Q: I am appearing for the Plus Two board exam. I love biology and chemistry but am not confident about cracking the pre-medical entrance test. Is BPharma a feasible career option? Are there enough opportunities for pharma graduates?
— Sanjay Agrawal
A: If you are studying biology and chemistry in Class XII, you will be eligible for medical entrance exams. If you are planning to do a pharmacy course, ensure that the programme is accredited to the Pharmacy Council of India (PCI), established by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
PCI publishes a list of approved colleges on its website (www.pci.nic.in). You can either choose a two-year diploma in pharmacy (with hospital training) or a four-year bachelor in pharmacy to register as a pharmacist in India. After doing BPharm, you can work as a medical pharmacist, retail pharmacist, an academic or conduct research on drug development. To succeed in this field you need to have a good knowledge of drugs and their interactions. Being specific, detail oriented and patient will help you come up trumps in this profession. Jobs are mainly in hospitals and in the retail sector.
Some research is being done in India relating to drug development but the opportunities are limited. Other professions in the medical field that you could consider are physiotherapy, speech therapy, nursing and occupational therapy. Explore various options and then make a choice.
Sink your teeth into dentistry
Q: I belong to a lower middle-class family. Is bachelor of dental surgery (BDS) a feasible career option? Will I be able to set up a dental clinic and practise independently?
— Prashant Kumar
A: If you manage to get a merit seat in both undergraduate and postgraduate dental colleges then it will be a lot easier on your finances to qualify as a dentist. When you establish your own practice you have to keep in mind the various expenses involved. Considering private and very upscale dental clinics are now opening everywhere, it can push up the entry level cost for emerging dentists. Do try and meet some dentists in your area to get a realistic idea about the costs involved and then set your targets. In the meantime you could also look at other medical professions where setting up your own clinic may be cheaper.
Soft skills can take you places
Q: I have completed MCom and been working in a corporate firm for the past five years as an accountant. I am terribly bored with my job. I would like to pursue a career as a soft skills trainer. I have a penchant for teaching. What should I do?
— Rima Bardhan
A: It is wonderful to know that you have an interest in teaching and would like to pursue a career as a soft skills trainer. Even though it would be a shift from the accounting profession, there is no reason why you should not consider it. A soft skills trainer needs to have excellent communication skills, patience, self-confidence, humour, ability to think on one’s feet and be able to market oneself. Before you leave your current job, however, conduct a small research to find out who would be your clients and their needs. My suggestion would be to develop the curriculum for the various training modules you would like to conduct in future. Since you have been an accountant, you can develop courses especially designed for accountants. A better way to start is to volunteer with your company. You can conduct a trial session for your colleagues and get their feedback. You could also consider interning under a human resources professional who has undergone a soft skills training. Of course, once you are sure about a career change you could also consider doing a master’s degree or diploma in human resources management. Depending upon your financial responsibilities and risk taking ability, I would urge you to take one step at a time before taking the final plunge.
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