PreHealth Professions Advising
Schools of the health professions are seeking students who have solid undergraduate backgrounds in the sciences as well as the communication skills and well-rounded experiences in the humanities and social sciences that are hallmarks of a liberal arts education. This is why Marietta College graduates have been so successful in establishing careers as physicians, dentists, veterinarians, optometrists, physician assistants, and other medical professions. Our graduates have attended every medical school in Ohio and West Virginia, and many other schools throughout the nation.
The information that follows provides some guidance to some of the questions and issues many undergraduates have when seeking careers in the health professions.
The PreHealth Professions Advisers at Marietta College are available to help you in a variety of ways. Students interested in pursuing a health professions career are urged to meet with a PreHealth Professions advisor early in the freshman year.
PreHealth Professions Advisers
The services provided to students include the following:
- Course selection and scheduling advice
- Information about schools and professions
- Information about application process and admissions tests
- Coordination of the "Rounds" program at Marietta Memorial Hospital
- Arrangements for visits to campus by representatives of regional medical schools
- Arrangements for faculty letters or recommendation
- Advice in preparing for interviews
- Is medical school right for YOU?
- Will related work experience help clarify ambiguous career goals?
- Is there a strong possibility that your career goals could change after a taste of the working world?
- Will work experience enhance your application?
- Would you have difficulty re-adjusting to student life after a break?
- Are you uncertain about your field of study?
- Information is easily available on undergraduate campuses.
- Faculty members will remember your achievements for recommendations.
- Study habits are well-developed for transition.
- Some schools prefer to recruit from undergraduate programs.
- Graduate Schools are selective.
- Work/life experience can be helpful.
- Academic burnout.
Schools of the health professions do not specify a preference for any particular undergraduate major. We always advise students to major in a discipline that they find intellectually stimulating and which will prepare them for a desirable alternative career in the event that they decide not to become a health professional. Most of our pre-professional students major in biology, biochemistry, chemistry, health science, or sports medicine (athletic training). However, other majors are acceptable as long as the student has completed the necessary undergraduate course requirements.
Health professions schools do have specific undergraduate course requirements. These vary considerably for different professions, and to a lesser degree between different schools for the same profession. It is essential that you learn this information early in your college career to ensure that you take all of the courses you need. Nearly all medical schools require the course listed below. (Marietta College courses are indicated.)
- General Chemistry I & II (CHEM 131-134) – 8 semester hours
- Organic Chemistry I & II (CHEM 303-306) - 8 semester hours
- Modern Biology (BIOL 101) – 3 semester hours
- Introduction to Cellular and Molecular Biology (BIOL 131) – 3 semester hours
- Introduction to Biology Laboratory I & II (BIOL 105, 106)– 2 semester hours
- College or General Physics I & II (PHYS 211, 212 or 221, 222) – 8 semester hours
- Mathematics: two semesters including some calculus (not required of some schools) – 7- 8 semester hours
- English (two semesters including Writing 101 and a literature course) – 6 semester hours
You are strongly advised to complete these courses by the end of your junior year before you take the health professions admissions tests. This means that the General Chemistry and Biology courses should be taken during the freshman and sophomore years, and that the Organic Chemistry and Physics courses should be completed during the sophomore and junior years.
Some dental schools require additional course work in biology (e.g., microbiology, anatomy) and in disciplines that enhance the development of manual dexterity (e.g., musical instruments, sculpture, ceramics). Many dental schools do not have a mathematics requirement.
Most veterinary schools require additional courses in biology.
Your performance on the admission test is a critical factor that will determine your chances of a successful application. Even if you have an excellent GPA, do not assume that you will know the material well enough to achieve adequate test scores without a comprehensive study program. Our students have taken various study approaches. These include the following:
- Detailed review of the material covered in the required biology, chemistry, and physics courses
- Study manuals available at bookstores
- Commercial preparation courses
- Practice tests offered on campus through the Marietta College Career Center
Through the generous donations of several Marietta College alumni, limited scholarship funds are available for students to take commercial preparation courses. If you are interested, contact the Director of Career Services, Hilles Hughes, 740-376-4480 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Graduate school is becoming increasingly competitive. It is to your advantage to take the appropriate standardized tests early, even a year in advance. Remember, test registration deadlines are well in advance of the actual test dates, and most are given only a few times a year. Hyperlinks are provided with each admissions exam for registration.
