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Is biomedical engineering harder than medicine?


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Will’s Answer

I can speak from the medicine perspective only, as I am a fourth year medical student, but I would say that conceptually biomedical engineering is likely harder than medicine. My undergrad chemistry and physics courses were conceptually more difficult than my basic science courses in medical school. I imagine biomedical engineering incorporates a lot of math and physics. However, my preclinical years of medical school were multitudes more intense (and time consuming) than any undergrad courses I took. While most doctors are very intelligent, much of the actual work of medicine isn't conceptually very difficult. What makes it difficult is that there a vast body of ever-changing information, and it often needs to be applied in novel situations, and life-altering decisions can sometimes be made in very stressful circumstances. If you're interested in both fields, a biomedical engineering major is a great path to take to medical school, and something you could certainly combine with your medical knowledge if you have an entreprenurial spirit.

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Richard’s Answer

There is no clear answer to this question. As with many professions, the difficulty of these different routes depends heavily on your experiences and passions. Some may find that pursuing medical school is more difficult than biomedical engineering and some may find the converse. Both of these fields are quite broad, which means there are many areas in both that one may perceive as hard or difficult. Moreover, there are many difficult challenges associated with each.

For example, perhaps you go into biomedical engineering and work in an industry job where you try to design specific medical devices. This is difficult, but it is difficult in a different way than if you became a physician and struggled to diagnose an odd illness.

My advice is to try to pursue whichever field you find more interesting so you can stay invested in and passionate about your work throughout the duration of your career.

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Estelle’s Answer

I agree with Will. Biomedical engineering is heavily weighted in math and physics. Medical school is broader and encompasses physiology, pharmacology, microbiology, etc. So, the level of difficulty depends on your own strengths and interests.

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