2008–09 Undergraduate Catalog
Pre-Medicine and Pre-Dentistry
Extremely strong competition exists for admission to these professional schools, especially in medicine, and it is important to obtain advising from the coordinator of pre-medicine and pre-dentistry to plan an individually appropriate and competitive program. To become a viable candidate for medical or dental school, a student must be well acquainted with the requirements and procedures as outlined below. There are several factors considered by medical and dental school selection committees. They include the following:
Medical School Admissions Checklist
First two college years:
Select a course schedule that will challenge your abilities and interests in the liberal arts and the basic sciences and fulfill more than minimum pre-medical and pre-dental requirements. Be sure that courses taken in your areas of interest will reflect excellent academic performance and will enhance your liberal arts background. There is no required or recommended major, however a solid set of undergraduate science courses is required, and exceeding the minimum is expected by most medical and dental admissions committees. Select your major in the field that interests you the most — make it a genuine choice, and be prepared to possibly spend extra time in school to achieve a non-science major and fulfill all required science prerequisite courses.
Take PPHS 1200 Intro to Health Professions in the fall term of your first year at SPU as a way to learn all about a variety of health care professions. See course descriptions and Time Schedule for more information.
Get to know the PPHS coordinator and the advisory committee faculty. Speak with students who are juniors and seniors and learn of their experiences. Join the student prehealth sciences club and select and shadow a clinical mentor.
Involve yourself with extracurricular commitments that are of interest to you, reflect your interest in medicine, and demonstrate service to the community and become a leader in that activity.
Develop friendships with members of the faculty who share common interests with you. Ask for their mentorship and guidance. This will enable them to better function in a support capacity and provide letters of recommendation during your application process.
Learn as much as you can about medicine or dentistry from physicians and dentists, medical and dental students, local hospitals, clinics, etc. It is common for these professional schools to expect and even require a letter of recommendation from one of these health care providers.
Arrange with the PPHS coordinator and/or clinicians in the area that interests you to observe medicine or dentistry first hand. These observations will probably be volunteer hours. A significant number of these hours are expected by admissions committees to demonstrate that you clearly understand the expectations of the profession.
Plan to achieve an outstanding undergraduate record and grade point average. Especially important is to achieve an upward trending GPA over the course of your college coursework schedule. Should you do poorly in an area, repeat the course and take a similar upper-level course to demonstrate your ability.
Take PPHS 1800 Health Care Career Seminar at least one time during your sophomore or junior year. It can be taken multiple times. This course is an advising course as well as an opportunity to meet admissions personnel, clinicians and get to know the PPHS coordinator, faculty members and staff members better. (This course is required for participation in the SPU mentorship program and for taking PPHS 2400).
Third year or fourth year:
Continue to improve or maintain a high academic performance. This is critical in the junior and senior year.
Obtain a copy of the Association of American Medical Colleges’ Medical School Admission Requirements or the ADEA Official Guide to Dental Schools. Study its contents and make note of any changes or new schools of medicine that may have new entering classes (also see www.aamc.org or www.adea.org).
Prepare for the MCAT or DAT (you may choose to enroll in special courses taught to improve test taking). Take the exam well in advance of submitting applications in order to properly assess your chances of acceptance. This will enable you to submit applications to the professional schools that best match your academic credentials. DO NOT take the MCAT or DAT just to see what it is about or "for practice." The record of your test-taking attempts follows for ALL subsequent applications. Multiple exam scores that do not significantly improve actually harm your chances of acceptance since the admission committee will see all records of exam performances.
Discuss your relative chances of entrance to medical/dental school with your PPHS coordinator and other members of the faculty who you hold in high regard. Be realistic! Be honest!
Take PPHS 2400 Graduate Health Professions Application Workshop in the Winter Quarter prior to summer application submission. This course is required before participation in the SPU PPHS committee interview and review process.
Carefully assess your chances for entrance into medical or dental school. Research particular schools that interest you and where you think you might have a better chance of admission. If your chances appear to be excellent, visit and talk to schools of your interest. Attend all admissions presentations that come to campus from these professional schools. Speak to their students to learn about the curriculum design and general attitudes. Speak to alumni of those professional schools and assess their experiences.
