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Should I take my medicine offer or withdraw for gap yr & biochem reapplication? Watch

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    Hi everyone,

    So I've been stuck in a rut with this for the last 9 months. Around September time I started getting cold feet and feeling like applying to medicine would mean signing my life away. I began to look into biochem and even english lit degrees. Nonetheless, I ploughed ahead with my medicine application since I had prepped for it it for so long and I didn't want to drop out as a knee-jerk reaction.

    However now we're in July and I managed to get 2 medicine offers - I have firmed and insured for it but am still unsure as to whether I'd be happier as a doctor, or doing biochem and becoming a medical researcher. I have till around the end of this month to make my decision.

    I'd really appreciate any insights, opinions, or advice on all this because I feel like I've gotten nowhere in the decision making process (besides ruling out english)

    1. Medicine: I like the problem solving aspect and the broadness of it, as well as getting to interact with different people on a daily basis. But I've been told that the degree is pretty much rote learning and the science isn't massively challenging on the whole. Is being a doctor monotonous after a point and is it regurgitation of pre-learnt facts? If the intellectual appeal of it does lose its lustre after a point, what keeps doctors stimulated by their work? I did go on work experience and on the whole I enjoyed it, but I hear stories of lots of doctors who hate what they do, and it did feel to me like clinics just seemed to be a conveyor belt of patients with the same problems - however that could have been because I was sat in rheumatology clinics so it was pretty much all arthritis and gout.

    2. Biochemistry: basically over my 2 years in sixth form I've really enjoyed organic chem and all of the molecular, cellular bits in biology - esp. things like genetics, hence my interest in biochem. I'm definitely attracted by the prospect of studying a science in depth. It seems that there's more scope for lateral thinking and innovation in research, but things like the iffy job security in academic research are putting me off. Also I've never had first hand experience of lab work and so I'm unsure as to whether I've got a rose-tinted view of it - does it also become monotonous after a point?

    3. I've recently started to think about academic medicine - does anyone know if it's possible to intercalate, do a phd, and then return to medicine? But that would mean like 8/9yrs at uni which sounds insane! The clinical areas I'm most interested in (A&E, plastics, orthopaedics etc) don't also seem to lend themselves easily to the basic science research that I think I'm most interested in. Would it be feasible to combine clinical work with lab based, basic science or perhaps translational research (which may or may not be directly linked to the clinical work?). I'm very wary though of this option since it requires a great degree of forethought and anticipation and I don't know what my opinions on this stuff will be like in 5 yrs :/

    Sorry that this is such a long post but my head is so conflicted right now! I keep going round in circles and the choice isn't becoming any easier or clearer. I'd be lying if I said that the prospect of dropping out of medicine forever didn't scare me, I've had it in my sights for so long now and I'm really worried that I'll do something I'll regret. Unfortunately I reckon it's the type of choice that I'd only be able to confidently make with actual experience of both careers.

    Any advice or insights at all into my possible career options and the courses would be massively appreciated.
    Thanks for reading and thanks in advance for any responses!
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    academic medicine sounds perfect for you. there is also the option of intercalating to get a phd during medicine, one guy at my uni is doing it
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    What you could do is intercalate in let's say biochem and go down the academic foundation route. So you get clinical posts to build your competencies, like your medical school peers, and you also get projects to complete in the lab. Follow that up with a PhD and you've a good footing to practice academic research alongside your clinical duties.

    What is your view of research? It is very monotonous and involves much less interaction with people.
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    (Original post by PointyElbow)
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    1. The science part in medicine is relatively rote learning, yeh, but no or less so than biomed. Biomed isn't intensely stimulating (a la spearheading some super detailed research), you still need to learn the boring basics and the only way to do that is rote learning. That isn't to say rote learning isn't interesting (cough), it's just people have different interests. I really enjoyed rote learning cardiovascular physiology and saw that as very stimulating, other things not so much. This is the same for any degree.

    2. Lab work is also definitely monotonous. Everything is, if you break it down. Really interesting and thought-provoking breakthroughs are only done at the expense of years spent doing monotonous things - no matter what field you're looking at. Medical school teaches you the basics of all of medicine (just like biomed teaches you the basics of most biomed subspecialties), and then you go on and learn the in-depth stuff after you qualify. Most university courses work like this - undergrad, post grad, doc, post-doc, etc.

    3. Quite a few medical schools allow you to intercalate a PhD (Newcastle does). It does take a long time, but nothing is quick and easy. I've never heard of basic science research for A&E, but it's definitely possible in both plastics and orthopaedics and academic surgery is a growing specialty. It is possible to combine surgery and academia (Becca-Sarah probably knows more about this) and there's training programmes both at F1 and later that cater for it. Just like all of academia, it's competitive. It's very feasible to combine basic science research and/or clinical research with a full clinical career. Most people however research things that are relevant to their clinical day job. A career in academic medicine grows organically just like a career in any other medical specialty - you don't need massive forethought but you do need to be determined because it's a very competitive area within an already competitive (medicine) environment.

    There was an article published in the most recent sBMJ about a career in academic medicine you might want to read: http://student.bmj.com/student/view-...?id=sbmj.g3506

    I think it's best to go through with medicine, especially if you want to do research related to it. You are in a unique position then where you are on both sides of the work done, and you have direct contact with more supervisors than you would be if you were doing a basic science degree. For cardiovascular research, the BHF funds a lot more MBBS than basic scientists.
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    In all honesty I have to disagree - there are so many people who desperately want medicine that it seems a shame to me for someone to go for it if they are unsure - could you defer a year and do some healthcare based work so see how you feel then? Any degree is such a huge commitment so it may help.
 
 
 
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