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PRE-PROFESSIONAL HEALTH PROGRAMS

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206-281-2351
spu.edu/depts/biology/pre-professional-health-sciences.asp

Pre-Professional Health Programs Advisors

Seattle Pacific University offers specialized faculty advising in the Pre-Professional Health Sciences (PPHS), which prepares students for acceptance into graduate-level professional health programs.

All Pre-Professional Health Science Students

A career in health sciences involves both a strong science preparation and a strong foundation in liberal arts. Medicine is a healing art that requires significant skills in human interaction and understanding. 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 as long as minimum admission requirements are met. 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 advisors in the Pre-Professional Health Sciences program to plan an individually appropriate and competitive academic plan throughout the undergraduate years.

Health science graduate programs consider several factors, including the following:

  • Grades
  • Scores on standardized tests such as the MCAT, DAT, GRE, PCAT, and OAT
  • Health-related clinical experience
  • Letters of recommendation from clinicians, professors, and representatives of community service and leadership programs
  • Leadership and service experience, and research experience is strongly encouraged for admission to graduate health programs

The Pre-Professional Health Sciences Committee Interview System

All students pursuing admission to graduate programs in medicine, dentistry, and veterinary medicine are required to utilize the PPHS Committee Interview system when requesting letters in support of their applications to professional schools. This system ensures that student applications are nationally competitive.

  • Students participating in the program will enroll in PPHS 2400 where they will learn specific interview skills that will help prepare them for the application process.
  • A three-member faculty committee will interview the student at the end of his or her junior or senior year and write a comprehensive recommendation letter. This letter describes the applicant’s academic, clinical, and personal potential for success in a professional program while also summarizing the student's outside letters of recommendation and the results of the interview. These letters are highly respected by professional schools, many of which require them before considering students for admission.

Students interested in other graduate health science programs, such as optometry and physician assistant, have the option to utilize the committee interview system. However, use of the committee system by these students is not required, because the application process is different for these programs and some of these programs may not accept committee letters. 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 advisors and coordinator, and to participate in all or most of the formal PPHS courses.

The Pre-Professional Health Sciences Program at SPU

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. The PPHS coordinator and faculty advisors attend annual meetings of the National Association of Advisors for the Health Professions. We also meet with admissions counselors and deans from various professional schools throughout the year to ensure that our students are competitive for these professional programs.

Phase I: The PPHS program at SPU begins with admission to the University. Students interested in PPHS careers are provided specialized advising sessions as they register for their first classes that help them to select appropriate courses and to understand the comprehensive requirements for admission to these competitive programs. Advising continues throughout each student’s college career and until the student is accepted into a graduate program.

SPU provides formal seminars as part of the curriculum that are designed to provide early stage advising and planning for students seeking admission to professional programs. PPHS 1200 and PPHS 1800 are two required courses that students will take in their first and second years. The PPHS coordinator teaches these courses and provides group advising to PPHS students during their first two years at SPU.

Phase II: At the end of their second year, students who desire individual advising or seek to participate in the PPHS committee interview system may formally apply to the PPHS program. Application to the program is required for students pursuing careers in medicine, dentistry, and veterinary medicine. Students interested in other health-related careers, including physician assistant, optometry, and physical therapy, and others are welcome to apply.

Admission requires passing grades in PPHS 1200 and 1800, strong grades in the sciences, an overall SPU GPA of 3.0, and evidence of at least 10 hours of job shadowing a professional in their field of interest.

Applications to the program are available online.

Successful applicants to Phase II of the PPHS program will be provided:

  • Individual advising by a PPHS faculty member who will serve as their committee lead when required.
  • Eligibility to participate in the PPHS Committee Interview System.
  • Assistance with committee letter submission to AAMCAS and other admission portals for the health sciences.

