bambi girl

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So I have a friend that is just driving me crazy these days. She was a bio major in undergrad and loves (and apparently is super good at) biology, but is not enjoying physics or chemistry that she is currently studying in her post-bac program, and she is constantly complaining about how it's so crazy that she has to take these classes when they have nothing to do with what she is actually going to need to know to become a great doctor. She thinks that she will enjoy med school so much more because med school will just be biology, and she thinks it's unfair that she needs to do well in physics and chem when they are so irrelevant.
Do you think Med school is really just about bio? Personally, I don't. I think all sciences are relevant to medicine, and I think it makes sense that med schools want to see that you were able to strive in all kinds of sciences. Sure, bio is probably the most relevant to medicine, but I still can't imagine that med school studies is going to be just about bio. And if so, I don't see why med schools want students who have studied all kinds of things in undergrad. Then again, I haven't started med school yet, so I just wanted to see what everybody else thinks.
 

ThaliaNox

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Yes, there are topics other than biology that you will study in med school. However, biology is certainly king. Other topics are integrated, like physics when studying muscle movement and reflexes, or chemistry when studying drug actions or biochemical pathways. One thing that is really nice is that everything is usually related to medicine, so no more figuring out the heat loss by a refrigerator or determining the magnetic field around oddly shaped magnets.

On the other hand, epidemiology at my med school royally sucks. Math, mixed in with tricky questions and statistically nonsense that only makes sense to career epidemiologists. I'd say that is the least "biologically related" class I've so far taken. Well, other than like clinical skills classes or ethics, but those don't really count as far as I'm concerned.
 

niblet

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Medical school is about medicine, which is about biology, which is about chemistry and physics.
 

tremulousNeedle

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In my humble opinion, as I come to the end of my medical school career:

I would say that general biology is no more or less relevant to medical education than any of the other 3 major basic sciences. Obviously there are key, more advanced, courses that will give you a head start towards the medical school coursework (anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, genetics, microbiology, immunology, embryology, cell & tissue biology, neuroanatomy, pathology, and pharmacology -- and that pretty much covers all the basic sciences in med school). However, now that I have finished 3rd and 4th year, which are predominantly clinical years, I find myself rarely referring to the basic sciences that were taught in medical school, let alone undergrad. Obviously, this is somewhat dependent on your chosen specialty (an infectious disease doctor may recall information learned in an undergrad parasitology or immunology course, but this is probably rare too).

There is dual purpose for all this undergrad basic science overkill and the MCAT in general. To a small extent they test your knowledge in these specific areas. To a much larger extent, they test your ability to master a basic level of information and demonstrate your critical thinking and problem solving skills.

If I haven't made this clear yet, studying medicine (clinical topics beyond the first 2 years of med school) is NOTHING LIKE studying biology.

- senior medical student / admissions committee interviewer

If your friend is also an SDN member, I would be more than glad to further discuss this topic.
 

mmmcdowe

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Physics comes back to play during physiology. I thought I was free from circuits until I hit cardio :)
 

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You will use all of the skills from undergrad sciences to some degree in medical school. For the most part, there is very little direct correlation since you are learning things in a different context. I do apply concepts from undergrad stuff every day. Things like pH and buffering, circuits, flow, turbulence, electron/proton donor, velocity, basic algebra and even composition all come into play during med school. You often don't think twice about that stuff, because you already knew it from before. You will do Krebs cycle for the hundredth time just as you will do DNA/RNA/central dogma bs for the hundredth time, but they somehow make it harder and you think about it differently.
 

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The original question posed doesn't make any sense. Biological systems function on chemical and physical principles, so the study of biology cannot be separated from the study of chemistry and physics. Medicine builds upon concepts from all three disciplines, as well as others, and integrates them.

I fear your friend has a very superficial understanding of biology and what she will study in medical school, assuming she is accepted. I also fear that her attitude is a very common one amongst those studying and planning to study medicine.
 

