Have you recently enrolled or are contemplating to pursue a Degree in Biomedical Sciences?
In light of COVID-19, the heroes behind the scenes conducting the lab tests and research have spotlighted several programmes including Biomedical Sciences. Within the last year, there has even been an increase in employment rate within this field!
But before you go diving head first into an in-demand programme like this, it’s important to reflect on your purpose and to do your research about it. Is this something you can imagine doing in the future? Do you like the idea of spending hours in the lab? While it might help to consider what the prospects are for graduates, one’s interest is important too.
So what does this programme entail? Like many other programmes out there, you’ll realise that it isn’t a bed of roses and your achievements will depend on how much effort and time you’re willing to put into it.
Here are 4 things you’d need to know when pursuing a Degree in Biomedical Sciences as told by an alumnus.
Gone are the days of lectures and theories in your foundation years. It’s time to put the pedal to the metal!
Whether it’s physical or virtual, these practical sessions are one of the best parts about this programme — at least to me. Almost all the science-related subjects offered have an average of six lab sessions contributing to about 30 to 40% of the total subject weightage.
While some might be more enjoyable than others, these sessions offer you the opportunity to learn some basic lab skills, which would sometimes go hand-in-hand with the theories learnt during lectures.
These skills would be honed further as you progress to the following semesters presenting you the perfect opportunity to ask questions regarding the techniques that you aren’t too sure about.
The importance of these sessions lies in the fact that they’d enable you to remember the techniques learnt in theory which come in handy when preparing for your theoretical exams. I know it was definitely the case for me.
Moreover, the skills I picked up along the way were definitely an added advantage during my final year project and when choosing to further my postgraduate studies. I wasn’t well versed with all the techniques but I was grateful for having a brief idea about how certain ones worked. So, it's best to pay attention.
With the majority of classes being practical, comes the additional load of practical reports aside from your share of assignments. But fret not! It’s definitely accomplishable.
My advice is to work on the practical reports as soon as you can while the details are still fresh in your mind. Procrastination is definitely not your friend here.
Speaking from experience, there were many occasions during the past when my batchmates and I had to simultaneously juggle several assignments and reports. Though we tried hard not to procrastinate, it was pretty difficult to resist the temptation.
Consequently, we’d find ourselves rushing to complete our assignments within the given period, sacrificing our much needed sleep while hoping for an extension or two. Honestly, I’ve to admit that I may have fallen into this cycle a couple of times too, I mean who hasn't?
But bear in mind that this curriculum is designed to avoid too many overlaps. Pushing back the inevitable through extensions might lead to more backlog. At risk of sounding cliché, remember, consistency is the key.
This would probably go for any degree in general but who better to start your pool of connections than with the people you’ll be spending 3.5 years of your life with?
They’re the first people you’d meet on your first day and they’ll be the same ones who’ll completely understand your struggles throughout your journey in biomedical sciences. Though it may not always seem this way (read: group work can be a struggle!), they’re key in starting your network.
Whether you end up venturing into similar or completely different paths, it’s good to cultivate the relationships during your degree as it can greatly impact your life even after you graduate.
Personally, I’ve found that having friends in various places has been tremendously helpful during my postgraduate journey whether it's by sharing experiences or troubleshooting a certain problem faced.
As Bill Nye once said, ‘Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t’. Sometimes, just knowing someone in a similar situation as you are can be comforting. Also, it’s a major perk when you want to rant about your current predicaments or to reminisce about the good old days as my friends and I often do.
Yes — Biomedical Sciences isn't an easy programme and you’d want to do everything in your might to maintain a good CGPA or grades.
But the worst thing to do is to focus solely on your studies or you’d risk having your whole university experience in front of your laptop or in the labs!
It’s important to involve yourself in different extracurricular activities by joining the different clubs and societies as it’ll benefit you in the long run. Contrary to what most people believe, education takes place both inside and outside the lecture rooms or labs.
Participating in extracurricular activities enables you to work on your intra- and interpersonal skills which gives you the skills needed for your studies, when you’re organising events for your projects, or even for presentations — something especially important in this field when conveying your findings to your peers.
It also gives the opportunity for you to manage your time and meet people outside your area of interest, helping you build your connections. If I could advise my younger self, it’d be to maintain a better balance of my study and social activities. I sat out on some events in fear that I’d fall back but clearly those activities made university life more memorable.
I also recall my peers and I being recruited for our school’s club. Though it was definitely a challenge when it came to organising events like field trips and seminars, we learned how to deal with different types of people and how to react to certain problems better. The stress, anger, joy, and everything else that came between juggling lectures and discussion resulted in an entirely eye-opening experience.
I’d say it even helped us realise how much we took things for granted.
The next 3.5 years will be filled with obstacles and challenges, but it’ll also be filled with some of the most memorable times. Everything will work out, though it’ll definitely take continuous effort and time but as Norman Vincent Peale once said, “Nothing of great value in this life comes easily. The things of highest value sometimes come hard. Gold that has the greatest value lies deepest in the Earth, as do diamonds.”
Sulin Choo (Celine) is currently pursuing her PhD in Science at Taylor’s University. She is an alumnus of the Biomedical Sciences (Hons.) degree at Taylor’s and is currently the President of the postgraduate students for her faculty. She enjoys learning new skills both in and out of the lab, which resulted in her owning a little start-up to try her hand in a different field.
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