The Student Room Group

Medicine and biochem

I'm currently studying AS but I'm not sure whether I should pursue biochem or medicine in the future. I heard that medicine is a bit stressful, though I feel like if I don't study it, I won't get any jobs with a biochem degree. Please feel free any advices or past experience. Thanks
I don't recommend doing medicine purely for the job stability. I'm doing biochemistry at uni atm and I have a lot of medicine friends- it's only first year and, even though biochem is also known for being a hard subject, they have quite a bit more work than me. If you know that you want to be a doctor, go for it. The goal of being a doctor and helping patients improve their health should be able to motivate you to get through it. But if you're just doing it because you like science and you'd at least have a secure job at the end of uni, then it's probably best to think a bit more about what parts of science you actually like more and what kind of career you'd like to do in the future.

Biochemistry focuses more on the cellular and molecular side of things (which I find more interesting than just anatomy, physiology and symptoms+diagnosing+treating disease). It's really broad- atm, I just finished the biochemistry, cell biology + neuroscience, pharmacology, and physiology + anatomy modules and next semester I'll be doing chemistry for the biosciences, molecular biology as well as continuing physiology + anatomy. In years 2+3 I'll be able to do modules such as genetics, cancer, epigenetics, neuroscience, metabolism, cell biology, developmental biology, immunity, proteins etc. etc. etc. I love how wide the variety of topics are and I love learning about the why and how of things, and things at the cellular/molecular level- in medicine you'll focus more on how to identify what's wrong with your patients because the aim is to be able to diagnose and treat (you also have to memorise so much it's crazy).

With a biochemistry degree, you can go into research and other laboratory based careers. You could also go into other areas like banking and finances due to the transferrable skills, teaching, and even apply to graduate medicine if you realise that you actually do want to be a doctor. With medicine- being a doctor is an incredibly tough career but it can also be really rewarding because of the impact that you could make to people's lives. If you like the idea of working with patients and being under pressure, then go for it and do medicine. Just don't do it for the wrong reasons. Try and get some work experience at a hospital (or a lab) if you can (although it might not be possible with the pandemic situation) but really think about what kind of career you would like/prefer.
Original post by kaorimiyazono
I don't recommend doing medicine purely for the job stability. I'm doing biochemistry at uni atm and I have a lot of medicine friends- it's only first year and, even though biochem is also known for being a hard subject, they have quite a bit more work than me. If you know that you want to be a doctor, go for it. The goal of being a doctor and helping patients improve their health should be able to motivate you to get through it. But if you're just doing it because you like science and you'd at least have a secure job at the end of uni, then it's probably best to think a bit more about what parts of science you actually like more and what kind of career you'd like to do in the future.

Biochemistry focuses more on the cellular and molecular side of things (which I find more interesting than just anatomy, physiology and symptoms+diagnosing+treating disease). It's really broad- atm, I just finished the biochemistry, cell biology + neuroscience, pharmacology, and physiology + anatomy modules and next semester I'll be doing chemistry for the biosciences, molecular biology as well as continuing physiology + anatomy. In years 2+3 I'll be able to do modules such as genetics, cancer, epigenetics, neuroscience, metabolism, cell biology, developmental biology, immunity, proteins etc. etc. etc. I love how wide the variety of topics are and I love learning about the why and how of things, and things at the cellular/molecular level- in medicine you'll focus more on how to identify what's wrong with your patients because the aim is to be able to diagnose and treat (you also have to memorise so much it's crazy).

With a biochemistry degree, you can go into research and other laboratory based careers. You could also go into other areas like banking and finances due to the transferrable skills, teaching, and even apply to graduate medicine if you realise that you actually do want to be a doctor. With medicine- being a doctor is an incredibly tough career but it can also be really rewarding because of the impact that you could make to people's lives. If you like the idea of working with patients and being under pressure, then go for it and do medicine. Just don't do it for the wrong reasons. Try and get some work experience at a hospital (or a lab) if you can (although it might not be possible with the pandemic situation) but really think about what kind of career you would like/prefer.

Hi. I have no idea if you’re still active or not as I know you made this post a year ago, but if you don’t mind me asking, what university do/did you go to? And also do you have any ideas for work experience/extracurriculares for biochemistry?
Original post by LittleFire10
Hi. I have no idea if you’re still active or not as I know you made this post a year ago, but if you don’t mind me asking, what university do/did you go to? And also do you have any ideas for work experience/extracurriculares for biochemistry?


Hi :smile: I completely forgot about this post haha. I go to KCL - starting my 3rd year this Sept.

My 6th form experience got interrupted by the pandemic so I didn't acc get to do any work experience specific to biochem. I did do a few months of volunteering in my local hospital at the beginning of Y12 (I signed up for it in Y11 when I was still deciding between medicine and biochem and it helped me realise that I preferred working in the lab lmao). I did put this in my personal statement because it was good for problem solving/communication/responsibility/think on my feet etc. as I helped the nurses in the orthopedics ward. I was supposed to do some lab experience at this same hospital at the end of Y12 but then corona struck and it got cancelled.

I did an EPQ about epigenetic therapies for treating lung cancer which I wrote about in my personal statement which isn't technically "extra" curricular but I lead into it by manetioning a supercurricular - I read the epigenetics revolution by Nessa Carey. I did a couple of science presentations in school which I included as extracurriculars (it was outside of class) - one on remdesivir which was one of the main drugs being researched for treating covid at the time and one on the effect of music on Alzheimer's Disease (my 3rd A-Level was music and I had to link it in somehow lol). Other than that it was just your usual music extracurricular activities and music exams but those are not related.

