Biochem--in med school and before

So, I’m taking a biochem class right now. It’s ok and everything, but I don’t think I like it as much as I was hoping I would. It’s not even biochem actually, it’s called biological chemistry, and it’s taught through the chem department. I do think it’s interesting, but there’s so much detail! It’s like taking those detailed reactions from organic, and then piling on top of that a lot of wierd stuff about biological systems which is a result of their being evolved through time rather than thought up in the most efficient way, with nice leaving groups like chlorine. So it’s a challenge.
Anyway, I am having some trouble dealing with it. We had a take home test tonight that I just turned in, and it was haaaard! For the exams we have to be pretty creative, and suggest reasons why things happen. Of course if we are wrong, the creativity is not as well received. So we have to know the big picture, too. I don’t even know if I was on the right track.
I’m just wondering if anyone else has taken biochem and has any suggestions about how to adjust to this new take on chemistry. And what’s biochem like in med school? Is the chemistry super detailed, or is it more of an overview? Do you have to learn lots of mechanisms? In the class I’m taking right now, we spent 3 weeks just looking at one part of one enzyme that would be found in one part of the intestine (of a cow). And there are like–how many?–enzymes in a human being? I think I may soon reach my lifetime maximum tolerance for this subject, so I’m just wondering what to expect if I see it again one day in med school! Hmm… any ideas?

You dont have that much time in medical school to learn 3 weeks on one enzyme. You have roughly…15 minutes max. Then you move on.
For example, Glycogen and Glucose. One can covert to another and backward. Know how. Know the deficiency problems that can arise and what can happen with excesses. We learn some mechanisms, but only to know how it got from point A to point B.
I looked at taking Ugrad Biochem and then thought the better of it.
Medical Biochem is much different.

Well, I didn’t know better and took ugrad Biochem and it kicked my butt! It also sounded NOTHING like what you are describing. hmmm? Anyway, it didn’t help that the school does “team teaching” and the first prof was great, I was almost an A, then prof 2 stepped in, and things dropped fast. He spent all of his time name dropping (he also teaches at UTSW) and giving tests that were nothing like the lectures and usually based on the minutae. A total jerk.
Kathy (reliving Biochem hell)

I took biochem postbacc and really liked it - but it wasn’t anything like what you’re describing! I also found that it helped me a lot in med school, but that’s because our biochem teachers generally aren’t very good - and it helps to have a leg up because it all comes at you so fast.
I wouldn’t say I enjoy biochem, but it does have it’s interesting points. The things that come back again: metabolism (Kreb’s cycle, insulin/glucagon effects on enzymes), general protein structure, hemoglobin, cell signaling (dang G proteins drive me crazy!). That’s all I can think of this second but there’s more.
Sounds like your class isn’t the best. Still, I’ll bet you’ll find things that are useful to you in med school.

I took biochem during my glide year and thought it gave me a good foundation in the basics of biochem and how to study for it. I understood a lot of the lingo that may have flown by me in the fast pace of med school.

Hey, thanks for the comments. I’m trying to regroup and dedicate myself to this class once again. There are only a couple more weeks (we’re on trimesters), so I’ve got my work cut out for me.
I think this class is more intended for future chemists than it is for bio-minded people. I really like chemistry, so that’s not so much a problem, it’s just that the class is, well, hard…
The Krebs cycle–we covered part of that, looking at some cool enzymes. And I’m going to be doing a project on an interesting protein pretty soon. Hopefully things will start to click now!

Hi there,
I taught Biochemistry at the undergraduate level, graduate level and medical school level. Biological Chemistry is not Biochemistry. The course that you describe is the chemistry of biological reactions and more geared to chemists who might be interested in the pharmaceutical industry.
Even a graduate level Biochemisty course is not the same as the Biochemistry course that is taken by medical students. We have to tailor the course to meet the needs of the students that we are teaching. A person who takes a graduate-level biochemistry course is generally headed for a career in research, hence the emphasis on the mechanisms of reactions of biomedical molecules.
The medical student is more of a user of Biochemistry in a practical sense. You need to understand why your patient is in lactic acidosis and what you need to do to get them out.
Biochemistry is typically one of the more difficult course for the freshman medical student to adjust your tolerance level upwards.


Let me be clearer, the guy at UCF was full of reactions coming out the wazoo. I mean if there was a reaction, he tested on it. His exams were all essay and if you missed one little thing he ripped you for it. So that was my ugrad experience. At Barry, the prof, no longer there I might add, was also really into knowing full fledged reactions and I find now, that it was not helpful at all.
I would venture, given the rest of the posts on this, that there are good biochem professors out there…I just never found one. My experience.