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July 18, 2024, 12:05:52 pm

Author Topic: What is studying Medicine really like?  (Read 7713 times)  Share 

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zsteve

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What is studying Medicine really like?
« on: October 24, 2014, 11:02:45 pm »
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So I'm considering doing (or to try and get in to) Medicine.
But I have quite a few doubts/misgivings about the course in uni and the profession.
I originally had an interest in Medicine because I thought it had a lot of science. However, a few days ago, I found out that it in fact didn't (well, not as much as I thought it did originally).
The fact that a Year 10 understanding of maths + some statistics would be sufficient to see you through the entire course was alone enough to put a dent in my interest. Perhaps naively, I thought they would probably still run through some basic (i.e. first-year undergrad) math. But they don't.
So I checked out the Monash medicine units online, and found out that the main Themes in the course were:

Quote
THEME I: Personal and Professional Development: students will participate in a transition program, focusing on transition to university life, personal ethics, healthy lifestyle, group support and communication skills. This will be followed by a Health Enhancement program concentrating on self care (stress management, relaxation training, coping skills), other aspects of healthy lifestyle and group support, and introduction to the science of Mind-Body Medicine. Also included: an introduction to Ethics and Medical Law.
THEME II: Population, Society, Health and Illness: Health, Knowledge and Society Teaching will provide a framework of inquiry allowing analysis of the social aspects of medicine.
THEME III: Foundations of Medicine: The Fabric of Life provides students with foundation knowledge in genomics and cell biology in health and disease. An integral part of this theme will be the weekly problem based learning activity
(PBL). Each PBL integrates material presented to students in this and other themes throughout the week.
THEME IV: Clinical Skills: introduces students to practical clinical skills including: handwashing, sharps disposal; subcutaneous and intramuscular injecting. Students will interact with health care professionals during medical contact visits, and will be introduced to the medical interview, taking a family history, ethical aspects of medical contact visits.

Well, I didn't feel to well after reading all that. From what I can see from the above, medicine is more "applied science" than "science" in itself. I mean, you learn what works - enough Bio and Chem so that can do your job, plus a lot of "social science" (idk exactly what to call it) which pretty much fills you in on how health, culture, society, law, etc. interact. Not really in my bag...

Personally, at this point in time, I feel that I would be more interested in medical science and research, as they have a more pronounced scientific element in them.
Also, I guess you will be able to study undergraduate math in BSc (and maybe Biomed? Correct me if I am wrong...) courses, which is of immense interest to me.

I have read several other posts on medicine around on AN, but I would still like to get some more input on this.
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keltingmeith

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Re: What is studying Medicine really like?
« Reply #1 on: October 24, 2014, 11:13:57 pm »
+5
Obviously, I cannot comment on your questions about med - but I do have some insight to give.

From what I can read, it seems like a career in science research would be perfect for you. First, you seem really intent on doing maths - not only is doing maths highly encouraged in ANY science degree (maths is, after all, the language of science), any science degree worth its salt will actually have some level of maths made compulsory. (For example, Monash require ALL science students to complete one level one maths unit. Melbourne only accept students who have at least done methods into their science degree). Also, if you're that interested in maths, a science degree is the place for you to study/major in mathematics. That's one box ticked in your intent to study maths.

Secondly, you like the idea of learning about science, but not necessarily using it. I mean, you're interested in learning more, but upon the thought that medicine is less learning and more using, you've become wary. In scientific research, you use the science that you've learned about in university (that's the whole point of university, after all - learn applicable skills), but so you can learn MORE about science. This is your wanting to do less "applied science" ticked.

Finally, you seem somewhat interested in medicine, even if it's mainly research. Have you considered double degrees? If you take Monash's biomed/science degree, you can still learn about all the science you'll need for medicine (and then take the GAMSAT if you decide you want to be a medical doctor), but you'll have a whole science degree to fill with as much maths, chemistry, biology, etc. as you would like. However, here's another thing to think about - did you want to do med because of the biology/chemistry applications of science, or just because it was the obvious job for wanting to do science? Have you considered research in other areas, such as geology or physics? If your answer to this is "maybe research in other areas could be cool", I would suggest just taking a bachelor of science - planned properly, you can still go on to medicine/all the things you'd learn about in medicine, but you'll also get a chance to try these other areas of science which you might be interested in.

slothpomba

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Re: What is studying Medicine really like?
« Reply #2 on: October 25, 2014, 01:17:01 am »
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First, it must be understood that reading a handbook cant really give you any idea what a course is like or indeed, university life in general. They're usually pretty thin on details.