 

Professional Health Science Graduate School Admissions Checklists

Summary of the Application Procedure

  • Get to know the field you hope to join. Take PPHS classes and start learning about school requirements and the profession.
  • Volunteer in a health-related setting and job shadow health professionals during your first two to three years of college.  Contacts with health professionals can be made individually and through the SPU mentor program.
  • Succeed in your challenging academic courses.
  • Participate in leadership and service projects.
  • Apply for admission to the SPU Pre-Professional Health Science program at the end of your second year at SPU.
  • Take the appropriate standardized test in the spring prior to your application year (or earlier). Generally, programs that require the GRE need a late summer or early fall test date. Do not submit primary applications without knowing your test scores.
  • Submit your primary application as soon as the application cycle opens in the early summer of your application year. Complete secondary applications as soon as possible in the months that follow primary application submission. Arrange interviews during the fall and winter of the application year.
  • Attend your chosen graduate school and make SPU proud. Volunteer to share your experiences with SPU students interested in your field.

To become a viable candidate for graduate schools in the health professions, a student must be well acquainted with the requirements and procedures particular to each health profession career as outlined below.

Pre-Medicine and Pre-Dentistry
Admission to medical and dental schools is extremely competitive, so it is important to obtain advising from the PPHS coordinator to plan an individually appropriate and competitive academic plan.

Key factors considered by medical and dental school selection committees are based on the following:

  • Grades (both science and non-science and in an upward-trending trajectory)
  • Strong performance on the MCAT or DAT
  • An “in-house” interview, recommendation, and letter of evaluation from the SPU Pre-Professional Health Science Committee
  • Health-related clinical experience with a support letter
  • Other support letters highlighting extracurricular, leadership, and service experience
  • Research experience (strongly encouraged)
  • A strong interview with the medical or dental school admissions committee

A graduate degree in medicine is obtained by attending an allopathic medical school and earning a medical doctor (MD) degree, or by attending an osteopathic medical school and earning a doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO) 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 (DMD) degree or a doctor of dental surgery (DDS) 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:

 

Chemistry

One year of lab-based "general" (CHM 1211, CHM 1212, and CHM 2540) and one year of lab-based "organic" (CHM 3371, CHM 3372, and CHM 3373).

30

Biology

One year of lab-based “general” (BIO 2101, BIO 2102, BIO 2103); plus selected upper-division core courses, especially biochemistry, genetics, and physiology. Students who plan to take the MCAT in 2015 or later should take two quarters of biochemistry.

20–25

Physics

One year algebra-based with lab (PHY 1101, PHY 1102, and PHY 1103) or calculus-based with lab ( PHY 1121, PHY 1122 and PHY 1123).

15

English

“ENG” courses in composition and/or literature. Some schools may accept UCOR 1000 or UFDN 2000 to substitute for an ENG course.

10

Math

Variable amounts of college-level mathematics, ranging from one quarter of statistics to one full year of calculus. Students who plan to take the MCAT in 2015 or later should plan on taking statistics.

5–20

Other

SOC 1110 and PSY 1180 should be taken by students interested  in taking the MCAT in 2015 or later.

10

Total

 

90–110

 

Additional science courses are strongly recommended (and sometimes required), such as anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, genetics, cell biology, microbiology, developmental biology, histology, bioethics, and upper-division chemistry courses. Some medical and dental schools also suggest knowledge of calculus. Check the requirements of the individual schools that interest you.

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.

Pre-Veterinary Medicine
These recommendations are for students desiring to enter veterinary medicine as a profession and to earn a doctorate in veterinary medicine (DVM).

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:

 

General Biology

BIO 2101, 2102, 2103

15

General Chemistry

CHM 1211, 1212

10

Introductory Inorganic Chemistry

CHM 2540

5

Organic Chemistry

CHM 3371, 3372, 3373

15

Physics

PHY 1101, 1102, 1103 or 1121, 1122, 1123

15

Animal Physiology

BIO 4413

5

Vertebrate Biology

BIO 3432

5

Genetics

BIO 3325

5

Microbiology

BIO 3351

5

Biochemistry

BIO or CHM 4361 and 4362

10

Mathematics

Including a course in calculus

5

Statistics

MAT 2360

5

Nutrition

Preferably an animal nutrition course

5

Total

 

105

 

Note: Additional courses in English composition, humanities, and social science may be required by individual veterinary medical schools. Other recommended courses include speech (public speaking), English literature, economics, psychology, and history. Check the requirements of the individual schools that interest you.

