2012-13 Undergraduate Catalog
Cynthia L. Fitch, Ph.D., Coordinator, Department of Biology
All Pre-Professional Health Science Students
A career in health sciences involves both a strong science preparation and a strong foundation in liberal arts — because medicine is a healing art requiring significant skills in human interaction and understanding. And patients are best served by practitioners who are well grounded in the liberal arts, human sciences, and the pure sciences.
Any major is acceptable preparation. However, a strong undergraduate program in the sciences is both required and advised. Admission to professional schools is extremely competitive, especially in medicine, so it is important to obtain advising from the coordinator of the Pre-Professional Health Sciences program to plan an individually appropriate and competitive academic plan throughout undergraduate preparation.
Health science graduate programs consider several factors, including the following:
Students interested in other graduate health science programs, such as optometry and physician assistant, have the option to utilize the committee interview and letter of evaluation service. However, use of the committee system by these students is not required, because the application process is different for these programs. Traditionally, students intending to enter pharmacy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and other graduate programs in health sciences do not utilize the committee system.
Nevertheless, all PPHS students are expected to utilize the academic advising associated with the PPHS coordinator and Advisory Board, as well as participate in all or most of the PPHS classes described below.
Success in pursuing a career in health science and gaining acceptance to a health science graduate program demands constant self-assessment on the part of the student and mentoring by knowledgeable faculty and clinical professionals who have themselves advised many successful students over the years.
Professional Health Science Graduate School Admissions Checklists
Summary of the Application Procedure
Pre-Medicine and Pre-Dentistry
Key factors considered by medical and dental school selection committees are based on the following:
A graduate degree in medicine is obtained by attending an allopathic medical school and earning a medical doctor (M.D.) degree or by attending an osteopathic medical school and earning a doctor of osteopathic medicine (D.O.) degree. Both types of graduates are fully eligible to become board certified in any specialty and practice medicine in all 50 U.S. states.
A graduate degree in dentistry is obtained by attending any U.S. dental school and earning either a dental medical doctor (D.M.D.) degree or a doctor of dental surgery (D.D.S.) degree. The type of degree varies by school, but both types of graduates are qualified to practice dentistry in all 50 U.S. states.
Since specific coursework requirements vary from school to school, students should become familiar with the specific prerequisites of the medical or dental schools to which they intend to apply. However, nearly all medical and dental schools have at least the following minimal expectations for coursework:
Additional science courses are strongly recommended (and sometimes required), such as anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, genetics, cell biology, microbiology, developmental biology, histology, bio-ethics, and upper-division chemistry courses. Some medical and dental schools also suggest 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.
Competition is intense to gain acceptance to a school of veterinary medicine. Application to veterinary medicine schools begins with submitting a “primary application" in the summer before the application year. Students seeking admission to these graduate programs need to complete a bachelor’s degree in any field, plus include the following prerequisite coursework:
Note: Additional courses in English composition, humanities, and social science may be required by individual veterinary medical schools. Other recommended courses are speech (public speaking), English literature, economics, psychology, and history.
Pre-Physical Therapy and Pre-Occupational Therapy
Most programs have transitioned to doctorate programs, and a few schools still offer a master’s degree. Students seeking admission to a physical therapy graduate program need to complete a bachelor’s degree in any field, plus include the prerequisite coursework listed below.
While many of these courses are not required for occupational therapy, following the Pre-Physical Therapy track makes students strongly competitive for a master's in occupational therapy (M.O.T.). There are beginning to be doctorate programs in O.T. called the O.T.D. as well.
Suggested additional courses include human nutrition, communication, and two courses in English are strongly suggested.
Consult each optometry school’s website for its admission prerequisites.
Enrollment in optometry schools is limited, and admission is selective. All pre-optometry courses must be completed before entering a college of optometry.
The following list of courses represents a minimum pre-optometry program:
While some optometry programs admit students with prerequisites complete and no bachelor's degree, a most competitive applicant has a completed degree.
Pre-pharmacy students must have a sound background in math and science, which can be accomplished by majoring in biology, chemistry, or biochemistry. However, a science major is not required.
Good communication skills are important, as is a broad general education in the social sciences and humanities. The pre-pharmacy program required by schools of pharmacy is an absolute minimum of two years, but a minimum of three years is highly recommended. The most competitive candidates earn a bachelor’s degree prior to matriculation at a pharmacy graduate program.
Below is a list of courses required by many pharmacy schools. One should check the individual school for specific requirements and also check with the PPHS coordinator. Applications to pharmacy schools begin with a primary application available at ParmCAS.
Other undergraduate biology courses recommended are genetics, cell biology, neurobiology, and immunology. Two courses in English composition, humanities, and social science are required.
Other recommended courses are speech (public speaking), English literature, economics, psychology, history, and physics.