The Medical College Admission Test is a requirement for admission to medical school. Interested student must also complete the American Medical College Applications Service, AMCAS.http://www.aamc.org/students/mcat/
The Dental Admission Test is a requirement for admission to dental school.http://www.ada.org/prof/ed/testing/dat/index.asp
The Pharmacy College Admission Test is a requirement for admission to pharmacy school.http://harcourtassessment.com/haiweb/Cultures/en-US/Harcourt/Community/PostSecondary/Products/pcat/pcathome.htm
The Veterinary College Admission Test is a requirement for admission to a few veterinary schools. Most veterinary schools now require the GRE or MCAT instead.http://www.aavmc.org/
The OAT is sponsored by the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) for applicants seeking admission to an optometry program.http://www.opted.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=3444
Preparation manuals have been published for most of the major examination programs and are available at bookstores. These manuals typically contain several practice tests, as well as “refresher” sections designed to assist in updating your skills in recall, judgment, and mathematics. There is a selection of books available in the library and Career Center.
Private, “short,” courses exist to help you prepare for examinations such as the MCAT. Before investing money into one of these services, it is advisable to thoroughly research them.
There are several preparatory resources available online.
The Health Professions Club is a great way to learn about the medical professions and to meet other students with similar career interests. This student organization is open to anyone interested in a health-related career. If you are interested in joining, contact the PreHealth Professions Adviser or watch for campus notices about upcoming campus events.
Among the activities of the club in recent years:
- Inviting area professionals to campus to meet with students and talk about their work and what to expect when attending schools in the health professions
- Presentations by students about preparing for admissions tests
- Working with the Marietta College Career Center to offer practice tests
- Fundraising activities to support some of these events.
Your application to schools of the health professions will be strengthened by the experiences you have had in health care. (In fact, most veterinary schools specify the number of hours you must have logged in animal care clinics.) Schools want to be certain that you understand your career choice and that you are highly motivated to complete the rigorous educational requirements you will face in medical, dental or veterinary school. We strongly encourage our students to find part-time positions or volunteer their time in hospitals, nursing homes, etc. This can be done during summer breaks in your home town or worked into your class schedule during the school year.
Marietta College offers juniors and seniors the opportunity to participate in our “Rounds” program at Marietta Memorial Hospital. About a dozen physicians at the hospital have volunteered to work with our students. This often involves following physicians on their rounds at the hospital and/or observing patient care in their offices. Each student can select as many as three different physicians each semester in order to gain exposure to a variety of medical specialties. It should be noted that several local dentists and veterinarians have invited our students to observe their work in their offices. If you are interested, contact the PreHealth Professions Adviser.
Request catalogs directly from the institutions for further consideration. Most schools are happy to provide information at little or no cost. This can often be done from the schools graduate school homepage. The information found in graduate and professional school catalogs may be of limited value because they are directed to a general audience and not specific programs.
It takes a lot of research to identify the program that best meets your needs. Establish your own criteria with which to compare graduate schools.
- What are the requirements?
- Do you meet the program requirements?
- What type of students does the program attract?
- What specializations are available?
- Is the program focused on theory and original research, or the practical application of knowledge and skills?
- Do the research facilities suit your needs?
- How long does it take to complete the program?
National Graduate School Rankings
Take a look at which institutions offer the “best” programs of study. Pay attention to the criteria used to rank the school to find out if those criteria coincide with your personal criteria. Rankings are available online from U.S. News & World Report.
Political and social temper
Setting (Urban or Rural)
- How large is the institution and the department?
- How many students are enrolled?
- What is the student to faculty ratio?
- Who are they?
- Are there specific people doing the type of research in which you are interested?
- What have they published?
- In-state preference of applicants?
- Issues related to state licensure, boards, etc.?
- Are there opportunities for teaching or research assistantships?
- Will you receive assistance in your job search?
- What companies express interest in graduates from your department?
- How helpful are the departmental faculty in you job search?
Any application may receive larger awards at some institutions depending on university budgets. Graduate aid is based largely on merit, not need.
You may get more information by talking to faculty in your chosen field. Discuss your interests and which institutions would be most appropriate for meeting your goals.
Admission officials and faculty members can help you with this information. You can request updated course work and faculty lists since some catalogs may not contain the most recent information. Do not hesitate to contact them by phone, letter, email, or personal visit.
