Tag Archives: Penn State University Hershey College of Medicine
By Tyler Wiechman
Wiechman currently works in the cardiovascular specialty of a privately owned pharmaceutical company working with specialists and hospitals in the Central Pennsylvania Region. He withdrew from a PhD in biomedical sciences from the Penn State University Hershey College of Medicine and received his BS in Psychology from the University of Delaware in 2011. He has worked for three different labs focusing on Neurological/Psychological health and behavior.
Aspiring medical scientists face increasing pressure as they aim to eradicate a disease state, find a new genetic marker for cancer or any number of neurological diseases, or create the next clinically sound pharmaceutical product. First, they have to excel in their bachelor’s level biological and laboratory sciences. This commitment alone costs tens of thousands of dollars of tuition and other bills and an overwhelming amount of time, but during these intense four years they are also expected to volunteer hundreds of hours to their local hospital and gain independent research experience. If that’s not enough, they spend the remainder of their precious time studying for the GRE and/or MCAT depending on the degree program they plan on pursuing. Finally (and with a huge sigh of relief), the acceptance letter is opened and you pack your bags, move to a new apartment and begin the long and arduous road that is graduate level research.
So after putting forth this much work and making so many sacrifices (and of course getting ready to multiply those sacrifices and efforts tenfold) why does a young scientist leave clinical research? This is especially troubling when many of these pupils have personal stakes in their research due to the loss of a family or friend or a problematic condition in their genetics. First, it’s important to look at the numbers. The troubling truth is that, on average, there is a fifty percent attrition rate from PhD programs around the country with an even higher rate (55-59%) in the life sciences. This number is unacceptable and alarming—and I’m a member of that group. I speak from personal experience when I say that withdrawing from my PhD was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make—thankfully my work in the pharmaceutical industry and a close relationship with my former mentors still allows me to be active in the healthcare community, but many are not as lucky and abandon their passion completely. Continue reading →