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Smart Career Move

The Research Grants Administrator in our department has recently resigned her job. She’s drastically changing her career path. Instead of working with faculty on research grant applications, she is going back to school with the ultimate goal of becoming a nurse practitioner. I will certainly miss her as she has carried out her job responsibilities with high competency and professionalism. I am also certain that she’ll do well in any career path she chooses.

Also, in this political and economic climes, moving from research to healthcare makes perfect economic sense for any ambitious young person who wants to make a successful and lucrative career. Let’s look at some numbers. According to a report from the US Department of Health & Human Services, “By 2020, national health spending is expected to reach $4.6 trillion and comprise 19.8 percent of GDP.” No matter what you think of the recent healthcare reform, its outcome is that the total healthcare expenditure is expected to increase, possibly surpassing 20% of the GDP in the next decade. In contrast, the US spends less than 3% on scientific research and development. Universities are mainly concerned with general science and basic research, which constitutes less than 1% of GDP. In particular, in 2008, the overall spending on basic research reached only 0.3% of GDP. As recently as in 2009, the Obama administration pledged to increase R&D expenditure to 3% of the revenue, but due to the current bipartisan consensus that federal spending be cut, we’d be lucky if the current R&D expenditure is not cut precipitously .

Now, if you were choosing a career path, would you pick an industry that constitutes almost 1/5 the of the GDP and growing or an industry that does not reach even 3% of the GDP and is expected to decline?

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