course On Introduction To Bioethics

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