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How has physics helped you in med school?

Discussion in 'Medical Students - MD' started by DAT_MAN, Mar 12, 2007.

  1. DAT_MAN

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  2. Agent Splat

    Agent Splat Viruses? Don't Exist.
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    helped me understand concepts of resistance in circulation and neural transmission. other than that it was a waste of a year of classes.

    but we did get to play with dry ice one day, that was worth about one hour of fun.

    oh, and I had a mini-crush on the professor.
     
  3. jonb12997

    jonb12997 I'm a doctor!!
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    cardiac conduction physiology... kinda helped there, other than that... um... let's see... nope, I got nothing.
     
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  4. Law2Doc

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    Um, NONE of the prereqs are meant to actually help with med school. These are just hurdles used to separate the wheat from the chaff. The prereqs, along with the MCAT, allow med schools to gauge your ability to handle science courses, because in med school that's the first two years. If you struggled in college sciences, you are likely to struggle worse in the basic science years of med school because the volume is much greater. So no, you won't really use physics in med school. Nor gen chem, nor calc, nor orgo, nor most of bio. But that's not really the point of these courses. They are in some small way a foundation of basic science, and in some big way an obstacle course you must successfully traverse.

    And then guess what -- much of the basic science years in med school often won't directly apply to the area of specialization you ultimately go into. You will go through much of your life learning things you won't actually need. Such is the path you are choosing. Learn to like learning for learning's sake and not as a means to an end and you will find yourself a whole lot less frustrated.
     
  5. Tired Pigeon

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    I found it somewhat useful for physiology. As L2D said, most of what you're doing in undergrad is not meant to be directly relevant to what you do in med school. To be honest, I don't use organic chemistry a whole lot either.
     
  6. Critical Mass

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    It reminds me of a more innocent time in my life.
     
  7. Biscuit799

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    A lot of the formulas and concepts apply to various portions of physiology. Having a decent grasp of physics really helped me get a lot of cardiac and respiratory phys (see: fick principle, pressure/volume relationships, cardiac output [which can be measured using a variant of Ohm's Law], diffusion constants incl. Pousille's law)... take home message is it helps a little bit in a lot re: physio.
     
  8. lord_jeebus

    lord_jeebus 和魂洋才
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    Gravity has kept me from spontaneously floating into the abyss of space. This has been essential for completing my work on time.
     
  9. Yeah, so gravity is kinda a killjoy like that.
     
  10. 78222

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    Somewhat useful for physiology (cardiac, pulm, and neuro) . Honestly though, every educated person should understand physics. It may not help you in a completely straightforward way, but it certainly will help you understand the world around you better.
     
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  11. 78222

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    lol, the good old days when a class was only 3-4 hours a week and tests could be crammed. They were simpler days, better days.
     
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  12. Bitsy3221

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    :laugh: :laugh: :laugh:
     
  13. NonTradMed

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    I would disagree here.

    I remember glancing at my mom's medical texts as a high school student before I took any college level science courses and it was foreign to me. As I progressed through my college courses, the science classes I took gave me the background to understand what I was reading in my science classes, including (now) med school.

    I didn't realize how far I had gone in science literacy until my professor told me how she was adament no one enters her embryology class unless they had taken freshmen bio and chem. She told me of a student she had who had no background in the basic sciences (was an art student) who took her embryology course and got a 20% on the first exam---it turns out she didn't even know what an ion was and couldn't figure out what the special deal with calcium influx meant or why/how it happened. Maybe I went to a lousy school, but I didn't learn things like what an actin was until college bio, or what a Na/K pump was. And our med school do explain it, but they gloss over so much stuff so quickly, not having knowledge in it previously would have made it impossible for me to digest everything. I can't imagine doing med school without a basic understanding of chemistry and biology that the prereqs required of me. Ok, orgo hasn't been useful yet, but I'm not a doc yet.

    My parents worked at the genetics institute in China and knew quite a few doctors. You can be a doctor after four years of basic sciences and a year of clinical, and with no uniform standard like here, the 'lower ranked' med schools over there can be quite lax on the sciences (it seems). The end result are doctors who can 'do' but when things get complicated, they don't have the deeper knowledge to fix the problem, so I guess even if there's no "direct" application to what I'm learning, I think it will help me be a better physician.

