What do I do with my life now?
This article was last updated on 31/12/2015.
You've just completed your first year of Biomedical Science or Health Science and you're wondering where to from here? Perhaps you hated BIOSCI and love MEDSCI? You want to change away from Health Science? Biomed vs Physiology vs Pharmacology? We'll note down common questions and things you should know before switching your degree.
BIOSCIs get relatively better in Stage II and Stage III.
Trust me. BIOSCIs in 2nd year and 3rd year, provided you pick papers according to your interests, are better in 2nd year and 3rd year. Although a lot of the time the course guide is still useless and the labs are very monotonous in the sense that you're sort of doing the same thing over and over again, the lecture slides are pretty decent, the test assesses the first half and the exam assesses the second half, and you still get lecture recordings!! Additionally, BIOSCIs usually test just in essay format and this is slightly easier (arguably) to get good marks in. Physiology papers in particular still have their crazy large weighting on the final exam which can be an annoying factor depending on each person. If anything, MEDSCIs get worse in second and third year hence keeping BIOSCIs up can be quite nice!
MEDSCI 142 was an exceptional circumstance.
Stage II and Stage III MED-SIGH papers rarely reach the amount of awesome that's within MEDSCI 142. You don't get lightning fast responses from the course coordinator anymore. You don't necessarily get feedback from your MCQ tests. You don't have nice course guides anymore. Labs aren't always as nicely organised - they can be in fact very frustrating. Your results no longer come out 24 hours after you sit the test; they may take a few days or even a couple of weeks. Face it, we were all quite pampered with MEDSCI 142's fantastic organisation (with Miss Angela Tsai) which drove up our expectations for other MEDSCI papers! (Exception is MEDSCI 201 which is also organised by Miss Angela Tsai.
Stage II is harder no matter the degree
In fact, MBChB students have it much easier than other degrees in that they don't have 4 exams at the end of each semester. They have an important test once every few weeks and as such, going through an MBChB degree arguably less stressful! (It was designed to be less stressful after all). Nonetheless, no matter the degree, Stage II is a step up from Stage I and you should expect to work more to get the same grades and you should most definitely keep up your motivation!!
Switching away from Health Science
If you made the mistake of applying for Health Science in thinking that Otago University's Health Science meant the same as here at Auckland University, you're not alone! Many who did HSc intending on doing a medical science degree as opposed to a public health degree can still graduate in 3 years by changing to Physiology or Pharmacology. If you, however, adamantly want to do Biomedical Science, you will have to do an extra year due to Biomedical Science's very rigid degree structure.
If you really don't want to do anymore BIOSCIs, consider Physiology or Pharmacology
If you're still hellbent on no longer doing BIOSCI papers, Physiology and Pharmacology degrees do not require you to do any BIOSCI papers at all and require you only to do fully MEDSCI papers as part of your core subjects. However, as Physiol and Phmcol are both single major subjects, you may be required to do lots of filler papers in order to finish your degree! Extra 'filler' or 'elective' papers could be courses like: COMPSCI 111, PHYSICS 107, MATHS 108, MATHS 208, STATS 101, COMPSCI 101, SPORTSCI 101 etc.
BIOMED v PHYSIOL v PHARMACOL
The best way to figure out what you want to do is to read through all the MEDSCI Stage 3 paper descriptions from the University of Auckland website and/or read through the SAMS reviews and figure out which papers interest you. Whichever papers interest you would most definitely be a great indicator as to which of these 3 degrees to pick.
In general, Biomedical Science is relatively difficult in 2nd year due to its prescribed 7 papers which are all stage II level. Comparatively, Physiology 2nd year requires only 2 core papers and a lot of freedom to choose papers in stage II. However, by third year, Biomedical Science students get to choose from a vast, vast, range of papers whereas Physiology students must pick 4 out of 5 Stage III papers: 309, 311, 312, 316, 317. These papers are all relatively difficult! Pharmacology papers aren't a walk in the park either: you have to choose 4 papers from a list of 5 Stage III papers: 303, 304, 305, 306, 307. Thus, at third year, you can see that a Biomedical Science degree has much more choice at third year than its counterparts. Again, to solve your dilemma, it will pay to read through the descriptions of third year papers and if you find yourself choosing many physiology papers (say, at least 3 of them), it would pay to seriously consider switching to Physiology. Otherwise, staying in Biomedical Science is quite nice. Besides, the BIOSCI papers in the Biomedical Science degree are all very interesting and provide a fantastic core knowledge for anything in the medical field.
Thus ends the spiel of commonly asked questions. Do visit the UOA Degree planners here to see how to plan your degree. If you require additional help, feel free to contact either SAMS or the Science Student Centre.
SAMS Contact details: link.
UOA Science Student Centre: link.