swyjk
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Hello,
I'm currently only in Year 11, but I do hope that I can atleast decide what career I want to go into right now to prepare for university applications and decide my A-Level options clearly - hopefully this isn't too long of a post!

I know that Medicine makes you a doctor, and Biomedical Science makes you a, well, Biomedical Scientist. However, I'm not sure if I really know what I want to go into. I prefer the content taught in Medicine but I have no interest with patient contact full-time, but I think that Biomed is an excessive amount of laboratory work - which leads me to a question - is it possible to specialise in a specific area of research as soon as you get into a Biomed course? What are the job opportunities?

Then I came across the MB/PhD, which honestly confused me a little more - what is the pathway really? It is quite intriguing to me, as it is less patient contact along with research, which I'm okay with! Can I apply during undergrad? Can I apply for it as a graduate degree after doing BioMed? What is the application process? Is it worth it if I prefer medical research over patient contact?

Thank you in advance!
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0le
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An undergraduate degree is the first degree you do at university. Usually it is a 3 year course but it may be longer for some degrees (such as engineering or medicine). You may be awarded a title "BSc" which means Bachelor of Science. Other degrees may award different things depending on the field.

A masters degree is a postgraduate degree, done after an undergraduate degree. It usually lasts 1-2 years and awards people with titles such as "MSc" which means "Master of Science" in a certain topic. Other degrees may award different things depending on the field. I believe the majority of masters degrees include some research based content, but I am not sure if all of them do. Some exclusively focus on research and you are awarded a title "MRes" meaning "Master of Research".

Some undergraduate degrees are actually "integrated masters" and therefore include a masters degree directly after you do the bachelor degree program. For example, engineering programmes are often like this. They would offer 4 year courses (3+1) and award a "MEng" title which means "Master of Engineering".

For all cases above, usually the following holds in the UK, where the percentage corresponds to your overall degree mark (calculated over the whole year(s)):
70%+ > "First-Class Honours"> 1st.
60-69% > "Upper Second-Class Honours" > 2:1
50%-59% > "Lower Second-Class" > 2:2
40%-49% > "Third-Class Honours" > 3rd

Note that many graduate employers in the UK now expect a 2:2 degree and many will also want a minimum of a 2:1 degree.

A PhD is a research based degree. It is a postgraduate degree and is specifically called a "doctorate degree" to distinguish it from a masters postgraduate degree. You do it after you do your first degree (usually a bachelors) and often also after your second degree (a masters). You can however go directly from a bachelors to a PhD degree. In the UK you carry out research for three years and then write a long report called a thesis which describes and discusses your findings.

The research can be a laboratory experiment(s), computer simulation(s), social science experiment (surveys etc) or some combination of all three. You defend your thesis (your research) to a panel in what is called a "viva". This is basically similar to an interview, where a panel of people in your field will ask you questions about your work. If you pass, then you are awarded the Doctor of Philosophy degree and this also allows you to use the "Dr" title.

A medical doctor does a medicine degree in university, which is an undergraduate degree. This can last 5-6 years. I don't have much knowledge in when they can use the title "Dr's". But as far as I understand it, when medical students, dentists and vets are sufficiently trained, they are given these titles.

Note that it is possible and common for a person who becomes a medical doctor to also do a PhD degree, although the latter is not a requirement for them to awarded the "Dr" title.
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Democracy
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(Original post by swyjk)
Hello,
I'm currently only in Year 11, but I do hope that I can atleast decide what career I want to go into right now to prepare for university applications and decide my A-Level options clearly - hopefully this isn't too long of a post!

I know that Medicine makes you a doctor, and Biomedical Science makes you a, well, Biomedical Scientist. However, I'm not sure if I really know what I want to go into. I prefer the content taught in Medicine but I have no interest with patient contact full-time, but I think that Biomed is an excessive amount of laboratory work - which leads me to a question - is it possible to specialise in a specific area of research as soon as you get into a Biomed course? What are the job opportunities?

