The debate on whether to study biomedical science first before studying medicine is an important one to have.
On the one hand, you’re delaying your experience of medical school by 3/4 years, but you’re also acquiring relevant knowledge in the process.
There are however many valid reasons you might consider getting a biomedical science degree first, before studying medicine.
This is especially relevant for U.K. students who have the option to apply directly to medical school after leaving sixth form or college (at the age of 18).
5 reasons why you should study biomedical science first
More enjoyable time at university
Biomedical science often gets a bad rap, especially from past students who have had an unfavourable learning experience.
This may be due to bad job prospects after graduating, or just generally finding the course boring or overly difficult.
On the whole, biomedical science is quite an enjoyable degree to study.
This is evidenced by the relatively high pass rates and student satisfaction scores from prominent universities.
In comparison, medicine can be a bad degree to study if you’re after a relatively low stress experience while at university.
Yes, medical students are know to engage in all the same university experiences as other students and even form stronger bonds due to the length of time spent at university,
however the course itself can be more challenging than most, especially when you begin lacking behind on your lecture notes and neglecting social life.
Biomedical science on the other hand, while challenging, doesn’t hold the same weight in terms of pressure on the student.
It’s almost like a first try at university, especially if you plan on doing postgraduate study or medicine afterwards.
Students can party throughout first and second years and still graduate with a decent enough score – bear in mind you only need a 2:1 in your first degree to do most things!
Medics aren’t afforded the same luxury by virtue of the fact that their understand of fundamental scientific theory is the basis of their practice which is saving lives.
This is a lot of pressure.
Without it, students enjoy their time more at university.
More fun learning biomedical science
Studying Biomedical science is more fun than studying medicine.
In theory the converse could be argued especially if you enjoy applying your knowledge to real world situations/people.
However, the fact of the matter is biomedical science teaches you about biomedicine in a deeper context – allowing you to form a better understand of any given topic over time.
foten times a subject you truly enjoy will form the basis of your dissertation!
Medics on the other hand must cover a significant array of topics over term time, leaving very little time to go into each in depth.
This creates a rushed and disjointed learning experience to which is only remedied by going into postdoctoral research later on.
Your end goal is less set in stone
As a student of biomedical science, your career path is more open in terms of selecting a difinitive field to work in after graduating.
You can become a biomedical scientist, work in a biomedical science lab, or pursue postgraduate study.
With medicine, while it is possible to pursue many other career paths outside becoming a doctor, there is a strong expectation that if you study it, you will likely become a doctor when you graduate.
Otherwise, it would be quite a waste of time if you chose to study medicine and not pursue jobs in the medical sector, either as a physician or a postgraduate researcher.
It would also mean you potentially occupied a medical school place of another student hoping to work as a doctor after graduating.
Biomedical science is a safe bet for those who are unsure about studying medicine, but would like to keep options open if they do decide to pursue it later in life.
Less obsessed with becoming a doctor
While this seems like a strange addition to the list, many students often suffer from an attraction to the idea of becoming a doctor, rather than becoming a doctor itself.
This may stem from the expectations of family members, the portrayal of doctors in TV shows and movies, or the romantisation of the profession commonly attributed to TV shows like Scrubs and Grey’s anatomy.
This is largely a fallacy, and while doctors are well respected amongst their peers and across many professions, a large contingent of the population are very distrusting of doctors.
A doctor’s job is further complicated by ever evolving field of medicine and the diminishing public trust in the profession.
This is not to say becoming a doctor is all bad, however if you are considering studying medicine, you must inform yourself of the struggles that physicians face on the job, and avoid romanticising your life as a medic.
More likely to make an informed decision
Having studied an undergraduate degree, you are more likely to make an informed decision on whether medicine is ultimately for you.
You are older, presumably more knowledgeable about your career options, and you have a larger pool of support to draw on in terms of seeking advice.
This includes guidance councellors, supervisors, and even fellow peers who are likely to have similar goals to you.
In this way, if you do decide to study medicine after studying biomedical science, you can draw on the expertise of your extended support group who are likely to offer more practical help on your medical journey.
Particularly for things like personal statmements, entrance exam help, mock interview practice etc.
And if you DON’T decide to study medicine afterwards, you would potentially save yourself a few years at university – and from a career path that you likely wouldn’t enjoy.
The benefit of studying a degree like biomedical science (or similar courses) before studying medicine lays mainly in the ability to make a more informed decision.
Far too many students romanticise their time at medical school or working as a doctor after watching shows like scrubs and grey’s anatomy which often portray false expereriences.
As a result, the medical workforce faces higher rates of burnout and job dissatifaction which subsequently has knock-on effects on members of the public, leading to further loss of trust.
A negative feedback loop exacerbated by medical professionals pursuing a career for the wrong reasons.
There is also genuine burnout due to working expectations of healthcare professionals, however the issue is certainly not helped by dissatisfied medics who have wrongly taken places away from more deserving candidates.
The additional time at university may be a drawback, and ultimately it may be harder to get into medical school having studied an undergraduate degree already, however the added benefit of a more mature and informed decision may be the diference between you enjoying your job in another field, or you hating your career as a physician.
As a student, you must endeavor to find the best option/career path!
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