Most Directories provide comparative information, particularly useful as you try to gain an overview of the available programs. The following directories and guides are available in the Career Center.
2006 Peterson’s Graduate Programs Directory
2004 & 2005 Peterson’s Guides to Programs and Admissions Tests
Selections pertaining to Specialized Professional Degrees
Graduate School Guide Books
Peterson’s Education Center Guide:http://www.petersons.com/graduate
Graduate School Guide On-line:http://www.schoolguides.com
Association of American Medical Colleges:http://www.aamc.org/
Good site for allied health care career info.
This site provides info on many medical careers and find out their roles and responsibilities, average salaries, educational requirements, and associated affiliations with your career option.
Medical student resource guide
AMA finance- resources to help pay for medical school
A good overview for anyone considering med school
PreHealth Professions Directories/Online Resources
The following books may be borrowed from the Health Professions Advisers:
Medical School Admission Requirements, US & Canada (Association of American Medical Colleges):http://www.aamc.org/students/applying/msar.htm
Admission Requirements, US and Canadian Dental Schools (American Association of Dental Schools):http://www.irandental.org/dental_schools.htm
Veterinary Medical School Admission Requirements in the United States and Canada (Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges):http://www.aavmc.org/
Health & Medical Jobswww.health-medical-jobs.com/
The medical school application process has two steps, referred to as the "Primary Application" and "Secondary Application". The American Medical Colleges Applications Services coordinates the Primaries and does the following:
- centrally collects your information in a standard format so that you only have to complete one application for admission to any U.S. or Canadian medical school;
- collects all your transcripts from every post-high school you attended;
- verifies these records and calculates your certified "AMCAS GPA", providing medical schools with a common comparison across all applicants; and then
- attaches for your designated schools your MCAT scores.
When you submit your Primary Application, you pay an application fee to AMCAS to cover the cost of these services.
What AMCAS does is very important; but you need to understand too what AMCAS does not do. It does not screen applications or make admissions decisions. And it is not involved in the Secondary Application process. Decisions are made solely by the medical schools based on individual school criteria and processes. Use this link http://www.aamc.org/students/amcas/participatingschools.htm to find the schools that participate in AMCAS.
After medical schools receive your application, they will send you what's called a "secondary." Some schools send all of their applicants a secondary, while others go through an initial cut (usually based totally on GPA and MCAT score). Secondaries usually include a variety of essays that are slightly more directed than the "personal comments" in the primaries part of the application.
Online applications are becoming increasing popular. Carefully follow all instructions. Be aware of application deadlines. If admissions are handled on a “rolling” basis, meaning qualified applications are accepted as they apply, it is to your advantage to apply early to show your enthusiasm and provide more time to evaluate your application. Early application is also suggested for financial aid. Before submitting your application, make a copy to keep for your records; this is especially useful if the school does not receive your application, which is something you should confirm after s ubmitting.
Application Essay or Personal Statement
Most institutions will ask that you submit a statement of purpose or personal statement. Personal statements provide you the opportunity to supplement standard application material with your goals and objectives with respect to the program. Typically, the institutions will offer suggestions to consider including. Good grammar and writing styles are extremely important.
- Motivation and commitment to your field of study
- Expectations with regard to the program and career opportunities
- Education background
- Reasons for deciding to pursue graduate education in a particular field and at a particular institution
- Writing ability
- Major areas of interest
- Research or work experience
- Immediate and long term goals
- Personal uniqueness – what you would add to the diversity of the entering class
All transcripts must be "official." Transcripts must be sent to the graduate school’s admissions office directly from the Marietta College Office of the Registrar. If you receive your transcript first and then sent it, there is no proof that it is "official" and will be considered invalid.
For additional information on transcripts, contact the Tina Perdue (email@example.com or 740-376-4730) at Office of the Registrar.
How will your application be processed?
When the medical school’s admissions office has received all of your materials, it is usually referred to an admission committee for your particular program or school. This faculty committee reviews your application, reaches a decision, and makes a recommendation to the dean. The candidates that show strength in a combination of the admissions requirements, including academic preparation, test scores, and recommendations, have the best chance for selection.
Be proud if you're invited to an interview. You’ve made it through two initial screenings, one before and one after the supplemental application. Usually, this means that the Admissions Committee thinks you're qualified to attend their school.
