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To ask you - DS medicine or natural sciences

(82 Posts)
Pumpkintopf Mon 29-Jun-20 16:09:13

Hi all, would really welcome some views on this -

Ds yr 12 has up till now been focused on applying for medicine this year. Lately however (very recently) he's not so sure and to be honest some of the stuff I've read - mainly junior doctor accounts of life in the NHS - do make me afraid for him, the hours and lack of support seem so intense. I do also understand that these may not be wholly representative- or maybe they are-DH and I are not medics.

He was always quite keen on a research type role anyway so given that, would natural science or similar be a better fit? Would love any views from those who have experienced either/know people who have...

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sleepismysuperpower1 Mon 29-Jun-20 16:13:41

I can't really help, but just wanted to add that he could consider becoming a medical scientist if he likes research? He would be looking at trying to find cures for different diseases, so would be researching but also using medical knowledge.

EmperorCovidula Mon 29-Jun-20 16:16:22

He could always go abroad to work to a country with a better healthcare system. There may be additional qualifications he needs to complete but it’s not unachievable.

Pumpkintopf Mon 29-Jun-20 16:17:04

That would be interesting- would a science degree rather than medical be the entry way for that?

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Pumpkintopf Mon 29-Jun-20 16:17:27

@EmperorCovidula true.

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HavelockVetinari Mon 29-Jun-20 16:18:13

He could take the first 2 years of medicine and then convert it to a NatSci degree if he goes to Cambridge (I know a couple of medics who did that).

NamechangeOnceMore Mon 29-Jun-20 16:20:35

I faced the same dilemma 15 years ago and chose Medicine. I'm very glad I did. Excellent job security, and reasonable pay once you're senior. Medical careers can be very flexible, which is helpful once you have kids. I love my job.

Pumpkintopf Mon 29-Jun-20 16:20:57

@HavelockVetinari that's interesting- he is looking at Cambridge.

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sleepismysuperpower1 Mon 29-Jun-20 16:21:10

there is info here on degrees etc.,accredited%20degree%20while%20you%20work.
and here,Check%20with%20individual%20course%20providers.

which will hopefully help a little x

Pumpkintopf Mon 29-Jun-20 16:22:41

Namechangeoncemore that's really interesting- and the opposite to most of the junior doctors memoirs I've read! Would you encourage your DC to go into it (assuming they're wanted to of course!)

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Pumpkintopf Mon 29-Jun-20 16:23:21

Thank you sleep that's very kind.

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AnnaMagnani Mon 29-Jun-20 16:26:15

Does he actually want to be a doctor? A lot of being a doctor is talking to people, working in teams, negotiating, carrying out procedures and not necessarily that sciencey.

Or does he really really like science?

Yes you can be a doctor and do medical research but it is a different prospect to an actual STEM based career.

FWIW I did a research based degree for a year at Med School and it bored me witless. It turned out I really liked the chatting aspect of medicine blush to such an extent I changed my specialty intentions to ensure I'd never have to set foot in a lab again.

You can pick medical specialities where you don't have to deal with patients, but mostly medicine is about dealing with people.

SluggishSnail Mon 29-Jun-20 16:27:38

I think ultimately it comes down to whether his passion is treating patients (in which case do Medicine) or understanding mechanisms of disease (in which case do Life Science).
I did a BioSciences degree, a PhD, had about a decade in academic research, then moved into Biotech. I design and make new cancer drugs. I don't treat patients, but work with collaborators who run clinical trials. My job is all about understanding the biology and finding new solutions to a problem.
I don't think it's 'lesser' than medicine, pay maybe slightly less, but the hours and autonomy are better and it doesn't involve sick or blood.

Seventytwoseventythree Mon 29-Jun-20 16:30:21

I have a degree in Natural Sciences (Cambridge) and a degree in medicine. I am a doctor and although it’s hard I wouldn’t change it for anything. The two jobs/lifestyles are very different and I would encourage him to get some work experience, Medicine is people-focused, different every day, fast paced and interesting. Research science (I have experience in this area as a medic when I did my doctorate) is a lot more long term in its goals, you have to be good at looking at the bigger picture because the day to day work can be quite monotonous, however you can make a big difference if you’re lucky. You have to be more self motivated and there’s more data interpretation/statistics which isn’t everyone cup of tea. The hours are much worse in medicine of course but the pay is better. He should look up the junior doctor pay scales which are easily googleable because people are often surprised how many years of nights and weekend are required before earning what I would call a “professional” salary. Research will also require actually more years of study as everyone who works in my lab has a phd so it’s worth considering the student debt. It’s possible to be a medic with an academic interest and do research as well, a lot of us do this. You can apply to hospitals for work experience and for medical research could contact biology research labs at your nearest university.

