Career Spotlight: Chiropractor

Are you looking for a career that takes a natural, preventative approach to health care? A career that helps patients achieve good health and function without the invasive use of drugs or surgery?

If you are, I implore you to consider pursuing a Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) Degree Program.


1. Who is a chiropractor?
According to the Sherman College of Chiropractic, a chiropractor is a health care professional focused on the diagnosis and treatment neuromuscular disorders, with an emphasis on treatment through manual adjustment and/or manipulation of the spine. Most chiropractors seek to reduce pain and improve the functionality of patients as well as to educate them on how they can account for their own health via exercise, ergonomics and other therapies to treat back pain.

Most chiropractors work full time, according to wikiprofessional.org. They are typically employed in office settings, either in a private practice or in a group with other chiropractors. Though not frequently seen, chiropractors can also work in doctors’ offices. Those who work in their own offices have more flexibility when it comes to scheduling, but they may need to work in the evening and on the weekend depending on patient need. Chiropractors often work with physical therapists, massage therapists, and other medical professionals involved in the area of rehabilitation.

2. What are the educational requirements to get into an accredited chiropractic school?
Chiropractors typically graduate from an accredited chiropractic school. They do not have an MD or DO degree from a medical school; instead they earn a D.C. (Doctor of Chiropractic) degree. Currently, chiropractic candidates are not required to have a bachelor’s degree before entering chiropractic school. However, many students do complete a bachelor’s program, and a minimum of 90 semester hours of undergraduate coursework is required for acceptance into a chiropractic program. Prospective chiropractic students will also need to have successfully passed prerequisite classes in biology, chemistry, and physics.

According to the American Chiropractic Association, there are 16-18 schools and institutions that hold accredited status with the Council on Chiropractic Education. The list can be found at the American Chiropractic Association website.

3. What is chiropractic school like?
According to about.com, The chiropractic course is typically a total of four years, but some programs vary in length. The focus of the classroom coursework entails courses in the sciences such as anatomy, physiology, biology, biochemistry, and pathology. In addition to classroom requirements, lab and clinical training are required components of the chiropractic education.

Licensure is required on a national level and is obtained by passing a four-part test by the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners. Not surprisingly, continuing medical education (CME) is required to keep licensure current. Some state boards require additional testing, but most recognize the national test.

4. What is the job outlook for a chiropractor?
The outlook for chiropractors is well above average, with about 20% growth predicted between 2008-2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. There are about 49,100 chiropractors practicing in the U.S. as of 2008, and about 44% of those are self-employed in a solo practice.

The reason for this faster than average growth is due to the new popularity of alternatives to medication and surgery. Also, since alternative therapies are now being more widely accepted, insurance companies are more likely to cover chiropractic treatment, and chiropractors are now working with other medical professionals to treat patients. The portion of the population that is aging will also seek chiropractic treatment due to conditions and injuries of the spine and joints associated with getting older.

5. Additional Job statistics according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics,

Median pay: $66,160 per year ($31.81 per hour)
Number of Jobs: 44,400


Hopefully you found this to be a good introduction into the profession. You can find additional information about the preparation for chiropractic school by checking out the guidelines provided by the Association of Chiropractic Colleges.

Sincerely,

Wilson Ng
BASC Peer Adviser 2014-2015

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Asking for a Letter of Recommendation (The Right Way)

Asking professors for letters of recommendation can be an intimidating experience. It requires that the student be an active initiator.  However, if a student prepares in the right way, the student can rest assured that his/her actions are professional and appropriate.

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Part A: During the class

1. Sit in the Front: At a university with fairly large class sizes, it would be in the student’s favor to try to sit as close to the front as possible so to maximize eye-contact with the instructor. You will tend to notice that professors are a lot more receptive to you during office hours if you regularly sit in the front since it suggests that you are an interested and motivated student. Furthermore, there are obvious learning advantages provided by sitting towards the front of the class, such as better vision of the blackboard, better hearing of lecture material, and better focus.

