The Pre-Health Program is administered jointly by the Committee for the Health Professions and the Career Center. Students who are interested in a career in any of the health professions are welcome to be a part of the program. First-Year students who have expressed an interest in a health-related career receive an invitation to attend an informational meeting that will be held at the beginning of the academic year. By attending this meeting, interested students will be invited to attend three of five group advising sessions. Students other than First-Years who are interested in pursuing a health career should contact Barb Redding (firstname.lastname@example.org) in the Career Center to schedule a meeting with the Pre-Health Professions Advisor for an orientation session.
To enter the Pre-Health Program, first-year students are required to attend a minimum of three meetings from a series of group advising sessions offered during the fall and early spring semesters. As a part of that process, students planning to participate in the program will need to provide the following registration materials by the beginning of the spring semester: 1) a completed Pre-Health Program Registration Form, 2) an essay that details one's interest in pursuing a healthcare career and what one hopes to do, or how one plans to explore various fields during their time at Dickinson, and 3) a report that summarizes a list of prerequisite courses for at least one medical school or allied health program that one might be interested in attending following graduation.
Once these materials are received, the only requirement to stay in the Pre-Health Program is for the student to take the relevant pre-requisite courses and to maintain contact with his/her Pre-Health advisor each semester.
Committee for the Health Professions: After completing the entry process, each student is assigned to one of the faculty members serving on the committee. This committee member will advise the student on course requirements and will draft the committee letter of recommendation when the student applies to professional schools.
Recommended Courses and Requirements for Minors and Programs
Advice to students preparing for the health professions
The following is a list of courses that are currently required by the majority of professional schools. These courses serve as matriculation requirements and are the same whether a student is majoring in a science or a non-science major. Individual schools will have additional requirements for the upcoming application, so this list is no more than a general guide to the minimum requirements.
It is appropriate for students to pursue any major in order to practice careers in most of the Pre-Health professions. While Biology and Biochemistry are the two top majors, as long as students complete the courses noted in the following section, it is possible for them to pursue professional school with any major. It is, however, important for students to discuss or preview individual professional school prerequisites as those may either be less or more extensive than the requirements for the Pre-Health Program discussed here.
In order to be considered for a recommendation by the Committee for the Health Professions, students must take 7 of the 9 lab science courses required by professional schools in at least 2 of the following departments: Biology, Chemistry, and Physics. Material covered in a traditional introductory Psychology or Sociology course will also be required for the MCAT.
Chemistry: 4/5 courses:
CHEM 131, 132 General Chemistry I and II
CHEM 241, 242 Organic Chemistry I and II
CHEM 342 Structure and Function of Biomolecules, with lab
CHEM 141 Accelerated General Chemistry
CHEM 241, 242 Organic Chemistry I and II
CHEM 342 Structure and Function of Biomolecules, with lab
plus 1 additional course as required by some medical schools (Note: Chemistry 111 will not satisfy this requirement). Students should explore whether schools to which they plan to apply will need the fifth course in the second sequence noted here. If students do need to complete the five chemistry courses, the Committee recommends: CHEM 244, Thermodynamics and Kinetics, or CHEM 243, Modern Chemical Analysis as the “additional course.”
Biology: 3 courses
Any two of the introductory courses with laboratory (BIOL 120 level) will satisfy this requirement.
CHEM/BIOL 342, Structure and Function of Biomolecules, with lab
The Committee also recommends courses to help to prepare for the MCAT and medical school:
BIOL 216, Genetics
BIOL 333, Physiology
BIOL 334, Vertebrate Anatomy
Physics: 2 courses
PHYS 141, 142 Physics for the Life Sciences or
PHYS 131, 132 General Physics (Note: Although Physics 131, 132 is acceptable, some topics on the MCAT exam are not covered in these courses)
Physics 141 and 142 includes content that has been specifically designed to help the students to both prepare for medical school as well as for the MCAT content. The course content is designed for students pursuing life sciences courses such as biology or chemistry. Students that have not had calculus may take these courses as they are algebra based.