Law2Doc

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You will use all of the skills from undergrad sciences to some degree in medical school.
I would actually say that all the undergrad prereq stuff is largely foundation, and you won't use any of it more than any other, and none of it a whole lot. Biochem is similar to organic chem, but not a ton of overlap. You probably will find some similarities to biology in anatomy, micro, immuno. Physiology has some relation to physics (esp fluid mechanics) and chem (acid base handling). But all of it is going to be new territory for most people, even the science majors, and you will need to know stuff at a volume and level of detail far removed from that you did in undergrad.

Medicine as a profession, however, is not so much a science as a service industry. Most of your job will be interpersonal relations, with a fairly small percentage of your day involving the actual science behind it. Doesn't matter which field you go into, your skillset in dealing with patients, other doctors and the like will be the paramount skillset you use, and the one you need to cultivate and enjoy to have a happy career. To this end, the "people person" coming from any undergraduate major (sci or nonsci) is going to be very advantaged and enjoy medicine more than someone who is simply excited about the science.

I would also suggest that folks stop worrying about what is going to be relevant or irrelevant to their future practice. Your friend whining about physics being irrelevant to medicine is going to translate into that same person whining that her surgery rotation is irrelevant to the neurology practice she plans to go to, and after that her prelim medicine year will be irrelevant to her future practice, and so on. These are all hoops you have to jump through, both to gauge you and because they are things it is felt that any doctor should have in the back of his brain, whether he uses them or not. A well rounded background is valuable, whether you can appreciate it or not. We are not technicians, going to school to learn exactly what we need to know and nothing else. If you want that, go to a vocational school. On this path you learn a lot of things you will never use, and will be a better practitioner for it. And the prereqs are a set of courses, which really could have been any courses, that are tested on the MCAT and allow adcoms to compare applicants across schools. Would you rather be tested on baroque art than gen chem?
 

thesauce

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So I have a friend that is just driving me crazy these days. She was a bio major in undergrad and loves (and apparently is super good at) biology, but is not enjoying physics or chemistry that she is currently studying in her post-bac program, and she is constantly complaining about how it's so crazy that she has to take these classes when they have nothing to do with what she is actually going to need to know to become a great doctor. She thinks that she will enjoy med school so much more because med school will just be biology, and she thinks it's unfair that she needs to do well in physics and chem when they are so irrelevant.
Do you think Med school is really just about bio? Personally, I don't. I think all sciences are relevant to medicine, and I think it makes sense that med schools want to see that you were able to strive in all kinds of sciences. Sure, bio is probably the most relevant to medicine, but I still can't imagine that med school studies is going to be just about bio. And if so, I don't see why med schools want students who have studied all kinds of things in undergrad. Then again, I haven't started med school yet, so I just wanted to see what everybody else thinks.
I'm not sure how someone becomes "good at biology." If you're saying that she's good at memorizing, then yes, it'll serve her well in medical school.

In the first 2 years, you'll be chiefly memorizing factoids with physio being the moderate exception (there's a little math). From 3rd year on, as tremulousNeedle said, you're not going to be using the basic sciences too much. It may come up in passing as an interesting fact or point of humor, but little else. Evals are more about getting along with people (as well as acting and ***-kissing) than anything else and your exams are just memorizing flow-charts of "what's the next step in management."

I think there are a few reasons for why med schools want students who have studied all kinds of things. For one, they have shown that they can perform just as well as any others so there's no reason to blacklist them. For another, it makes the profession less one-dimensional.
 
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Physics teaches you how to think, how to consider and decompose a problem, how to arrive step by step at a solution. I cannot but believe this is an essential skill for a physician, and something not nearly as apparent in most biology classes.
 

ILikeDrugs

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Tell you friend that med schools don't have physics and o chem as pre-requisites because med schools want their med students to know about intramolecular protonation or about how sound travels. Passing these classes tells med schools that you have the cognitive/problem-solving skills that are necessary to become a good physicians. In ochem you learn a bunch of syntheses and you learn about the reactants that can make a certain product. In medicine you learn about pathology and learn about the symptoms and signs so that you can come up with the right "product" or diagnosis and treatment. She has much to learn. Anyone can memorize biology facts, but when you throw in pathology, signs, symptoms and treatment it becomes a whole new ballgame. ;)
 
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Physiology, not just general biology, plus ethics, biostats, etc. related to being a doc.
 

bambi girl

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Wow! I'm amazed by all the replies that my question has managed to receive. Thank you so much for all your inputs. I just want to clarify that I DO NOT AT ALL agree with my friend. I have the same take for medicine and medical school as many of you who have replied, but since I am just starting med school this fall, I just wanted to make sure that I am telling something that is accurate to my friend - actually she is my roommate, so I have deal with her complaint every single day!

