How can someone study medicine without chemistry

Things to forget before going to medical school

I have been with for almost 5 years and have been studying medicine for a longer period of time *. During this time I have helped many (prospective) doctors, be it just a question about an application or long phone calls, meetings, emails over long periods of time. Certain topics keep coming up and I would like to address them at this point.


"I can only study medicine with a 1.0 Abitur" That's just NOT right! That may be true in the 20% of the highest school-leaving certificate quota, but most of the study places (60%) are awarded via the university's selection process (AdH) and there 1. it looks different in terms of grades and 2. there are other things that count (medical test, high school subjects, Selection interview etc etc etc). Applying to study medicine is complicated, but many who have never had anything to do with it think they have to say something about it. If you end up as a student at, for example,, that's okay, we clarify and help - but many write off the idea completely or pay money that they don't even have for overpriced seminars that package the familiar as if it were THE great news that no one else knows. That is just a shame and particularly bad because the wrong signals are set so early on.


"But I absolutely have to go to University XY, I don't even need to start anywhere else because [...]" You take state exams in medicine at every university, ie. the exam and the degree are the same no matter where I studied. For the exams you have to study again one way or another, regardless of what was previously taught at the university. It is certainly nice when you have fewer people in the semester, but it is also not necessarily bad when you sit there by the hundreds - it is up to me how good or bad my studies will be. Every university has advantages and disadvantages. I cannot judge for myself (just like any other student) whether it is worse or better than elsewhere, since I only study here. Even if you change universities after the 1st state examination, you cannot really compare the universities with one another, because the study sections are so fundamentally different. Last but not least: If you don't like the university where you started, for whatever reason, you can change relatively easily after the 1st state examination (“Physikum”). So you are not “forever bound” 😉


"I did not have a Bio / Chemistry / Physics LK / course in the upper level" I often say “If I have managed that, you can do it too - after all, I had English and German LK and philosophy as my 4th Abifach”. I don't know exactly where this came from, but students are terrified that they will fail because of these basic subjects. And that although these only occur in the first semesters and have little to do with the school subject. I still remember how distracted I was in 11th grade because of a bad grade in the biology exam. I thought I could give up my wish to study medicine. From then on I didn't learn as much for any subject as I did for organic - in order to realize when we arrived at the university that we had breakfasted off the relevant topics from upper school in one week. I've heard something similar from the people who really had Bio / Chemistry / Physics LK. It took maybe 3 weeks until they no longer benefited from their “advance knowledge”. Regardless of subjects and advanced courses, everyone has to learn a lot and differently in the first semester. In short: you go to university to learn something, not because you already know everything beforehand.


"I don't know math / Latin" How good that you only need both rudimentary ones in medical studies. Everything a doctor needs to know about Latin and Greek is usually taught in the first semester in the subject "Terminology". At almost every university, this is one of the simplest subjects in the entire course. Since medicine is “not really” a natural science, you only need a little math. With the rule of three and a calculator you can often get through the few subjects that require mathematical skills relatively well. Here too: You learn the necessary things at university, no reason to know everything beforehand.


"When I study medicine, I have no more free time" I think just by writing this lengthy text I prove that this is not true and that you can definitely have free time. There are always people who feel better when they tell everyone how much they are learning and that they have no time for other things. For some people this may be the truth, others whisper an hour or two of learning time in which they were actually hanging out on Facebook. It's good for me that I didn't even remotely know anyone who was studying medicine before I went to college, but I heard a lot of these stories in the first few semesters. For me, comparison with others kills my self-esteem. I “didn't allow myself” a lot of things, I already felt bad because I went to the cinema because I thought “I have to study now too”. Everyone may handle it differently, but I really have enough free time (apart from the exam phase 😉) and so do all of my medical friends.


"I can't memorize" Neither do I and yet my degree is not too far away. * It took me WAY too much time to find out a few “wisdoms” about learning. I want to share them with you here before you can even get the wrong idea.

  1. In (medicine) studies you have to learn new learning: Everything is different, the subjects, the teaching method, the exams. It's definitely different from school and the way you learned at school might not get you that far at university.
  2. Everyone has their own learning style and that's okay: I'm not a morning person and learn better in the afternoon / evening, I have friends, with whom it is exactly the other way around. Some people sit in the lecture, listen and have it. Others work everything before and after. Some do not even go to the lectures and prefer to work out the exam-relevant things themselves from the start. Everyone does it differently and no variant is "the right one"
  3. Breaks are important. Without breaks, you cannot “process” what you have learned in a meaningful way - nobody can learn for 10 hours at a time, without interruption and at the end still know what they have done. Breaks are necessary to learn effectively and nothing to feel bad about.


"I don't want to wait, then I'll be too old when I finally graduate" In the end, the decision is always up to you - you have to weigh up how important it is to you that it has to be a medical degree or whether you will be happy with something else. Age may seem incredibly important just after graduating from high school, but it's not. Many people start their medical studies after waiting, and many take longer than the standard study time. It doesn't matter at all. You get a job anyway and we will all work long enough until we retire. Far from that, a little more personal maturity in dealing with patients and colleagues is only positive. In short: Age may seem incredibly important to you, especially right after you graduate from high school, especially with the feeling “Medical studies are oh so long”, but in reality, it isn't.

“Can I even manage it? Isn't medicine one of the most difficult subjects? " Anyone with the right motivation and high school diploma can do it. Many people think of medical studies as very daunting, bad, and elitist. They do this, for example, because they only know it from the outside and have no idea, or because they are medical professionals and think you have to "stay to yourself". You can absolutely do it, and if you really want to, try it. The medical degree is not harder or easier than other subjects - every subject is difficult if it does not suit me, if I study it only to make quick money, to impress someone ... Every subject brings certain challenges, which are exactly - Challenges. No indomitable giants.


Studying is not easy and the first semester is awfully packed with new information and experiences. Sometimes it might even be a bit overwhelming. But that applies to every subject, because university is different from school and there are a wide variety of methods to get used to. Some people get used to it very quickly, some more slowly, but in the end the person gets used to everything. If you think a subject is just right for you, there is no reason to assume it might not work out for now. Medicine too.


This is a slightly different blog entry than usual, but that's something that has been on my mind, Christian, for a long time, which is why I would like to get rid of it at this point. If you have any questions or suggestions about my brief outline, don't hesitate to write to me!

* I have now completed my studies, but the content of the article is just as relevant as it was in 2014

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