Mines News

Release Date Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Want to be a doctor? 10 reasons to get an engineering degree 1st

Dr. Tyler Bergstrom, a general surgeon at Rapid City Medical Center, is an SD Mines electrical engineering graduate. He is among a growing number of physicians who find that an engineering degree yields an advantage in both medical school and in the practice of medicine.   


Matthew Howard never intended to go to medical school when he started as a freshman at South Dakota School of Mines & Technology. “Definitely not. I never even considered a career in medicine until about halfway through my junior year."

But the senior mechanical engineering major will start medical school this summer, and he sees major advantages of having an engineering degree first. The biggest – problem-solving skills. “The problems that engineers and physicians are confronted with are very different, but the ability to logically think through a solution is a skill that I believe all engineers and doctors have in common,” he says.

From creating artificial bones with 3D printers to doing robotic surgeries, the healthcare field is changing dramatically due to booming technology. Who better to deal with this new technology than engineer doctors?

“Whether it’s figuring out what is wrong with a patient or troubleshooting medical equipment/software, engineers are a huge asset to the healthcare field,” says Johnica Morrow, the Pre-Health Pathways Advisor at Mines. “They bring unique perspectives to the table, which makes them desirable applicants to medical programs and other professional health programs, such as dentistry, pharmacy, physical therapy, etc."

Have you always dreamed of being a doctor? Well here are 10 reasons why you should consider getting an engineering degree first:

1.      You’ll be a more unique and competitive candidate for medical school. Med schools recognize the value of an engineering degree. 

2.      Engineering school will prepare you for the rigors of medical school.

3.      Engineers are trained to be problem-solvers and critical thinkers. They learn to assess situations and develop solutions. Can you think of better qualities a doctor should have?

4.      Engineers are especially adaptable to change. They see past failures as opportunities for improvement.

5.      If you see a need for specific medical equipment – whether it’s a better clamp or a robotic surgical arm - you’ll be able to conceptualize and maybe even develop it. 

6.      If your medical equipment breaks, you’ll probably be able to fix it.

7.      Let's face it - life happens - not everyone finishes medical school. With a degree in engineering you will always have a high-paying job to fall back on. At SD Mines the average starting salary for graduates is $61,000.

8.      You’ll be great at documenting your work with patients. All those years in engineering classes, writing out the mathematical proofs and lab reports have taught you detailed note taking. 

9.      Engineering school teaches students to work in teams. Before you even enter medical school, you’ll understand the advantage and the need to work together for the best outcome.

10.  Engineers are practical and pragmatic by nature, making them decisive people willing to take responsibility over failure to act when things need to be done quickly and efficiently.


About SD Mines  

Founded in 1885, the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology is a science and engineering research university located in Rapid City, S.D., offering bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. The university enrolls 2,529 students with an average class size of 24. The SD School of Mines placement rate for graduates is 97 percent, with an average starting salary of more than $63,350. Find us online at sdsmt.edu and on  Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Snapchat

Contact: Lynn Taylor Rick, 605-394-2554, Lynn.TaylorRick@sdsmt.edu