2. Go to Office Hours: Many professors feel that they do not have enough students that take advantage of their office hours even though their class roster has hundreds of students. This is a great chance to show the professor that you care about the class and that you want to improve your grade or knowledge of the subject matter. The professor will also have a chance to get to know you and your career goals.

* Don’t show up unprepared! Study beforehand and only ask questions that were not clearly addressed in lecture or on lecture slides. For example, prepare at least 3 open-ended questions about the course material. Refrain from asking questions about grading since the syllabus should address it.

3. (Try to) Do well in the class: Although professors may agree to give their recommendations for B students, it is in the student’s favor to achieve the highest grade possible. In this way, the professor can speak about the student’s academic intellect without any reservations. This will help maximize the strength of the letter of recommendation.


Part B: After the class

1. 3 months before recommendation is needed: Decide who you want to approach to write a recommendation on your behalf. Some questions to brainstorm about in this process:

  • Has this professor seen my recent work?
  • Have I kept in contact with this professor?
  • Does this professor know my strengths from experiences both inside and outside the classroom?
  • Did I do well in this instructor’s course(s)?
  • Have I always acted ethically in regards to this professor and her or his class?
  • Can this professor speak about my intellectual development and achievement of skills in a positive manner?

2. 5-6 weeks before recommendation is needed: Ask the professor either in office hours or by  email if the professor is comfortable writing to  recommend you for your given context, e.g. graduate school, a job, a scholarship. I prefer asking to meet with a professor and asking him/her face-to-face. In this way, you can spot any hint of hesitation, which is clearly a red flag.

Here’s how I would recommend phrasing the question when you see the professor in person: “Hi Dr. XXX, I wanted to ask if you would be willing to support me in my application by writing me a STRONG letter of recommendation?”

  • At this point, one of two things can happen:
    a. The professor shows hesitation or says no. In this situation, thank them for their time and move on.
    b. The professor agrees with no hesitation. In this case, ask to schedule an appointment with them soon to provide them with more information about you.

3. At least a month before the recommendation is needed: If the professor agrees to your request, visit the professor during her/his office hours to discuss your specific plans. During that meeting, prepare a folder for the professor that includes:

  • Your transcript
  • Your resume
  • Copies of work (papers, projects) you have written for this professor with his/her comments
  • A statement of purpose/your application essay. Having at least a working draft of your application essay allows the professor to specifically address your audience and to craft the recommendation to fit your needs.
  • A list of due dates and addresses to indicate which recommendations are to be done on-line and which in paper. Explain this part clearly and in detail.
  • Your contact information (and invite your professor to contact you if he/she ever has any additional questions)

* Remember to dress appropriately for this appointment. I recommend treating it like you would for a professional interview. Please refer to the Internship and Career Center’s tips for Dressing for Success.

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By following the protocol listed above, you are ensuring that your request is professional and appropriate. Once the professor has submitted the letter of recommendation, it is customary for the student to express his/her gratitude through a thank-you card.

Best of luck,
Wilson Ng
BASC Peer Adviser 2014-2015

Reflection for the New Quarter

With the Spring quarter fast ahead, there is no doubt that some students feel a little anxious as they progress through the rest of the academic year. I wanted to share a technique that I have been using which has helped me personally during recent quarters. The basis of the technique is simple: reflection for improvement. The following template is only a suggestion; feel free to adjust the reflection process however you want. Nonetheless, the intended effect is to strengthen your purpose and your goals. Best of all, it takes no more than 15 minutes to complete.


Part 1:

1. Name your favorite class from both Fall and Winter. What were its attributes that made you feel this way? (For example, some classes are heavily lecture-based. Did you enjoy sitting in lecture? Or are you a podcast warrior? Did you like discussion sections or laboratory sections?)

2. Think of an achievement from the past quarter(s) that you are proud of. How did this make you a better person or further your goals? (e.g. Did you go to office hours like you told yourself to? Were you proud of that paper that you spent hours working on? Did you get the officer position in the club that you wanted?)

