Can an engineer become a doctor?

By - Kaustubh Katdare • 1 year ago • 143.4k views

Can an engineer become a doctor? If you got forced into studying engineering and want to go back to your first love - medicine (MBBS), what are your options? Let's discuss.

Yes, an engineer can become a doctor. But it won't be easy. Engineering degrees worldwide are mostly 4-year degree courses and medicine too requires an average of 4-5 years followed by mandatory internship. Not everyone has the patience, money and time to dedicate a decade only to learning.

If you are an engineer or engineering student who wants to opt for medicine; you'll have to plan your moves.

  1. First, look for the entrance exam and take mock test to check your score.
  2. Your score decides the medical college you'll get admission to.
  3. Also check for the tuition fees and other expenses that you'll incur during your medical studies to become a doctor.

In general, medical studies are costlier than engineering studies. There are several people who first got their Bachelor of Engineering (BE or B.Tech) degree and then decided to go for MBBS.

Can you study both engineering and medicine at the same time?

It's possible, but not in India; for all practical reasons. Almost every engineering and medical college in India will require you to have good attendance in class and also crack exams; which will most likely overlap.

I'd strongly advise not to think about doing engineering and medicine at the same time. The better way is to first become a doctor and then opt for engineering.

When an engineer becomes a doctor - what are job opportunities?

You'll be surprised. If you are an engineer who became a doctor, you'll be the ideal candidate for biomedical companies who're looking for a mix of technical skills with medical knowledge.

Let me know if you have questions on this topic. I'll be happy to answer.

Replies

  • Ramani
    Ramani Aswath

    I had a classmate in Chemical Engineering at Andhra University back in the late 1950s. He passed out , went to USA and became a good cardiac surgeon. The curious thing is that cardiac surgery does involve a host of chemical engineering operations and processes. Heat transfer, mass transfer, gas absortion/desorption, non-Newtonian fluid flow, pumping of gases and liquids are a few such.

  • Kaustubh
    Kaustubh Katdare

    An engineer can definitely become a doctor. If you are looking for an inspiration, you've to know the story of Janhavi Ajit Rao - an engineer who became a doctor at the age of 47; and when she was at the height of her successful IT career!

    Here's her story in short -

    Janhavi decided to let go of her successful career spanning over 18 years as an IT engineer to get the MBBS degree, and then the MD.

    In 2003, Janhavi was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease - while she was running her own IT company in Bengaluru. She's had done her BE (Electronics) and then MS in the same field from University of California Santa Barbara.

    She even worked with top US firms before moving to Bengaluru in 2002. The founded her own startup in electronics engineering domain.

    After delivering her child, she began experiencing pain in her joints. She was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. At that point, she began thinking about switching to a profession with deeper and meaningful human impact.

    Janhavi enrolled for MBBS course at Ramaiah Medical College in 2013 at the age of 40. She says she enjoyed her conversations with patients.

    Janhavi - if you are reading this, we'd love to know from you about your inspiring story.

  • Steve
    Steve Gracia

    I wish to add a few famous examples of engineers who became successful doctors. They made a successful switch and it required lot of dedication and hard work.

    Dr. Robert Gallo

    Dr. Gallo, a prominent biomedical researcher, initially studied engineering at Providence College before switching to medicine. He later co-discovered the HIV virus and played a significant role in the development of the HIV blood test.

    Dr. Mehmet Oz Before becoming a renowned cardiothoracic surgeon (who performs surgery on organs in chest) and TV personality, Dr. Oz earned an undergraduate degree in biological sciences, with a focus on bioengineering, from Harvard University.

    Dr. Peter Agre

    Dr. Agre, a Nobel Prize-winning physician and molecular biologist, started his academic journey as a chemical engineering major before changing his focus to medicine. His groundbreaking work in aquaporins (AQP) has made a lasting impact in the medical field.

    So yeah - engineers can become doctors! :-)

  • Kaustubh
    Kaustubh Katdare

    Looks like this discussion is getting popular. Someone wrote to me asking if it's worth becoming a doctor after you've earned an engineering degree.

    The person was trying to evaluate the option purely from the financial perspective. Just to answer - a doctor, in general, would earn more than an engineer.

    The income of professionals in any field, including engineering and medicine, varies significantly depending on numerous factors such as the country they're working in, the specific specialty within their field, the level of experience they have, and more.

    While we can draw some generalisations, it's important to remember that these may not apply to every individual case.

    Overall Earnings:

    Generally speaking, doctors tend to earn more than engineers.

    This is largely due to the additional years of education and training required to become a doctor, which typically takes at least a decade.

    In contrast, engineers can typically start earning a full salary after completing a bachelor's degree, which usually takes four years.

    Specialisation: Within each field, certain specialties tend to earn more than others. For instance, in medicine, specialties like neurosurgery, orthopaedic surgery, and cardiology often have higher incomes than family medicine or paediatrics.

    Similarly, in engineering, specialties like petroleum engineering or computer engineering may earn more than civil or industrial engineers.

    Experience: Experience also plays a significant role in earnings. In both fields, individuals with more experience tend to earn more than those who are just starting out.

    However, the income growth over time may be more pronounced in medicine than in engineering.

    Geographical Location: The country and region where a professional works significantly influence their income.

    For instance, doctors and engineers in countries like the United States, Australia, and Switzerland tend to earn more than their counterparts in countries with lower costs of living.

    Private Practice vs. Employment: Doctors who own their own practices have the potential to earn more than those who are employed by hospitals or healthcare systems.

    Similarly, engineers who start their own firms or work as consultants may have higher earnings than those who work as employees.

    Research, Teaching, and Other Roles: Both doctors and engineers can supplement their incomes through other roles. For instance, they can conduct research, teach at universities, work as consultants, or take on leadership roles within their organisations.

    Remember, while income is an important factor, it should not be the only one to consider when choosing a career.

    The best choice is usually the one that aligns with your interests, skills, and long-term goals. It's also worth considering the work-life balance, job satisfaction, and the potential impact of your work on society.

  • Cat
    Cat Claes

    this was a great post. thanks for writing this.

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