Studying Medicine - Surgeon, What Subjects/Grades are Needed ??

(20 Posts)
RockinHippy Fri 21-Aug-15 04:28:14

A long way off really, but I have a very down & anxious not quite 13 yr old DD who is currently injured & stuck in a wheelchair & very ill for over 6 months now. She is too ill for school & it's not looking like she will make it back for possibly a long time yet. It's a very scary time for us all as we still don't fully understand what us going on & little seems to be happening to help her bar sorting her out a better wheelchairsad

Her dream for years now has been to study medicine, she thinks she would like to be a paediatric reconstructive surgeon & is more than bright enough with plenty of other useful creative skills too. In her mind her dream career is now over before she ever had a chance at it, which is making the current situation even harder for her to cope with, she's really depressed.

She does suffer with Ehlers Danlos Hypermobility, which thanks to hormones is making life hard & unpredictable for her in recent years. So currently this injury is an unknown quantity, but sadly it's not looking great, she missed most of year 7 & we are probably looking at a large chunk of year 8 too

I'm hoping that by having a clear idea of what she needs exam wise, I can help calm her down & realise that there will still be a way forward. If she's really determined to do this, which I don't doubt she is, then focussing just on the results she needs would help her feel less overwhelmed, if that makes sense.

Medicine is about as far away as it gets from my own or DHs Arts career paths, so I really don't have a clue what is best & I'm hoping for help for her.


OP’s posts: |
alreadytaken Fri 21-Aug-15 05:40:52

there are already a lot of threads about medicine here but she needs, at the moment as these things change, 3 good A levels and an AS. To maximise her chances she needs A*AA or A*A*A if she wants to go to Cambridge. She should study Chemistry and Biology and most applicants study either Maths or Physics. The AS subject can be anything and some do a language or a humanities subject. There is no compulsory A level for medicine but those subjects give you most choice. Chemistry is virtually compulsory.

She would also need to show that she really understands what medicine is about and that is most easily demonstrated through work experience. That work experience should show her that many doctors start off wanting to be surgeons but that quite a lot then decide surgery is not for them. I'm afraid it would also show her that a surgeon in a wheelchair is unlikely to be feasible although with more robot assisted surgery in future that could change.

IamtheDevilsAvocado Fri 21-Aug-15 12:36:08

She would have all sorts of help as she would have a disability under equality act.. Even if she is much improved. So there is money and extra help available to those with disabilities.

Actually there should be specialised services aroubd her for medical needs and education needs?

Hope her symptoms improves soon! Horrid for you all!

IamtheDevilsAvocado Fri 21-Aug-15 12:39:14

If she is out of normal school-could she do some of the free online courses for fun?
MOOCs are free and often run by prestigious unis. There are courses rel to medicine, psych, etc
May keep her occupied. There are often busy online forums fro these students.

RockinHippy Fri 21-Aug-15 13:37:01

Thank you all, that's very helpful flowers

Maths, Chemistry & Biology are strong & favourite subjects of hers, so I had hope/thought they might be important ones.

She shouldn't be in a wheelchair by the time she needs to go to Uni, I hope to god she isn't at least sad This is an injury that should heal once we get the right help, which unfortunately has been very slow coming & I can't find anyone private that we can get her too, who will see under 16s.

She will likely still need some help disability wise as EDS will mean she's extra exhausted, sore & prone to picking up viruses etc, plus she has stomach trouble, especially when stressed, but things should settle down a lot once she gets puberty out of the way. She's very stoic & good at just getting on with it regardless anyway, so she should cope, it's just things are really bad at the moment.

She has been away from school since February, she's had very little in the way of way of work at home. School have said not to worry, she's so bright & works hard so they are confident she will soon catch up when she returns to class, so just to get better. This is a relief in some ways, but not in others, especially as it's taking so much longer than we expected & we still have no real idea of an end. Paperwork has been going through for a home tutor, so we expect she will have something next term, but as of yet we don't know exactly what.

That said she still doesn't have any effective pain management, so she really struggles to concentrate & is very hard on herself if she attempts work & can't think straight, we've had a few complete meltdowns as a result, so it's a very tough balancing act.

Does it really need to be Oxford or Cambridge to get into medicine ?? We live in a university city & we're hopeful she could study locally as apparently we have a good medical school too, this would work best both financially & for her health needs & at the moment it's what she would prefer.