3. Name some new people you met during Fall and Winter quarter. Did you make any new friends within that group of new people? What did you do to maintain the relationship? (e.g. Did you join a new club? Did you get to know your TA/professor well? How do you keep in touch with friends?)

Part 1 Debrief:   These first couple of questions may seem trivial, but being able to articulate these things reflect the general level of happiness that you experienced last quarter or this quarter. For example, if you are unable to name a class that you genuinely enjoyed, it might be indicative of poor course selection. You may also want to consider whether or not you truly enjoy the major you are pursuing. The degree of satisfaction and fulfillment with the quality of life as a student directly correlates with performance in school. Hence, it is not an option to choose classes that illicit your interest and  to partake in extracurriculars that you genuinely enjoy. If you are unsure about what classes you want to take in the College of Biological Sciences, please come and drop in for peer-advising at the BASC! Our peers will be able to help you explore your interests in Biology. Also, search/browse all 650 clubs at our school as listed on the website for the Center for Student Involvement.


Part 2: These basic questions examine your work ethic and academic well-being. Although these questions are fundamentally subjective, one should be as objective as possible in providing a honest answer.

1. What was successful about Fall quarter or Winter quarter? Were your goals and objectives met? (e.g. Did you get the grades you were aiming for?) If so, what specific things did you do to make your successes happen?

2. What wasn’t successful about the past quarter(s)? What do you want to do differently the next time you face a similar ordeal? (e.g. Were you constantly late to class or skipping class? Did you forget to do assignments because you did not take the time to organize a calendar?)

3. Did you make time to utilize any of the many resources our campus offers to reach your goal(s)? A list of campus resources can be found here on the UC Davis student housing website. In addition, check out the Student Academic Success Center to get academic tutoring/help.

4. Did you take care of your mental and physical health? What are some outlets of relaxation for you? How effective are they? (Some students like meditating, some like hitting the weights, others enjoy a stroll through the Arboretum from time to time. If you are interested in taking exercise classes, please check out the services that the ARC provides.

If you ever get sick or hurt (physically or emotionally), please visit the Student Health and Counseling Services.


I hope that the exercise has been beneficial for you. It is important to remember that success means different things for different individuals. Thus, feel free to add/subtract/change any questions as you deem fit. However, with the power of introspection, one can seek continuous improvement to progress toward one’s goal.

Sincerely,

Wilson Ng
BASC Peer Adviser 2014-2015

Career Spotlight: Dentist

Do you see yourself to be a highly respectable healthcare provider for your community in the future? Would you like to treat pain with the latest instruments and diagnose symptoms with computer software? Do you like working with people in a team effort? Are you interested in pursuing a career that offers a good balance between your professional life and private life? Would a profession that allows you to practice both art and science be enjoyable for you? If so, you may want to consider pursuing dentistry as a career.

According to University of California, San Francisco School of Dentistry, “Dentistry is the art and science of maintaining the health of the teeth and surrounding oral structures.” It involves physical evaluation of patients, prevention of oral and dental diseases, disease diagnosis, and therapy. Furthermore, it is a dynamic health profession that is continuing to grow due to an increasing realization that oral health can have a serious impact on systemic health. If the eyes are the windows to our souls, then our oral cavities are the windows to our health, often serving as a means to detect the early signs and symptoms of systemic disease. For example, systemic conditions such as AIDS or diabetes usually first become apparent as mouth lesions or other oral problems. In fact, according to the Academy of General Dentistry, more than 90 percent of all systemic diseases produce oral signs and symptoms.

