Monday, December 27, 2010

Biochem Anyone?

I had been out of university for about 6 years when I decided to go back and take the missing, magical pre-requisites that would be my ticket to passing the MCAT and getting into medical school.

It was a full year and a half of inorganic chem, organic chem, physics, microbiology, and health sciences. It sucked. For a lot of reasons.

Once I was done that I was able to apply to several schools in Canada/abroad and had enough of my bases covered to write the MCAT so I opted to not go back in the fall for another full year of calculus, stats, and biochem--doing that would have given me the pre-reqs to apply to U of Alberta and UBC. But I was getting close to 30 for crying out loud! How many more 1st year courses did I have to endure??

I was living in my friends' parents basement doing o-chem when my 10 year high school reunion rolled around--which I obviously skipped. What was I going to say? Yeah, things are going well...I am in the process of getting dumped, I am doing a second year chem course, unemployed, and keeping my fingers crossed on getting into med? Riiiiiiggghhhhhht.

I just couldn't face it. I'd drained my RRSP's and my relationship. I thought that if I couldn't get in somewhere with what I had then I'd figure out a plan B.

Turns out maybe a little biochem would have come in handy after all.

They barely touch on it in my program, yet the USMLE seems to care if you know what a g-coupled protein receptor is.

I took the kaplan diagnostic test last week and found that my (major) areas of weakness are medical genetics, biochem, and molecular biology. Shocker! I never have taken any classes in those areas!

When we did our little kaplan pep talk a couple weeks back the lecturer said that wherever we have weakness we should spend 30 mins a day from NOW until the exam chipping away at it, "If your weakest area today is your weakest area on exam day then you aren't studying correctly".

Taken at face value it's pretty basic/obvious, but I think it was absolutely sound advice.

I've plowed through the first few chapters in the review book of medical genetics. Tomorrow the autodidact begins biochem.

This is going to be an interesting little educational diversion.

Wish me luck.


Anonymous said...

Biochem. What a gawdaful waste of medical student time.

E. Greene said...

Thanks for writing about your pre-med stuff. It is oddly comforting.

Kaplan said...


This is Emily from Kaplan Medical. Stumbled upon your blog, and it's wonderful.

Biochem and Med Gen have challenged many a good doctor before you! If you get stuck, let us know and we can recommend some websites, study tips, etc. Glad to hear the USMLE course is helpful - Dr. Daugherty has so much experience to share with students; hopefully you will gain as much from the other instructors.

It's a wild journey to residency, but with one foot in front of the other, you will reach your destination!

Best of luck to all!

Albinoblackbear said...

IANH--Yep. Yet apparently SO very very important. [note sarcasm]

E.G--That is nice to hear, I felt really lost and frustrated and worried for most of my pre-req-hell-time. It is a lot of big sacrifices on a big gamble, and that is NOT easy to sustain.

Emily--Why thank you. I have to say that for the most part I've found the lectures AMAZING, really really helpful. I am so glad that I decided to take the course.

[Note to readers: I am not getting paid by Kaplan to say that--I genuinely find their USMLE prep-course to be very well put together and the instructional videos hugely informative. Different people learn in different ways, for some reason it just clicks for me.]

Cate said...

I have kaplan's q bank and the book.. i'm taking step 1 in june. I've heard kaplan's biochem/cell bio is the best (relative to high yield, etc).

Do you think the kaplan course is worth the money?


Albinoblackbear said...

C--I really like the first aid study guide, and the kaplan medEssentials book--I find they complement each other well. The best part about the online Kaplan course (for me) is access to the videos. The pharm ones alone are worth the cost as far as I am concerned.

I think you can get access to the vids separate for a couple hundred dollars. The guy who does the biochem lectures is one of my favorites.

I find them hugely useful but I am in a program that does everything through case based PBL curriculum (i.e. almost ZERO lectures in biochem, med gen, molecular biology) and does not prep students for the USMLE. So for me it is good because it is a totally didactic approach to subjects that I have no background in or comprehension of.

If you are already in a lecture based program that focuses on these areas the videos might not be as bedazzling to you as they are for me. :) Hope that helps!

Robert said...

I know I'm a sick, sick man, but I loved biochem. Even took several advanced molecular genetics electives when I thought I wanted to be an MD.