I'm sorry I can't really be much more help than that!! I didn't have the normal sixth form experience unfortunately but if there are any other Qs you have then please feel free to ask I'm more than happy to help.
Original post by kaorimiyazono
Hi :smile: I completely forgot about this post haha. I go to KCL - starting my 3rd year this Sept.

My 6th form experience got interrupted by the pandemic so I didn't acc get to do any work experience specific to biochem. I did do a few months of volunteering in my local hospital at the beginning of Y12 (I signed up for it in Y11 when I was still deciding between medicine and biochem and it helped me realise that I preferred working in the lab lmao). I did put this in my personal statement because it was good for problem solving/communication/responsibility/think on my feet etc. as I helped the nurses in the orthopedics ward. I was supposed to do some lab experience at this same hospital at the end of Y12 but then corona struck and it got cancelled.

I did an EPQ about epigenetic therapies for treating lung cancer which I wrote about in my personal statement which isn't technically "extra" curricular but I lead into it by manetioning a supercurricular - I read the epigenetics revolution by Nessa Carey. I did a couple of science presentations in school which I included as extracurriculars (it was outside of class) - one on remdesivir which was one of the main drugs being researched for treating covid at the time and one on the effect of music on Alzheimer's Disease (my 3rd A-Level was music and I had to link it in somehow lol). Other than that it was just your usual music extracurricular activities and music exams but those are not related.

I'm sorry I can't really be much more help than that!! I didn't have the normal sixth form experience unfortunately but if there are any other Qs you have then please feel free to ask I'm more than happy to help.

Thank you so much, I’m also currently trying to decide between biochemistry and medicine. Now you’re in your third year of uni do you feel optimistic for getting jobs or doing another degree after you graduate? Do you think biochemistry will help you in the future? Also, is it a very oversubscribed course to your knowledge?
Original post by LittleFire10
Thank you so much, I’m also currently trying to decide between biochemistry and medicine. Now you’re in your third year of uni do you feel optimistic for getting jobs or doing another degree after you graduate? Do you think biochemistry will help you in the future? Also, is it a very oversubscribed course to your knowledge?

Yeah I do feel optimistic about it and I do think biochem will help me in the future (I want to be a research scientist so I kinda need it lol). I'm on the 4 year course (MSci) so luckily I don't have to think about it in so much detail yet but I want to go into research related work and then do a PhD after saving up some money and getting some work experience. My uni offers a lot of help with getting experience, formulating a career plan and making a really good personal statement for applying to jobs. Yeah it is a fairly competitive course.
Reply 7
Original post by kaorimiyazono
I don't recommend doing medicine purely for the job stability. I'm doing biochemistry at uni atm and I have a lot of medicine friends- it's only first year and, even though biochem is also known for being a hard subject, they have quite a bit more work than me. If you know that you want to be a doctor, go for it. The goal of being a doctor and helping patients improve their health should be able to motivate you to get through it. But if you're just doing it because you like science and you'd at least have a secure job at the end of uni, then it's probably best to think a bit more about what parts of science you actually like more and what kind of career you'd like to do in the future.

Biochemistry focuses more on the cellular and molecular side of things (which I find more interesting than just anatomy, physiology and symptoms+diagnosing+treating disease). It's really broad- atm, I just finished the biochemistry, cell biology + neuroscience, pharmacology, and physiology + anatomy modules and next semester I'll be doing chemistry for the biosciences, molecular biology as well as continuing physiology + anatomy. In years 2+3 I'll be able to do modules such as genetics, cancer, epigenetics, neuroscience, metabolism, cell biology, developmental biology, immunity, proteins etc. etc. etc. I love how wide the variety of topics are and I love learning about the why and how of things, and things at the cellular/molecular level- in medicine you'll focus more on how to identify what's wrong with your patients because the aim is to be able to diagnose and treat (you also have to memorise so much it's crazy).

With a biochemistry degree, you can go into research and other laboratory based careers. You could also go into other areas like banking and finances due to the transferrable skills, teaching, and even apply to graduate medicine if you realise that you actually do want to be a doctor. With medicine- being a doctor is an incredibly tough career but it can also be really rewarding because of the impact that you could make to people's lives. If you like the idea of working with patients and being under pressure, then go for it and do medicine. Just don't do it for the wrong reasons. Try and get some work experience at a hospital (or a lab) if you can (although it might not be possible with the pandemic situation) but really think about what kind of career you would like/prefer.

but isn't it true that even with a medicine degree, you could also get research experience e.g. during the intercalated year or do a Msc? Isn't it easier to switch from being to doctor to a research scientist but not the other way around?
Original post by _sanchez
but isn't it true that even with a medicine degree, you could also get research experience e.g. during the intercalated year or do a Msc? Isn't it easier to switch from being to doctor to a research scientist but not the other way around?

Yeah you're right. You can definitely still go into research if you study medicine. But if you apply to uni knowing that research is what you want to do, as opposed to working with patients, doesn't it make more sense to go straight into a bioscience that will facilitate that in 3-4 years? I'm in my third year of uni and I've already done a couple of lab-based research projects, whereas my med friends are doing placements at hospitals. It all depends on your personal preference so it's best to really think about it before committing to a degree. Switching from being a research scientist to a doctor doesn't necessarily have to be harder though - even though post-grad med is extremely competitive, you can apply to undergrad medicine and that should be fine because it will be a graduate vs a-level students. I personally went for biochem because I saw myself working in the lab, not with patients, and because I prefer looking at the cellular and molecular part of diseases and figuring out causes/explanations/new treatments/diagnostics based off that rather than the bigger organ/whole body picture and using symptoms to figure out the disease and then trying to treat it in the best way.

At the end of the day, it's not the end of the world if you pick one and later realise that you'd rather do the other. There are ways of switching between medicine and research and if you have the motivation you can do it.

Quick Reply

Latest