If you are prepared to take the MCAT, select a test date prior to May 15 of the same year you plan to submit your application. This is approximately 15 months prior to anticipated matriculation. Later dates will make application submission delayed and thus non-competitive. Applications are EXPECTED to be made in June or July, 14 months prior to anticipated matriculation. Registration at www.aamc.org/students/mcat. If your MCAT scores are poor or only average, retaking the test in summer is essential. Consider postponing applications until MCAT scores are competitive, MCAT scores are released approximately one month after the test day.
The DAT can be taken any day of the year. Scores are immediately available and the exam should be taken in the spring or early summer in the year applications are submitted. It is becoming more and more necessary to take the exam prior to submitting applications to ensure a competitive application. Registration at www.ada.org/prof/ed/testing/dad.
During Spring Quarter of the year you plan to apply, make arrangements with the PPHS coordinator to have an interview with your PPHS advisory committee. Upon request, the committee will provide an appropriate letter of evaluation for you to the schools to which you apply. Letters from outside sources are due to the coordinator in the early summer of your application year. These outside letters are a part of the committee evaluation process and all are submitted from the coordinator's office directly to the professional school admission office. Committee evaluation letters (when available, as they are at SPU) are expected for application to medical and dental schools.
Your personal statement (rough draft) and copy of all transcripts are required to begin the SPU PPHS committee evaluation process. These are submitted to the coordinator at the beginning of Spring Quarter of your application year.
The medical school primary application is called AMCAS (www.aamc.org/students/amcas/start.htm) for domestic M.D. granting institutions, AACOMAS (aacomas.aacom.org) for domestic D.O. granting institutions, and AADSAS (www.adea.org/AADSAS) for the dental school primary application. These need to be submitted in June or July of the application year.
Use the remainder of the summer to complete all "secondary" application materials. Admission to these schools is on a “rolling” basis. Adhering strictly to “apply by the deadline” date is considered showing minimal interest and most often results in rejection. Applying "by the deadline" shows procrastination and in most cases results in a very expensive and fruitless application year.
Fourth year or post-graduation year:
Be sure that all necessary materials have been forwarded to AMCAS, AACOMAS, or AADSAS, or directly to the medical or dental schools of your interest as requested by these organizations (i.e., transcripts, recommendations, and MCAT or DAT scores). Make sure all secondary applications are complete.
Complete all scholarship and loan applications as soon as possible. To be eligible for financial aid, you must complete the FAFSA form. Consider other means of financing if necessary.
In early Autumn Quarter, continue to evaluate your admission potential and prepare for interviews. You may decide to apply to additional medical schools. If so, be aware of their application deadline dates so that your application is eligible for consideration. Continue to discuss the application process with the PPHS coordinator.
Notify your faculty members of selection for interview and dates that you need to travel and be away from your classes if applicable.
If you are admitted to the school of your choice, notify all other schools in which you are no longer interested as a courtesy to them.
As the application year progresses, send any additional items (such as first-quarter grades) to the schools considering your application.
If you are placed on the waiting list, continue to add to your record all additional credits, honors, experiences, etc., to strengthen your application. Let the school know of your strong interest in their program.
If you are admitted to medical school or dental school, forward your deposit and begin planning for housing and loans, etc.
If you are not admitted, consider and discuss alternatives with the PPHS coordinator.
A summary of procedure
General Coursework for
Pre-Medical and Pre-Dental
Additional science courses are strongly recommended in anatomy, biochemistry, cell biology, developmental biology, genetics, histology, physical chemistry, and anatomy and physiology. Some medical schools also suggest a knowledge of calculus. All applicants must complete a minimum of 135 quarter credit hours (three years) of academic work. However, with the increasing competition to enter medical and dental schools, it is extremely rare for applicants to be admitted with less than four years of undergraduate work and a bachelor’s degree.
Suggested additional courses include nutrition, communication, and two English courses.
Enrollments are limited and admission is selective. All pre-optometry courses must be completed before entering a college of optometry. The following represents a minimum pre-optometry program:
The following is a list of courses often required by many of the schools of pharmacy. One should check the individual school of pharmacy to get the specific requirements and also check with the pre-health science advisor. Applications to pharmacy schools begin with a central application.