Then I came across the MB/PhD, which honestly confused me a little more - what is the pathway really? It is quite intriguing to me, as it is less patient contact along with research, which I'm okay with! Can I apply during undergrad? Can I apply for it as a graduate degree after doing BioMed? What is the application process? Is it worth it if I prefer medical research over patient contact?

Thank you in advance!
MB/PhD students complete the full medical degree as well as a PhD. There is no skimping on patient hours - the number of hours of clinical work necessary to complete a medical degree is set by the GMC and isn't something which can be exchanged for other work like research.

You can't start specialising in an area of biomedical sciences straightaway during first year. The first couple of years of biomed are fairly broad in order to give you the right skills and knowledge for later modules, so everyone ends up doing some variation of biochemistry, physiology, genetics, molecular biology, microbiology etc. In some biomed degrees your final year is more specialist (depending on the range of modules available) but you will still have to learn wide range of other subjects before getting to that point.

What is it that interests you about medicine? Whilst there are doctors who don't see patients face to face, all will have done at some point and all will continue to think clinically. If thinking clinically (which involves seeing a lot of patients, at least for the first few years of your career) is of little interest then medicine is unlikely to be the right choice for you.

(Have degrees in both subjects. No PhD though ).
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swyjk
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(Original post by 0le)
An undergraduate degree is the first degree you do at university. Usually it is a 3 year course but it may be longer for some degrees (such as engineering or medicine). You may be awarded a title "BSc" which means Bachelor of Science. Other degrees may award different things depending on the field.

A masters degree is a postgraduate degree, done after an undergraduate degree. It usually lasts 1-2 years and awards people with titles such as "MSc" which means "Master of Science" in a certain topic. Other degrees may award different things depending on the field. I believe the majority of masters degrees include some research based content, but I am not sure if all of them do. Some exclusively focus on research and you are awarded a title "MRes" meaning "Master of Research".

Some undergraduate degrees are actually "integrated masters" and therefore include a masters degree directly after you do the bachelor degree program. For example, engineering programmes are often like this. They would offer 4 year courses (3+1) and award a "MEng" title which means "Master of Engineering".

For all cases above, usually the following holds in the UK, where the percentage corresponds to your overall degree mark (calculated over the whole year(s)):
70%+ > "First-Class Honours"> 1st.
60-69% > "Upper Second-Class Honours" > 2:1
50%-59% > "Lower Second-Class" > 2:2
40%-49% > "Third-Class Honours" > 3rd

Note that many graduate employers in the UK now expect a 2:2 degree and many will also want a minimum of a 2:1 degree.

A PhD is a research based degree. It is a postgraduate degree and is specifically called a "doctorate degree" to distinguish it from a masters postgraduate degree. You do it after you do your first degree (usually a bachelors) and often also after your second degree (a masters). You can however go directly from a bachelors to a PhD degree. In the UK you carry out research for three years and then write a long report called a thesis which describes and discusses your findings.

The research can be a laboratory experiment(s), computer simulation(s), social science experiment (surveys etc) or some combination of all three. You defend your thesis (your research) to a panel in what is called a "viva". This is basically similar to an interview, where a panel of people in your field will ask you questions about your work. If you pass, then you are awarded the Doctor of Philosophy degree and this also allows you to use the "Dr" title.

A medical doctor does a medicine degree in university, which is an undergraduate degree. This can last 5-6 years. I don't have much knowledge in when they can use the title "Dr's". But as far as I understand it, when medical students, dentists and vets are sufficiently trained, they are given these titles.

Note that it is possible and common for a person who becomes a medical doctor to also do a PhD degree, although the latter is not a requirement for them to awarded the "Dr" title.
Hi, thank you so much! This really helped me differentiate between the different degrees - didn't know that they could be integrated as well! I'm assuming that the MB/PhD is also an integrated degree - what are the differences between taking it together or doing the masters first, followed by a PhD? Is it more beneficial? From what I've read, it just reduces the amount of years taken to do both degrees, but does that reduce the quality of what is taught + is it not as attractive to get employment?

