What if physical chemistry was a prereq?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by brianbellau, Jan 17, 2014.

  1. brianbellau

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    I just discovered that my Biochemistry track requires me to take Pchem, and I have only heard what a nightmare of a class it is. If med schools suddenly made Pchem a pre-req, and it was on the MCAT. How would this change the current pre-med curriculum? I imagine we would see a lot lower GPAs and MCAT scores because it is such a hard class.
     
  2. Lambda Phage

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    I'd imagine it'd be quite the stumbling block for many people, especially for those studying non-science curricula.
     
  3. Microglia

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    One class wouldn't change overall gpa's by very much. I think initially you'd see a very subtle drop, followed by a recovery as the population adjusts.
     
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  4. OneTwoThreeFour

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    Just as organic chemistry is a difficult class at some schools while being less so at others, I'm sure Pchem varies wildly. Also, a 1 point difference in one class (an A student goes down to a B) would not dramatically change GPAs. And since the MCAT is standardized so that a certain number of people get each score, that similarly wouldn't change.

    EDIT: Microglia beat me to the GPA point. And while I know that the MCAT is not scaled post-test, pretest it is written for an average score on each section to be ~8.
     
  5. Muad'Dib

    Muad'Dib fallaces svnt rervm species

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    Physical chemistry was absolute hell. Have fun. I hope your teacher is better than mine was.
     
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  6. plumazul

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    I enjoyed the quantum semester much more than the thermodynamics. :smuggrin: :sorry:
     
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  7. The Buff OP

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  8. Muad'Dib

    Muad'Dib fallaces svnt rervm species

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    You're a machine! Enjoy is a strong... STRONG word haha. I tend to block the whole thing from my memory. Helps preserve my sanity.

    But honestly it wouldn't have been that bad had we had a better teacher. Teaching yourself physical chemistry isn't my idea of fun. But it's definitely doable.
     
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  9. Oso

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    one of my roommates took this... just looking at her homework problems made me want to cry. But I held it in.


    ok maybe I cried like one time.
     
  10. Mentos9

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    Just be really great at freshman Chem! I tutored it for 2 years so pchem was a breeze!
     
  11. turayza

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    @Oso we can cry together...
     
  12. Oso

    Oso
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    you a hedgehog? you look delicious.
     
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  13. turayza

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    Do bears eat hedgehogs?! In that case, I'm a porcupine :bag:
     
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  14. Oso

    Oso
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    it's winter time, I'm subsisting on berries and plants right now....so....

    jk, we can totally be pals ;)
     
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  15. rainbow girl

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    In my pchem we had one take-home test, and still we need the curve. You need to be very good at Math to do well in pchem
     
  16. Lord Osis

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    In order to learn quantum mechanics, you need to have an extensive math background. Say, two or more semesters of calculus...
    None of my college math courses taught tensor, so my QM instructor had a little hard time brushing upon math during the course.

    On the other hand, Thermo is not difficult once you get used to its terminology. It's just written in a different language as in bio or chem IMO.
     
  17. Aerus

    Aerus Elemental Alchemist
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    Just like there are tons and tons of engineers nowadays despite the lengthy math involved, Pchem isn't impossible. It'll weed a bit more people out, but I doubt it would make a noticeable difference.
     
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  18. darklabel

    darklabel PGWhy
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    I doubt it would happen since such a requirement would basically require students to be a science major instead of majoring in something else. Also, is Pchem even relevant in medical school? I'm sure glad I never took it.
     
  19. turayza

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    It doesn't make sense for pchem to be a pre-req for medical school. It is essentially a calculus class, which you proved your skills with in physics. As far as I know it's only required for chem and biochem majors, which are not a majority of medical school applicants (..correct me if wrong.)
    And, after the course, you will never need to determine the number of microstates available to a monoatomic ideal gas ever again.
     
  20. Narmerguy

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    One might as well just make students take Multivariable Calculus and Calc-based Physics and skip PChem all together since that's basically all it is. It's not really regarded as a difficult course by physics majors, mostly because we already have to take a bunch of math and calc-based physics. I think many of the students that struggle wouldn't if they had properly been taught the necessary math and had to apply it in previous classes.
     