It seems like you had this idea of med in your head, an idea you really liked but it might not match up with reality. You probably liked what you thought medicine was and perhaps not what medicine actually is. It's very prestigious but its not the be all and end all of everything.

I will ask the obvious question, if you liked medicine because it had a lot of science, why not just do science? Honestly? I'm sure you had one reason or another, don't be shy. Prestige? Money? Employment? Etc..

I cant imagine why you'd need integral calculus or anything at that stage in medicine (or at all). So, you really don't appear to need advanced math but i'm not in med so that's not really a first hand account. The course is so jam packed, there is little room for superfluous learning or exploring other areas of your own personal interest, hence, the apparent lack of the kind of mathematics you enjoy.

You must understand the idea of "medicine" is a historical import, it is not a course or profession that has ever been "designed". It evolved in this fashion from historical roots and we have to deal with it as it is now. The idea of a doctor, the practice of medicine, it was never designed to satisfy the broad interests of 21st century university students for example, it just kind of happened. If you do medicine because you like science and not necessarily medicine/want to be a doctor, you might honestly be in the wrong field. It might help if you think of doctors in the same way engineering is to science, they apply solutions for practical problems (usually).  Not to say there aren't plenty of physician-researchers or indeed, doctors who spend most of their time on research.

I personally think the bachelor of science is superior to bachelor of biomed due to the vast array of choices it gives you. At least at monash, you have heaps of room to take whatever you like. In fact, you have so much room that you could complete an entire non-science major (or two science majors) if you structure your degree correctly. That's right, within your science degree, you could be a biochemistry major and a philosophy major. Considering the number of electives and wiggle room you get, i've studied astrobiology, philosophy, history, mathematics, statistics, geography, religious studies and more. There is a massive amount of choice to structure your degree according to your interests. If you're interested in being able to persue multiple interests and structure your degree as you see fit, a science degree would be a pretty good choice for you.

But as always, look into it yourself because you'll have to live with the consequences. I'm also probably totally unqualified to give this advice and should have put this disclaimer at the start.

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Re: What is studying Medicine really like?
« Reply #3 on: October 31, 2014, 04:28:26 pm »
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I think with every course but especially medicine, you may really want to go to universities and find out as much information as you can about studying medicine (or biomedicine). Each university medicine course is abit different. You also might gain alot of information by simply asking your home gp, or any other doctor you could see, get their insight, knowledge and advice. It's really hard to know whether you will like a course especially a course like medicine which is usually around 6 years from a handbook. Don't feel like you need to straight away make a decision, take your time, get as much information as you can, and hopefully decide for yourself :). Good luck!

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Re: What is studying Medicine really like?
« Reply #4 on: October 31, 2014, 04:33:49 pm »
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Extremely intense, and extremely pressured. Medicine is monumentally more difficult than VCE, and while Im definitely NOT deterring you, its a huge commitment. Studying constantly is to be expected, hours are long (and progressively get longer as the course progresses - as do the length of semesters, meaning fewer holidays), and content is quite challenging. Med is akin to drinking water through a hose and keeping everything down. Just be prepared, if thats what you want. Again not deterring anyone, but its not easy, and thats something I want people to know, cause I know a couple of people who wished they knew this before commencing the course.
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Re: What is studying Medicine really like?
« Reply #5 on: October 31, 2014, 05:27:01 pm »
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Extremely intense, and extremely pressured. Medicine is monumentally more difficult than VCE

I know this is probably impossible to answer, but how much more content is there to memorise in comparison to VCE for say someone who is doing 5 science/maths/English subjects in a year 12? Like 2x as much, 3x as much, more?
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Re: What is studying Medicine really like?
« Reply #6 on: October 31, 2014, 06:04:20 pm »
+1
A very difficult question, but ill try my best. I did biology, chemistry, hhd, english, spec and methods, and was a relatively good student in all of them (i got 40+ scaled for basically all of them, and 45+ scaled in a few). Im studying at least 3 times as much as I was then, and im at uni for longer periods than I was in school, and now im just trying to pass (which is usually 60+% to be safe). This is a very subjective anecdote, so dont take it as gospel. Its definitely a difficult course though, and the intensity of study basically continues until you are ~40, so really think about it before you do it
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Re: What is studying Medicine really like?
« Reply #7 on: October 31, 2014, 06:59:10 pm »
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40 is a bit much, maybe 30 is a better estimate (30-35ish).

