A little context here: I graduated from medical school in 2012, practiced briefly till 2016 and stopped. I simply got bored with traditional medical practice and then decided to pursue my first love - research. I'm naturally a curious individual and I would prefer doing research all my life. My medical background makes it best suited for me to do research in medicine or health in general.

However, it appears that it is difficult to simply just leave medicine to do ONLY research. People say that there are no support structures for researchers outside academia or medical practice, and that worries me. Now, I have been out of medicine for about two years and not really making much headway with research. I have gotten to a point at which I am confused and thinking I might have made a mistake focusing solely on research.

Is it normal to feel this way? Is there any hope/opportunity for any researcher outside academics or clinical medicine?

  • 1
    Goverment research dept?
    – Solar Mike
    May 22, 2018 at 7:57
  • Not sure I understand the question. You want to do medical research but you don't want to work in either medicine or in academia? Are you perhaps conflating "academia" with universities?
    – MJeffryes
    May 22, 2018 at 13:37
  • I think academia mostly relates to universities or any other form of tertiary education. My question is that how easy is it to have a medical/health research career outside of traditional medical practice or lecturing in a university?
    – Paul
    May 23, 2018 at 20:21

1 Answer 1


Finding jobs in medical research that are attached to neither hospitals or universities is going to be difficult. Most career researchers will either teach (in a university) or under take professional practice (in a hospital for a medic).

You don't say if you have a PhD or not. Generally, if you want a job in medical research outside a hospital, you will definitely need a PhD.

There do exist independent/third sector research institutes that neither teach, nor are involved directly with patient treatment. In the US, the obvious example is the NIH facilities at Bethesda, the Sanger Institute/Crick Institute in the UK, or the Max Plank institutes in Germany. You might also find there is some medical research directly for government agencies (e.g. the civil service in the UK).

However, getting a job at one of these institutions is very difficult, as many, many people want to just do research.

Of course, the final option for medical research outside medicine/academia is industry.

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