Medicine, Biomedicine and Biotechnology: almost guaranteed precariousness among the most demanding diplomas | The universities

To enter the career in biomedicine, you have to be close to perfection, they ask for a cut-off mark of around 12.5 out of 14, and in medicine a few tenths above. However, job prospects are not as rosy initially as one might imagine. The Knowledge and Development Foundation (FCY) in its study Youth employability in Spain: How is the integration of university graduates going?based on INE University Graduate Placement Survey, concludes that 86.6% of doctors who graduated in 2015 and 70.6% of biomedical doctors, four years later, were in precarious employment: that is to say, they were trainees, employees on fixed-term contracts or in internship or training.

In the case of doctors graduating in 2014, many were trained in 2019 as MIRs (Resident Internal Doctors) with salaries between 1,450 euros and 1,800 euros and marathon shifts with almost no time to recover. They had managed to become a MIR with great difficulty, because since 2015 there were fewer vacancies than the number of applicants, the number of graduates having exploded. And most of these doctors were and are doomed to years of strings of short contracts: one in three currently has a temporary payroll, according to the Survey on the situation of the medical profession in Spain promoted by its official schools and unions in 2020.

On the list of precariousness, behind these health careers, are graduates in Classical Languages ​​(72.4%) and biotechnologists (66%), who use knowledge in biology and engineering, for example to learn computer science at create drugs. Dental graduates are in the opposite situation: 96.4% have stable jobs four years after graduation, which is equivalent to employers with employees, self-employed or with a permanent contract. Podiatrists and computer scientists rank behind dentists in this list of solvent careers.

Doctors, who usually have a huge vocation, work in uncertainty, but at least 99.9% in the field they studied, in highly qualified positions. At the other extreme, a quarter of graduates in the History of Art, Criminology and Human Sciences hold positions that require little training: accountants, clerks, waiters or salespeople.

The instability generated by the previous economic crisis led many new doctors and nurses abroad – especially to the United Kingdom – and today those who emigrate, to improve their skills or work, are biomedical doctors. A third (33.5%) of those who completed biomedical sciences in 2015 were four years later, according to the FCyD study, as were biomedical engineers. Very high figures which do not surprise the biologist Francisco del Castillo, president of the National Association of Hospital Researchers (ANIH) who works on rare diseases: “With the blocking of employability in the public sector, many graduates are looking for greener jobs. pastures. It’s a shame with what has been invested in their training, that they are leaving. They are particularly appreciated even if they have language problems. In his case, he says that so far this year he has received six offers in the United States, Europe and Morocco, but he wants to be “optimistic” and for now he is staying.

Spanish biotechnologists are also highly regarded abroad and one in five, the group calculates, leaves. Luis Getino, 26, who will defend his thesis at the University of León next year, has friends who finished their degree with Erasmus scholarships and who did not return because the laboratories raffled them to get their doctorate. He has a contract of 1,200 euros per month as a predoctoral fellow, compared to more than 2,000 euros received by his colleagues in Europe. León has become a pole of attraction for biotechnology companies around the university, and he does not plan to move attracted by university education.

Instead, biotechnologist Arantza Muguruza, 28, is finishing her thesis at the University of the Basque Country and her intention is to pack her bags. She is tempted by Sweden, Switzerland and Denmark, “sites which have good science and good stability”, but she is worried about the return: “you have to have a very good course, because there is no not many opportunities to do R&D in Spain. “.

Contracts at 500 euros for biotechnologists

David Álvarez, 31, president of the Spanish Federation of Biotechnologists (FEBiotec) of which Getino and Muguruza are part, was unwilling to go through years of instability and, after doing a master’s degree with internships at Roche in Barcelona, continues in the pharmaceutical field. “Doctors or interns are hired for internships. It’s very difficult to enter a company without precarious conditions if you don’t have a master’s degree,” he explains. A private postgraduate degree in biotechnology costs at least 10,000 euros, a barrier for the most disadvantaged.

Álvarez recounts a very common practice: “There are university foundations that offer first jobs for six months, a year, with a very low salary of 500 euros per month. Normally later on you can stay with the company with a slightly better contract, but these are very difficult times. Impossible to live with this money in Madrid or Barcelona”. Getino adds: “The problem is that companies take this position with the foundation one call and another not to fill this position, because it is much cheaper for them.”

This was the case of Lucía González, 24, from Ourense. He was for a few months with an internship contract of 612 euros gross in a private R&D company in La Coruña. “In principle it was an apprenticeship, but in reality you were trained for two months and then you were just another worker, reporting and experimenting on your own. You have contributed for retirement, but without unemployment. Many of his comrades subsequently remained in the companies, but doing auxiliary work for which the technicians of vocational training are trained. González left the position and is now in his first year of doctoral studies at the University of Santiago. Resources are limited and his group is seeking private investment for its investigations.

Del Castillo believes that in biomedicine – research on the functioning and behavior of the human body with knowledge of medicine and biology – there is “huge potential for investment, as the pandemic has revealed”, but that in Spain it is not exploited. Biomedicine and biotechnology are diplomas that depend on the deanships of biology and their graduates are not recognized as health professionals by the autonomies, which slows down the professional careers of hospital researchers because they do not benefit from seniority bonuses or recognition in the salary of the merits of the hospitals. “90% of geneticists and 75% of immunologists are biologists”, recalls the president of the ANIH. He, 51, had to declare that he had a CDI after 11 years of chaining interims. The Science Act and the labor reform will allow those who begin to investigate, pre-doctoral students, to contribute to Social Security and to receive an indemnity at the end of the contract.

Biotechnology is a field of knowledge New; It appeared 30 years ago and was born as a bachelor’s degree in Spain in 2014 (it is currently offered in 28 universities), and it is struggling to find its place among careers with a long tradition like biology or medicine. veterinary. Their fight is constant for their competitions to be recognized in public calls. After years of struggle, FEBiotec managed to get the State Public Employment Service (SEPE) to create a professional category for them and for the Spanish Medicines Agency to take them into account, but other fronts are opening up, like teaching in institutes. In the Valencian Community, they cannot present themselves to teachers of biology and geology, for which they claim to be qualified. In many job postings, as is the case with biomedical doctors, their career does not appear in the tab despite their education.

The Ministry of Health intends to increase by 10% the number of places in the diplomas of Medicine and Nursing and the positions of MIR and EIR (Resident Intern Nurse), because the massive retirements will empty hospitals and ambulatories of specialists.

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