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  21. knv2u

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    For research based schools, yes it is definitely relevant. I believe that physical chemistry is recommended by Stanford's M.D. program and Harvard's M.D. - HST program if I am not mistaken. I'm sure there are others.
     
    #21 knv2u, Jan 18, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2014
  22. PHellmuth

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    I would have had to spend a lot of nights studying to probably get a solid D or C added to my GPA
     
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  23. baconshrimps

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    p-chem would become the new o-chem, lol.
     
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  24. chillaxbro

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    My PChem class was so easy that I feel cheated from a good education
     
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  25. CyberMaxx

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    Wish I could say the same, my teacher for quantum mechanics was pretty lousy. I thought thermo was really interesting though and it brought a lot of things together for me. To the OP though, in my program the Advanced Biochemistry class that biochem majors had to take was considered the hardest class offered by the department!
     
  26. bluebillion

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    actually i think the influx of us stupid premeds would make the curve better, and most of us would end with a decent grade. *true*, committed pre-meds are a determined bunch, I think we could handle this class if it was required :)
     
  27. blueheron

    blueheron Chemist

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    A true curve wouldn't have helped any premeds in my class as a couple of us got high A's on the tests anyway. At my school they could barely handle finding the potential across a membrane in biochem with a plug and chug equation much less deriving a solution.
     
  28. Arieylle

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    Even being great at freshmen chemistry doesn't guarantee you success in PChem. I aced general chem and orgo, but PChem proved to me how dumb I was and how much I didn't know about chemistry. It was hell.
     
  29. ChemNerd07

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    I would cry. Immensely. I'm a biochem major also and we only had physical chemistry biological orientation offered... It was still awful. My teacher just wrote derivations for days when most of the class had only taken calc 1 and had no idea what a partial derivative was.
     
  30. Mentos9

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    I don't mean just get an A in it because we all know there are ways to ace a class and retain little to no information from it but I was referring to immersing yourself in the material and being up to date on it. I took gen. chem freshman year, like most people, but by my junior year everyone had forgotten the basics so it made it hard to derive the simplest concepts. I'm not saying it's not challenging but if you have a great base knowledge, it's surprisingly helpful.
     
  31. FrenchyM.D/D.O

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    I can tell you that I never took the course but I bought a P-chem textbook this summer and went through it just for fun. Heavy math based and a little harder than Orgo.
     
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  32. Blizzard18

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    P chem 2 is easily the most difficult chemistry class at my university. I made a high A; but it was not easy. I am currently in advanced inorganic and it may prove more difficult by what I've heard. But to answer the question, if p chem was on the mcat it would be like every other subject on there. Just the basics, and the basics aren't that bad. No worries. Besides, it'll never happen lol. It's too irrelevant


    Sent from my iPhone using SDN Mobile
     
  33. sup3rnova

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    P chem is hard - there is no question about it. Work and study hard and you will learn alot of information while solidifying underlying gen chem principles. In my opinion, pchem made the physical sciences on my MCAT appear really basic. It also made the chem/physics fusion questions relatively straight forward. And plus, it deals good to survive the class. haha.
     
  34. MDforMee

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    I think that pchem should be required. It's helped me understand pharmacology since ligand-receptor interactions are analogous to reactants in a solution doing whatever it is that they do. Thermodynamics (what can happen) and kinetics (how fast it happens) are important for my thesis on cardiac drug interactions, as well (I'm doing a masters in Pharmacology and Toxicology). I probably want to become an anesthesiologist where I'll use physical chemistry, too. So, in my biased opinion, pchem should be required.

