Perks of Being a Biochemist: A Medical Student’s POV

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What the hell is Biochemistry and why are people even studying it in college?

Now if you’re curious if ever Biochem is a good premed program, jump here.

What I’m about to share is my undergrad program, why I chose it, and why everyone else should too. I’m not going to compare the program to other great programs out there though!

We all know college is optional and it will never define your success. This is for the people who are undecided of what field they wish to pursue especially for aspiring medical doctors in the Philippines.

Medicine is a long journey and a tough one, I suppose (really, it is!). Choosing an undergrad program is crucial for everyone since it will become one of the person’s identities in the future.

I’m not saying that your college degree will define who you are and what you have become. Although it can be a support for what you may do especially in your chosen field of expertise.

Here are the subtopics:

So what’s Biochemistry?

“Biochemistry has become the foundation for understanding all biological processes. It has provided explanations for the causes of many diseases in humans, animals and plants.”

McGill University defines Biochemistry as the application of chemistry to the study of biological processes at the cellular and molecular level.*

When I was interviewed for college entrance, the professor asked me if I know anything about the program I’m trying to get in. Funny she asked because I already googled the definition before even going to the interview.

I told her that at first, I thought it was just biology with a sprinkle of chemistry. I really didn’t know anything about it but after doing some research I learned that it’s about the chemical reactions in living things and seeing these reactions at the molecular level.

It’s like knowing every bit of a movie at the deepest possible level that you can’t even imagine.

From the structure of the play, casting, setting, characters, interactions, extras, ad-libs, script, and soundtracks. Basically, I just exaggerated but that’s Biochem alright!

Why I took it

Biochem wasn’t really one of my choices.

Before applying for college I searched for programs that people recommend if one wishes to become a doctor. The famous program back in 2013 was Medical Technology.

A lot said that it will surely benefit you in medicine because you will have a background in the practical things (venipuncture, lab results). So it became one of my choices. The next choice I listed was Occupational Therapy because my online friend brainwashed me about it.

Unfortunately, there were no more slots for OT and I didn’t get in the MT program.

Knowing that I really wanted to study in that school, I submitted a reconsideration letter to the faculty of Pharmacy which composes of the Department of Pharmacy, Medical Technology, and Biochemistry. The secretary said that there were still slots for Biochemistry since they opened another block section.

I took the opportunity to list my name on the paper she gave me. Waited for the text. Scheduled my interview. In the end, I chose Biochemistry because I had no other choice and I think God had really planned it for me.

I also thought that it’s just another premed program like any other and I get to study at my dream school, so I’m already fine with that!

Studying Biochemistry

Pros

  • You’ll understand Biochemical concepts even if you don’t like it
  • You’ll be able to explain basic questions about the processes in the body to someone who might dare to ask you
  • You’ll have an idea about what lab results may mean (particularly cbc)
  • You’ll learn to love research
  • You’ll be more patient
  • You’ll find ways to study effectively with friends
  • Khan academy and great people from youtube will be your best professors
  • You may want to become the best scientist in the world

Cons

  • Lectures may be boring depending on the professor
  • Some concepts are just really hard to get
  • Maths. It will never leave you, my friend
  • Lots of quizzes can be overwhelming

Is it a good premed program?

To be honest, it is not the only good pre-med program but it’s one of the best (not sponsored). Although in the Philippines, any undergraduate program is to be accepted.

Given that you submit the requirements for medical school namely, your National Medical Admission Test result, Transcript of records, and some others depending on the school you wish to apply for.

So, yep. It is a good choice. I can only say that I have #no regrets in taking Biochemistry. I’ve learned to love it in the process.

However, I just want to emphasize that once you enter medical school, your college degree or university won’t matter that much. All of the students are struggling just the same level as those who graduated from a med-related program with Latin honors.

Opportunities other than Medicine

  • Academic researcher
  • Analytical chemist
  • Biomedical scientist
  • Biotechnologist
  • Clinical research associate
  • Clinical scientist, biochemistry
  • Forensic scientist
  • Medicinal chemist
  • Nanotechnologist
  • Pharmacologist
  • Physician associate
  • Research scientist (life sciences)
  • Scientific laboratory technician

The list is from Prospects, they enumerated job options that you can apply for with a Biochemistry degree.

Basically, once you graduate Biochemistry in a university, you are already called a Biochemist because there isn’t any board exam for Biochemistry in the Philippines yet.

You can apply to become a research assistant, study further in other countries if you wish, or do work in the industry. Biochemists are cool. And they love research.

Do you recommend it?

I’d be damned if I say that I recommend this program. This is just as hard as any other college program. But the purpose of this article is to encourage everyone to pursue it nonetheless. That is if you really wish to follow a career in science.

Since Biochemistry is very complex and well — complicated, learning it can be a whole new (world) ride. You’re not just understanding what the little molecules in the body are doing to your own body, you also get to see how great our bodies really work!

How those chemicals send signals to each of your organs, how cells communicate and react to adversaries, how the powerhouse of the cell becomes the ATP generator by definition, how our bodies maintain homeostasis, how genes work, why diseases occur, understand the integration of metabolism, and much more!

If you want to study processes like these:

and explain them to your friend as confident as you can (as long as you study though). DO IT. Find a school that offers the program and enjoy it!

FYI Biochem is one of the subjects in 1st yr med! You get the “edge” of understanding it faster than your non-biochem graduate classmates. I admit that I only understood the subject better in med school. You also get to teach your classmates if you are willing to do so. Share your knowledge and pass the subject as one.

Remember medical school shouldn’t be a competition. You must help each other out because you all only have one common goal and that is to: save lives!

Thanks for reading and I hope you see the good sides of Biochemistry more…

Warm wishes,
Maeve

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