Different schools have different policies about who conducts the actual interview. In general, schools have a Medical Selection Committee made up of professional admissions or student affairs people and faculty members. Often, especially in more progressive schools, upper-level med students also participate. At some schools, you'll have a couple of separate, one-on-one interviews; at others, you'll be interview by a panel. You may be the only applicant in front of a panel (this really seems like an inquisition), or you may be joined by other candidates.
Stress interviews can take a lot of different forms, but their main characteristic is that the interviewer puts you in a position where he or she can observe how you act — and how you speak — under pressure. Proponents of stress interviews argue that they get you to drop your carefully studied "med school interview facade" and reveal what you're really like. Typical tactics include asking questions about sensitive or controversial topics, delving into extremely personal matters, rattling off a series of game show–like trivia questions, or showing disapproval — through challenging remarks or negative body language — at almost everything you say. Remember to contact the Marietta College Career Center to schedule a Mock Interview to practice before the real thing!
Get a large blank piece of paper and write down the a few words to describe the qualities and experiences that have led you to pursue medical school. You don't have to write them down in any particular order, and you should scatter them across the page.
This is particularly helpful if you find that you are having trouble knowing where to start. All you have to do is sit down and force yourself to write about anything that comes into your mind. Don't worry about punctuation or grammar — just write for several pages. Take a break and look back at what you wrote. Most of the time, you'll be surprised to discover the beginnings of an idea.
Letters of recommendation for medical school work in much the same way as any other such letters; you will have much better luck if you approach your potential recommender with a copy of your resume, transcript, and personal statement. Try to make an appointment to speak to potential recommenders in person to explain to them about the various schools to which you are applying, and to make your case.
Statistics from top U.S. medical schools show that schools are demanding higher MCAT scores and undergrad GPAs. In 2007, there were a total of 42, 315 applicants for medical school and about 42% matriculated. (AAMC)
Fall of Junior Year
Start thinking about the MCAT
Winter of Junior Year
Enroll in an MCAT test prep course.
Start Researching schools. Register for the MCAT.
Take the MCAT.
Enroll in an MCAT test prep course. Write a bio. Contact potential recommenders.
June - July
Finalize school list. Keep track of deadlines.
Summer before senior year
Complete AMCAS application. When you apply to medical school, you will work with American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) to coordinate all of the parts of your medical school applications. You can subscribe to AMCAS online via www.aamc.org/amcas. Even if you haven't yet taken the MCAT, you need to complete your AMCAS application over the summer. Make sure to fill out the biographical information, course work, work/activities section, and complete and print the transcript request forms. When you take the MCAT, you can ask for your scores to be released to the schools to which you are applying.
Early Decision Program (EDP). The early decision program for all medical schools is August 1. Start your supplementary applications.
Fine tune your personal statements. Stay in touch with recommenders. Inquire about interviews. Most medical schools require that you interview in the fall. Find out what each of the schools you are applying to ask of their applicants.
Complete and send supplemental applications.
Send thank you notes to recommenders.
February - April
Wait for acceptances.
Monetary support to attend graduate/professional school is available from several sources.
- Government Sources
- Banks and Private Foundations
One major problem lies in discovering what is available at any given time. New sources are continually being created. Government aid is subject to, and regulated by, current executive and legislative policy.
Financial aid information can be found in graduate/professional school catalogs, and in descriptive literature published by universities, federal, state, and local government agencies, and foundations. Financial support of graduate education may vary widely from institution to institution. Prospective applicants should thoroughly investigate the availability and amounts of financial aid in all its forms. Typically, deadlines are early for financial aid applications. Be sure to request a financial aid application at the same time you request an admission application.
Most institutions have loan programs for which graduate students may be eligible. Such programs include private, state, and federally sponsored Guaranteed Student Loan Programs. The institutions financial aid office will be able to explain these loan programs.
For a variety of reasons, students often change their career plans several times while completing their undergraduate education. This is why it is so important to choose a major in a field where you excel and which you find interesting and stimulating. For example, if you decide that becoming a physician is not right for you, maybe you should consider becoming a biology teacher, getting a position in a chemistry lab, or going on to graduate school for a M.S. or Ph.D. degree. You adviser and the Career Center can help you explore other opportunities.
Becoming a physician assistant (PA) is one of the most popular alternative choices for students interested in health careers. Marietta College offers a PA Master’s Degree program. If this sounds interesting to you, check out their web site.