Dentistry is a very versatile profession. For example, according to explorehealthcareers.org, general dentists may do the following (in addition to many other procedures):

  • Use the latest techniques and equipment to examine the head and neck and oral cavity to identify and diagnose oral conditions that may manifest into systemic disease and determine the oral health of the patient.
  • Use the latest radiographic, computer-generated imaging, and other specialized diagnostic techniques to identify diseases of the teeth, supporting bone and gingival tissues, and other tissues in the oral cavity and head and neck.
  • Restore and replace teeth damaged by decay, lost from trauma or disease, with newly developed dental materials, implants, and crown and bridge techniques.
  • Perform corrective surgery on gums and supporting bones to treat gum disease.
  • Extract teeth when necessary using the most up-to-date anesthetic techniques.
  • Eliminate pain arising from oral diseases, conditions and trauma, making use of prescriptive medicines to reduce pain and discomfort.
  • Correct mal-positioned teeth to improve chewing, speech, digestion of food and appearance.
  • Oversee the administration and business of private practice and frequently employ and supervise a large number of staff and allied dental personnel to help treat their family of patients.
  • Evaluate the overall health of their patients including taking and evaluating comprehensive medical histories.
  • Provide instruction and advice on oral health care and preventive measures to maintain healthy oral tissues and prevent oral disease.
  • Provide instruction and advice on oral health care, including individualized diet analysis, brushing and flossing techniques, the use of fluoridated products and other specialized preventive measures to maintain healthy oral tissues and prevent oral disease.

The same source also estimates that full-time dentists who work in private practice allocate approximately 36 hours per week, of which 33 hours/week is spent treating patients. Many have great flexibility in determining the number of hours per week they choose to work, the procedures that they want to work on, the materials that they want to use, as well as the assistants that they want to work with.


To apply to dental schools, most applicants have at least a Bachelors degree.  Furthermore, preparation for dental school requires that certain prerequisite courses be completed and that applicants take the Dental Admission Test (DAT). A competitive DAT score is around a 20-22. More information about the DAT may be found at the American Dental Association website.

Below is a general summary of those prerequisites that will differ slightly depending on the school of interest:

  • Inorganic Chemistry: 1 year with lab (CHE 2ABC)
  • Organic Chemistry: 1 year with lab (CHE 118ABC; CHE 128ABC+129ABC also acceptable, and other combinations of organic chemistry may be acceptable for some schools)
  • Physics: 1 year with lab (PHY 7ABC; PHY 9ABC also acceptable)
  • Biology: 1 year with laboratory (BIS 2ABC + 1 additional lab, such as EXB 106+106L or NPB 101+101L or BIS 101+MCB 160L or MIC 101, because BIS 2A does not include a lab)
  • English: 1 year (any 3 courses in ENL, COM or UWP; 2 quarters of composition highly recommended;ESL, English 57 and communication not acceptable by most schools); check individual schools for exceptions (e.g. UOP) and restrictions (e.g. UCSF)

Besides the didactic prerequisites, admission committees highly suggest that the applicant have a solid idea of what the profession is about. Students are encouraged find a shadowing position or internship position that would give them adequate exposure to the field of dentistry. In addition, the admission committees will look at the applicant’s work experience, research experience, volunteer experience, and extracurriculars. To get started, joining the Pre-Dental Society at UC Davis to meet other pre-dental students.

Once a student is in a DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery) or DMD (Doctor of Dental Medicine) program (both degrees are the same according to the American Dental Association), all U.S. licensing jurisdictions require evidence that a candidate for licensure has passed Parts I and II of the written National Board Dental Examinations. Each examination is composed exclusively of multiple-choice test items. Part I is a comprehensive examination covering the basic biomedical sciences, dental anatomy and ethics testlets. Part II is a comprehensive examination covering clinical dental subjects, including patient management.


According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for dentists was $149,310 in May 2012. Employment of dentists is projected to grow 16 percent from 2012 to 2022, faster than the average for all occupations. Lately, the profession has enjoyed favorable recognition in lists of the “best jobs” according to many sources, including U.S. News and CNBC

Hopefully you found this to be a good introduction into the profession. You can also find information about the preparation for dental school by checking out the guidelines provided by the Student Academic Success Center.