I personally enjoyed the challenge and problem-solving aspects of all my math and science courses, so I wanted to make sure that I am not telling her that medicine is not just about bio and that medical schools want to see your performance in these courses for a reason, just because I myself enjoyed them. (I'm not too sure what exactly she is referring to when she says "biology", but apparently she took many upper level courses including anatomy and such which we often associate with medicine).

Again, I want to say that I really appreciate all your replies! It's especially good to hear from current med students and residents. Boy, am I excited to start med school this fall!
 
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A student my senior has informed me that the Ghost of Physics Past comes back to haunt us during Radiology. I assume the same is true in regular med school.
 

ILikeDrugs

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So can't I just take some culinary classes to learn the ability of "how to combine ingredients to achieve the appropriate/right product"?

Yours,
Iron Chef Frazier
The classes would have to be advanced culinary classes. Perhaps a class such as Theory of Chemicals in Food.
 

FirefighterDoc

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I would actually say that all the undergrad prereq stuff is largely foundation, and you won't use any of it more than any other, and none of it a whole lot. Biochem is similar to organic chem, but not a ton of overlap. You probably will find some similarities to biology in anatomy, micro, immuno. Physiology has some relation to physics (esp fluid mechanics) and chem (acid base handling). But all of it is going to be new territory for most people, even the science majors, and you will need to know stuff at a volume and level of detail far removed from that you did in undergrad.

Medicine as a profession, however, is not so much a science as a service industry. Most of your job will be interpersonal relations, with a fairly small percentage of your day involving the actual science behind it. Doesn't matter which field you go into, your skillset in dealing with patients, other doctors and the like will be the paramount skillset you use, and the one you need to cultivate and enjoy to have a happy career. To this end, the "people person" coming from any undergraduate major (sci or nonsci) is going to be very advantaged and enjoy medicine more than someone who is simply excited about the science.

I would also suggest that folks stop worrying about what is going to be relevant or irrelevant to their future practice. Your friend whining about physics being irrelevant to medicine is going to translate into that same person whining that her surgery rotation is irrelevant to the neurology practice she plans to go to, and after that her prelim medicine year will be irrelevant to her future practice, and so on. These are all hoops you have to jump through, both to gauge you and because they are things it is felt that any doctor should have in the back of his brain, whether he uses them or not. A well rounded background is valuable, whether you can appreciate it or not. We are not technicians, going to school to learn exactly what we need to know and nothing else. If you want that, go to a vocational school. On this path you learn a lot of things you will never use, and will be a better practitioner for it. And the prereqs are a set of courses, which really could have been any courses, that are tested on the MCAT and allow adcoms to compare applicants across schools. Would you rather be tested on baroque art than gen chem?
:thumbup:
 

jwl7b

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I would actually say that all the undergrad prereq stuff is largely foundation, and you won't use any of it more than any other, and none of it a whole lot.

A well rounded background is valuable, whether you can appreciate it or not. We are not technicians, going to school to learn exactly what we need to know and nothing else.
Agreed. My friend who is a Peds resident was telling me how an attending brought up Bernoulli's equation while they were discussing blood flow in a neonate, so even that stuff does become useful at some point.

But the way I see it, everything you learn (not just in school) is another tool to keep in your box-- and while you may not use it often, at least it's there in case you need to dust it off at some point.

It really confounds me when my med school classmates say they'd rather "spend time studying something useful" instead of Human Development (Psych) or Medical Ethics.

(I was a psych major so maybe I'm biased, but really? You DON'T think it's important to understand people? And I also dislike how ethics seems to just be taught "for the boards"... If you want people to take the topic seriously, it can't be taught as a right/wrong answer to a multiple choice Q, without argument-- but that's a fight for another day.)

