Exploring the world of biology beyond medicine

To study biology is to study life. Despite its complexity and importance, a biology degree is still often reduced to a mere stepping stone to medical school.

Studying biology is so much more than dissecting frogs, identifying the parts of a flower, or observing little organisms wriggling under the microscope. It is a diverse field that researches plants, animals, and other living organisms. This heavy emphasis on research led to major discoveries that greatly helped society. For example, Dr. Angel Alcala—a national scientist and renowned marine biologist—is well-known for his study on marine no-take zones, which pioneered a system of coastal resource management that many countries still use today. 

Nowadays, when people hear that a student is studying BS Biology, the assumption is that they plan to become a doctor. Indeed, the course provides valuable laboratory experience and lessons in the life sciences that are useful in medical school. But what if one decides to choose the road less traveled and pursue a career outside of the medical field? While Biology graduates are adept in research, analysis, and critical thinking, they may have a hard time finding other jobs that utilize their undergraduate degree.

While a bachelor’s degree in biology may prepare students for medical school, it can also open doors to many other careers.

A dead-end course? 

Unlike other science-related courses like BS Chemistry, the Professional Regulation Commission does not offer a licensure exam for Biology graduates. This may hurt their job prospects because many employers prefer to hire board-certified applicants. Moreover, the country’s low resource allocation for research and development also adds to the fear that pursuing a career in Biology is a dead-end.

However, this is not the case. While funding in the sciences does need to be increased to promote more research projects and innovations, taking Biology is still a viable career option. Professionals like Alcala prove this point. Undergraduates of Biology may not have the luxury of being board-certified, but they can always pursue a specialization in Biology that offers licensure examinations, such as Microbiology and Veterinary Medicine. Additionally, the research-oriented nature of Biology also creates an opportunity for a career in the academe where graduates could contribute to the scientific community through their research papers.

Dr. Esperanza Agoo, an associate professor from the Department of Biology, explains that Biology acts as a good foundational course for further specialization. Should students decide not to pursue a specialized career in Biology, they can use their degree to enroll in medical school or become a teacher.

The University currently offers the Biology program with three choices of specializations: Medical Biology, Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, and Systematics and Ecology. With lessons ranging from evolutionary theories to cell biology, these specializations equip students with enough knowledge and skills to seek a career beyond the medical field.

Fruitful doors of opportunity

Despite these options, there is no denying that certifications can increase the value of a particular field. These credentials act like spotlights, showing employers that a fresh graduate is qualified for the job. As such, many Lasallians believe that professionalizing the career of a biologist will open numerous doors of opportunity that could break the stigma of the program being a dead-end course. 

Yurik Cadoy (III, BIO-MBB) shares that after college, he plans to specialize in Industrial Biotechnology rather than pursue medical school. He expresses that professionalizing biology would grant more job opportunities to those from the program as they will have a license to put on their resume. Luis* (III, BIO-SEC), who intends to pursue veterinary studies, shares this sentiment, “it would give an incentive for the scientists who trained [in the Philippines] to stay in the country instead of [leaving] for better opportunities elsewhere.”

Having more biology professionals in the Philippines also provides a multitude of potential economic and research-oriented benefits for the country. Mory* (I, BIO-MBB) believes that biologists will help address environmental issues that the country faces. “[They] can help understand or give solutions to preserve the tropical life or forests in the country and even find solutions in a molecular view,” she elaborates. Cjae Galang (V, BIO-MED) agrees, suggesting that Biology improves the country by “helping the society change their perspectives on the life around them such as land animals, marine animals, plants, and more.”

Recognition for greatness

One of the key ways to professionalize Biology in the country is to improve the country’s Scientific Career System, which recruits and rewards scientists in public service. Brain drain is a problem plaguing this system because the country’s researchers prefer to work abroad in search of higher salaries and better opportunities. Additionally, insufficient funding for research makes it difficult for scientists to implement their projects and stay up-to-date on current developments in their field. 

To reduce the financial barriers of this career path, academic institutions may offer scholarships to promising students and young researchers. They may also introduce certification programs to increase the output of skilled biologists. This is already being done in places like the Philippine Academy of Microbiology, which offers certification examinations for aspiring microbiologists. 

Through these measures, the Philippines can support its scientists and foster a culture of innovation and scientific inquiry in the country. While Biology is often seen as a predecessor to medical school, the many other career opportunities that it could provide should not be overlooked. In a country full of unique wildlife and flora, having people who professionalize in their protection and nourishment is crucial for their sustainability. It must be remembered that biological studies extend into all aspects of life—not just medicine—and that the diligent work of those specializing in it deserves to be recognized. 

*Names with asterisks (*) are pseudonyms

This article was published in The LaSallian‘s March 2024 issue. To read more, visit

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