    My understanding, as explained to me by others, is that the basic sciences are a foundation to give us a science background to understand 'why'. If we were taught to just do procedures or how to write scripts, there wouldn't really be need for a doctor.

    As to the OP's question, I do find physics useful in physiology when the professor was talking about cardiac mechanics, and somewhat useful with the lungs. Nothing else so far. However, my mom tells me a physics background can be useful in biology, even though it's not directly applicable. I'm hoping she's wrong on this account since I suck at physics. :rolleyes:
     
  14. braluk

    braluk SDN Surgerynator
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    There also tends to be some helpful things here and there with conductance and anything electrically related (like cardiac stuff) when it comes to nerve transmission and action potential stuff. This might even come in handy if you decide to go into PM&R for a specialty since it deals with body mechanics, but even then Id say its minimum at best.
     
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  15. George_Clooney

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    If someone has aortic stenosis, how will the blood flow dynamics change?
    What is the half life of Barium (used for GI studies)?
    How does diffusion weighted imaging work (used in CVA diagnosis)?
    I think my patient has a blood clot lodged in their leg, so I'll order a doppler ultrasound study... how does that work?

    Yep, I'd say physics in totally intercalated into medicine.
     
  16. naegleria brain

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    george clooney go back to pretending to be a doctor on ER

    just kidding - if ida actually disagreed tho i had the above line ready and just had to share it

    however i think that few people actually understand the concepts uve outlined. i loved physics in college, but bank wasnt quite as good when comparing physicist to doctor, so here i am.
    and lo and behold, exams don't test the physics; like in aortic stenosis, they test how to test, how to manage, possible complications, how to avoid those complications, etc. not the dynamics of flow, unfortunately.

    but i do feel that physics helped me understand the concepts and sequelae much better than my classmates, who memorized it all and didnt bother with the physics.

    but attendings dont like hearing the physics, they just want to know what to do

    no one mentioned refraction and optics when studying the eye; physics helped there too
    nerve conduction
    blood flow
    CT, MRI, US, even angiography f(x).

    so i agree - it's there, just probably not at the level we learned it in college.

    a better question is friggin ochem. i mean - all of biochemistry, but do any of your professors actually draw out the molecules in each reaction? the only backside attacks they do are behind closed doors. go get a damn MD u phd posers!
     
  17. CoolerTHANu

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    also just being able to figure out answers with unit analysis was helpful, and as others said EKG interp (like mean electrical axis), resistance in CVS, transducing sensory info into action potentials, producing sound from your larynx, muscle attachment sites creating different lever types... yeah physics helps
     
  18. Law2Doc

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    You can learn all these things in med school without the benefit of a strong physics background.
     
  19. Flopotomist

    Flopotomist I love the Chicago USPS
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    I would agree that you don't need a STRONG physics background - but disagree with L2D and suggest that you still need SOME background.

    The requirements to get into medical school are really not all that much WRT physics - only one year of intro stuff.

    Without this year, would you really understand resistance, conductance, vector analysis, flow, charge, etc? I can honestly say that I have required a basic understanding of all of these things, and I am only in my first year of medical school.
     
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  20. psipsina

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    Physics has always been my roughest science, I almost failed in in highschool (granted the teacher was atrocious but thats another story), I struggled for a B in UG, it was my lowest score on the MCAT (and also what I studied the hardest) and now in medschool physio is the class I have struggled with the most. I'm sure if I hadn't at least gotten a B in UG physics and been able to pull a decent physical sciences score on the MCAT I'd be struggling quite a bit more with physio than I am already. Concepts like hydrostatic pressure, and pressure gradients and resistance and electical circuts and capacitors etc are the bread and butter of physio (and neurophysio taught within neuro, which for some reason I get more . . . ) so I disagree that physics has nothing to do with your medical school preclinical coursework. Its different now because its less about solving complex physics problems and more about getting the concepts they govern but its still there.
     
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  21. Droopy Snoopy

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    About as much as psychics have helped me in med school, which is what I thought the title of this thread was when I clicked it.
     
  22. mfreema1

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    It's also quite helpful in understanding the forensic pathology lectures on mechanical trauma & electrical trauma.
     
