1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Math Math Required in Medical Field?

  1. Jul 12, 2012 #1
    I'm in high school right now and have always dreamed of being a surgeon, so naturally, I read up on an assortment of medical information as well as the pre-requisites of becoming a surgeon. A common pattern I'm finding, is that the medical field requires a good deal of math. However, when I research medical/surgical topics themselves, I see little mathematical based science involved, just anatomical knowledge and surgical technique. So where's the math??? I enjoy math based sciences like physics, for instance, and while physics may not have much involvement, all the pre-req stuff stresses math and physical science based backgrounds. Obviously I know very little about surgical medicine, but could someone please tell me, where is the real math/science based area of medicine, and when does it come into play.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 13, 2012 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Hey claytonh4.

    As an educated guess based on the kinds of things that a lot of the natural scientists like biologists, ecologists, chemists, and so on take, I think you'll find a lot of the actual mathematics is actually related to statistics and related material as opposed to something like say differential equations.

    One reason for the use of statistics is that it's the study of things under uncertainty and in an experimental or scientific context, nothing is actually certain so people resort to statistics (unfortunately sometimes in horrible ways) to make their point to support some particular hypothesis or idea to give it more credibility.

    It comes into play primarily when people need to evaluate something especially in reference to a study, a suggestion, or a report of some kind. If you are a surgeon for example and you read something with statistical information that is bound up in some kind of proposition or claim, the statistical analysis will, if you understand it correctly, give you some kind of context of understanding what the data is saying if it is represented correctly.

    Remember that as a doctor, you will have to work under uncertainty and you will be making decisions so it's important that you make the best possible decisions you can under uncertainty. The statistics is not in any way a replacement for that, but an aid that can be used to enhance this, but not substitute in any way your final responsibility to make a decision (and you can imagine the kinds of decisions you will have to make as a surgeon).

    Other than this, I can't comment but I can say that if you want to be a surgeon, you need to get in the habit of becoming a more independent learner because you will need this kind of dedication for many many years after medical school and even once you have you fellowship if you get that far. You have a much better chance if you start this earlier because by the time university and all of that comes, you'll already be in the habit of doing this which will put you at an advantage, and it will rub off on people on selection boards that see the initiative and independent attributes of your behaviour.

    I wish you the best of luck.
  4. Jul 13, 2012 #3
    I'd definitely consider myself a more independent person, so that helps. Thanks for the reply!
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook