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Medicine - a level physics or not?

(32 Posts)
IDontDoIroning Fri 21-Jun-13 16:19:11

Ds went to 6th form interview today. Wants to do maths biology and chemistry. Thinking of Medicine- Tutor said he might want to consider not doing physics but something like history instead.
Obviously waiting for the Gcse results but wondered if there's anyone out there who can advise.

Caoimhe Fri 21-Jun-13 17:19:44

So he is definitely doing Maths, Chemistry and Biology and Physics would be his fourth AS?

I'm not an expert but my nephew is hoping to do medicine and his school (who get a few into medicine each year) recommended Maths, Chemistry, Biology and an essay subject to show a little breadth - and possibly as it might be a bit easier than Physics perhaps!!!

Have you checked the entry requirements of any med schools?

alreadytaken Fri 21-Jun-13 18:00:12

Chemistry A2 is almost essential for medicine, Biology A2 considerably widens your choice of medical school but some will accept AS in theory. Some medical school like a third science at A2 but that includes maths. UCL like a contrasting subject but that's the only one I remember offhand. Don't rely too heavily on what medical schools say on their websites, they will be more honest at open days about what they really expect before they offer an interview. The websites state minimum requirements, they rarely interview those with minimum requirements.

How sure is he about medicine? A contrasting subject might be more use if he decides to do something else. If he is thinking of medicine he should know that it's very competitive, that 60% of applicants get no offers the first time they apply, that this includes some students with excellent academic results and that many of those who do qualify will be gps not surgeons. There are many others careers that can provide a better work/life balance and more money. If he is serious about it the sooner he starts some voluntary work the better and he also needs to begin thinking about work experience.

The student room website has a wiki with lots of advice on medicine. It is mostly accurate and can be more up-to-date than mumsnet.

rightsaidfrederick Sat 22-Jun-13 18:02:01

There's absolutely no need to take Physics.

alreadytaken posted a great link, but in particular I'd like to point you to this link

Scrazy Sat 22-Jun-13 18:11:42

DD did Bio, Chem, History A2 and Maths to AS. On hindsight, English might have been better than History, as History AS level was a bit of a shock.

peteneras Sat 22-Jun-13 18:55:16

Maths, Biology and Chemistry at A2 would be absolutely fine for Medicine even at Oxbridge (if he wants to go there) wink. I say, drop Physics and take History or a language instead.

But come to think of it, does he really want to do Medicine? I know it's almost the first thing that comes to any bright student's mind when they consider university studies but once they get there, the realities can come as a shock in more ways than one. DS was utterly stressed a month before his 2nd year exams last month and just got his results last week. It's quite shocking (for me) to see a quarter of his whole cohort FAILED the exam! Considering this particular cohort had undergone extremely intense competition when they applied - the last year before fee increase - and I would imagine each and every one accepted to the course was totally brilliant! And yet, after two years . . .hmm

2rebecca Sat 22-Jun-13 22:00:20

Chemistry is usually compulsary and then 2 out of biology physics and maths. I don't see the advantage of history unless you're passionate about it, and them why do medicine? Seems to be making life hard for yourself. If you're going to do 4 I'd be inclined to do applied/ further maths as it's not so much extra work. You don't want to reduce your grades by trying to do too much.

Scrazy Sat 22-Jun-13 22:03:24

2rebecca, it's good to have an essay type A level and I carn't see how doing History or English at A level would mean you aren't passionate about doing medicine confused.

ReallyTired Sat 22-Jun-13 22:12:29

What are his favourite subjects? If he is good at Maths then he may well enjoy Physics. A-level Physics will help him with his A-level chemistry as there is some overlap between the different sciences.

I don't see how history will help him. He will get to write essays in A-level Biology and Chemistry.

2rebecca Sat 22-Jun-13 22:27:29

For many students doing medicine the difficulty is deciding which one out of maths physics and biology to drop, not adding in another completely unrelated subject.
History has lots of stuff to remember as well where as physics is more understanding concepts and less memorising stuff.

moonbells Sat 22-Jun-13 22:43:25

I'd like to seriously encourage any prospective medic to take physics - there are a lot of advanced medical disciplines such as radiation oncology and radiology that will be closed to them if they don't have it. Or at least a heck of a lot harder to master. And the way medicine is moving, it's going to rely a lot more on early imaging of serious disease to offset the massive costs of diagnosing late.

I'm forever trying to explain what I consider to be basic physical concepts in medical imaging to medics who haven't got A level...

mindgone Sun 23-Jun-13 00:38:27

Great thread, thanks idontdoironing. My DS is in the same boat, but wondering between psychology and physics as the fourth AS. Any advice out there on the psychology idea?

