Amidst the scramble over choice of field of concentration, there stands in a situation by no means critical but nevertheless of concern to nearly half of Harvard's pre-medical students, the field of Biochemical Sciences. In spite of excellent and well-organized tutorial, Biochemical Sciences, which exists as field but not a department, on a whole is so loose and ill-defined that an increasing number of students are changing to Biology or Chemistry.
Because of the wide range of courses and topics covered, a Senior has little idea just what his General Examinations are going to contain, and since he cannot possibly prepare adequately for every possibility, he would rather shift to a field where the requirements are more accurately defined. Unfortunately, however, Biology and Chemistry present their own problems to the premedic because of concentration requirements not designed for pre-medical preparation. As far as Biochemical Sciences itself goes, the honors candidate is fairly well off because of the added advantage of tutorial and extra course requirements, while the student who is not of honors calibre but still might make an excellent physician, suffers for lack of more directive preparation.
One proposal for tightening up the field of Biochemical Sciences has been to limit it to honors candidates only, but this raises again the problem of what to do with non-honors men, who without much doubt would be far less well off in another field. Also to be considered are the group of men who might start out as honors candidates, but after being in the field a year or two fall below the honors level.
What remains? The most practical way out is to consolidate Biochemical Sciences into a more concrete field. With a special eye on the pre-meds who make up ninety percent of its concentrators, the field might augment its superior tutorial with improved formal preparation for honors and non-honors candidates alike, with quite happy results. In 1942 there was a course, Chemistry 46, which covered such chemical theory and procedure as a pre-media should know, but which unfortunately was not accepted for honors credit in Biochemical Sciences. Something similar to it is being offered this summer, and if continued might very well serve as a groundwork for the gradual building up of Biochemical Sciences into a fine, well-organized preparation for medical practice and research.