Nov 16, 2016 at 12:00am ET By Alyssa Walker

The greatest global risk to humanity, you wonder?  Antibiotic resistance.  Not what you were thinking?  You’re probably not alone.  At a meeting of health care experts from around the world, the United Nations (UN) recently announced this antibiotic resistance is the “greatest and most urgent global risk.”  In concert with the UN’s announcement, the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced that gonorrhea, once easily treatable with antibiotics, is becoming untreatable.  What does this mean?  Approximately 800,000 Americans alone may be at risk for untreatable gonorrhea.  If that’s not bad enough, a new strain of antibiotic-resistant MRSA is now traveling widely around the globe.  On poultry meat.  The UN stated that infections from antibiotic resistance will kill a minimum of 700,000 people per year worldwide. 

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon reported that, “Antimicrobial resistance poses a fundamental long-term threat to human health, sustainable food production, and development.”  He added, “In all parts of the world, in developing and developed countries, in rural and urban areas, in hospitals, on farms, and in communities, we are losing our ability to protect both people and animals from life-threatening infections.”

Margaret Chan, the World Health Organization’s Executive Director, seconded the UN Secretary-General’s statement.  She said, “Antimicrobial resistance poses a fundamental threat to human health, development, and security.  The commitments made today must now be translated into swift, effective, lifesaving actions across human, animal, and environmental health sectors.  We are running out of time.”

What do people with degrees in biomedical science do?  They help research antibiotic superbugs, among other things.  Sounds like the world needs some help in the form of biomedical science experts who can clear a path for treating antibiotic-resistant strains of infections.  Besides tackling the planet’s “greatest and most urgent global risk,” we’ve outlined some additional reason why we think studying biomedical science is a great idea.


1. Incredible variety of job possibilities

Not only can you become a biomedical scientist, working specifically on antibiotic-resistant superbugs, you can work in forensics, clinical biochemistry, genetics, hematology, immunology, toxicology, and research.  You could also communicate your expertise in biomedical science to the general public by writing for top-notch scientific publications.  Consider a bachelor’s, master’s, PhD, or MD degree—any one of these degrees will open doors in the biomedical field.  The PhD may be the most flexible, since it’s the highest academic level—researching, lecturing, writing, and speaking jobs are at your fingertips.  If you’re more interested in working directly with patients, consider the MD degree, or a DO program.  The field of biomedical science needs all of these specialties, with varying levels of expertise.


2. Great chances of employment prospects

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that job prospects for biomedical engineers will grow 23 percent from 2014 to 2024, remarkably faster than average for all other occupations.  Studying biomedical engineering gives you the potential opportunity not just to gain a job in a rapidly growing market, but to make a positive impact on humankind (see #3).  For biomedical technicians, the prospects are just as good.  The US Bureau of Labor Statistics also predicts that the medical equipment service profession will grow by at least 22 percent between 2006 and 2016. 


3. Work for the preservation of humanity

Helping to cure disease helps people survive and live longer.  Whether or not you care directly for patients, create new technologies, improve old ones, research solutions to global problems, or build and repair biomedical equipment, your studies in the biomedical sciences will benefit the good of humanity.  Antibiotic-resistant superbugs will only continue to mutate and find ways to attack.  Your degree in biomedical sciences can help humanity continue to exist—and hopefully thrive.



Alyssa Walker is a freelance writer, educator, and nonprofit consultant. She lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with her family.

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