    If you're curious, though, I've been involved with pchem for the last few weeks... I've been arranging to use the UC Intercampus Exchange http://gradstudies.ucdavis.edu/forms/GS306_IntercampusExchangeApp.pdf
    to take a graduate course on kinetics (physical chemistry) over at UC Berkeley next year; UC Davis' chemistry curriculum is not as strong as I'd like it to be. For example, I went to UCLA for undergrad, and they had Pchem 1 (Thermodynamics), Pchem 2 (Kinetics), Pchem 3 (Quantum Mechanics), and a course on spectroscopy. At UC Davis they have watered these courses down so that you take a low math prereq clearance quantum mechanics first (you should have formal multivariable calc and preferably DE for a real quantum mechanics course), then they require an intermediate course on molecular properties and spectroscopy, and finally you are able to take a combined thermodynamics and kinetics course. And if you're really interested in chemistry at Davis, you can take "advanced" physical chemistry with another combined thermodynamics/kinetics course. At the graduate level, they don't even offer a formal course on kinetics.

    No one really believes that I want to take pchem at UCB, and it's only because that I have a LOR from my UCLA thermo professor that I suspect I'll be able to.

    Long story short, physical chemistry is like the whole foods hot bar for your brain, and soft sciences/liberal arts are somewhere in the international canned food aisle. I'm shocked and amazed that the 2015 MCAT will have humanities, sociology, and psychology on it. When people start majoring in that garbage we'll have a spike in medication errors and irresponsible prescriptive decision making more so than we already do. My former mentor (a PhD holder in Chemistry from UCD) died from an adverse drug reaction due to some of this... I was in nursing, before, and you wouldn't believe some of the crap I've seen. In fact, part of the reason why I'm doing a Pharmacology masters is to become more competent and responsible for my future patients. I'm done ranting.
     
    #34 MDforMee, Jan 19, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2014
  35. Aerus

    Aerus Elemental Alchemist
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    What? This is an absurd claim. I'm really hoping I just thoroughly misunderstood this and stupidly took it out of context.
     
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  36. ninjaman22

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    I hate chemistry!!!
     
  37. masaraksh

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    I can see where @MDforMee is coming from.

    I'd feel more comfortable if my doctor majored in Biochemistry and had a masters in Pharmacology than someone who did something like East Asian Studies, a French Minor and just barely squeezed in the med pre-reqs.

    Just me though.
     
  38. ZeaL6

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    I don't know about you but many engineers at my institution are engineers because they pass by with C's, not because they know math well. This wouldn't go well for people trying to attend medical school. (Not bashing engineers there are extremely intelligent beings in that field)
     
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  39. terp720

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    how would you even know what your doctor's UG major was. They still made it through medical school, took the same tests, got their license.
     
  40. Hippogryff

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    Wow. That is utter nonsense. Don't come whining at me now. Just look around at previous threads about non-hard science majors and admissions.
     
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  41. MDforMee

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    Without good quantitative skills and scientific problem solving ability, a nurse is arguably more qualified to do your job.

    Nurses (BSN) go through basic science prerequisites just like doctors do; nurses take 2-3 years of additional science/clinical specific coursework; advanced practice nurses then take 2 years of additional science/clinical specific coursework. Typically, advanced practice nurses also spend some time in the field between their baccalaureate degree and their graduate training, similar to a residency.

    And nurses still aren't able to prescribe anything.

    You're telling me that someone who majored in history is doing their self a favor by skipping 2 years of science-based coursework? Sorry, but rotations as a medical student aren't the same as training geared towards your specialty, and because of this, masters level advanced practice nurses are further ahead (in certain ways) than your average primary care history major doc.

    You don't have to agree with me, but if you want to be the best and most competent doctor that you can be, you should have a strong science background; if you don't, you're doing yourself a disservice. I'm not saying that it will be totally detrimental to your career to major in anthropology, but at the same time, it won't help you -- clinically -- in the way that a hard science degree will.
     
    #41 MDforMee, Jan 20, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2014
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  42. MedWonk

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    [​IMG]
     
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  43. knv2u

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    But the problem with your argument is that you are making the false assumption that someone who does not major in science is "without good quantitative skills and scientific problem solving ability" and this is not necessarily the case. Moreover, you assume that non science majors haven't taken upper level science courses, which might also be false. It is possible for someone to not want to complete a major such as biology, to avoid ecology and other classes that are not of interest to the student, while the same student may have taken advanced genetics, cell biology, biochemistry, and physiology courses. Like anything YMMV.
     