I can see why students doctors keep their options open & end up not becoming surgeons, I've got to admit, we would be happier if that happened as it sounds like a hellishly stressful career path for her. Our Chiropractor has tried to talk her into choosing that instead as it's rewarding, healing, but far less stress & I wish she would take what sounds like good advice to me, but she has her heart set on med school

DevilsAvacado that sounds like a great idea, I think she would love that -where would I find those sorts of courses please ?

OP’s posts: |
Micah Fri 21-Aug-15 13:48:40

I'm going to agree with pp who said she needs to think about the demands of the job a bit more.

Surgeons can spend hours, all day sometimes, standing in surgery. I can't imagine paed reconstructive surgeries are short.

Having said that, I would still help her find out the requirements and what she needs to do to achieve them. The surgeon part isn't something she needs to decide on until after graduation and completion of pre-reg year.

Have you looked into on line or homeschool learning to keep up? When dd was in hospital they had a lot of resources they could bring to bedside and the child worked through.

lougle Fri 21-Aug-15 14:25:10

"She will likely still need some help disability wise as EDS will mean she's extra exhausted, sore & prone to picking up viruses etc, plus she has stomach trouble, especially when stressed, but things should settle down a lot once she gets puberty out of the way."

Honestly, medicine is just about the worst thing she could choose. Huge pressure all the time. Long hours, with unpredictable workload that can't be paced according to her energy levels. Long periods stood up. In surgery particularly, great manual dexterity is required and some surgeries require hours of prolonged concentration.

Bear in mind also that for vocational health courses the student has to be passed as fit to enter the course.

I think what I'm saying is that I'm not at all sure that a medical course could make the adjustments necessary whilst still ensuring that she is trained sufficiently to practice medicine.

Just think about CPR -it's absolutely knackering for even a short while and requires huge forces of pressure on your joints. No doctor can say 'I'll sit this one out because I'm tired/ill/my joints ache.'

Even for generally well people, the mix of days and nights give the immune system a bit of a battering.

She sounds like a very bright and resilient girl but realistically this is not the best course to choose.


alreadytaken Fri 21-Aug-15 18:24:23

she's 13, she's having a hard time so now isn't really the time for her parents to say forget your plans for the future. Instead let her realise for herself gradually that other choices might be better for her. The science A levels will let her apply for a lot of other courses and she doesn't even have to chose her A levels for a couple more years. She may change her mind totally.

If she does eventually make it to medical school she will be a doctor wherever she goes. Some medical schools may be more accommodating of disability than others. She should choose where to apply based on visits at the time, her predicted grades and advice from the Student Room website. They have a wiki for medicine that can be more up to date than mumsnet.

Impostersyndrome Sat 22-Aug-15 17:16:42

OP your DD sounds amazingly resilient. This isn't my field, so I can't advise on the specifics, but you asked about links for free online courses, so here's one well known provider, and a link to all their chemistry courses. They may very be too advanced, but still worth a look:

Maybe hunt the mumsnet boards for hone schoolers in case they've got some tips?

Kez100 Sat 22-Aug-15 18:32:27

I'd say encourage her too as all the academic requirements for medicine are useful for all sorts if she changes tack. To have an aim and a aspiration when I'll is remarkable. Most of us would just be feeling sorry for ourselves.

Many students don't get accepted onto medicine even with the academics and have to cope at that point with disappointment.

BettyBitesBums Sat 22-Aug-15 18:38:05

I'm a doctor and have worked with a doctor that is wheelchair bound with EDS. She is now a GP and does a lot of minor ops and interventional stuff within general practice and when I worked with her she was an obstetric and gynae SHO. Her training took longer than most as she couldn't be on call in the hospital out of hours as she couldn't carry a crash bleep, do CPR or assist in theatre in some situations but she is a very highly skilled and fantastic doctor. It's not an easy path to take but if it's where your heart is it's much better to aim for that rather than give up and regret not trying and my friend is proof that it's definitely possible.

Booboostwo Sat 22-Aug-15 19:41:13

It's a few years since I taught in a medical school but even back then we had one lecturer who was a wheelchair user and split his time between teaching and seeing patients, and one student who was a wheelchair user. Medical schools have the same obligation under law to make reasonable adjustments as any other part of the university. Also there are many different career paths within medicine so she does not have to commit now. There is no reason to give up on her dream.

Having said that, medical training is extremely intense, medical schools have high drop out rates, and I would worry about her putting too much pressure on herself.

MedusaIsHavingaBadHairday Tue 25-Aug-15 17:51:10

My DD1 has just qualified as a doctor; and has EDS . It's doable. But tough.