But yes, Medicine is a very demanding course.

This is for Monash medicine: Year 1 and 2 is about learning the biomedical sciences behind the medicine you practice. Year 1 is hard mainly because of adjusting to studying uni-style learning, but the content is not too bad. However, you will find that you need to develop your skills at memorising a lot of things, because Medicine at Year 1 and 2 requires a LOT of memory. Year 2 is significantly harder than Year 1, both in the volume of content and its difficulty, and requires a lot more studying than Year 1.

Year 3 is a little easier. Although there is more content to learn than in Year 2, the way the course is delivered in Year 3 (in the hospital rather than at uni) and the availability of lots of practice questions makes this year quite manageable.

Year 4 I heard is excruciatingly hard - but I haven't done Year 4 yet.
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Russ

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Re: What is studying Medicine really like?
« Reply #8 on: October 31, 2014, 10:26:48 pm »
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What's 5th year like? I don't know much about the Monash structure.

Anyway, it depends on your goals. Passing medical school exams isn't hard. If you got in then you'll be able to pass. The amount of people that actually fail out of medical school is quite low and it's usually due to other factors, such as burnout or social circumstances.

Doing well is much more difficult, due to the nature of the course. There's far more work to do and it's impossible to really work out how in depth you need to go. Exams can be on anything and there's no way to actually learn it all. As such, getting top marks is substantially more difficult than in other subjects I've taken. I've accumulated ~500 pages worth of past exam questions/answers for my upcoming exams and they're all over the place in terms of content/depth etc. Worrying about getting H1s is not healthy or helpful.

Don't let the studying post graduation thing put you off. You're still working and it's still just a job.

RE Memorisation; There is far more content in a year of medicine than a year of VCE and it's not remotely close. Having said that, you usually don't need to know it all.

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Re: What is studying Medicine really like?
« Reply #9 on: November 14, 2014, 04:52:59 pm »
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I think there have already been a few great perspectives on this topic. My 2c is that the course, or at least my experience in the Monash MBBS so far, is pretty tough. For anyone who thought VCE is hard, I'm going to be /that guy/ and say this: the course dumps on VCE in terms of workload and the "money factor" of being a doctor is really not that amazing. And as Thushan has said, there's more study to do after you graduate, it really is a lifetime of learning. Having said that, if you enjoy applying science, taking initiative, and working with lots of interesting people, it's very rewarding and fun too.

What's 5th year like? I don't know much about the Monash structure.

Essentially a pre-intern year. You get rotations (like 3rd year I guess) and you have a electives and whatnot. Not much in terms of assessment and no exams or OSCEs.
« Last Edit: November 14, 2014, 04:56:42 pm by pi »

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Re: What is studying Medicine really like?
« Reply #10 on: November 14, 2014, 06:24:16 pm »
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If you like maths but also want to do med, you could do BSci at Uom and major in Mathematics while covering the prerequisites for The Doctor of Medicine. There are people on AN who've done that.

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Re: What is studying Medicine really like?
« Reply #11 on: November 14, 2014, 06:46:27 pm »
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Essentially a pre-intern year. You get rotations (like 3rd year I guess) and you have a electives and whatnot. Not much in terms of assessment and no exams or OSCEs.

ahh... long way to go... no OSCEs...
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Re: What is studying Medicine really like?
« Reply #12 on: November 15, 2014, 03:53:59 pm »
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My understanding pretty much aligns with what pi and thushan have already say, so I won't beat a dead horse there. 

My limited perspective suggests there is in fact a lot of science that you need to be across - however, you need to be content with knowing a little about a lot. It is simply not possible to get any depth with the breadth that we are expected to know. If you want to get into the nitty gritty details without necessarily thinking about applications, you may be better served in biomedical research/sciences.

With that said, having a depth of knowledge in a field (as some of my colleagues have) may sometimes be useful. Even my non-standard background has been useful at various points during the course.

You are right in the observation it is very much an applied science - there is also an art to it as well.
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