Edit: Actually, schools probably don't teach ethics just for USMLE, but that seems to be the only reason some students feel a need to study it... or to learn anything for that matter... :(
 

boaz

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I would actually say that all the undergrad prereq stuff is largely foundation, and you won't use any of it more than any other, and none of it a whole lot. Biochem is similar to organic chem, but not a ton of overlap. You probably will find some similarities to biology in anatomy, micro, immuno. Physiology has some relation to physics (esp fluid mechanics) and chem (acid base handling). But all of it is going to be new territory for most people, even the science majors, and you will need to know stuff at a volume and level of detail far removed from that you did in undergrad.

Medicine as a profession, however, is not so much a science as a service industry. Most of your job will be interpersonal relations, with a fairly small percentage of your day involving the actual science behind it. Doesn't matter which field you go into, your skillset in dealing with patients, other doctors and the like will be the paramount skillset you use, and the one you need to cultivate and enjoy to have a happy career. To this end, the "people person" coming from any undergraduate major (sci or nonsci) is going to be very advantaged and enjoy medicine more than someone who is simply excited about the science.

I would also suggest that folks stop worrying about what is going to be relevant or irrelevant to their future practice. Your friend whining about physics being irrelevant to medicine is going to translate into that same person whining that her surgery rotation is irrelevant to the neurology practice she plans to go to, and after that her prelim medicine year will be irrelevant to her future practice, and so on. These are all hoops you have to jump through, both to gauge you and because they are things it is felt that any doctor should have in the back of his brain, whether he uses them or not. A well rounded background is valuable, whether you can appreciate it or not. We are not technicians, going to school to learn exactly what we need to know and nothing else. If you want that, go to a vocational school. On this path you learn a lot of things you will never use, and will be a better practitioner for it. And the prereqs are a set of courses, which really could have been any courses, that are tested on the MCAT and allow adcoms to compare applicants across schools. Would you rather be tested on baroque art than gen chem?
:thumbup:
 

URHere

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As others here have said, medical school will, at some point, require knowledge non-biology subjects.

For example, respiratory physiology requires a ton of pressure system physics, and blood and cardiovascular are all about flow and fluid dynamics. Similarly, once you hit renal, good luck fully grasping acid base balance and pH buffering without chemistry. Some subjects, however, require none of this. Anatomy, for example is all about memorization and spatial relationships.

As such, if you hate physics or chem, you can eventually find a specialty that will minimize your contact with them, but you will need to deal with those topics during medical school.
 

thesauce

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As others here have said, medical school will, at some point, require knowledge non-biology subjects.

For example, respiratory physiology requires a ton of pressure system physics, and blood and cardiovascular are all about flow and fluid dynamics. Similarly, once you hit renal, good luck fully grasping acid base balance and pH buffering without chemistry. Some subjects, however, require none of this. Anatomy, for example is all about memorization and spatial relationships.
Come on now. A minuscule understanding of "pressure system physics" or "flow and fluid dynamics" is all you need. Something on the order of "pressure pushes fluid." As for pH buffering, all you need to know is that HCO3- is basic. 90% of what you learn (and are tested on) is still memorization.
 
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MedMan25

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A student my senior has informed me that the Ghost of Physics Past comes back to haunt us during Radiology. I assume the same is true in regular med school.
Only if you go into radiology. There is very little radiology taught during medical school outside of basic radiograph interpretation. It is totally pointless that physics is one of the requirements for medical school.
 

MedMan25

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Come on now. A minuscule understanding of "pressure system physics" or "flow and fluid dynamics" is all you need. Something on the order of "pressure pushes fluid." As for pH buffering, all you need to know is that HCO3- is basic. 90% of what you learn (are are tested on) is still memorization.
Second that.
 
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Only if you go into radiology. There is very little radiology taught during medical school outside of basic radiograph interpretation. It is totally pointless that physics is one of the requirements for medical school.
Huh. Kinda makes sense, though, because vets in private practice typically have to do most of their own diagnostic imaging, while physicians often refer to radiologists.
 