Pumpkintopf Mon 29-Jun-20 16:31:00

Thank you Anna and sluggish you've hit the nail on the head there I think - he said at his hospital work experience, he liked understanding what the different drugs did and how they interacted, was also comfortable chatting to patients - but was put off by the huge amount of form-filing that the doctors seemed to have to do.

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Pumpkintopf Mon 29-Jun-20 16:33:31

Seventy that's so interesting- I feel so unable to advise or guide as have absolutely no experience in this area whatsoever.

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PullUpsAreTricky Mon 29-Jun-20 16:35:58

Friends; GMP her, him GDP, both said yesterday, if they were applying again wouldn't do medicine or dentistry..
Both would do something biomed/ engineering/ given what they know now.
They both have good jobs, but the constant covering your back, protecting your arse is exhausting.
I enjoy some aspects of my job- self employed, dictating my work life balance. But there are aspects that I find so frustrating and most certainly don't enjoy: the constant looking over your shoulder, waiting to be sued. We are not actively encouraging our children to to medicine/dentistry because of this. (We are both dentists BTW)

hettie Mon 29-Jun-20 16:37:01

Tell him to have a look at the route to becoming a medical public health consultant. Research is highly prized (epidemiology) and encouraged so some time spent in academia would be part of a career. ....But starting with undergrad medicine (obv)

Pumpkintopf Mon 29-Jun-20 16:37:22

Pull-ups yes - he said the consultant he shadowed mentioned about the form filling being necessary be you the need to practise medicine defensively ie CYA.

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okiedokieme Mon 29-Jun-20 16:41:48

He needs to decide what he wants - take a gap year if needed and try and get a junior lab tech type role or work experience. Medicine requires an exam plus interview which he won't pass unless he's passionate about medicine.

AnnaMagnani Mon 29-Jun-20 16:42:41

My experience of being a doctor having students doing work experience is they think everything we do is interesting - wow you are taking blood, wow you are putting a cannula in, wow you are prescribing something...

What they don't realise is we do that all day everyday. That ceased to be interesting for me after about a week of qualification.

If he picked up there was a lot of form filling and sitting on the telephone then he was much more on the ball than most on work experience.

And there is a lot of blood, vomit, wee, poo and sputum in my job. Sputum is the absolute worst.

Pumpkintopf Mon 29-Jun-20 16:59:11

Anna yes - he was shocked by how much filling in of forms there was. He liked the patient bits and the diagnostic stuff including drug actions and interactions- but not the forms that came later. Even the consultant he shadowed said she was working crazy long hours, I think he thought perhaps this was less the case for the more senior people but again, the junior doctors books seem to suggest everywhere is short staffed all the time so I guess everyone would be involved in trying to cover the gaps?

Is it really as bad as the junior doctor books say? I'm currently reading Your life in my hands by Rachel Clarke...have also read Trust me I'm a junior doctor by Max Pemberton, and the ubiquitous Adam Kay. They seem united in the view that the hours are crazy and unsafe, they don't have time to eat or have a loo break whilst on shift, and hospital managers do ridiculous things like cancel annual leave that was booked for the person's attendance at a wedding - their own!

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ProfessorLayton1 Mon 29-Jun-20 17:00:18

We both are consultants ( surgeon and medical subspeciality) and my eldest had similar dilemma when applying last year and chose Medicine in the end. Looking at our life style when she was growing up, no
Wonder medicine was not on her radar.
He needs to have a look at both the degrees and decide for himself.
Dd liked natural sciences when she started her A levels but changed her mind during the A levels ( well, she changed her mind from economics, then biological natural sciences to medicine) and is doing medicine now. According to her, she can always do research as a medic if she wants to do that in future..

Does he have anyone he can speak to ? I am sure my Dd spoke to her school seniors and read around both the subjects before deciding.
We could not take her to open days so not sure how both subjects are sold by the universities.

Although there are times when I feel that it is not worth doing the job and disillusioned- it is for most part, a wonderful job and I won't change it.

Medicine is not a job you chose to make money, there are other careers which pays well for less amount of work and responsibility.

nocoolnamesleft Mon 29-Jun-20 17:01:20

Medicine is a great job. And it's an awful job. Sometimes at the same time. It is hard work and exhausting. Mentally, physically and emotionally. I would only ever advise someone to go into medicine if it's the only thing in the world they could imagine doing.

Embracelife Mon 29-Jun-20 17:06:40

Research will involve lots of paperwork too.... meticulous record keeping....

He just needs to decide for now... he can always switch later though may add time onto his plans.
But year or two is not a big deal in the scheme of things if he does natsci then graduate entry med school.

Any job has paperwork/boring parts.

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