Monday, October 18, 2010

Some Great Insight Worthy of Its Own Post - from Medschoolodyssey

Medschoolodyssey wrote a comment which I could have chosen to leave public but on comments page, or make public. I've chosen, obviously, to make them public.

Good discussions should always be seen readily by others. It is how we learn and grow as people.

My original thoughts are in normal, bland, boring type. MSO's are in bold italic.

Thank you MSO for writing!
1) general chemistry is required to understand organic chemistry and the rates at which reactions occur to which still leads to /eyeroll and /facepalm (yes, I'm a gamer... shhhh)

I hated freshman chemistry, because so much of it seemed like memorization with a complete disregard for fundamental understanding. One needs to learn these concepts, but it's not until organic chemistry or electromagnetics that you really get to understand the mechanics behind what's going on here.

2) organic chemistry is required to understand biochemistry which is useful in treating and understanding the pathology of diseases and potential migratory paths for whatever ails said patients; which leads to a /barf (yes, still a gamer)

Medical school admissions committees seem to equate performance in organic chemistry with critical thinking ability and so forth. A friend of mine that started medical school this year at Duke University told me she uses her background in organic chemistry constantly in her biochemistry course. Of course, the utility of organic chemistry in clinical medicine is probably small.

3) physics, to me, is the root of all the sciences and helps in understanding chemistry, electron orbitals were not discovered nor explained by chemists but by physicists; going full circle to /eyeroll and /facepalm

I should point out that the first person to refer to the eigenfunctions of electrons in a hydrogen atom as orbitals was Robert Muilliken, who won the Nobel prize for chemistry. But, you're correct - it was a whole cadre of physicists that developed the foundations of what we now know as quantum mechanics. Of course, Muilliken expanded on their work when he laid out his theory of molecular orbitals, which is a major component of the more modern view we use today. As a physicist, I find it really hard to determine where chemistry ends and physics begins, particularly when discussing atoms, molecules, and chemical reactions. Honestly, at this point, it's hard for me to determine the boundaries of any of the pre-med science fields. Biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics all look to me like different views on the same subject.

4) because how in the heck else would medical schools easily dismiss otherwise very qualified candidates from even getting into the "box" for review purposes

Correct. It could be arbitrary and based on things like who you know, whether your parents were doctors, or whether you came from the proper socio-economic class.

Another thing to add here on some perspective to organic chemistry - check the articles and the comments on both of these.


Slamdunk said...

I think organic would have been the death of me as quant caused me to throw in the towel--I can see the critical thinking skills being shown through performance in organic though.

Justin W said...

I always thought the subjects were connected in the following way:
Biology is Chemistry;
Chemistry is Physics;
Physics is Math;
Math is the biology of thought;

Cheers from J .

OMDG said...

Hopefully they won't start requiring coursework on fractals and chaos theory for med school, even if they are the basis for all science and life as we know it.

Anonymous said...

The most difficult subject I've ever studied was measure theory, which is fundamental to fractals and chaos. Non-linear dynamics is a really interesting subject and my intent was to do graduate work in that field. But as I started exploring it as an undergraduate, I began to realize I would have to leave a lot of physics behind and I didn't want to wind up spending my life studying one tiny piece of a particular science.

That's part of what motivated me to enter medicine - it seems that there is still a tendency to specialize, but that there is still a compulsion to maintain some degree of breadth in the field.