Health Profession schools welcome all good students, not just science majors. Thus, the student planning to pursue one of these careers may choose for his or her major field any one of the humanities, natural sciences, or social sciences. Two main components of a health professions school application include 1) academic performance and 2) clinical experience. In the academic arena, graduate schools want applicants to be well grounded in the basic sciences and to be familiar, through practical experience, with laboratory techniques. In terms of clinical experience, schools expect that students will have gained significant experience in their intended field before they apply.
In terms of coursework, most medical, dental, or veterinary schools require one year of:
- General Chemistry with lab
- Organic Chemistry with lab
- Biology with lab
- Physics with lab
In addition, one year of mathematics is strongly recommended and is required at some schools. Some medical schools require calculus. Increasing number of health profession graduate schools have additional requirments e.g. Statistics and Biochemistry. The Veterinary schools are notorious for having unusual and varied additional requirments (e.g. Microbiology, Anataomy and Physiology). Therefore, during your undergraduate career you should carefully research the specific requirements of the schools to which you wish to apply. Course areas also useful in helping prepare for the entrance exams (as well as health professions graduate school), although not required, are Biochemistry, Genetics, Molecular Biology, and Physiology.
For Students applying to medical schoool the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) includse topics in Psychology, Sociology, Biochemistry and Statistics. Medical Schools are increasingly interested in students who can communicate clearly and who have some sophistication in areas such as medical ethics, and the economics, politics, and culture of healthcare.
Health professions graduate schools vary in their attitudes toward advanced placement. We will present some general guidelines here, but suggest that you contact individual schools if you have questions concerning the policy at specific institutions.
If you have received advanced placement in a science (Biology, Chemistry, Physics), most health professions graduate schools will accept this as long as you take an equivalent number of courses (and laboratories) at a more advanced level within that discipline. Please keep in mind that premedical/predental requirements may or may not coincide with the requirements of your college major. Regardless of whether or not you receive advanced placement in English, most health professions graduate schools prefer that students complete two college-level English courses.
There are clearly pluses and minuses to taking advantage of advanced placement opportunities. On the plus side, it allows you to get more quickly involved in intellectually challenging upper level courses. On the negative side, one's freshman year is often a significant period of adjustment. This, combined with the highly competitive nature of health professions graduate school admissions, may argue for extra careful course planning during one's freshman year.