28-11-2009, 11:44 PM #11
Work experience is a must. Particularly long term volunteering at a hospital, but I mean the kind of work experience where you actually get to see the interaction between health care professionals and patients in an un-glamorised way over a long period of time. People's experiences volunteering or work shadowing can differ greatly, with some people getting a much more detailed picture than others about what medicine is really like. If you can, talk to hospital doctors and GPs about what being a doctor is really like. Read books about it (Atul Gawande's are good at tackling the limitations of doctors, for example) and spend quite a while thinking about if the whole of medicine is for you.
Chemistry won't make up a huge part of your degree, though it's an important subject to take to A level, unless you plan to do the grad route.
As for biochemistry, it depends. Everyone studying science have areas they find easier and harder, like more or less, so it depends on how much you actually dislike this. If it's merely something you're less interested in compared to, say genetics or anatomy or physiology etc, then that's not necessarily a sign that medicine is wrong for you. But you will not be able to escape learning biochemistry as a doctor, and if this feels like it will be a huge problem for you, there may be other fields that allow you to interact with people that aren't so heavily rooted in science.
Additionally, many doctors do end up contributing to research and lab work, and even if you avoid this, understanding how research works is vital to being a doctor. It's up to you to examine for yourself how much science actually means to you, and science has to mean quite a lot for studying medicine to be worth it. Especially for the first years of studying medicine, when there is not a lot of clinical teaching, you need to be able to appreciate why you are studying all the background science.
This isn't about wanting to put you off medicine, or persuading you to do it, it's about making the right choice for yourself. After all, you're going to be studying this subject for at least five years, then working in the field for maybe the rest of your life. I know that a lot of people who start studying medicine, even with lots of work experience, soon realise that it is not like what they thought it would be. Everyone has doubts at some point, and needs to examine if this is the right choice for them, and there is no shame whether it feels like it is, or feels like it is not.
Chwirky's right in that medicine, whether in a hospital or a GP setting involves a lot of stuff that you don't see on TV. There's a lot of routine work, a lot of bureaucracy, and a lot of diplomatically dealing with people. It's more than just science and more than making people better. Keyahh's recommendation is good: take the relevant subjects if you are still interested. Do your research, have a long think, and talk to as many people about what the realities of studying and working in the field entail.
Also, unless you're a glutton for punishment, there's no earthly reason to be taking 5 AS levels or A levels. If you want to, be prepared to be asked for 5 As - universities make no exceptions because you are doing more subjects, and will expect you to do as well as the people they will give 3A offers to. Unless you are sure you can achieve that and get your extracurriculars done, it's normally better to focus on being a well-rounded applicant (this includes UKCAT and BMAT) than taking extra subjects that universities in no way give much preference to.
Best of luck~Biomed Grad studying Med 5 Year~
28-11-2009, 11:45 PM #12
[comment posted twice accidentally, sorry]~Biomed Grad studying Med 5 Year~
14-12-2009, 10:48 PM #13
- Join Date
- Jun 2009
16-12-2009, 01:12 AM #14
ok i thought i would give some advice which will more or less echo what has already been said but i know how many questions I had around GCSE years.
Firstly, you should definetly choose chemistry as obviously, if you dont then you are ruling yourself out for medicine. In relation to your other A level choices in general, you shouldnt do maths or physics if you feel you are bad at it. Maths has always been my weak point so i didnt do them and havnt looked back since. Maths does help a bit with Chemistry as the calculations are hard but you can always get help with that side of things. Personally I think you would be foolish to do 5 A Levels. Anyone will tell you how demanding they are and from my experience you dont need to do 5 subjects. I would to advise you to do 4 at AS level and then do 3 to A2 as essentially, that is all you will need. The only exception would be if you are applying to Oxbridge which seem to attract those with an insane amount of A-levels. If you are interested in Oxbridge then you should do 4 full A-levels and if you honestly think you can cope with it, then do 5. But if you arent interested in Oxbridge then it isnt worth it.
Ultimately i think you will need to choose between English, Politics and History. Talk to your teachers/students and find out what they are like at A-level. Realistically you need to choose 2 you are sure you can get an A in, and pick 2 that will not hinder your chances of getting an A/A* in the sciences. I guess what im saying is pick the easiest ones.
Also, there are 20 people in my A Level chemistry class and everyone hates it. Its not a very interesting subject and its incredibly difficult and requires a lot of work to just get your head around it. The only reason the majority of people do it is because they need it. Im sure a lot of people on here do like chemistry but im just saying is dont let your hate of chemistry ruin your chances of pursueing a career in medicine. It is just something that you need to persevere at and just work hard to get the grade you need. Every doctor i have spoken to say that there is no real chemistry in their job. There is biochemistry obviously but you do that stuff in Biology-not chemistry!
In terms of labwork, I'm sure there is some at university (im a 2010 applicant). But again with the medical degree course there are some things you will like and some things you wont-simply because it is such a varied course.
But basically i think you should do some more research about what you will be getting yourself into to make sure it is definetly what you want to do.
Hope this was of some help to youGCSES: 9A*, 1 A
AS Levels - Chemistry A, Biology A, Psychology A and English Literature A
A2 Level - Chemistry, Biology, Psychology
UKCAT - VR - 640, QR - 620, AR - 610, DA - 690, AVG - 640
2010 Entry -
Queens Belfast Offer (AAA)Firm
Cardiff -Offer (AAB)Insurance
Aberdeen - Rejected w/o interview
DundeeRejected-didnt go to interview,lol
20-12-2009, 05:42 AM #15
- Join Date
- May 2009
Disagree with the above about doing 5 for Oxbridge. I think they'd care more about high GCSEs, high UMS, and high BMAT than an extra A Level. (It's probably a good idea to do 4 for Oxbridge, but 5 seems excessive.)
21-12-2009, 04:14 AM #16
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