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Consider a PSM

Writing in Nature Biotechnology, the University of Kentucky's Nathan Vanderford outlines the scope of professional science master's — or PSM — programs, and canvasses career options for PSM graduates. "Although some can obtain alternative career positions without completing additional education beyond their PhD, others are struggling to find employment because — from the standpoint of potential employers — they lack relevant education or training," Vanderford says. As such, many PhDs who intend to leave the bench are hitting the books — enrolling in master of business administration, master of health administration, master of public administration, and master of public health programs, among others, he adds. For those who are trained specifically in the sciences, Vanderford says the PSM degree prepares people with science backgrounds to become "dual-functioning professionals who can bridge the gap between the technical and business enterprise." Still, he says, it can be difficult for someone with a doctorate to imagine shelling out the cash to obtain a terminal master's degree. However, "the fact of the matter is that many of the PhDs striving to pursue alternative careers know that obtaining that first position outside of the academic laboratory can be a very difficult process. The translatable administration and management skills obtained in graduate school, for example, often aren't enough to impress employers; all other things being equal, an alternative career employer would rather hire a PhD with additional business administration training," he says. "Therefore, it may be wise for PhDs seeking alternative career positions to add the PSM or a similar degree to their educational tool belt."

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