  23. Law2Doc

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    My college physics was poorly taught and sorely lacking in much of that stuff, so yes.
     
  24. mules05

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    There is that whole pharmacology thing....
     
  25. :laugh:
     
  26. SeventhSon

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    Well I feel that I understand physiology much better because i understand chemistry and physics very well (particular CV and respiratory), although I don't think that level of detail has been tested on exams.

    Statics and concepts like stress and strain might help with anatomy, although again, no exams require you to understand physics.
     
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  27. potato51

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    Yes. I've found that all pre-med prereqs have helped, though you don't need to remember every minute detail, just general principles.
     
  28. DarksideAllstar

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    If you hate physics, I would stay clear of Radiation Oncology (they use physics EVERYDAY) and probably Radiology (lots of physics on their boards) as future specialties. Physics was particularly helpful in med school for physiology. I really enjoyed my calc-based physics courses in undergrad.
     
  29. SelflessAct

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    I've also used more physics so far in med school than I ever thought I would. Physics was not exactly my most favorite subject because I didn't realize during undergrad just how integral it was to understanding some basic medical principles. I memorized what I had to memorize for the MCAT, and came through to the other side with an acceptance to med school and thought I was finally done with physics forever. Clearly I was wrong. But from the physics concepts that have been reinforced to me in my classes here, I'm starting to see just how much physics can explain - and it makes things a little more interesting. I had a feeling it was important - it's just that no-one's ever been able to convince me of it until now :laugh:

    I don't know if this is true or not but I've heard that they're starting to phase out physics on the MCAT and make the physical sciences just Gen Chem (and also phasing out Orgo in the Bio section). This is rather unfortunate because physics really is important in medicine, and it would be a lot harder to learn for the first time IN med school than BEFORE it (when you have tons more time).
     
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  30. JDWflash44

    JDWflash44 Workin it...
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    I agree with the fact that a physics understanding is important for physio. I would also say we used a lot of physics in our musculoskeletal block where we learned about biomechanics of bone and stuff like that. I am interested in ortho which is another field that you probably should stay away from if you hate physics, physics/biomechanics is important to understanding almost everything in ortho. But, as the above posters have said, just take away the general concepts from an undergrad class and you will be fine.
     
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  31. Biscuit799

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    I've actually found OChem to be the most useless prereq, followed closely by biology.
     
  32. G'ville Nole

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    I'm a rad onc resident, and the funny thing is...I HATED physics in undergrad. I think it helps when the concepts you're learning are ones you apply on a daily basis. I actually kind of enjoy radiation physics (good thing, b/c I take a board exam on the subject in about 16 months!).

    Not sure if analytical chem is still a pre-req, but that would get my vote for least useful. O-chem hurts, but some of the reactions there lay the groundwork for understanding biochem. Fortunately, detailed knowledge of these things seeped out of my head quite some time ago.
     
  33. MartianOddity

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    It helps a little when understanding medical stuff involving electrical currents and similar organical stuff (pacemakers, ECG, blood flow etc.). But you only need the basics, as mentioned. If you never had physics, you have to be sharp at least.

    So I concur with most posters I guess.
     
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  34. naegleria brain

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    touche mule.
     
  35. SitraAchra

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    how the f*ck is biology a useless prereq? are you joking? IT'S ALL GOD DAMN BIOLOGY.
     
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  36. Biscuit799

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    My post was made in jest. Granted I could've switched the order and perhaps made it more obvious, but I don't think you could go through medical school without knowing a) what carbon is or b) what a cell is. But it's cute how worked up you got.
     
  37. NonTradMed

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    Oh come on, I know someone who didn't go past the third grade but jumped straight to med school, got AOA, and matched into derm. ;)

    Who needs school to be a doctor! :smuggrin:

    Sorry, I had to add that in there. Some of the threads on these forums are seriously starting to make me question my sanity (or the sanity of the posters ;) ).
     
  38. Law2Doc

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    That kind of stuff you get in high school. It's the college stuff you can do without (other than for the MCAT). :)
     
  39. SeventhSon

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    i think what it comes down to is this: there are many facets of medicine that be modeled pretty accurately on basic, basic physics and chemistry (physical and organic).

