Career Options for Doctors in India

Career Options for Doctors in India

One of the main reasons why many people want to become a doctor is the availability of a variety of options to work and practice as a Doctor. These career options are available to all doctors irrespective of their speciality, post graduation degrees. It doesn’t matter even if you are “not a specialist” doctor. There are several careers available for doctors apart from the Hospital work. If you are looking to learn the various options before making the big decision to become a doctor in India, you have reached the right place.

The truth is that “A doctor can work as he/she pleases”. Below, are some of the working options available to doctors :

Practice at Clinic

One of the popular career option for doctors in the olden days (not strictly) was to set up a clinic and practice with whatever the basic medical knowledge they had acquired at the medical colleges.
There are several thousands of doctors who do their job at their own homes. They consult patients in a room designed for the purpose in the comforts of their home.

If there is any feeling of discomfort in consulting patients at home or if you are concerned about losing your privacy, a clinic can be set up at an alternate facility. Consulting rooms near a Medicine outlet are still at large in many parts of India.

If bed facilities are available at the clinics, patients can be kept under observation while administering drips, injections etc. Giving primary care for burns, cuts and wounds by suturing and dressing are other major services that can be delivered in the clinics.

Doctors collect the consulting fee from the patient and prescribe the medicines after examining them.

Government Hospitals

A doctor can either become a permanent government employee or work in government hospitals on contract basis. National Health Mission (NHM) also recruits doctors to work in government hospitals.

Everybody loves to become a government servant, but not doctors? Why is that so?

Most of the doctors do not prefer to work in Government Hospitals because of many reasons. The meagre salary is the prime reason why many doctors turn their faces away from Government jobs. Transfer of postings, working arrangements, special duties, unwanted political influence, are some of the other main reasons.

Government medical colleges and hospitals offers merit seats for both undergraduates and post graduate degrees. The lack of regulation in these centres makes the lives of junior resident doctors, interns miserable. They are forced to work up to 36 hours on a duty shift. There have been many incidents of doctors striking to shorten their working hours.

The number of patients a government doctor has to consult is very high compared to doctors working in private hospitals or clinics (unless you are a well renowned socially loved doctor).

But Government jobs are not hateful altogether. The pension schemes, quota for doctors in Government service to get Post-Graduation seats, allowances, job security are some of the features which makes Government jobs attractive.

I personally know many doctors who have worked in government hospitals just to get the additional quota reserved for government doctors (permanent) in the post graduate admissions.

READ : Duties of a Doctor working in a Government hospital in India

Private Hospitals

Young doctors who have just completed their undergraduate degrees are mostly attracted to the corporate private hospitals because of many reasons. Comfortable working hours, attractive salary packages, being some of them.

Fresh undergraduate doctors are usually employed in private hospitals as RMO (Resident Medical Officer) either in the emergency department, ICU or in specific departments like Medicine, Surgery, etc. Most of the freshers who work in such private hospitals use the opportunity to make quick bucks and find the time to prepare for post-graduate entrance examinations.

Senior specialist doctors also prefer to work in private hospitals. The number of patients they have to consult every day is “manageable” compared to the government hospitals and thus the quality of health care services provided to the patients is also far better at the private hospitals.

READ : Healthcare in India

Careers Abroad

Pursuing higher medical education in countries like USA and UK are the dreams of many medical students and doctors working in India. Clearing the USMLE (United States Medical Licensing Exam) to study post graduation speciality in the US is a tough task. Candidates are required to clear the 3 step exam and appear for personal interview in the US.

PLAB (Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board) is the way to go if you are aspiring to work in the UK. PLAB is a two-step exam and assesses the doctor’s quality to work as a Senior House Officer (SHO) in the NHS hospitals in UK

One has to bear in mind that these exams are highly competitive and appearing for the exams is expensive. For example, it takes almost $1000 for each step exams in the USMLE.

The new curbs by the Central Health Ministry to prevent the brain drain of doctors is also creating doubts in the minds of USMLE aspirants.

You can also attend famous universities in US for higher studies in non-clinical subjects like the MS (Master of Scinece), MPH (Masters in Public Health) etc. There is no need to clear the USMLE in such cases. Other countries in the European Union are also providing such courses.

Non Clinical Careers

Working in clinics, either in government or private ones in India or abroad are the straight forward choices any doctor can make. But, there are other working options available to doctors which does not involve consulting patients at all.

Doing a Hospital Management course after completing the undergraduate degree is becoming popular nowadays. Hospital managers who have the basic knowledge of an MBBS undergraduate are given preference over other students who complete this course. Pursuing such degrees from reputed business schools in India is the key.

If you are interested in teaching, particularly in para-clinical and pre-clinical subjects, many medical colleges are offering such jobs.

Research work is yet another field where doctors are needed in huge numbers. Some of the major fields in which research is currently going on include : Genetic study, various clinical trials, community based studies etc. One can find such research jobs for doctors at the global level like WHO too.

Have a look at the alternate career options provided by the NHS, UK here.

There are numerous working options available to doctors and I have just covered the main ones. If you have other ideas in your mind, share with us in the discussion below.


Image Credit – Walt Stoneburner

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