As you begin to prepare for a career in the health professions, whether it be medicine, dental school, physician's assistant, physical therapy etc., understand that it is a process. Each student’s path varies and there is no one right way to do things. In fact, the average age of candidates entering medical school is 25, not 21, and it is fine to plan for a gap year. A competitive medical school candidate demonstrates command of the basic sciences, a deep understanding of the profession, and a commitment to help others through the practice in a medically related field.
A good plan of study for someone considering a health profession, includes the required courses, plus activities such as volunteering, club affiliations and research. In addition, the most important thing to remember is that you can major in anything that you want to while completing the required prerequisite courses so you should choose a major in which you excel and enjoy reading about the content.
Creating Your Schedule
Health profession programs don’t expect you to take three sciences together to prove that you are proficient in the material. When creating your first term schedule, limit it to 12-15 credits. This way you will have time to get involved with clinical hours, community service, leadership, research and have plenty of time to study. If you plan to take both Biology 1 and Chemistry 1 during your first term, be prepared for the amount of work this will give you. It is fine to take one science course during your first term if you need time to acclimate to the University.
During your freshman year, you will be expected to develop the maturity and study skills necessary to succeed and excel on the collegiate level. To get a head start, consider taking the free Coursera course: Learning How to Learn
For your first term, the Biology department suggests these sample schedules.
Plan for the Future
It is important to note that each medical school has its own set of specific requirements. While most overlap, some are unique to the specific schools that are of interest to you.
Visit the AAMC Website for more information, and choose about 10 schools that you think you might want to attend. Make a spreadsheet of the requirements:
- Do the schools accept AP credits? If so, do they require upper-level science and math courses if the student uses AP credits?
- Do the schools require 2 levels of college English? Or, do they require literature or writing courses?
- Do the schools require more math than a Statistics course? Calculus 1? Calculus 2?
- Do the schools require psychology, sociology or philosophy courses?
- Which sciences do the schools require?
One question that students often ask is if it’s okay to take coursework over the summer. Calculus and Statistics may be taken at a community college or another four year school.
For more information, visit the Pre-Health Resource Center.