Getting into biomedical engineering

Hello! Lately I have been searching up on the biomedical engineering field because it captured my interest since mathematics is my high point and I have a particular interest in biology and medicine. While researching this field, I have come to realize that many people are advising that one should not get a Bachelor's Degree in Biomedical Engineering but rather a Bachelor's Degree in a more traditional engineering undergraduate program (i.e. chemical engineering). Do you agree with this advice? If so, which undergraduate program would be the best to go through if I wanted to pursue a career involving biomedical engineering? Personally, I love biology and am fond of physics (though I find it difficult), but I don't like chemistry very much so the thought of getting a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering doesn't appeal to me very much. In addition, I am very hard-working and studious but sometimes I feel as if I am not very innovate or flexible, and I feel as if I would fail as an engineer. Should I pursue engineering regardless? I have one last question (sorry this is so long!). I will be a senior in high school next year and I was planning on taking a Health Science class where the students get to do hands-on medical work such as taking shifts in the hospital. This class takes up two class periods. Would it be better if I took this class or should I instead take AP Physics and AP Chemistry in its place? Either is fine by me. Thank you for reading this and helping me!
posted by Gopika, Houston on January 6, 2013

Answer by Jennifer Elisseeff

Dear Gopika,  You have many good questions.  In the early days of biomedical engineering, one had to major in a more traditional department because the field was not well known or well accepted.  Today, that is not the case anymore and you can major in biomedical engineering and people will know your degree.  Chemical engineering can be actually quite different than chemistry class in high school so i would still keep an open mind about it.  Other options you might like include materials science and engineering or mechanical engineering.  

I bet you are - or could easily be - more innovative than you think.  In college or before, take some design or design engineering classes - innovation is a process you can learn.  Also - take a class in something very different - innovation often occurs at the crossroads of fields or by taking an idea from somewhere and applying it to a new field.

As for classes - AP classes can be nice in getting a good start in college classes but the health sciences classes sounds different and therefore interesting.  I don't think you can go wrong either way so may be good time to take what you would enjoy the most!

Good luck!