Also, does the research for the PhD limited to the course you do? Can you do computer simulations and social science experiments for science based/medical degrees?
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swyjk
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(Original post by Democracy)
MB/PhD students complete the full medical degree as well as a PhD. There is no skimping on patient hours - the number of hours of clinical work necessary to complete a medical degree is set by the GMC and isn't something which can be exchanged for other work like research.

You can't start specialising in an area of biomedical sciences straightaway during first year. The first couple of years of biomed are fairly broad in order to give you the right skills and knowledge for later modules, so everyone ends up doing some variation of biochemistry, physiology, genetics, molecular biology, microbiology etc. In some biomed degrees your final year is more specialist (depending on the range of modules available) but you will still have to learn wide range of other subjects before getting to that point.

What is it that interests you about medicine? Whilst there are doctors who don't see patients face to face, all will have done at some point and all will continue to think clinically. If thinking clinically (which involves seeing a lot of patients, at least for the first few years of your career) is of little interest then medicine is unlikely to be the right choice for you.

(Have degrees in both subjects. No PhD though ).
Thank you!
I guess its hard to explain, but with Medicine I like the emphasis on human health and physiology - whereas BioMed is more focused on the chemistry and molecules of things? (I do realise it is also about the human body, but these are the things that are putting me off.) Maybe I'm just not interested in the 'broad' part of the course, I really only like the genetics/immunology/cancer research, which, as you said, can be only specialised in later on. I've heard about translational research, which I find interesting; I'll be fine with patient contact in that case as they are subjects of what I may be doing research on - just not general practitioner stuff.
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becausethenight
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Have you looked at Human Biology or Physiology degree types of things, if you're just not that keen on biochem/cell biology? (eg https://www.manchester.ac.uk/study/u...ourse-details/ or https://www.kcl.ac.uk/study/undergra...an-biology-bsc) You don't have to do medicine to do the fun human biology stuff There will still be some molecular and cell biology and biochemistry, though, because you need that to do the degree.

If you really have no interest in seeing patients at all, Medicine is unlikely to be for you - even at Imperial which is fairly "science-y" all our year 1 stuff is geared towards being doctors and seeing patients. Being a consultant clinical geneticist and a genetics researcher in a lab are fundamentally going to be different jobs and even if you're only patient-facing for 1 or 2 clinics a week, that's still a lot!

Have you tried any medicine or lab work experience?
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Democracy
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(Original post by swyjk)
Thank you!
I guess its hard to explain, but with Medicine I like the emphasis on human health and physiology - whereas BioMed is more focused on the chemistry and molecules of things? (I do realise it is also about the human body, but these are the things that are putting me off.) Maybe I'm just not interested in the 'broad' part of the course, I really only like the genetics/immunology/cancer research, which, as you said, can be only specialised in later on. I've heard about translational research, which I find interesting; I'll be fine with patient contact in that case as they are subjects of what I may be doing research on - just not general practitioner stuff.
I mean, the more specialist subjects in biomed are based on the foundations e.g. you can't understand advanced immunology or cancer biology if you don't have a good working knowledge of molecular biology, which in turn requires sufficient teaching in biochemistry and genetics. That's why the courses end up structured the way they are.

At the end of the day, to be a successful and happy doctor you need to be interested in what goes wrong with people, why that happens, and what can practically be done about it. You need to be able to understand a patient history, examination findings, investigation results etc, and the only way you can do that is by seeing a lot of patients at the start of your career (even if your eventual specialty isn't patient facing). If the thought of that doesn't interest and you're solely interested in research and science, then medicine probably isn't for you.
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swyjk
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(Original post by Democracy)
I mean, the more specialist subjects in biomed are based on the foundations e.g. you can't understand advanced immunology or cancer biology if you don't have a good working knowledge of molecular biology, which in turn requires sufficient teaching in biochemistry and genetics. That's why the courses end up structured the way they are.

