Medicine Degree how much is rote learning

(33 Posts)
HereIGoAgainAndAgain Sun 20-Jan-19 09:21:32

DS is in yr 12 and working towards medicine, doing voluntary work at care home and with teenage children. However, despite his love of all the sciences and a genuine interest in how the body works he is really concerned that studying medicine at Uni will mostly be spent rote learning all the vast amount of information they have to learn and so very little time will be given to problem solving using your scientific knowledge. Love to hear from those of you with any knowledge on this.

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titchy Sun 20-Jan-19 09:30:59

Nonspecific experience but some of the med school teach using problem based learning. He needs to google and find out which ones if that's his learning style.

TeacupDrama Sun 20-Jan-19 09:51:43

within anatomy there is some just learning names of muscles, the name of the nerves that supply them their blood supply which bones connect with which by which tendons and muscles this knowledge then has to be applied but like anything else it can't be applied before knowing it

I am a non working dentist, knowing where nerves are etc is absolutely vital in making the right tooth numb with which injection and at what depth and what other internal vessels you need to avoid, you need to know for example exactly how far beneath the surface the inferior dental nerve is, where exactly it enters the mandible and where it exits, that the long buccal nerve is very close (within mm) and not to hit the inferior dental artery which is also very close, obviously after a while this is all second nature(like changing gear at the same time as breaking operating clutch and steering wheel) but you have to physically learn it all at some point
There is plenty of problem based learning for diagnosis but with anatomy there is a considerable amount of just learning stuff you can't have a doctor that doesn't know where the sternocleidomastoid muscle attaches etc,

on a slightly different note I don't it has helped insisting all medical students need AAA at A level when I did dentistry back in the 1980's you needed BBC/ BCC for dentistry and ABB/BBB for medicine, there are loads of really good doctors out there who now would not have got to medical school, insisting on AAA instead of using interviews etc to make sure people have empathy bedside manner compassion is not necessarily an improvement

HereIGoAgainAndAgain Sun 20-Jan-19 10:19:05

teacup thank you for such a comprehensive reply. Yes DS appreciates that there will be rote learning but his concern is that the degree will be predominately learning names of everything and not much actual problem solving.

Medicine is ridiculously difficult to get into now can you imagine what it would be like if they dropped the grades........

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fuckweasel Sun 20-Jan-19 11:01:07

I don't have much knowledge other than helping students apply for university but do know that some medicine course are Problem Based Learning (PBL) which may suit your son. Some details here

User323676890 Sun 20-Jan-19 11:14:05

He does realise the point of studying medicine is to actually be a doctor? Which in any field you can’t do without ‘learning the vast amount of information you need to learn’? If he’s not actually motivated by the field he should look at a different area of science. Of course there will be plenty of time for complex problem solving during training but yes, the first few years do feature a huge amount of learning essential information about the body etc.

He sounds a bit immature ‘I don’t want to learn all that boring stuff, I just want to do be House!’. Spare the admissions people the bother if that’s his thinking...

ProfessorLayton1 Sun 20-Jan-19 11:17:02

I am a medic and you need to learn a lot of things to build up your knowledge- like anatomy, how things work( physiology), pathology ( about diseases) , microbiology ( all things bugs related) etc.,
And after this, you use your knowledge to problem solve when you see a patient..
It is not like physics or computer science but your knowledge is used in a different way in a day to day life...
In a rush but can explain if you have any further questions..
Ask him to shadow a doctor/ GP - best thing to do before making up his mind
Do you have any friends/ neighbours as doctors, ask him to have a chat..


HereIGoAgainAndAgain Sun 20-Jan-19 11:28:24

Hulu thanks for your reply, actually he's far from immature, but admittedly he's knowledge of medicine is extremely limited although he is doing everything he can to find out himself. The reason for the question is because he doesn't just want to go into medicine he is actively trying to find out as much as he can, this just happens to be one concern which has cropped up due to his reading on-line.

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HereIGoAgainAndAgain Sun 20-Jan-19 11:31:42

Thank you ProfessorLayton no we don't know anyone in the medical field, hence posting here!

Ds has applied for work experience in a hospital and GP surgery, so hopefully that will help.

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Decorhate Sun 20-Jan-19 12:12:37

I think there is much less rote learning than in the past. I shared a house with a medic decades ago & clearly remember the huge amount of memorising she had to do for anatomy & physiology. I have been quite surprised at the fact that up to now my dd’s exams seem to have consisted of a couple of multiple choice papers.

mumsneedwine Sun 20-Jan-19 12:33:06

I have a DD who is a 1st year and there is a lot of hands on learning, problem solving (given a case and told to solve it), seminars, dissection and yes some learning of lots and lots of stuff. Unis teach very differently so you DS needs to do some research into the different approaches and find the one that suits him. Last week my DD spent a day with her GP practice in consultations, dissected part of a chest, did skills work on listening to lungs and attended 17 hours of lectures/seminars.

