Medical parasitology focuses on the control of parasites that cause diseases in human beings. Medical parasitologists are, therefore, medical practitioners who are trained to diagnose parasitological diseases such as malaria and river blindness. If you are looking to pursue a career that can quench your scientific curiosity and enable you to care for others, this is could be the perfect one.
What Do Medical Parasitologists Do?
The duties of medical parasitologists include:
- Conducting diagnostic tests on patients to detect the presence of a parasitological disease
- Developing a suitable treatment plant to combat the disease – This may involve collaborating with other healthcare practitioners such as nurses
- Recommending drug dosages to patients
- Conducting research to determine how various parasites cause diseases – Their findings are often used to manufacture effective vaccines
- Advising patients and communities on how to avoid control parasites such as lice and fleas
Although medical parasitologists work full time, 9am to 5pm, Monday through Friday, it is common to find them working long hours, including weekends. Those in private practice have more control over their work schedules.
While at work, these parasitologists spend their time in laboratories and consultation rooms where they assess patients.
The following table highlights some of the top-paying states for parasitologists:
Source: Salary Expert
To become a medical parasitologist, you must complete the following steps:
- Earn a Bachelor of Science degree – Examples of recommended fields include biology, chemistry, nursing, physics, environmental health or microbiology. This will enable you to find work as a laboratory assistant
- Pass the Medical School Admission Test – It is important to pass highly, since competition for admission places in medical schools is quite fierce
- Join medical school and pursue a medical degree that specializes in parasitology
- Complete a residency program
- Earn a medical license from your state’s board of medicine.
Popular medical schools that offer parasitology programs include:
- University of Maryland School of Medicine, Maryland
- Stanford School of Medicine, California.
If you happen to change your mind about becoming a medical parasitologist, or fail to secure a medical school admission, you can instead pursue a graduate certificate in applied parasitology. This will open doors to research positions in parasitology.
Beyond the education, you need the following skills to be a competent medical parasitologist:
- An interest in healthcare
- An interest in caring for others
- Strong skills in clinical research
- Excellent practical and technical skills
- An interest in science and medicine
- Good communication and interpersonal skills
- The ability to adhere to professional ethics
- Good problem-solving, analytical and decision-making skills.
After earning your medical license, you are qualified to practice as a medical parasitologist. As you practice and gain more work experience, consider taking the following career advancement options:
- Join the American Society for Parasitologists
- Pursue a doctoral degree in medical parasitology.
You can find jobs at:
- Healthcare organizations
- Physician’s offices
With vast experience, you can go on to become the leader of the medical parasitology department. You can also move into private practice by establishing a clinic or consultancy business.With a Ph.D., you can secure teaching jobs at medical schools.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of health diagnosing and treating practitioners will grow by a faster-than-average rate (20 percent) from 2012 through 2022. This means there will be plenty of employment positions for medical parasitologists.
So if you want to help control or eradicate diseases like malaria, this could be the career for you.