MedMan25

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Huh. Kinda makes sense, though, because vets in private practice typically have to do most of their own diagnostic imaging, while physicians often refer to radiologists.
I don't know though, do you really need to know the physics behind a CT scanner to know how to use one and interpret the results?
 

Law2Doc

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I don't know though, do you really need to know the physics behind a CT scanner to know how to use one and interpret the results?
Not so much in practice, but there's a pretty major physics exam required to complete a residency in radiology.
 

URHere

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Come on now. A minuscule understanding of "pressure system physics" or "flow and fluid dynamics" is all you need. Something on the order of "pressure pushes fluid." As for pH buffering, all you need to know is that HCO3- is basic. 90% of what you learn (and are tested on) is still memorization.
You can do well in those areas based on memorization, or you can understand the basic physics and chem and get the questions right based on what makes sense.

Personally, I prefer the latter.

I also think how much of the physics and chem you need depends on your school. Here, we had a strong focus on physics-based equations through many of our courses and I would say that respiratory physiology was dominated by the forces exerted at various points in the airways.
 
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I don't know though, do you really need to know the physics behind a CT scanner to know how to use one and interpret the results?
Probably not, but apparently the prof I'm going to have for radiology thinks so. :scared:

Only tangentially related but interesting, the typical small animal GP uses plain radiographs for just about everything. The practice I used to shadow at just got their first ultrasound unit right when I left, and they've been open for like 40 years. Even then, they didn't buy it - it was a rep gift to go with some other equipment. Pet owners typically don't shell out enough to justify buying more expensive equipment.
 
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I don't know though, do you really need to know the physics behind a CT scanner to know how to use one and interpret the results?
In the sense that an automobile driver can deal with 99% of likely situations without understand anything about cars other than "fill it with gas, turn the key, work the steering wheel and pedals", maybe not. But if you're putting your life into the driver's hands, you probably want him or her to have more than a casual knowledge of how things work.

If there's an unexpected smudge on your MRI, I bet you hope the radiologist understands the physics of NMR well enough to know what (if anything) it means.
 

thesauce

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You can do well in those areas based on memorization, or you can understand the basic physics and chem and get the questions right based on what makes sense.
Ahhh, but now you're changing your stance. You said before:

For example, respiratory physiology requires a ton of pressure system physics...
Now you're saying you can do well with just memorization, which I'm sorry to say, is how most of the class does it.

Personally, I prefer the latter.
As do I. Coming from a chemical engineering background, I was disappointed with how little thought went into medical school coursework.

I also think how much of the physics and chem you need depends on your school. Here, we had a strong focus on physics-based equations through many of our courses and I would say that respiratory physiology was dominated by the forces exerted at various points in the airways.
I doubt there's much difference between the curricula. We all use the same books and learned the same equations, but different students come from a different perspective. Physio was a heavily watered-down version of undergrad mass transport and fluid mechanics. If you showed a physics or ChE professor the Costanzo physiology textbook and told them you were learning "pressure system physics," they'd just laugh.
 

URHere

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Ahhh, but now you're changing your stance.
Yes, I originally was speaking only for myself. I don't study nearly often enough to memorize everything they discuss in class. For me, the physics and chem are a necessary godsend, and I learned all of the topics I mentioned with heavy emphasis on physics/chem.

We all use the same books and learned the same equations, but different students come from a different perspective. Physio was a heavily watered-down version of undergrad mass transport and fluid mechanics. If you showed a physics or ChE professor the Costanzo physiology textbook and told them you were learning "pressure system physics," they'd just laugh.
I've never used a textbook in medical school, so I'm not sure how the common texts discuss these things. I am only speaking from experience during lecture and from my own background (my background involved a good deal of mathematical modeling of biology...differentials, dynamical systems, etc). It may not be taught to everyone in physics-heavy terms, but the way the body's systems work are very physics-heavy. You can find lecturers that talk about lung disease based on biological changes and "resistance", and you can find others that discuss everything relative to changes in the equal pressure point, and I'm sure you can find someone out there who could describe most of it using only equations and mathematical graphs. As a student, you can learn it in whatever way you want, but I would argue that if you ever want to really "get it" and be able to extend your knowledge to situations you've never seen before, you need to understand the system. Med school won't teach you physics, but it does utilize it.
 