    If you understand 10-12 concepts that extend across physics and chemistry (i.e. electrochemical potential, equipartitioning of energy, fully developed plug flow, steady state vs. equilibrium), then you will be able to make predictions about a myriad of things and ALWAYS be right.

    When you're stuffing 1000s of facts into your head and can only retain so much, it's good to have a bunch of rules at your fingertips that will ALWAYS work if you recognize what assumptions you are making.
     
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  40. Biscuit799

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    can't argue that. Granted you can't really require a pre-med to take Bio or Chem in HS. I'm with you though. I think that in the end pre med classes serve more purpose as a "weed out" factor than as preparation. I remember nothing from my undergrad Bio, OChem, Physics, or Biochem. I probably would be doing just as well having never taken those classes; I didn't really get much out of them anyway.
     
  41. anon-y-mouse

    anon-y-mouse Senior Member
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    Orgo really helped me with biochemistry... I was able to re-derive all my metabolism reactions and amino acid stuff from basic principles... that whole Wittig reaction thing... of course, you could just memorize, but I feel that since I've "learned" it, I can re-derive things much more effectively from first principles.

    Physics REALLY helped me in terms of physiology... V=IR, circuits in parallel and series / resistances, turbulent vs laminar flow, etc.
     
  42. group_theory

    group_theory EX-TER-MIN-ATE!'
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    Where would physics be helpful?

    If you want to go into these fields

    Cardiology (ekg, cardiac physio, blood flow and resistance, etc)
    Nephrology (hydrostatic pressures, oncotic pressures, and its effect on blood pressure and kidney perfusion)
    Pulmonology (air flow, resistance, compliance, turbulance)
    Critical Care (vent settings, blood pressure, cardiac perfusion, etc)
    Orthopedics (mechanism of injury, aligning forces for repair)
    Radiology
    Radiation-Oncology
    Surgery (plan to spend some time in the SICU? hey, is that bovie grounded?)
    Anesthesiology
    Neurology (EMG, nerve conductions)
    Ophthalmology (optics)
    Emergency Medicine (vents, hemodynamics, mechanism of injury, reducing fractures, etc)
    PM&R

    Feel free to add to any that I missed
     
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  43. stantheman6

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    Quantum mechanics helped me to understand that my consciousness which is the essence of the material universe determines the manisfestation of energy as particles which allows me to do whatever I want, memorize what I'm supposed to and save or not save whoever I want and be happy if I choose.
     
  44. shivasHeroLike

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    literally, no.
     
  45. soeagerun2or

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    Thats like taking physics without calculus; you can memorize an answer but you don't understand how it works. Doctors are meant to understand the mechanisms behind things, to learn, and to advance medicine through their understanding.
     
  46. lilnoelle

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    Perhaps much of what you learn in Physics isn't used in med school, or even topics in med school can be learned without prior physics knowledge. I don't know. What I do know is that I struggled with physics and prior to med school was hoping that I wouldn't have to deal with physics (or chemistry) in med school. Boy was I naive. And, of course, the topics that I struggled with in college are topics that I struggle with in med school.
     
  47. Jasoos

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    The major use of physics by me and my contemporaries is calculating the projected trajectory of a bucket of water, so that it has maximum effect on our intended target. (We have a custom in the dorms of wetting a person who is having a birthday)
     
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  48. brianmartin

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    I'm still in undergrad but nobody has mentioned this yet - physics helps you understand the tools you use. While this understanding is not necessary to you using them, it is kinda neat to understand why an X-ray can hurt you, or what a CT scanner is actually doing.

    Plus there are all kinds of little devices that function due to basic physics concepts. I think there is a device that measures the speed of blood in a vessel based on the induced magnetic field created by the moving ions. There are all kinds of little devices like this, that you can only really "get" if you had physics.

    A basic knowledge of physics puts you more "in touch" with the world, and this is why it is required. Doing hundreds of physics problems sucks, but can you imagine not knowing how an electric motor works?
     
  49. Uh... well, honestly, lots of people are perfectly fine with not knowing that.

    But we're not "lots of people," I guess. :)
     
  50. Biscuit799

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    I have no idea how an electric motor works.
     

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