Introduction

The Pre-Health Program is administered jointly by the Committee for the Health Professions and the Center for Advising, Internships & Lifelong Career Development (hereafter referred to as the Center). Students who are interested in entering 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. After attending this meeting, interested students will be invited to attend three of five group advising sessions.  Transfer students interested in pursuing a health career should contact Barb Redding (redding@dickinson.edu) in the 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 the group advising sessions and provide the following registration materials by the beginning of the spring semester in the first year: 1) a completed Pre-Health Program Registration Form,  2) an essay that details each student's interest in pursuing a healthcare career and the initial career ideas along with specific 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 each candidate might be interested in attending after graduation. 

After these materials are received, the only requirements to stay in the Pre-Health Program include the relevant pre-requisite courses and contact with their Faculty 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

Major Options

It is appropriate for students to pursue any major to practice careers in most of the health professions.  While Biology and Biochemistry are the two top majors, they can pursue professional school after completing 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.

Required Courses

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 may have additional requirements, so this list should be reviewed as a general guide.

To be considered for a recommendation by the Committee for the Health Professions, students must take seven of the nine lab science courses required by professional schools in at least two of the following departments: Biology, Chemistry, and Physics.  

Chemistry: 5 courses
CHEM 131, 132 General Chemistry I and II 
CHEM 241, 242 Organic Chemistry I and II 
One course in Biochemistry - CHEM 331, Principles of Biochemistry (no lab) or CHEM 342, Structure and Function of Biomolecules (with lab)

Notes:
Students with appropriate placement may substitute CHEM 141 Accelerated General Chemistry for the CHEM 131/132 sequence resulting in four required courses. In this instance, students should explore whether schools to which they plan to apply to require five undergraduate chemistry courses and, if so, the Committee recommends CHEM 244, Thermodynamics and Kinetics, or CHEM 243, Modern Chemical Analysis as the “additional course.”

Chemistry 111 will not satisfy this requirement.

Biology: 2 courses 
Any two introductory courses with a laboratory section. (BIOL 131 and 132) will satisfy this requirement. 

Physics: 2 courses
PHYS 141, 142 Physics for the Life Sciences or 
PHYS 131, 132 General Physics

Notes:
Physics 141 and 142 include content that has been tailored for students pursuing the life sciences and to help them prepare for professional school and required entrance exams.  Students that have not had calculus may take these courses as they are algebra-based. Although Physics 131, 132 is acceptable, some topics on the MCAT exam are not covered in these courses.

Mathematics: 2 courses
Choose two of the following:
MATH 170, Single-variable Calculus
MATH 171, Multivariable Calculus
MATH 121, Elementary Statistics

Notes: Based on placement, students may need to take MATH 151, Intro to Calculus before taking MATH 170. Check early with professional 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 professional schools will accept a writing in the discipline (WID) course that is not in the sciences or languages. Students should discuss the inclusion of these courses with their Faculty Pre-Health Advisor.

Psychology and Sociology:
Please consult with your Faculty Pre-Health Advisor when assigned. An "across the lifespan" perspective of these courses is required for many health programs and content from the social sciences is now included on the MCAT. 

Additional courses:
These courses may prove beneficial to prepare for the health professions programs:

BIOL 326, Microbiology with lab

BIOL 216, Genetics with lab

BIOL 333, Physiology with lab

BIOL 334, Vertebrate Biology with lab

Professional schools may suggest or even require specific courses such as cell biology or comparative anatomy.  Students must discuss the inclusion of these courses with their Faculty Pre-Health Advisors.

Required tests

Medical College Admission Test 
Applicants to medical schools must take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT 2015). The student may be ready to take the exam after completing Biochemistry along with other required courses and studying (including mock testing) for about 500 hours. Students engaging in a professional development year after graduation may choose to take the test following the senior year.

Dental Admissions Test (DAT) 
Applicants may consider taking this test in the spring of the junior year; however, if engaging in an exploratory year following graduation, the applicant may choose to take the test following the senior year or at any point after graduation.

Graduate Record Examination (GRE) - Veterinary, Nursing, Physician Assistant, DPT, Ph.D.
Applicants could take this test after junior year if they are planning to apply for professional school immediately after graduation. If they want to engage in an exploratory year, they can wait until after graduation to take the test.

Tests in other health professions 
Other health professions have similar testing programs. More information is available from the Center Pre-Health Professions Advisor.

Admission factors

Six important factors in determining admission to professional schools are:

  1. the undergraduate overall grade point average and science grade point average,
  2. the score achieved on the pre-professional exam (MCAT, DAT, GRE),
  3. the letter, or letters, of evaluation from the undergraduate college,
  4.  volunteer and/or work experiences including hands-on patient contact,  research, and publications,
  5. the letter, or letters, of evaluation from healthcare or research professionals based on experiential opportunities during a student's time in college, and
  6. the outcome of a personal 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

  • Rebecca Connor (Chemistry & Biochemistry and Molecular Biology) [Chair]
  • Jeffrey Forrester (Mathematics)
  • Tiffany Frey (Biology)
  • Michael Holden (Chemistry & Biochemistry and Molecular Biology)
  • Carol Loeffler (Biology)
  • Meredith Rauhut (Neuroscience)
  • Charles Zwemer (Biology & Neuroscience)
  • Debi Swarner (Center for Advising, Internships & Lifelong Career Development Pre-Health Program - Pre-Health Professions Advisor)                                                                                                   

Additional Remarks

LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES OUTSIDE OF COURSEWORK

Both the pre-health program and Pre-Health Society, the student club for those with an interest in pursuing health professions, provide workshops with alumni and guest speakers discussing treatments, techniques, and educational opportunities. Many of these programs are interactive and offer students opportunities to connect directly with professionals in various medical and healthcare fields. Career interest groups are available for students exploring dentistry (the DDS Group), veterinary medicine (VET), and those exploring professions such as physical and occupational therapy, among others (Allied Health).

The Dickinson MAPS (Minority Association of Pre-Medical Students) chapter, formed in 2018 by a small group of student leaders, is focused on creating a space where underrepresented individuals can receive advice, resources, and mentors on their path to their respective health career. The chapter hosts events on internships, service in the community, finding mentors, and other beneficial opportunities to better prepare underrepresented students for their health careers. Dickinson’s MAPS chapter is part of a larger organization called the Student National Medical Association (SNMA) that hosts multiple conferences for their MAPS chapters in efforts to provide a network and even more resources to our members.

Experiential opportunities exist locally with three hospitals as well as non-profit healthcare-related organizations. Our students also begin exploring internships, clinical-related opportunities, and research work following their first year on campus.