What is a good EA career change for a Physiotherapy student?

post by Joe91 · 2022-06-22T11:13:58.067Z · EA · GW · 4 comments

This is a question post.

I am in the final year of my Physiotherapy (or physical therapy) degree and have decided that I probably don't want to work in this area long-term. From an EA perspective, I don't think this career is the best way to do good. From a non-EA perspective, I don't think physiotherapy suits me because I am a bit introverted and not that good at communicating with patients. I also prefer deeper and more theoretical work instead of practical/clinical work. My strengths are my knowledge of biology and anatomy and my passion for learning and hard work.

I am thinking of doing a Master's degree in bioinformatics and working in biomedical research or something similar, but I am uncertain and open to other ideas. I would greatly appreciate any suggestions or advice that anyone may have. 

Answers

answer by CarolineJ · 2022-06-22T16:50:36.522Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

A small idea of a potentially high-impact consultancy: you may want to consider specializing in helping EAs figure out what physical health problems they have and recommending steps they can take to improve those. (I realize after writing this that you underlined that you don't like clinical work that much so maybe the following isn't that useful.)

One of the pieces of advice of 80,000 Hours is to take care of your physical health and notably avoid back issues. 

We were surprised to learn that the biggest risk to our productivity is probably back pain: it’s now the leading cause of ill-health globally, at least by some measures.5 Our co-founder, Will, was suddenly taken out for months by chronic lower-back pain.

Repetitive strain injury (RSI) is also a hazard of modern workplaces, and can even permanently damage your ability to type or use a mouse.

Will spoke to over ten health professionals about his back pain before he got any useful advice. This isn’t uncommon either, since the causes of much back pain are unknown,6 and it can be hard to treat.

Nevertheless, you can reduce your chances of back pain and RSI in a couple of ways. First, correctly set up your desk and maintain good posture – see advice here, here and here. Second, regularly change position (the pomodoro technique is useful). Third, exercise regularly.

These steps sound trivial, but statistically, it’s pretty likely you’ll face a bout of bad back pain at some point in your life, and you’ll thank yourself for making these simple investments.

A quite large number of people in EA have some types of physical health issues. Advising EA orgs on how they should think about the ergonomics of their offices would be helpful. I would personally be interested in, for example, having a video call with someone who could tell me if my chair, my back, etc. are in the right positions and in general how to have a better posture.  I would bet that many EAs would be interested in that as well (if the consultant was actually good, of course!). 

Other than ergonomics, there is also a need for a consultancy that would help people find out what weird "health" things they have -there was a job opening as a Medical Mysteries Investigator at Non-Linear, and I'm guessing there's still a high demand for this type of role.

EAs have the particular need for quite evidenced-based stuff if possible.

You could test whether this idea is viable by setting up a few calls with friends to improve their ergonomics, get feedback, check with your professors, etc. Then set up a few cheap or free calls for EAs to improve their ergonomics or read a bunch of papers on what health problems they could have (and of course, they'd need to discuss that with their doctor).  

Basically, setting up your own consultancy [? · GW] based on your comparative advantage may be really great - if you like the job! You could have a large impact by reducing the physical health risks of several (maybe dozens of? hundreds of?) people. Of course, it's better to consider several options before settling down. 

Good luck!

comment by Joe91 · 2022-06-22T17:58:47.191Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

I think you're right that consultancy for EAs could be a good idea.  However I'm not particularly enthusiastic about ergonomics and posture, because I've yet to see strong evidence they prevent pain. Other lines of evidence also suggest that traditional physiotherapy beliefs about back pain and other pain may be misguided.

I think  cardiovascular risk factor reduction (obesity, low physical activity) and proven injury prevention programs such as the FIFA11+ for soccer would be more effective, but less relevant to EAs.

The Medical Mysteries Investigator sounds interesting, and I will keep an eye out for similar jobs.

Thanks very much for your advice!

answer by shinybeetle · 2022-06-22T13:00:03.571Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Have you considered applying for career coaching at 80 000 hours or at your national EA org, if they offer it?

comment by Joe91 · 2022-06-22T13:52:24.291Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

That's a good idea. I think I would have a low chance of getting the coaching since I don't really have any typical high impact skills, but I think it would be worth a shot.

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