Sincerely,

Wilson Ng
BASC Peer Adviser 2014-2015

 

 

How to Succeed in Upper Division BIS series

All College of Biological Sciences (CBS) students who are pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree have to take our core BIS upper division series. Depending on your major, you may choose to take BIS 101, 105, 104 or BIS 101, 102, 103, and 104. Let’s briefly discuss each class:

  • BIS 101- Genes and Gene Expression: In this course, students will learn in detail about nucleic acid structure and function, gene expression, replication, and regulation. Many students have previous exposure to the topic from a general Biology class but this class will guide students beyond introductory level genetics. A special feature of this class is an optional 1-unit, P/NP discussion section, BIS 101D. The discussion creates a space for approaching problem-solving and is highly recommended for students to enroll in.
  • BIS 102- Structure and Function of Biomolecules: The class focuses on the many aspects of proteins, lipids, and membranes. Key concepts from general biology, such as weak bond interactions, amino acids, the different levels of protein structure, and pH/buffer calculations, will constitute a substantial amount of the course. Additionally, students will learn new concepts, such as enzyme kinetics, enzymatic assays, as well as protein purification.
  • BIS 103- Bioenergetics and Metabolism: The student will be exposed to enzymes and substrates of the major metabolic pathways, such as glycolysis, gluconeogenesis, fermentation, Kreb’s cycle, Electron Transport Chain, and the Pentose Phosphate Shunt.
  • BIS 104- Cell Biology: Course content includes membrane receptors and signal transduction, cell growth and division, extracellular matrix and cell-cell junctions, and the immune system.
  • BIS 105- Biomolecules and Metabolism: This one-quarter course includes select topics from both BIS 102 and BIS 103, ranging from the fundamentals of biochemical processes to energy metabolism. Hence, some CBS students can choose to take BIS 105 in place of both BIS 102 and BIS 103. ***Note: Cell Biology majors and Biochemistry majors have to take both BIS 102 and BIS 103.

But how are these classes different than the general Biology series?

With few exceptions, professors that teach upper division science often have high expectations from their students. Professors generally lecture solely on concepts/facts and then expect you to solve problems based on integration and application of that lecture material. Hence, a lot of students get frustrated since they are not in the habit of thinking “outside the box.” Those students usually have a mindset of “just tell me what to know, and I’ll learn it.” To maximize your chance of succeeding, students should make an effort to:

1) Time manage! For each hour you spend in class, expect to allot at least two hours for studying. This rule of thumb exists for good reason and helps you practice good-studying habits. With the amount of content that you will be responsible for, allot time to review old material since exam-content is generally cumulative and concepts build upon each other.

2) “Cover all your bases.” Make sure you understand all the major concepts first and then tackle the finer details. If the lectures are recorded, re-listen to the podcasts to clarify any topics that may have been initially confusing or unclear. Students who make an effort to know their notes inside and out will be rewarded. (Pay attention to graphs, charts, experiments etc…)

3) Practice! Professors assign homework to get their students thinking, and much of the time exam questions are based off of homework problems. Practice exams, if provided by the instructor, give big hints as to what you can expect to be on your test. Creating your own set of notes independent of the professor’s slides can be a good source of additional practice. Recreating images or flowcharts for the purpose of note-taking will definitely give you an edge on the exam!

4) Seek help! Since problem-solving may or may not be covered in lecture, students usually have a multitude of questions about assignments. To address their concerns, professors/T.A.’s/ tutors have office hours on a weekly basis for open discussion. Try to think of office hours as an integral part of your learning experience and less as an “optional” resource, especially for the upper division sciences courses. The Student Academic Success Center also offers drop-in tutoring for BIS 101, 102, and 103. More information may be found here: http://success.ucdavis.edu/academic/

5) Help others! Don’t underestimate the learning potential from explaining concepts to your colleagues. Your classmates will quickly detect the holes in your understanding of the subject, to which then you can explore and address. This ties in directly with tip #2 since having a comprehensive and thorough knowledge of the material is crucial to your success.

