Medical students and applicants: chemistry or biology?

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la95
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Hello everyone!

I thought this would be quite an interesting topic of discussion. At A Level, assuming you did both chemistry and biology, which did you prefer, and which where you stronger in?

What about your general interest in the subjects? Are you more interested in chemistry or biology?
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Helenia
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At A-level, I preferred and was better at chemistry. I had better teachers, and found it easier to get high marks as the work was much more logical and precise, whereas a certain amount of waffle was required in biology, plus I wasn't all that interested in plants, ecology etc.

Now, I'm interested in medicine, rather than anything that easily falls into one of the secondary school subject boxes.
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LibbyG
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I'm better at Chemistry and find it more interesting. The majority of my Biology syllabus is plant based which isn't fun. However I don't think either of them are going to teach me much info that's essential for medicine :L

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la95
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(Original post by Helenia)
At A-level, I preferred and was better at chemistry. I had better teachers, and found it easier to get high marks as the work was much more logical and precise, whereas a certain amount of waffle was required in biology, plus I wasn't all that interested in plants, ecology etc.

Now, I'm interested in medicine, rather than anything that easily falls into one of the secondary school subject boxes.
That's very interesting. I've heard that there's very little chemistry in a medical degree/medical practice - do you miss chemistry and have logic and precision required for chemistry helped you in your degree/career?

(Original post by LibbyG)
I'm better at Chemistry and find it more interesting. The majority of my Biology syllabus is plant based which isn't fun. However I don't think either of them are going to teach me much info that's essential for medicine :L

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As I said above, I've heard that there's very little chemistry involved in a medical degree/medical practice - is there any particular reason that you've chosen medicine over a more chemistry-based career?
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Helenia
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(Original post by la95)
That's very interesting. I've heard that there's very little chemistry in a medical degree/medical practice - do you miss chemistry and have logic and precision required for chemistry helped you in your degree/career?
There is relatively little chemistry in terms of the stuff you learn at A-level, but the knowledge you gain there is all sitting in the background helping things make sense! The Primary FRCA has a little more, which was quite...interesting. There are lots of things requiring logic and precision, not just chemistry, but they're obviously useful attributes to have in medicine.

Honestly, I don't miss it as a subject really, because I love the applied science of medicine that I get to do every day. I don't wish I was back in my sixth form lab. Perhaps having had a few friends who did chemistry at university and seen how difficult it could get, I'm less interested in it as a pure subject now?
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Phteven
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I'm better at Chemistry. I used to prefer Biology because I found it interesting, but the plants/data questions ruin it, so now I prefer Chem. Plus, I think that topics studied in Chemistry seem a lot more fundamental to scientific principle than those in Biology.


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tania<3
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I did the SNAB course for Biology, on Edexcel, and I have to say I really liked it. There were a couple of modules on plants and HSW and stuff, but there was also a lot on human biology and I really enjoyed that. Some stuff that was touched upon briefly in the brain module I am currently revising at uni (except in about 10x more detail) so it was nice to have done that before starting medical school

Chemistry was pretty awesome for me as well, but I hated the 2-week lab work you have to do on the OCR B Salter's course, so Chemistry as a degree wouldn't have worked out for me
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Fission_Mailed
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I enjoyed chemistry far more than biology, but always got much higher marks in biology for some reason. We had two teachers for each subject and while I got on well with each of them, one of our chemistry teachers was a bloke in his late 20s and we got on really, really well. There was a significant amount of banter, which I miss in some ways because since I've been at uni I've never spent long enough with a lecturer or consultant to develop the same level of rapport. As for missing the subjects themselves? No way. Medicine is what I like doing (mostly :ahee: ) and it definitely doesn't fall into either of those boxes.
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Insanity514
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I liked Biology much more than Chemistry. I've never really liked chemistry and it was probably down to the textbook style teaching my teacher used. My favourite subject was Physics.
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la95
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(Original post by Fission_Mailed)
I enjoyed chemistry far more than biology, but always got much higher marks in biology for some reason. We had two teachers for each subject and while I got on well with each of them, one of our chemistry teachers was a bloke in his late 20s and we got on really, really well. There was a significant amount of banter, which I miss in some ways because since I've been at uni I've never spent long enough with a lecturer or consultant to develop the same level of rapport. As for missing the subjects themselves? No way. Medicine is what I like doing (mostly :ahee: ) and it definitely doesn't fall into either of those boxes.
I find your response quite interesting - how would you describe medicine, in terms of what it entails academically?
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Fission_Mailed
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(Original post by la95)
I find your response quite interesting - how would you describe medicine, in terms of what it entails academically?
It's learning the things that a doctor needs to know. So to start with, that's all about the body: how cells and organs and all that work at a fundamental level, as well as anatomy. There's also pathology, ie the study of disease states, and pharmacology, as well as "softer" subjects like behavioural sciences and public health. While you're doing this for the first couple of years there will also be professional development stuff where you work on communication skills and some basic clinical skills.

After the preclinical years, the focus shifts very much to learning about specialties rather than subjects. In first year you might learn about how the heart and circulatory system work in normal healthy people via a few separate subjects like physiology and anatomy, then you build on that knowledge later. That means learning the list of crap that can go wrong, how to tell them apart using the history taking and examination skills you've learned and what the management for each is (lifestyle, drugs, surgery, etc). In practice, this means an absolute metric ****-tonne of rote learning, because there is simply too much to derive everything from first principles and really get a grasp on it, but the hope is that you will know enough to be able to work stuff out using science when required.

Practical stuff takes on a very central role in the clinical years; we don't go into uni any more, everything is in the hospital barring a couple of lectures per week. Learning history and examination is a huge part, because everything else hinges on being able to do that well enough to get the information you need. There are also the hands on skills, like venepuncture and cannulation, catheterisation and the like. There's also a lot of learning by osmosis; just by being in clinics, theatre and especially on the wards, medical students get exposed to how medicine works and what everybody does. Towards the end of the course we are learning the job of an F1 as much as anything else, so we need to understand how to prep for a ward round, make and prioritise a jobs list, when to be worried about a patient and what to do about it.

If it sounds like a lot, that is because it is.


Edit: To possibly answer the question a bit better; in the pre-clinical years, we learn biochem (but not in as much detail as biochemists), pharmacology (but not in as much detail as pharmacists), physiology (you get the picture)... and a whole lot of anatomy. It is a very, very broad subject that picks things out from other areas. Clinical medicine is unlike anything else, really.
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LibbyG
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(Original post by la95)
That's very interesting. I've heard that there's very little chemistry in a medical degree/medical practice - do you miss chemistry and have logic and precision required for chemistry helped you in your degree/career?



As I said above, I've heard that there's very little chemistry involved in a medical degree/medical practice - is there any particular reason that you've chosen medicine over a more chemistry-based career?
I find Chemistry more interesting then Biology, but not so interesting that I could do it as a career. There a very few careers in Chemistry that have a lot of people/patient contact which was what I wanted in a career

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yesiwasdrunk
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I find chemistry overall more interesting, but only because I really hate all the plant biology we have to do! But I find biology a lot easier to understand and get marks in.. I never thought I would like chemistry a level much actually, I only took it because it's required for most medical courses, but I've been enjoying it


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TattyBoJangles
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I found Biology easier but Chemistry more interesting.

I don't miss either of them, though. If I didn't get into Medicine I was considering doing Natural Sciences and majoring in Chemistry.. but my boyfriend's a chemist and seeing the work he does makes me very glad I didn't have to go down that route..
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modini
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I was better at Biology but I think I preferred Chemistry (couldn't stand the ecology stuff in bio).
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