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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.

lljkk Wed 26-Jun-13 20:38:58

I agree that the 4th subject should be something he loves.

However...I have a leetle insider knowledge and very confidently think that a humanities subject would be brilliant. Something like Ethics, RE, History or Philosophy, English. It's not just "breadth", they are looking for strong evidence of people and communications skills.

LittleFrieda Wed 26-Jun-13 12:03:28

I think it's pretty normal for med students to be failed even though the failed student failed only one exam. But 24% failure is alarming.

Birmingham do deleverage. They recruit more med students than they ever intend to keep for the entire medicine course.

78bunion Tue 25-Jun-13 17:37:38

Also presumably the better places are those prepared to fail students who are not up to the mark. In a sense if you can get into somewhere strong enough to that that is a good choice.

alreadytaken Tue 25-Jun-13 17:24:16

I'd already worked out it was a London school, peteneras, and might narrow it down further by asking a few current students. Looking at student satisfaction rates already suggests some medical schools where potential applicants need to ask searching questions at open days.

Pusspuss1 Tue 25-Jun-13 16:44:03

Yes, he should do physics. I know a doctor in his 30s who's currently struggling with some of the more advanced professional exams, as a direct result of not having physics A level. It introduces important, fundamental concepts which may well be helpful to him later in his career.

peteneras Tue 25-Jun-13 16:33:42

The school that DS attends is a world renowned medical school in central London, alreadytaken, with world class teaching hospitals where both students and professionals come to learn and work. It is not appropriate for me on MN to identify this school which has just failed 24.8% of its second year cohort this month for it may deter potential candidates from applying.

Yes, Helspopje, the paper in question is a clinical paper/exam, OSCE.

I don’t think the school is practising ‘deleveraging’ either, LittleFrieda as I see a handful of students scoring more than 80% in all papers but failed on one single paper by a mere one or two marks and still registered officially as an overall FAIL.

I know of at least one case previously of a student failing the final year and left the school with nothing. This is really brutal, I thought, but at the same time I feel it is necessary in order to produce a set of world-class doctors at the end.

Yes, it’s a matter of life and death, I’m afraid.

peteneras Tue 25-Jun-13 16:22:28

All the Sciences and Maths (Further Maths) are just a bit too tedious and do not reflect the candidate’s knowledge and understanding of the wider world, IME.

Another essay based subject he may consider is Divinity/RE. Personally, I think this is much more relevant than History, Geography, Language, etc. in a field like Medicine. Don’t be mistaken, Divinity isn’t all about God and the great Divine in modern day exams. It has plenty of (medical) ethics questions, for example:

Q: Has a 70-year-old woman the basic human right to bear a child of her own? [Through IVF, of course!] smile

Q: Who in your opinion, has a better legitimate claim to a NHS liver transplant between a confirmed alcoholic (family man with 3 young kids) and a young bachelor?

Take a look also at OCR’s Religious Studies A-Level paper from January 2011:

1.Critically assess the claim that conscience is the voice of reason.

2.‘The environment suffers because business has no ethics.’ Discuss.

3.‘Our ethical decisions are merely the result of social conditioning.’ Discuss.

4.‘Natural Law is the most reliable approach when making decisions about premarital sex.’ Discuss.

Preparation for RE A-Level bodes well in Medicine interviews. DS has a particular knack for this subject which he took to A-Level (A*) together with the Sciences and Maths.

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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.

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?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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?

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...

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.

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.

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.

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