Health technology is an alternative career path that medics may consider. However, just like many other alternative medical careers, it can be a confusing space to navigate. Hopefully, this blog post acts as a starting point to outline some steps you can take during medical school to pursue a role within health tech.
A common misconception in health tech is that you need to be a coding expert, however this is not the case. There are multiple roles beyond the technical aspects. Key roles in the health tech space include - technology, product, marketing, sales, customer success, operations and finance. The difficulty lies in choosing. As a medical student, you may not be aware of all the options that are available, so the first step in getting into health tech is to do research and get exposure to different roles to figure out which section to pursue. You can also go one step further and narrow your focus to a specific area of interest, e.g. pharma, women’s health/”fem tech”, digital therapeutics etc., although it’s not entirely necessary this early in your career. Once you know your interests within health tech, you can then narrow your focus to find relevant opportunities and develop skills in that specific area.
As a medical student, time is often a limiting factor, making building the necessary skills difficult. Here are various ways you can get involved in health technology during term-time. Note that all of these suggestions depend on the area or role of health tech you are interested in. It’s not necessary to do everything on this list.
Med Tech Society
If your university has a Med Tech Society, this is a perfect way to learn more about the industry. You can attend any events or workshops that the society has to offer, or can even get involved in the committee. Joining a society is also an opportunity to network, build relationships with your peers, and possibly work on projects with other people. If your university doesn’t have one, you can attend the events of other universities with med tech societies.
Audits and Research Projects
Audits and other projects linked to health tech are another way to gain experience, especially during clinical years. If you come across a project related to your area of interest in health tech then you should definitely get involved.
Hackathons are short events taking place typically over a weekend where you work with a team to solve a problem. At the end of a hackathon you pitch your team’s solution and have the opportunity to win several prizes. Even if you don’t have coding experience, you can still get involved in hackathons based on your medical knowledge or other skills such as visual design.
Design Sprints and User Testing
This one is most useful if you are considering user experience or product related roles. These opportunities are typically harder to access however if you build a network with people in the health tech industry you could always ask to get involved or even just shadow for a short period of time.
Social media and content is an area that many start-ups often need support with. If you are interested in pursuing content creation or marketing roles in health tech, you could reach out to companies to write blog posts for them or to help out with social media content creation.
All the previous suggestions are activities that you can get involved in during term-time. However, if you’re looking for a way to gain experience during longer holidays, internships are a great option. Internships in health tech are not usually promoted on job boards. This is the point where you need to start networking and building relationships, which can give you access to new opportunities. Look for smaller companies or startups that you’d be happy to intern for, and reach out to their CEO or someone else on the leadership team, especially if there’s no specific HR department. We recommend start-ups as they are less intimidating than larger companies, and there is really a lot to learn. Don’t be afraid to shoot your shot either on LinkedIn or by email - you’d be surprised by how many positive responses you receive. If you already know people working in health tech or have a mentor, don’t hesitate to ask them if they are aware of potential internship opportunities. As the duration of your internship, 4-10 weeks is usually a sufficient amount of time to gain valuable experience, depending on your availability.
Organisations and Resources
Here are some suggestions of organisations and resources you can check out to stay clued up on all things health tech.
You can attend their events and pitch sessions and reach out to people that you come across during the events. Health tech is quite a small niche so the more you network, the more access you have to opportunities in the future.
Opportunities for Doctors
Topol Digital Fellowship - a program for healthcare professionals to get involved in digital health transformations and innovations in their organisations
Clinical Entrepreneur Programme (students can still get involved in this too) - a good opportunity for healthcare professionals interested in entrepreneurship and innovation. You may have a health tech related business idea that you want to develop through the program
Medic Footprints - great platform for doctors to find alternative career opportunities, often has job listings in the health tech industry
Doctorpreneurs - this platform also posts alternative career opportunities for doctors including fellowships, jobs and advisory roles
Health Tech News
The Healthtech Podcast
RSM Digital Health Section
Digital Health Unplugged
The Lancet Digital Health
Hopefully this has answered any questions you have about getting into the health technology industry. It is a relatively new sector, so there isn’t always a defined structure of how to enter the field - you can feel free to carve out your own unique career path based on your interests. As always, feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions about this!
Written by Honey Ajisefini (Co-founder of The Black & Forth Platform)