Theas18 Sun 23-Jun-13 01:19:08

as far as I'm aware psychology isn't held in particularly high regard. better to take a more orthodox subject perhaps?

alreadytaken Sun 23-Jun-13 08:37:56

Psychology is still not very well regarded and the more interesting developments in psychology could come from brain imaging, where Physics may be more useful. Chemistry is generally considered the toughest A level so if they can manage that they will probably cope with Physics. One of this year's Chemistry papers had a question that I'm told was easier if you also did physics. So if interested in science why not do Physics and keep more science options open? Anyone thinking about medicine needs to learn about other possibilities.

If they want to do BMAT (admission exam for some medical schools) they will need to write an essay although it doesn't always count for much. Showing you can write an essay is about the only good use for general studies, if the school offer it. If going for an essay subject History is more analytical and there may be some history of medicine, not sure if they offer that now. Somethings like philosophy and ethics may help with ethical questions at interview.

Peteneras that's a high failure rate - which school? I assume they mostly do a resit rather than repeating the whole year. Drop out rates are generally low for medical schools but it is more common to repeat years. It's a long hard course.

IDontDoIroning Sun 23-Jun-13 23:01:41

Thanks for the responses.
He definately wants to do as biology chemistry and maths but not sure about physics. But this may also be due to the teaching but he is going to a different school 6th form.
I agree about it possibly restricting some aspects of a medical career.

LittleFrieda Mon 24-Jun-13 08:53:49

If he likes physics, he should do physics. A very high proportion of successful applicants to medicine at Oxford offer Chem, bio, Maths and physics. If it's good enough for Oxford ...

If he isn't sitting a discursive subject, he might want to try and keep his essay-writing skills alive by occasionally asking a suitable teacher to set and mark an essay. It will be good practise for the BMAT.

LittleFrieda Mon 24-Jun-13 09:01:52

Peteneras - that's shocking. But some med schools have a policy of over recruiting med students and then deleveraging throughout each and every year of the course. Birmingham have a reputation for this.

If you are going to do medicine, choose your med school VERY carefully because the level of commitment to their students varies enormously.

mindgone Tue 25-Jun-13 00:29:05

Littlefrieda, that's interesting, but how do you find out about a uni's level of commitment to their medical students?

rightsaidfrederick Tue 25-Jun-13 00:32:40

Go to an open day, get a medical student out of earshot of their manager, and ask.

Helspopje Tue 25-Jun-13 00:33:23

physics would be expected in many places and was mandatory alogside maths and chemistry back when i applied and biology was not.
DOI - interview for precclin medicine at cambridge

Helspopje Tue 25-Jun-13 00:35:42

btw peterenas - was that clin path by any chance? it always has a spectacular failure rate.

onlyfortonight Tue 25-Jun-13 00:45:22

To be fair, A2s ( and a whole load of other stuff) are only needed to get into medical school, because once there you will be taught everything you need to know from scratch.

(I say this as a first year medic, mature student that did maths, physics and geography 16 years ago - look... No chem or bio!)

I would recommend a subject that he ENJOYS. Something that is a little different, that broadens his horizons and gets him to continue to write essays, because he will have to write LOADS of essays at medical school. (I wrote 3 in my first term!)

Good luck with the application too! He will need to be doing plenty of extra curricular activies as well, to show breath, capacity, interpersonal skills and commitment to working towards tough goals. It isn't all about school work.

onlyfortonight Tue 25-Jun-13 00:47:49

Pm me and I will give you the low down on my medical school.

roundtheback Tue 25-Jun-13 01:21:55

I'd advise doing physics. There's a lot of overlap with maths, it won't actually be that much extra work. And if he sees sense changes his mind, the maths/physics combination opens up a lot of doors, all of which will be less competitive, have a better work/life balance and may well pay better than medicine.

Keep in mind that medicine is all too often a shite job, and once you are in its not all that easy to get out. I have degrees in physics and medicine, it isn't the medical one that impresses people smile. I've got over the horrendous hump and have found my niche in medicine, but the first few years are beyond awful. And the way the career paths are going mean that it's later and later you can actually chose what you want to do. In all honesty I would try to steer bright kids away from it.

figroll Tue 25-Jun-13 13:03:17

I would agree with that roundtheback. Often bright kids are guided into medicine unaware of exactly how stressful the course is. I know of one boy who failed and was asked to leave after his third year!! This was a couple of years ago when my youngest dd was deciding what to do at uni, she was thinking of medicine and i think it made her change her mind. Good A levels are just the start and repeating years and failing with resits seems to be pretty standard at med school.

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