It's not the end of the world. Allied Health sciences offer exciting options at the undergraduate level indicating there are greener pastures outside of medicine.

That pot of gold is not stashed only at the end of an MBBS rainbow. There are substantial pots of wealth stashed strategically at the end of many other allied health sciences. So, do not despair if you missed the MBBS seat by a whisker. There is a whole world out there, waiting to be conquered.

“Who says the world ends with medicine. There are wonderful opportunities outside of it,” says J.P. Gandhi, education consultant. In his interaction with students who aspire for medical seats, he advises them to look beyond medicine.

“Allied health sciences has been gaining increasing popularity over the years. There is a huge demand for human resource in this sector and the demand is always much more than the supply.”

Opportunities galore

Allied health science courses at the undergraduate level include optometry, physiotherapy, nursing, audiology and speech pathology, dietetics, pharmacology, medical records technology, biochemistry, microbiology, hospital sciences, lab technology, radiology, cardiology technician. These are only a few of the many courses that a student can pursue, and be fairly sure of a job opportunity after their graduation.

Nursing has been attracting vast droves of students from the beginning. “What you need is dedication, devotion, honesty, and be willing to forsake a lot in your personal life,” says Chellammal Mariappan, secretary, Trained Nurses Association of India State branch.

Not everyone can become a nurse, but if one has the necessary qualities, it is a good profession to follow. Doctors in most hospitals acknowledge the role of nurses in ensuring the patient recovers well. Opportunities are available not only just within the country, and also overseas.

Physiotherapists are the backbone for rehabilitation of patients who have had most major surgeries, says V. Krishna Kumar, president, Forum for Physiotherapists, Tamil Nadu. Post accident, trauma, in geriatric care, most developmental disorders, physiotherapists have a solid role to play.

Immediately after graduation, job opportunities are aplenty, he says, adding that today, the mushrooming of fitness centres and gyms has been of great benefit for young physiotherapists.

Mr. Gandhi adds that with these allied fields, it also does not cost much to be a freelancer or and independent consultant, unlike a doctor or a dentist. “The costs of setting up one’s own practice in medicine or in dentistry are very high. It’s not the same with these fields. They offer rich entrepreneurial opportunities as well.”

Especially true of audiologists and speech pathologists, agrees Ranjith Rajeswaran, principal, MERF Institute of Speech and Hearing, Chennai. After a basic degree, students can earn anything between Rs. 20,000 and Rs.2 lakh a month. “There are a lot of consultants with their own practice who make as much as Rs.7 lakh-Rs.9 lakh a month.” Clearly, qualifying in audiology and speech therapy means a lucrative career.

One can also opt to work in government or private hospitals, special and regular schools, or teaching institutions, and research and development. These professionals take care of problems related to communication among both adults and children.

Mr. Rajeswaran adds that with the recent decision of the State government to pay for Cochlear Implant for children, opportunities are going to explode in the sector. “An audiologist and speech pathologist does 95 per cent of the work post a cochlear or brain stem implant.” However, it is important for students to bear in mind that they must choose the right course, according to their aptitude, in institutions recognised by the Tamil Nadu Dr. MGR Medical University.