Mathematics: 2 courses
MATH 170, 171, Calculus I and II (May need MATH 151, Intro. to Calculus prior to I & II)
Math 121, Statistics
Check early with medical schools of interest for their requirements in this department.
English: 2 courses
Your First-Year Seminar counts as one English composition course, thus an additional literature course is needed (any will do). Please note that some medical schools will accept a writing in the discipline (WID) course that is not in the sciences or languages. Students can schedule a meeting with their Pre-Health advisor to explore which course or courses may fulfill this requirement.
Psychology and Sociology: Please consult with your Pre-Health Advisor when assigned. Relevant content from these social sciences is now included on the MCAT. An "across the lifespan" perspective of these courses is also required for many allied health programs. It is important that students interested in these programs discuss which courses may be needed for relevant programs with his or her Pre-Health advisor or the Career Center Pre-Health Advisor.
Professional schools may suggest or even require specific courses such as cell biology, humanities, sociology, psychology, physiology, vertebrate anatomy, advanced biology, or advanced chemistry, analytical chemistry, physical chemistry, anthropology, genetics, immunology, embryology, microbiology and comparative anatomy. It is important that students discuss the importance of including these courses with their pre-health advisors.
Medical College Admission Test (MCAT 2015)
All applicants to medical schools must take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT 2015), which is offered annually on multiple dates and times in a computer-based format. The preferred time to take this exam is early in the spring of the applicant's junior year, after completing the required science courses listed if he or she wants to attend medical school immediately after graduation. If a student wants to engage in an exploratory year following graduation, he or she may choose to take the MCAT 2015 following the senior year or even a year after graduation. This decision should be closely discussed with the Career Center Pre-Health Professions Advisor.
Dental Admissions Test (DAT)
Applicants to dental schools must take the Dental Admission Test, given in computer format year-round. Spring of the junior year is the recommended time to take this test; however, if a student wants to engage in an exploratory year following graduation, he or she may choose to take the DAT following senior year or even a year after graduation. This decision should be closely discussed with the Career Center Pre-Health Professions Advisor.
Graduate Record Examination (GRE)
Most applicants to veterinary or allied health programs (such as Doctor of Physical Therapy, MS in Accelerated Nursing for the MSN prior to the Doctor of Nursing Practice or the Physician Assistant) must take the Graduate Record Examination, given on computer year-round. The spring of or summer following the junior year is the recommended time to take this exam for the applicant attending to apply prior to his or her senior year. However, for candidates choosing to pursue the exploratory year(s) following graduation, the test may be taken at any point whenever the candidate is prepared after graduation events.
Tests in other health professions
Other health professions have similar testing programs. More information is available from the Career Center Pre-Health Professions Advisor.
Six important factors in determining admission to professional school are:
- the undergraduate overall grade point average and science grade point average,
- the score achieved on the pre-professional exam (MCAT, DAT, GRE),
- the letter, or letters, of evaluation from the undergraduate college,
- relevant 'hands-on" volunteer or work experiences as well as research and potentially publications,
- the letter, or letters, of evaluation from healthcare or research professionals based on experiential opportunities during a student's time in college, and
- the outcome of a personal interview, offered by the school to applicants they select for the interview.
The relative importance of these factors varies from school to school and from case to case. Generally speaking, an overall academic average of 3.60 or better is needed to be a competitive medical school applicant and overall GPAs of at 3.30 are generally necessary to be a competitive candidate for other professional schools.
Committee for the Health Professions
- Catrina M. Hamilton-Drager - (Physics & Astronomy) [sabbatical, 2016-2017]
- Rebecca Connor - (Chemistry & Biochemistry and Molecular Biology)
- Jeffrey Forrester - (Mathematics) [Chairperson]
- Tiffany Frey - (Biology)
- Michael Holden - (Chemistry & Biochemistry and Molecular Biology)
- Sharon Kingston - (Psychology)
- Carol Loeffler - (Biology)
- Meredith Rauhut - (Neuroscience)
- Dan Schubert - (Sociology)
- Charles Zwemer - (Biology & Neuroscience)
- Debi Swarner - (Career Center/Pre-Health Program - Pre-Health Professions Advisor)