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Misconceptions: Non-Science pathways into medicine

Misconceptions: Non-Science pathways into medicine

1 July, 2020

There can be substantial benefits of choosing a Non-Science pathway into graduate medicine (read). Yet, there are often cautionary tales of reasons why one shouldn’t take this route. Here are some common issues and misconceptions that you should think about.

1) Poor GAMSAT Section 3 results. Many students are concerned that without a University-level foundation in the Sciences, they would struggle with a critical component of the GAMSAT Section 3:Reasoning in Biological and Physical Sciences.

My response: This reply is based on current GAMSAT trends and the general consensus among students. My peers and I have recognised, that Section 3 within the GAMSAT is moving away from pre-learned knowledge. Most problems within question stems contain all necessary information to derive the correct answer. These days, it is more about deducing the relevant information and making a well-reasoned conclusion to the answer.

Indeed, you may still be at a disadvantage to your rivals studying Sciences, mainly, your inability to recognise what the question is testing, or, unfamiliarity to the content at hand. However, well-intentioned practise with content such as Des O’Neil or simply watching Khan Academy for common 1st-Year Science concepts, would pay dividends in improving your score. Many Arts students go on to achieve great scores within this section, whilst many science students baffle themselves with lower-than-expected scores. In the end, this is a section that tests your reasoning ability, it is simply against the backdrop of science concepts, remember that.

2) Poor GAMSAT result overall. This conclusion is often derived from the previous misconception regarding poor GAMSAT Section 3 results.

My response: This statement is pure myth. With major Universities moving towards equal weighting among all sections (Unimelb, Usyd, UQ), this places equal emphasis upon the other 2 GAMSAT sections. If you have learned solid principles in essay writing, you could excel within Section 2-Written Communication, still attaining a competitive GAMSAT score.

Even better, consider research already completed on the GAMSAT. Link to article: here.

“Higher (GAMSAT) scores overall are more likely for candidates who … have completed a degree which is not health-related.”

Mercer et al. (2003)

Performance on the GAMSAT has multiple factors. With widespread information and practice questions available on the internet, the onus lies upon the individual to make the most of these resources. High performance in Section 3 reasoning can be consistently practised and improved, for any diligent student.

3) Poor performance during medical school. Students may be concerned that the lack of science foundations would adversely affect them during medical school, perhaps, even dropping out after being overwhelmed by the new course load.

My response: To some degree, this may be true. Health Science students have a palpable advantage during pre-clinical years. However, with good study techniques that can be learned, you should still be able to keep pace. Hearing from upperclassmen that by the time clinical years come around, there is no evidence to suggests that students from Non-Science backgrounds perform any worse than their Science background counterparts.

Final thoughts

I hope that this post clears up some of the common misconceptions surrounding a Non-Science Pathway into medicine. Help spread the correct information so that everyone has the facts to make the right choices.

Good luck.

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