In addition, forming study groups is advantageous  so that you and your classmates have a chance to debate about core concepts and help each other get on par with the material.


A final note is to just have fun with and enjoy these classes. Although it is challenging, the coursework is designed to prepare you for graduate programs as well as for your future career. In hindsight, all of the hard-work that I invested into my upper division classes paid off because I became detail-oriented and learned to think both globally and critically. With the concepts of the lower division courses serving as a foundation for those of the upper division, your educational journey with CBS will open your mind to the fascination of modern biology.

Sincerely,

Wilson Ng
BASC Peer Adviser 2014-2015

How to Succeed in the UCD CHE 118 Series

Many CBS students get panic-stricken at the thought of being required to enroll in three quarters of Organic Chemistry here at UC Davis. However, in my personal experience, doing well in the 118 series is not a far-fetched goal in hindsight (many of my peers will agree with me).

Before we get into a specific plan-of-attack for O-Chem at UC Davis, I want to quickly discuss the importance of the study of carbon. The majority of students who have to take Organic Chemistry for Health and Life Sciences tend to have aspirations for graduate school or a career in a health profession. Simply put, many of the biological reactions that take place in the human body, i.e. metabolism, are processes that involve organic molecules.  In addition, organic compounds play a critical part in diverse fields ranging from genetics, materials science, nutrition, and kinesiology, to consumer products development. Each of these fields depends on producing organic compounds either naturally or synthetically. Thus, the reactions you will be studying certainly goes beyond the classroom and  is more closely intertwined with our daily lives than you may have previously thought.


 

Let us get back on track with a quick breakdown of the three classes of this series:

CHE 118A: This class will provide the student with an introduction to the basic principles of arrow-pushing mechanisms, sterics, conformations, spectroscopy, and fundamental reactions. CHE 118A comes attached with a mandatory discussion. Don’t underestimate CHE 118A, as mastering the material in this class will build a solid foundation for the courses that follow in the series.

CHE 118B: The second class in the series builds heavily on CHE 118A and is more rigorous as students will be expected to memorize a plethora of more complicated reactions and understand the various types of spectroscopy in more detail. Learning mechanisms will undoubtedly comprise a large role of the class. Instead of the discussion hour, students will be expected to attend a laboratory section designed for hands-on learning of both reactions and spectroscopy.

CHE 118C: The last class in the series will put heavy emphasis on carboxylic acid derivatives and will also serve as an introduction to the fundamentals of biochemistry. The class also comes with a laboratory requirement.


 

Ask around, and you will hear from most students that organic chemistry is a game of pure memorization. This is simply NOT the case because memorization can only get you so far. In Organic Chemistry as a Second Language, David Klein compares the topic to a long movie that will ultimately make sense if you consistently pay attention and strive to understand the plot.  He stresses the importance of fully grasping principles and then learning to apply that knowledge via problem solving. The principles will be in your textbook and your lecture notes, but it is up to you to discover how to solve problems. That being said, let us dive into some tips that may help you reach your goal:

1. Do not miss lecture and take diligent notes. From personal experience, a majority of material that will show up on examination day was discussed in lecture at some point in time.

2. Attend office hours: If you hear something once in lecture and don’t understand, give it another try by asking your professor or TA to clarify or reiterate the topic. This helps greatly if you develop the habit to ask the right questions. For example, if you showed up at a doctor’s office with a stomach pain, he will most likely ask the “right” questions, such as “where is the pain” and “when did the pain first appear”.

3. Make your own flashcards! I hand-wrote every single, non-redundant, reaction/fact from my lecture notes onto a 5×8 flashcard and carried them around with me. When I got bored or was on the bus, I would pull them out to practice. This method will speed up the reviewing process and help tremendously with the memorization aspect of organic chemistry.

4. Practice, practice, and more practice! Practice problems from the textbook and exams can expose you to novel questions that can test your application of knowledge in new and different ways. This will mentally prepare you to think outside of the box for your midterms and finals. If you have trouble remembering mechanisms, get a whiteboard so that you can make the mistakes at home and not on test day.

