It wasn’t so long ago when a common cold would be one’s cause of death, and a small cut would lead to the loss of a limb. Biological advancements have greatly increased the overall health of the population, but now, we are faced with even more challenges and therefore constantly require scientifically literate people.
Biology is the study of all living things and it is therefore incredibly vast. There are many different fields to it, and each is vital to our understanding of the world and how it works. However the majority of people most commonly associate the topic with medicine and health-related biology.
If you’re thinking of a career in the health sciences, the course possibilities are plenty. Every major university in New Zealand offers a Health Science course. In some universities such as Otago, anyone who wishes to do courses such as medicine, dentistry, physiotherapy and the like are required to complete the Health Science course in the first year of undergraduate study, as this allows the student to build a sound understanding of the physical sciences which students should be familiar with when entering the course: Physics, Chemistry and Biology. It has a strong focus on applying the knowledge from these subjects into a health and medical context. After the completion of the first year, based on their particular area of interest as well as their grades, students can start to specialise into different areas (these will vary between universities so check their websites to see which particular courses they offer). The main areas are however: medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, and physiotherapy. These themselves then branch out into various specialities ─ anatomy and structural biology, biochemistry, orthodontics, pathology, surgery, pharmacology, and that’s just a slither of what is available.
Prerequisites for the courses slightly differ between universities, but subjects which are strongly recommended are Physics, Biology, Chemistry and an English-rich subject. The complex nature of biology means that regardless of which area you choose to specialise in, it will be content heavy and will therefore require a lot commitment in going to lectures, completing notes, being chained to a desk with your nose deep in a five-hundred page textbook on human body systems (okay so maybe not the latter), but it will call for effective time management for you to be fully prepared when it comes to sitting the exams. But like anything, if you’re willing to put in the time and effort and have the passion for furthering your study in the field then the pain will definitely be worth the gain.
We are entering an exciting time for health related biology. It is now becoming easier for us to make the seemingly impossible, possible and the need for passionate people wanting to make the world healthier and better is never going to decrease, so consider whether the health sciences is where you can leave a mark on the world.
Image source: Tulane Public Relations