ProfessorLayton1 Sun 20-Jan-19 12:43:38

Yes,medical education is responding to the technological development. Far less information learning when compared to the past. I was teaching a group of medics last week and one of them googled what I was teaching and showed it to others where to find it!
They educated me about various apps and websites they use.. it made me feel like a 🦕 , have taken the information to pass it to other groups !!
I would not say that it is immature of him to have that view..
I struggled with my very mature Dd during her AS levels as she did not have a clue what she wanted to do.. had so many preconceived ideas about different fields. It is what teenagers do ... it is our responsibility to de myth what they think..
It can be fun to have arguments about their beliefs - Dd was conceived that all economists do is work in a bank and make lots of money!
I could not explain what they do.. rather that telling what I read in the forums, papers etc.,
For a brief moment she was interested in developmental economics before she decided she did not want to do economics!
It is a brilliant age and world is their oyster .. please ask him to venture into all possible ways of seeing what doctors do before he makes his decision.
Medicine is a broad career- you can be an academic, epidemiologist, work public health, health economics, medical law, develop medical apps etc.,
If you are adventurous - extreme medicine, wilderness medicine
Interested in space - well you can use that as well !

Hiphopopotamous Sun 20-Jan-19 12:45:12

As PPs said, somewhere that does PBL might suit him better.

However - medical school isn't the end of learning. Post-grad exams are needed for all specialties and a lot of that is again learning vast quantities of info, after you've got home from a long day at work and you've got a partner and children to consider too. Plus spending the 1000s£ each time.

Is a career in medicine for him?

SpuriouserAndSpuriouser Sun 20-Jan-19 12:46:24

I’m afraid I agree with Hulahulahula here. A medical degree is a means to an end, the point is that it allows you to work as a doctor. There’s a fair amount of rote learning, but once you’re past the first couple of years it gets more and more interesting.

Hopefully he’ll be able to arrange some work experience, so he gets some experience of what the job actually entails and can make an informed decision. Also I would recommend speaking to junior doctors (as opposed to just consultants), or at least reading as much as he can online etc about working as a junior doctor and what the training involves. Like any jobs there are parts which are very routine and unglamorous, it’s not all high drama and saving lives.

HoppingPavlova Sun 20-Jan-19 13:00:26

Not sure if it’s relevant any more but back in my day the first couple of years were extremely heavy on information, rote learning and the practical stuff focused on anatomy/dissection. The last few years were putting this gained knowledge into practice with PBL.

Heyha Sun 20-Jan-19 13:13:59

Didn't do medicine but did biology at uni with a very good med school attached and if you did certain modules you were taught by the medical school. Their lectures were obviously imparting theory but all the all the assessments were "you have a patient presenting with X Y and Z" and all the labs were about doing physiological tests on each other or diagnosing from samples etc.

So not a direct example but if that was the teaching style of those subject staff 15 years ago I can't see it being any less interactive now. I think they were preparing is more for medically-allied professions as obviously doctors wouldn't do all those things but we had lovely time doing kidney function calculations on each other...I think.

Heyha Sun 20-Jan-19 13:15:27

Oh yes if you picked one third year module in particular you had to go and work in the mortuary as well. I steered well clear of that!

almutasakieun Sun 20-Jan-19 13:21:47

There is a lot of learning. But there are very few degrees that don't involve that. I have never once met a doctor who doesn't love their job. There are so many fields within medicine, the world is your oyster.
If he wants a more practical field, he could go for something like Laboratory science maybe. But again, there's a lot of 'theory' in that. and I can't think of anything more boring as a career
My brother is a professor (renal paediatrics) and is now more involved in consulting and research.
It's a very tough career though and is more of a vocation than a job I'd say.

almutasakieun Sun 20-Jan-19 13:25:04

Has he got prospectus' from the various Unis?
Like 1st year, they have to do Maths, Physics etc.
The subjects he'll be studying throughout the various years, should give him an idea of what's involved.

Jsmith99 Sun 20-Jan-19 13:28:38

Presumably learning in detail the anatomy, physiology and biochemistry of how the human body works is the basis of any medical degree?

MorningsEleven Sun 20-Jan-19 13:29:51

Ds has applied for work experience in a hospital and GP surgery, so hopefully that will help

That's a really positive step. It'll teach him a lot about how things work and the politics of the job and people skills, which is one of the most important aspects of the job.

almutasakieun Sun 20-Jan-19 13:35:35

There are so many fascinating things about medicine study (I toyed with the idea for a while).
Like they learn the psychology of patients. Like a patient may not tell them a crucial piece of information at all! I was always interested in hearing my brother talking about it (I'm younger than him, so he went off to uni before me and would could home regaling us all with gruesome tales of black lungs from smoking both of us still smoke ).
Other little things like a parent of 4 kids is less likely to seek medical attention, whereas a first time Mum is more likely etc.
All very interesting.
A lot of case studies too.

HereIGoAgainAndAgain Sun 20-Jan-19 13:57:01

Thank you everyone I really appreciate you all taking the time to post!

We will be visiting Uni's in the summer so he'll be able to find out more about the different teaching methods.

Professor I think you understand where I am coming from completely smile

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marns Sun 20-Jan-19 14:16:54

I have a family member who recently went through medical school and yes there is a vast amount of learning. I understand your DS wants to do the problem solving, but to be able to do that you have to know almost everything about medicine in the first place so if he is already questioning how he has to sit down and learn then maybe it is not for him.

It is a very rewarding job but something you will need to sit down and learn about all the different parts of medicine before you get into the placements and your learning doesn't stop after leaving university there are more exams where you need to do rote learning.

HereIGoAgainAndAgain Sun 20-Jan-19 14:34:07

I think I should explain that DS has no problem learning and fully appreciates that it's necessary to study medicine but its how large a proportion is the rote learning compared to application.

DS has a very inquiring mind he has already self taught all the work needed for yr 12 sciences (he's doing all 3), he is not frightened of studying at all.......just trying to find out if medicine is right for him.

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