5. Access additional resources to supplement your textbook, if possible. The textbook that is extremely detailed and thus can be difficult to skim through. Here are some that I suggest:

  • Try a shorter read by David Klein: Organic Chemistry as a Second Language. I personally read both volumes during the time I took Orgo and attribute a large part of my success in the 118 series to Mr. Klein.
  • When you need a break from reading, you may find watching video explanations helpful. My favorite channel for organic chemistry can be found http://www.freelance-teacher.com/videos.htm#ORGANICCHEMISTRY.

6. Take advantage of the workshops offered by the SASC (Student Academic Success Center) that are designed specifically for the 118 series. For more information, please visit: http://success.ucdavis.edu/academic/workshops-math-sci.html.

7. Lastly, get study partners or form study groups! Topics may be better engrained in your head when you hear about them from your peers’ own perspectives. Remember, there is more than one correct way to learn organic chemistry! Furthermore, take turns to “teach” each other the material, which can help check if you have truly grasped the topics or not. Holding each other accountable to keeping up with the material is an additional plus.

Stay motivated and remember that doing well is always possible,

Wilson Ng
BASC Peer Adviser 2014-2015

Why Should Students with a Science Major Care about Writing?

A lot of students face their major’s College English Composition Requirement with dread. As you may know, this requirement dictates that to graduate from the College of BioSci, one must take 8 units in English Composition (UWP 1, 18, 19; ENL 3; COM 1-4; UWP 101; UWP 102 or 104 series) with at least 4 upper division units. In short, as a CBS student, writing is all but inevitable. Many students choose a major in the field of Biology to get away from English papers and then get incredibly dismayed when they find out about this requirement. (Note that health professional schools take it even further by requiring a year of English from their applicants!)

However, being a good writer pays off in the real world. We all know that efficient progress in science and technology cannot happen without communication, which is the fundamental vehicle for the sharing of knowledge. Within the scientific community, better communication leads to collaboration, easier access to cross-disciplinary knowledge, and more efficient training. Not only will this skill help you facilitate discussion with other researchers, but it will also allow the public, the source of your funds, to better understand your goals. Some of this communication will be verbal, but a large part of it will be in writing.  Regardless, verbal and written communication are deeply intertwined, and you, as a scientist, will have to be a master of both to get your discoveries and ideas across to others.

“I’m interested in being a healthcare provider though”, you may say. Then you may (and should) also be aware that writing office notes, patient reports, and consultations is part of the job description. Furthermore, a critical part of good medicine is the mastery of the presentation of scientific material to a variety of audiences (e.g. patients or co-workers). Many will have trouble doing this, but writing can help foster this skill by allowing you to improve the conciseness and accuracy of what you are trying to express. On a deeper level, as a healthcare professional, you will accumulate a vast spectrum of experience with the human condition. Throughout the journey, you will undoubtedly encounter fear, pain, struggle, and loss. You will spend a great deal of time listening to your patients’ narratives about their illnesses or health. Once in a while, you may feel that a particular experience has moved you or that you have gained valuable insight. It is only natural that you will want to share these episodes with other human beings. Although it will be easier to verbally communicate with your friends, family, and co-workers, writing allows you to reach out to more people in more places and immortalizes those experiences.

As a concluding remark, I would like to offer some personal tips on doing well in your writing courses:

1. Be patient. Writing takes some “getting back in shape”, especially if you have not had to write in a while.

2. Visit your instructor’s office hours and get a better understanding of what he/she wants.

3. Don’t procrastinate- college papers are not meant to be written at the last moment. Try to space out your writing sessions.

4. Ask another person to help you proofread. This is an important step because you can gauge how well your messages are getting across to people who are not familiar with your topic.

5. Address all parts of the prompt.


Wilson Ng

BASC Peer Adviser 2013-2014