I know I've commented on this forum before about becoming a marine biologist, but I have a dilemma. I know that I definitely want to pursue a career in biology, however, I'm split on which career to embark on; a doctor or a marine biologist.

For quite some time, I've been weighing up the pros and cons of both careers, but I know that I won't be able to decide until I have the advice of someone with experience or some kind of knowledge of either area.

Reasons for me wanting to become a doctor: biology of the human body fascinates me, as does medicine, and I know this could be a career I would really love because of that interest; I am a people person, and I think I would could make a good doctor as I would be one that actually cared; you actually do get to help people; job prospects are quite high, doctors will always be needed; I would be committed to the course, I wouldn't just flake out halfway through; I know that I could cope under the pressure that being a doctor/consultant could offer; and obviously, in the later years it's a well paid job.

Reasons against: it is a haaaaard job to become a doctor, and I have to be absolutely sure that this is what I want, which I'm not right now, otherwise years of my life would be wasted, as well as an awful lot of money; the course itself is really quite expensive, and I'm not sure if I could afford that, and I don't have the self-confidence to say to myself, "I'll definitely get that scholarship/grant" even though I am confident in my abilities; I don't know if being a doctor/consultant would give me enough freedom, I mean, it's not exactly like you get to travel around the world is it?

Now, reasons for me wanting to become a marine biologist: as well as medicine, I find marine biology utterly enthralling! Watching anything to do with marine life on t.v. really interests me, so again this would be a career I would love to do; it can take you all around the world; scuba diving is a personal hobby of mine :); I know that in life I would be very happy by becoming a marine biology, it really would just fulfill my life.

Lastly, reasons against: it is hard to get a job in this area, I don't know what employers would value more, having the creme de la creme of marine biologists academically, or people who love what they're doing and as a result do a good job; I've heard that to get into some universities you have to take physics and maths as well as chemistry and biology for a-level, which I really wasn't planning on doing. I'm good at both, but they aren't things I really enjoy; my own personal hell would be having to work in another job in biology for yearrrrs that I hate because of the fact that I couldn't get a job doing what I want.

Sorry if that seems like a bit of an essay to you guys! It's important to me, so I felt I had to get it all in the open. :) I really, really would appreciate any advice you can give me, so thanks.

Thanks you are not going to find someone to comment who has done medicine and marine biology so let me restrict my comments to medicine. I am a university clinical academic who spends 50% of his time in a teaching hospital in bristol as a physician and the other half in the adjacent medical school working as a neuroscientist on chronic pain. The training is hard work as you say its 6 years for medicine and then I did a PhD and postdoc positions as a junior and middle grade doctor which took another 7 years. Having said that I can't imagine doing anything else; its stimulating, fun, rewarding and yes at times frustrating. But at the age of 50 I can truely say there has never ever been a day where I have woken up and thought - I wish I didn't do this!

Marine biology may be fun and stimulating and yes you get to travel the world but then there are branches of medicine where you can do the same.

If you are bright enough and hard working enough and committed then medicine may be for you. One thing for sure - you will never be bored and the job satisfaction is second to little else!

If you are not sure what to do why not do a work placement or two in a various hospitals and/or university research labs to see what it feels like?

Good luck with what ever you decide

Hi Lauren!

I also considered both medicine and marine biology as possible options for my degree (along with neuroscience, biomedical science and ecology). I am the most indecisive person in the world, so I ended up keeping my options open slightly by choosing a broad-based Biology degree which allowed me to study aspects of all those subjects in the first year. After that, I had to choose a specialisation, and after learning about those subjects that interested me in a little more detail I realised that Ecology was not nearly so interesting as I had at first thought (in fact, it bored me to death) and that neuroscience was what really inspired me, so I chose that. I am now a neuroscientist working on fascinating projects that really capture my imagination, so I chose well in the end.

Of course, if you take a similar path you will need to bear in mind that there is no course that will allow you to study both marine biology and medicine and then choose between the two; however, a Biology-type course would allow you to study human physiology and animal physiology side-by-side, which may help you to decide which type of subject you like best. You could then take a medical degree after your biology degree (you may be able to skip the first year or so of medical school if you have learned appropriate things during your first degree), or do a 1-year masters degree in marine biology to qualify yourself as a marine biologist. I guess I am trying to say that you do not necessarily have to decide right now, there are options to change courses, take second degrees or conversion courses if you should change your mind in future. Although it will undoubtedly take longer to get fully qualified by this route, it might help you to be sure of what you want to be.

I would definitely recommend that you look on University websites and see what the entry requirements are for the different types of courses and think about how likely you are to get the grades they need in the subjects they are asking for. Medicine is VERY difficult to get into and you will need straight As (and many, many straight A students still get turned away), whereas marine biology will be less demanding. It's no good resolving to be a doctor if you are not going to get top grades, so this could be a way to have your mind made up for you!

Good luck with your choice!