At the end of the day, to be a successful and happy doctor you need to be interested in what goes wrong with people, why that happens, and what can practically be done about it. You need to be able to understand a patient history, examination findings, investigation results etc, and the only way you can do that is by seeing a lot of patients at the start of your career (even if your eventual specialty isn't patient facing). If the thought of that doesn't interest and you're solely interested in research and science, then medicine probably isn't for you.
Ahhh okay I get it know, thank you! I realised that maybe the foundations wouldn't be a big hassle as they ultimately contribute to what I do - it is definitely much more interesting to me than patient contact, and I'm only really interested in the scientific aspect of medicine, and not the vocational part. So yeah, medicine isn't for me! Thank you so much for your help!
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swyjk
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(Original post by becausethenight)
Have you looked at Human Biology or Physiology degree types of things, if you're just not that keen on biochem/cell biology? (eg https://www.manchester.ac.uk/study/u...ourse-details/ or https://www.kcl.ac.uk/study/undergra...an-biology-bsc) You don't have to do medicine to do the fun human biology stuff There will still be some molecular and cell biology and biochemistry, though, because you need that to do the degree.

If you really have no interest in seeing patients at all, Medicine is unlikely to be for you - even at Imperial which is fairly "science-y" all our year 1 stuff is geared towards being doctors and seeing patients. Being a consultant clinical geneticist and a genetics researcher in a lab are fundamentally going to be different jobs and even if you're only patient-facing for 1 or 2 clinics a week, that's still a lot!

Have you tried any medicine or lab work experience?
Hi!
So sorry for the late reply
I live in a country where work experience is incredibly scarce, so I don’t have any. My parents are doctors and they’ve advised me to not take medicine as well, as its training you for the vocational part, which I’m not really interested in. Thank you for the degree recommendations, I really didn’t know that there were Physiology and Human Biology degrees! I think those are the best for me, as thats what interests me the most. I’m alright with molecular and cell biology, its 200x more tolerable than patient contact
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nexttime
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(Original post by swyjk)
Thank you!
I guess its hard to explain, but with Medicine I like the emphasis on human health and physiology - whereas BioMed is more focused on the chemistry and molecules of things? (I do realise it is also about the human body, but these are the things that are putting me off.) Maybe I'm just not interested in the 'broad' part of the course, I really only like the genetics/immunology/cancer research, which, as you said, can be only specialised in later on. I've heard about translational research, which I find interesting; I'll be fine with patient contact in that case as they are subjects of what I may be doing research on - just not general practitioner stuff.
There are also specific genetics and immunology degrees at some unis! Though they obviously do need to teach you the basics first too.
(Original post by swyjk)
Hi!
So sorry for the late reply
I live in a country where work experience is incredibly scarce, so I don’t have any. My parents are doctors and they’ve advised me to not take medicine as well, as its training you for the vocational part, which I’m not really interested in. Thank you for the degree recommendations, I really didn’t know that there were Physiology and Human Biology degrees! I think those are the best for me, as thats what interests me the most. I’m alright with molecular and cell biology, its 200x more tolerable than patient contact
Ok yeah medicine would be such a waste of time then!
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becausethenight
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(Original post by swyjk)
Hi!
So sorry for the late reply
I live in a country where work experience is incredibly scarce, so I don’t have any. My parents are doctors and they’ve advised me to not take medicine as well, as its training you for the vocational part, which I’m not really interested in. Thank you for the degree recommendations, I really didn’t know that there were Physiology and Human Biology degrees! I think those are the best for me, as thats what interests me the most. I’m alright with molecular and cell biology, its 200x more tolerable than patient contact
Glad I could help

And yeah that sounds like the right thing for you, I agree that if you’re not interested in the vocational part medicine would be a total waste of time!
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swyjk
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(Original post by nexttime)
Ok yeah medicine would be such a waste of time then!
(Original post by nexttime)
Ok yeah medicine would be such a waste of time then!
Thank you so much!
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