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Can't decide between physics and biomedical science.

  1. Sep 20, 2014 #1
    I'm currently in my second year of studying Physics in University(undergraduate) but I don't know if I should continue on this path.
    I'll start from the beginning...
    Ever since I was little I've always had a fascination with physics, I loved looking at the stars, read countless books on physics, watched all the documentaries I could find. Fast forward to second level of school, there was no Physics class run in my school (I know, ridiculous!) So I couldn't study it. I studied Biology and Chemistry, and I was very good at them, found them easy enough(especially biology), but I always put that down to them mainly involving learning facts off, rather than figuring stuff out. I was interested in them though. When the final year came, I was advised by my teacher that Biomedical Science would be right for me. On my application for college I put Physics down first, followed by Biomedical science, however I switched them last minute after watching the movie "Contagion" as the thought of working in a lab, being able to cure disease really interested me. However by the time came to getting my offers back I had changed my mind back to Physics but could not change my application. I got Biomedical science and started it in college but I applied for a transfer to physics and got it. I was delighted and didn't look back. Until however around Christmas. Physics was hard, I found it difficult, although I did very well in tests, I felt like I had to work much harder than everyone else, like it didn't come as naturally to me. All I could think was if I was in Biomedical science I'd be top of the class right now, I could get a scholarship to a masters or Phd after my undergrad.
    During the summer I applied for a transfer back to Biomedical science, which I got if I wanted it. Now I'm currently registered for Biomedical, after doing my first week back in college, and I don't know what to do: will I stay or not? I like Biomedical science, and after I feel like I would be very interested in something like regenerative medicine, biomedical engineering or nanotechnology in medicine, or maybe something like molecular genetics. However I feel like I'm letting go of something in Physics, I want to learn about the world, how everything works, but I don't know what I'd do after my degree. I love the theoretical physics side of the coin: cosmology, quantum field theory, string theory, all that area, however I don't think I'll ever be good enough to do it, or if I'd even like doing it, like I love reading about it and all but would I actually enjoy trying to figure it out? Because sometimes I'd be sitting in applied maths lectures thinking what am I doing here? Do I actually enjoy this? I'd love to learn about physics and maths and computer science, but when it actually gets down to it, I don't think I enjoy it, it's very difficult, I don't know if I want to keep dealing with numbers for the rest of my life. Maybe I'm just used to learning off things rather than figuring stuff out. And I know people will tell me work hard and you'll be good enough, I've though that too, but I'm just being honest with myself, I don't think I could ever work that hard, it would just be too difficult. I don't feel like I could do their level of mathematics, seeing as now I struggle with doing simple things, I struggle to see the "picture" in maths. I'm also interested in Nanotechnology and the likes, but I have no idea what's needed for that. Also I don't think I'd be very like to do extremely well in my Physics degree making me less likely to get a scholarship and get into a good college. Plus it's incredibly hard to get a career out of Theoretical physics unless you'r one of the best, and I don't know what else in physics I'd like. I don't think I'd like looking at a computer all day analyzing graphs, doing tedious work.
    But then again it could be the same in a career in biology. I think I would like working with my hands, performing experiments on things I can physically see, curing diseases, discovering something new, actually making an impact on the world. But I could be wrong, I might hate it.
    I had though about doing biophysics, as I think medicine/biology is going to be revolutionized by technology but I'm not sure. I also found a Masters course in Nanotechnology with regenerative medicine and I was advised that Biomedical science would be the best route into it.

    So I don't know what to do. I love thinking about physics, when I'm at home at the weekend from college doing nothing I think, yeah I can do this, it's gonna be great, but when I actually go to the lectures and I'm struggling or doing something boring or see something that seems totally out of my range of abstract thought(Quantum physics) I think "no, now way, I have to get out of this, I'll be much more successful in Biomedical science"

    SO basically I love physics, but I don't know if I'd actually like doing it as a career, but every time I commit myself to biology I think, "you're limiting yourself, you want to be practical in life, be able to understand the workings of the world, physics can be useful in biology, the future is in Nano-medicine", which maybe a physics degree will help in?
    I also really enjoy the biological sciences. On the plus side I'm good at them, I could excel in them, get an interesting career, however I'd always feel like I let part of myself go by not doing physics And I sometimes feel maybe technology is going to make just being a biologist redundant, that it will be physicists, engineers etc learning biology and using their expertise to advance the field, rather than biologists etc learning physics and maths, and using that.

    I'm sorry for the long post but I'm pretty desperate now and I need to make a decision soon. Any advice will be appreciated!
    Thanks friends
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 20, 2014 #2


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    Have you thought about medical physics?
  4. Sep 20, 2014 #3


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    It looks to me as if your goals in physics are much more realistic than in biomedical science. You probably aren't going to find a cure for a disease. You may contribute something towards it though. I think physics is the better option.
  5. Sep 20, 2014 #4
    Yes I know that I myself as an individual probably wont find a cure, but I would like being part of a team that does.
  6. Sep 20, 2014 #5
    We do that as part of my physics course however it only involves medical imaging, as in building new/better imagining systems, or operating them in hospitals, which I have zero interest in.
  7. Sep 20, 2014 #6


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    Imaging is only about 20% of the field. The other 80% is therapy - still a lot of which is building better systems, but you get to cure diseases on a regular basis. And compared to many other branches of physics, as well as the academic side of biomedical science, there are more and better career options available. That's cool if you're still not interested - it just seemed like it might be a good bridge between the two options you're considering.
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