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  44. Hippogryff

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    Yep. I'm the only psych major in my grad level human genetics course.
     
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  45. MDforMee

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    Check out UCD's disclaimer about class rigor on their website, which is a nice tie in to our discussion, here:

    http://catalog.ucdavis.edu/programs/MAT/MATcourses.html
    "Note: Mathematics 16A, 16B, and 16C are intended for students who will take no more Mathematics courses. Mathematics 17A, 17B, and 17C have the same level of rigor as 16A, 16B, and 16C, yet are much more broad mathematically (containing algebra, differential equations and probability, besides traditional calculus), and are intended for biology students who do not wish to take more rigorous Mathematics courses."

    So, what BrainIsCool is talking about is another post of mine where I complained about people majoring in easy subjects and receiving high GPAs for admissions purposes.

    Long story short, people are running from the hard classes because their GPAs may suffer. The University even states the level of difficulty of courses on the scheduling website, which is laughable in itself.

    For this thread, here, what I'm saying is that "rigor" is what you and I might call "hard thinking," and because of this, majoring in less rigorous subjects will not give you an academic experience that will as effectively prepare your brain for clinical decision making as a hard science major will.
     
  46. ThisCouldBeYou

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    Took 2 semesters of pchem. Ouch! It wasn't easy, but more than anything, it taught me how to study. Got a B+ the first semester, but an A the second. And I earned it.
     
  47. lobo.solo

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    A couple of things:
    If it was necessary to major in bio/chem sciences to become a competent doctor, then It would be a requirement. And is not so... Yeah
    The new mcat includes psy, sociology and biochem in order to produce more well-rounded applicants. It is not enough to know the science behind the human body, but also you need to understand the context in which illnesses happen.
     
  48. knv2u

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    But again, you are making generalizations that are not always supported by facts. Let's take my undergraduate school. The undergraduate math requirement in calculus for biology and some chemistry majors was the same as for many social science majors. Did I take the easier, watered down version of calculus? No. I took the advanced level class that was geared towards engineers and physical scientists. 

    I also agree with you that many people are running away from harder classes because of their GPAs, but this phenomenon is hardly confined to social science majors. It is a problem with medical school admission generally, and I think it is sad that many medical school admissions committees fail to appreciate the difference between honors versus non-honors classes and more rigorous course sequences, etc.. 
     
  49. MedWonk

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    Pretty much this. It seems the things you need to know are pretty self-contained within the curriculum you get in med school, and then afterward within residency. If there were something missing, they would've incorporated it into the curriculum by now. Unless you have data to back up the assertion that physicians lacking a rigorous science background make incompetent physicians, then I'm going to side with med schools on this issue. It seems to me that if you don't have a rigorous science background after the first two years of med school, then your school is doing it wrong. I'm not convinced science coursework outside med school makes one a better physician. I think it's a more a product of how much you're willing to bust ass in med school/residency, and then how well you keep current with literature. I'm not pulling this out of my ass, it's just what every physician I work with has told me. I have no idea if they that out of their asses, though, but I trust their word seeing as they're physicians and we're not.
     
  50. MDforMee

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    Have you considered that medical schools may not want everyone to go into specialties that require a hard science background?

    And, this isn't a question of competence. It's about taking the path of more resistance to increase your competence beyond what's required so that you can be the best physician you can be.

    Like it or not, when we start to practice you'll see things like academic prestige and pecking orders based on who went to top 20 schools. I don't know about you, but I didn't go to Stanford for undergrad, and I certainly won't be at Johns Hopkins for medical school. And that's fine by me. What we can do, however, is choose how well to educate ourselves, and maximize our time spent doing so in order to hit HMO's, nursing unions that want our practices, giblet head human resources and administration where it hurts. Life is ruthless, and you'd better be prepared for the real world.
     

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