Scientific jobs usually involve some research. The jobholder would have specialized training and experience in a field, and the ability to draw on it to conduct field or laboratory research. For example, a clinical research assistant working for a clinical research organization can be required to go out into the field and record the findings of clinical trials for medical devices or medication.
In such cases, in addition to knowledge in the field of science, the job holder will also have to be familiar with research methodology to ensure adherence to quality research practices, so that the research findings will be acceptable to practitioners in the relevant field.
Furthermore, the jobholder might also be required to keep track of the costs of the research, which require some administrative experience. Scientific jobs could thus involve much more than doing theoretical research in a laboratory.
Roles of Career Scientists
We saw in the previous section that even when research is involved, scientific jobs could involve administrative and quality control roles. Many scientific jobs might not involve research as such. Instead, it might involve applying the jobholder's knowledge to do practical work. For example, physicians apply their knowledge of healing science primarily to cure sick patients rather do research with medication.
Another example is the clinical psychologist engaged in providing clinical and forensic psychology service to patients, and advice and consultation to non-psychologist colleagues in the medical profession.
A forensic toxicology expert might be primarily involved in providing testimony in courts about the effect of alcohol on human body and driving skills, and explaining the significance of the results of a defendant's breath and blood tests. Such a function requires the application of professional knowledge and experience in the relevant scientific field.
Environmental health practitioners might have to be community workers and change agents in addition to their roles of identifying and preventing environmental health problems. Possessing knowledge alone might not help them provide valuable services in their field. They will have to work with an environmental health team to create awareness about environmental health issues among the community, and show how the locality can be made a better place to live and work.
Scientific jobs can also involve working in areas other than the primary scientific field of the jobholder. For example, a healthcare specialist with Information Technology experience might be employed to develop clinical information models. They might have to do requirements studies to develop the kind of clinical information models that clinicians need. The requirements study in this case is more IT work than clinical work.
Another example is a specialist who works in the sales and marketing department helping the department explain product benefits and other technical aspects to prospective clients, or for creating product literature. Many specialists might be attracted by commercial work, and can use their specialist know-how, say in wound care, in marketing wound care products effectively.
Then there is the science teacher who is engaged in developing the scientists of tomorrow. The teacher must be able to create an enthusiasm for the field among students in addition to teaching them science.
Scientific jobs thus involve being more than just scientists. In fact few scientific jobs require you to be a scientist these days.
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