Pre-Physical Therapy and Pre-Occupational Therapy
To meet American Physical Therapy Association accreditation standards, all physical therapy graduate programs must lead to a doctorate degree in physical therapy (DPT).

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 (MOT). There are beginning to be doctorate programs in OT called the OTD, as well.

The main pre-PT and pre-OT track is the BS in Applied Human Sciences. Students should contact individual PT and OT schools for their admissions requirements or consult the APTA or AOTA websites.

 

General Biology

BIO 2101, 2102, 2103

15

Human Anatomy and Physiology

BIO 2129, 2130

10

General Microbiology

BIO 3351

5

General Chemistry

CHM 1211, 1212

10

Survey of Organic Chemistry

CHM 1330

5

Introductory Inorganic Chemistry

CHM 2540

5

General Physics

PHY 1101, 1102, 1103

15

Statistics

MAT 2360 

5

General Psychology

PSY 1180

5

Life Span or Developmental Psychology

PSY 2470 or 4420

5

Abnormal Behavior  

PSY 3360

5

Biomechanics

PE 3570

5

Exercise Physiology

PE 3580

5

Total

 

95

 

Suggested additional courses include human nutrition, communication, and two courses in English. Check the requirements of the individual schools that interest you.

Pre-Optometry
The need for well-trained doctor of optometry (OD) degree recipients is increasing. Admission committees for four-year programs leading to the doctor of optometry degree consider the following factors:

  • Strength and breadth of the student’s academic record
  • OAT scores
  • Evidence of work (paid or volunteer) under the supervision of a professional optometrist
  • Extracurricular activities and community service
  • Strength of recommendations and on-campus interviews

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:

 

General Biology

BIO 2101, 2102, 2103

15

Anatomy and Physiology I and II and Microbiology

BIO 2129 and BIO 2130 and BIO 3351

15

General Chemistry

CHM 1211, 1212

10

Introductory Inorganic Chemistry

CHM 2540

5

Organic Chemistry

CHM 3371, 3372, 3373

15

Mathematics

Including a course in calculus

10–15

Statistics

MAT 2360

5

Physics

PHY 1101, 1102, 1103 or 1121, 1122, 1123

15

Psychology

 

5

Other Social Sciences

 

5–10

English

Must include a course in expository writing

6-9

Total

 

106–119

 

While some optometry programs admit students with prerequisites complete and no bachelor's degree, a most competitive applicant has a completed degree. Check the requirements of the individual schools that interest you.

Pre-Pharmacy
The following recommendations are for students desiring to enter pharmacy as a profession. Currently, the entry degree for pharmacists is the doctorate of pharmacy (PharmD).

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 PharmCAS.

 

General Biology

BIO 2101, 2102, 2103

15

Anatomy and Physiology

BIO 2129 and 2130

10

Microbiology

BIO 3351

5

General Chemistry

CHM 1211, 1212

10

Organic Chemistry

CHM 3371, 3372, 3373

15

Introductory Inorganic Chemistry

CHM 2540

5

Mathematics

Including a course in calculus

5–10

Biochemistry

 

5–10

Statistics

MAT 2360

5

Public Speaking

COM 1321

5

 

Total

 

 

80–90

 

Other undergraduate biology courses recommended are genetics, cell biology, neurobiology, and immunology. Two courses in English composition, humanities, and social science are required. Check the requirements of the individual schools that interest you.

Other recommended courses are speech (public speaking), English literature, economics, psychology, history, and physics. 

 


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