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Tell you friend that med schools don't have physics and o chem as pre-requisites because med schools want their med students to know about intramolecular protonation or about how sound travels.
yes they do want you to know those. :D

intramolecular protonation: very important in molecular biology
how sound travels: you kind of need to know this to know how the ear works.
 

thesauce

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I've never used a textbook in medical school, so I'm not sure how the common texts discuss these things. I am only speaking from experience during lecture and from my own background (my background involved a good deal of mathematical modeling of biology...differentials, dynamical systems, etc). It may not be taught to everyone in physics-heavy terms, but the way the body's systems work are very physics-heavy. You can find lecturers that talk about lung disease based on biological changes and "resistance", and you can find others that discuss everything relative to changes in the equal pressure point, and I'm sure you can find someone out there who could describe most of it using only equations and mathematical graphs. As a student, you can learn it in whatever way you want, but I would argue that if you ever want to really "get it" and be able to extend your knowledge to situations you've never seen before, you need to understand the system. Med school won't teach you physics, but it does utilize it.
While I think your points are solid and I don't disagree, the bottom line is that you'll see many students memorize their way through, rock the boards, and go on to match into great residencies. You can delve as deep as you want into these subjects but you'll be tested on a relatively superficial level.

It's good to see that you have such an interest in the physical sciences (and research from the sounds of it). I highly recommend you checkout radonc as a specialty, unless you've got your heart set on something else.
 

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So I have a friend that is just driving me crazy these days. She was a bio major in undergrad and loves (and apparently is super good at) biology, but is not enjoying physics or chemistry that she is currently studying in her post-bac program, and she is constantly complaining about how it's so crazy that she has to take these classes when they have nothing to do with what she is actually going to need to know to become a great doctor. She thinks that she will enjoy med school so much more because med school will just be biology, and she thinks it's unfair that she needs to do well in physics and chem when they are so irrelevant.

Well from my experience with physics and chemistry. i realize they're very important aspects in medicine that can't be ignored or even forgotten. Take this scenario for example...
why are IV bangs hanged up high relative to the patient?
This is because of physics and Bertolli !
If you up the IV below the patient, the blood goes into the IV and not IV contents going into the arm of a patient.
Or how about this... Xrays, NMR, Ultrasound all rely on physics and an understanding of waves (physics to understand how they work).

Do you think Med school is really just about bio? Personally, I don't. I think all sciences are relevant to medicine, and I think it makes sense that med schools want to see that you were able to strive in all kinds of sciences. Sure, bio is probably the most relevant to medicine, but I still can't imagine that med school studies is going to be just about bio. And if so, I don't see why med schools want students who have studied all kinds of things in undergrad. Then again, I haven't started med school yet, so I just wanted to see what everybody else thinks.
i think physics and chemistry are relevant but not focused upon that much in med school. if anything they'll just condense the knowledge down and give it to the med students.
 

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Heh. The field of radiology and radio-oncology is knee deep in physics.
Check out the diagnostic rads residency curriculum:

https://www.aapm.org/education/documents/Curriculum.pdf


:scared:

SPEAKING OF RADIOLOGY lol....for someone who may have been through that kind of training.....what in the world are you looking at on x-rays?

Ok, I say this because back in the day when I was paramedic'ing around the hospital I'd occasionally be shooting the **** with the doctors, and they'd try to show me things on x-rays. Some things were easy to see, yet on other times they'd say something like "see here in this dark mass....." It'd turn into something like this....

Doc: See this dark mass.....
Me: No
Doc: Right here by the....
Me: No
Doc: (pointing) Right here
Me: I don't see what you're talking about
Doc: It's where air has gotten......
Me: I still don't see it
Doc: (circling it with a pencil) Right here
Me: I don't see anything in that damn circle but black background
Doc: Well, it's there
Me: You're full of ****...
Doc: LOL
Me: Seriously, what are you talking about?
Doc: THIS!!!
Me: I still don't see it.


Usually it was a case of fluid or air, but even with their finger on it I can't tell there's anything there.