Year 4

Fourth-year students hoping to be admitted to professional school must keep in mind that the basic selection criteria include academic performance, preprofessional preparation, interprofessional competencies (service orientation, social skills, cultural competence, teamwork, and oral communication) and intraprofessional competencies (ethical behavior, reliability, resilience, and capacity for improvement). Professional school selection committees will assess each applicant in a holistic manner, so students should self-assess their cognitive as well as non-cognitive fitness for admission.

During the final undergraduate year, we remind students of important factors that indicate their preparedness for their application as well as their academic success in a professional program:

  • High academic ability
  • Evidence of a strong interest in healthcare or medicine
  • A high level of personal integrity
  • Varied and relevant clinical experiences
  • Demonstrated leadership and service to others

Before guiding students through the committee interview and application process, the PPHS advisor and director require each student to demonstrate that they are on track to complete their coursework and professional development.

Summer Term

By senior year, every PPHS student is aware that summer provides time and copious opportunities to explore their interests further! Prior to summer break, students should assess their own preparation to make sure that they have completed their course requirements, shadowing, and volunteering. Students can attend courses during the summer, although offerings are limited at SPU. In the matter of shadowing and volunteering, rising seniors are positioned to take advantage of numerous advanced internship, research, and service projects. Please check out our list of summer opportunities.

Fall Term

Students who did not enroll in PPHS 3400 in their third year should enroll as seniors (students may also repeat the course). The PPHS faculty have established this course to prepare students to successfully navigate the application and testing processes for medical, dental, and veterinary schools in particular. Special sessions focus on application processes for other PPHS fields, including Physical Therapy, Pharmacy, Physician Assistant, and Optometry. The course covers the application timeline, standardized tests (MCAT, GRE, DAT, etc. and so on), and obtaining letters of recommendation.

SPU’s mission and the Provost’s Vocational Initiative influence our commitment to “graduating people of competence and character, becoming people of wisdom, and modeling grace-filled community.” Hence, PPHS 3400 is interpenetrated by this discourse and the reflective practices (individual and communal) that inform a proper discernment process. Students read and reflect upon Douglas J. Schuurman’s Vocation: Discerning Our Callings in Life.

In addition, the course covers best practices in regard to essay writing, completing the personal statement, preparing for the “in-house” PPHS committee interview, and developing interviewing skills. Students draw on the principles of narrative writing as outlined by Rita Charon in The Principles and Practice of Narrative Medicine.

Winter and Spring Terms

In early January, students who are planning to apply to dental, medical, or veterinary school must submit a request to enter the PPHS-sponsored committee interview and recommendation process. Please see the Application Year page and set up a meeting to discuss the process with the PPHS administrator.

Advanced PPHS students who haven’t yet done so are encouraged to enroll in PPHS 4600: Contemporary Problems in Medicine (students who took the course in their third year may repeat the course in their fourth year).

As the year comes to a close, students should finalize their post-graduation plans. Many students choose to wait one or more years between college and medical school to pursue other interests or to further prepare for professional school. For more information, see our Gap Year(s) page. Even students who are currently applying or re-applying for admission to professional school should make plans in the event that their application is denied.

All students should continue to develop a sustaining vocational narrative through 1) shadowing, 2) volunteering in underserved communities and 3) journaling in narrative form about their experiences.

Year Four Roadmap

This roadmap provides a checklist of action steps for fourth-year PPHS students.