TBH thinking about what she'd need to be a surgeon is completely waaayyyyy head anyway... Doctors specialise after F2 (two years post grad) and should she become a doctor there are many many routes to go down..that's why they rotate post grad.. no one can know for real what they have the aptitude for or what will really interest them until they do it.

What she CAN and SHOULD do is focus on getting spectacular GCSEs and the same at A level... no one gets into medicine without stellar grades now, plus later down the line, work experience (doesn't need to be medical.. help with brownies, local old folks home or similar is fine) and making sure she has the stamina for it.. I don't mean just physical.. but mental.

The 5 years of med school brought my DD1 to her knees (literally as he hip dislocates a lot!) at times. She battled anorexia, anxiety, a lot of chest infections as she is prone to them... being an adult with EDS has not made her any healthier than she was as a kid.. but now she can't just lie down and wait for the pain to pass or the illness to go.. she has to crack on with it.

She loves it, but quite often I wish she had taken a different route.. there is nothing tougher than medicine for the overall toll on the body and brain!

lastqueenofscotland Sun 06-Sep-15 08:12:15

Haven't read entire thread.

AAA normally, with all three sat at the same time (ie no retakes!!) does NOT just need to be Cambridge for medicine. Imperial is fantastic, and it's such a well regarded degree that only decent universities do if she can get in your spoilt for choice.

She will need a lot of work experience. Can she go and help in tee reception of a local gps? Then when she's a bit older write to consultants see if she can shadow. She'll be allowed to do naff all, but it helps grades aren't the be all and end all here. Most people applying will have a clean sweep of As.

AnyoneButAndre Sun 06-Sep-15 08:21:49

It would be incredibly tough. But no choice she makes at this time will commit her to anything - as a bright science minded girl then the advice boils down to "study science, get the best grades possible" which she'd be doing anyway. When she's a bit older there's a question of related work experience/volunteering and she'd presumably need a lot of support for that.

senua Sun 06-Sep-15 09:01:00

Chillax! The world gets very stressed at the end of KS2 as pupils take SATS and the 11+. They get stressed at KS4 with GCSEs. They get stressed at KS5 with AS/A2.
KS3? - not so much, it's a bit of a time-marking exercise. It's more about settling in senior school, getting used to specialist subject teachers, moving classrooms, learning self-management, etc. Social skills rather than academic.
As long as she keeps on top of her science so that, when options time comes, she can choose the triple science GCSE route then she will be fine.
It's all a long way off yet. Concentrate on getting better

senua Sun 06-Sep-15 22:52:32

I see that I am not alone. There is a thread on this in Secondary Education.

Lonecatwithkitten Mon 07-Sep-15 08:45:00

She has a really good chance of becoming a doctor, but you may need to manage her expectations about being a surgeon. As others have said there is a lot of standing, but as a non-human surgeon the other thing is hand strength. I did not realise how strong I needed my hands to be until I lost strength in my left hand due to carpal tunnel - I was lucky I had fantastic health insurance and a fantastic surgeon who deemed that lots of physio was essential to my full recovery. It did, however, show me that even in tiny patients (a lot of mine are) your hands need to be super strong.

IamtheDevilsAvocado Fri 18-Sep-15 11:12:53

Sorry rockinhippy I completely missed your question..

So free online courses- some are on demand... Where you can just complete them whenever you wish, some are more structured... With most students reading the same material the same week... It also means that people will be chatting about this in the chat forums.
They are all free I think, unless you want/ need certification

There are loads of courses, often from very prestigious universities (eg yale, stanford, MIT)

Search for these - you sign up via these sites! Have aa look, see what youthink - I'm sure there's something that'll interest your daughter and alleviate the boredom!

Hope her health improves soon!

adski Thu 04-Aug-16 10:46:27

I know this post was from a while ago but I just wanted to add that my youngest missed nearly all of year 8 through illness. They were in too much pain to do any learning in the hospital. All our teacher friends and the school said more or less the same thing: "if you are going to miss a lot of school then Year 8 is the year to do it". When they felt better we started watching the CrashCourse videos on YouTube and they were perfect. The science courses are all excellent and I learnt more about Chemistry watching them than I ever did at school. After missing so much school my child went through some anxiety going back but we were quite strict about their attendance. Their maths teacher was brilliant and spent at least an hour a week, one on one, going through the stuff that had been missed. Otherwise they had no extra tuition and I am sure the whole experience will have no effect on GCSEs. Best of luck to you both.

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