Review some commonly asked questions regarding pre-health professions. If you do not see your question addressed please reach out to the pre-health advisor for more information.
Q. What changes will COVID-19 cause to my test experience?
Review the below links for the latest information on COVID-19 safety protocols
Q. I have had difficulty finding shadowing and clinical experience due to pandemic restrictions. Will this affect my application?
Applicants nationwide have experienced limited shadowing opportunities due to the ongoing health crisis. Programs are aware of this and are making various concessions for applicants. Be sure to review your programs of interest concessions for students applying with limited shadowing.
Many programs are accepting virtual experiences in lieu of in person, and are weighing them the same. Meet with the pre-health advisor to learn more about experiences open to you.
Q: Will Professional Programs be changing their requirements with the COVID-19 outbreak?
In the 2020 cycle, programs made a variety of concessions for that applicant pool. As things evolve and change, programs are evaluating requirements. Review your program(s) of interest for the most updated information on their requirements.
Q: Can I schedule a Pre-Health Advising Appointment?
Yes, current students can still go in to Navigate to schedule a Pre-Health Advising Appointment. Incoming or alum are encouraged to email the pre-health advisor to set up an appointment
Q: My classes were moved online in 2020-2021, should I retake them since I have been told online courses are not accepted for prerequisites for my program?
Programs are aware many schools moved online at the recommendation of public health mandates. Many programs are making accommodations because of this, reach out to the program(s) you are interested in to learn how they are viewing courses that have been moved online due to COVID-19.
Q: What major should I pick in order to go to Medical, Dental, PA, OT/PT, or other healthcare programs?
There is no required major for any of these programs. Most healthcare graduate programs require specific pre-requisites but not a certain major. Selecting a major that has more elective space is a great option, as it will give you the space to take the required courses for your graduate program and not extend your graduation timeline. The most important thing to remember, you want to pick a major that you will do well in. Do not major in something because you think it will “look better” selecting a major you think will look good, but then you perform poorly in will not aid you in getting into your desired program.
Q: Is it better to major in a science if I want to go to medical school?
While majors like Biology and Chemistry at UTC house most of the required and recommended courses for medical school built in to their degree, they also require additional courses not needed for medical school. You want to select a major that plays to your strengths. If you are not strong in chemistry, but enjoy biology you will want to major in biology or vice versa. However, many students gain entrance to medical school in a non-science major. There is no “ideal” major for medical school
Q: Can I use AP, dual enrollment, CLEP, or other kinds of alternative college credit for prerequisites required by professional schools?
Many schools will accept AP or other forms of credit, however, most programs strongly encourage all science courses be completed at a four-year institution. Review your program of interests specific requirements for a detailed list of accepted AP and CLEP credit
Q: Will I still get into medical school with a C in organic chemistry?
Getting straight As is not required for medical school. Nor is it a guarantee for admission. Medical schools want to see an applicant can handle the challenging coursework and often look to the performance in prerequisites to determine that. One C will not eliminate you from consideration, but applicants should consult the pre-health advisor on whether to retake the course or take additional science coursework.
Q: What should I do if I have a lower GPA but am interested in healthcare?
Most professional schools operate on a holistic review of applicants, those with lower but still competitive GPAs who may have higher test scores, extensive volunteering and health care experience can still be considered competitive. Students who have GPA’s that fall below the competitive average may want to consider a graduate or post baccalaureate program before applying. Any student with concerns or questions about their GPA is encouraged to reach out to the Pre-Health advisor.
Q: What classes do I need to take for the MCAT?
Follow this link: Recommended Course Completion Timeline to review recommended courses.
Q: What classes do I need for the GRE?
There are no required courses for the GRE, it is best to utilize GRE preparation materials to prepare for the test.
Q: What classes do I need for the DAT?
Follow this link: Recommended Course Completion Timeline to review recommended courses.
Q: What MCAT score do I need to insure an interview?
There is no set score that guarantees an interview, however, 500+ (50th percentile or higher) is considered competitive for most medical schools. Applicants with an MCAT below 500 are encouraged to retake the test before applying.
Q: How long do I need to study for the MCAT or DAT?
It is recommended to spend at least 1 semester (4 months) for 15-20 hours a week preparing the MCAT or the DAT. Applicants can extend their time to 6 months and reduce their study time per week to 10-15 hours should they feel more comfortable.
Q: How do I study for the MCAT, GRE, or DAT?
How to study varies from person to person. There are many resources for each of these exams that range from online flashcards, practice tests, subject modules, and prep courses. To determine what study materials are available for your specific exam and resources to prepare study plans you can click here (link to test prep) or schedule a meeting with the Pre-Health Professions Advisor.
Q: When should I take the MCAT?
For students who wish to enroll in medical school the August after they graduate from their undergraduate degree, this would be the March - early June of their junior year. For students interested in a gap year or an augmented timeline, please make an appointment with the Pre-Health Profession Advisor for a custom timeline.
Q: What is a Gap Year?
A gap year is a year off after graduation before starting a healthcare graduate program. Many students will use this year to travel or gain medical experience. Gap years are becoming far more common and are not an obstacle in gaining admittance into professional programs. In fact, many professional schools view an applicant who has taken a gap year as more competitive than one who has not depending on how the gap year was used.
Q: I decided I wanted to go to into Healthcare late in my undergraduate degree or after graduation, do I still have a chance of getting in?
Yes, more and more students are entering medical school and other healthcare programs later in life. More students are taking gap years, or changing careers so it is not expected students graduate and go straight into professional school. To determine what you need to do to become competitive please schedule a meeting with the Pre-Health Professions Advisor.
Q: When should I apply to professional school?
You should only apply once you are ready. Letting the timeline become more important than crafting a competitive application is not wise. Work with the Pre-Health Advisor on a timeline that fits you is best.
Internships, Shadowing, and Direct Patient Care
Q: I want to go to PA School, what are Direct Patient Care Hour/Experiences?
Direct Patient Care Hours or Experiences can be paid or unpaid experiences where students have direct access to working with patients. Some of the core components of Direct Patient Care are that the student must participate in one or more of the following:
- Taking patient vitals
- Performing medical procedures
- Directly taking patient history
- Providing injections or taking blood
Many PA schools will accept hours from EMTs, Nurses, Physical and Occupational Therapists, and other practicing medical professionals. Please be sure to review the requirements for the school(s) you are interested in for specific Direct Patient Care requirements. You can refer here for a list of common Direct Patient Care opportunities.
Q: Where can I get Direct Patient Care (DPCE)?
There are many options, some students opt for additional certification on top of their undergraduate degree to work in the healthcare field. Schedule a meeting with the Pre-Health Professions Advisor to determine what DPCE would work for you.
Q: Do I need to shadow or gain direct patient care hours for medical school?
Many medical schools do not require any shadowing or direct patient care experience from their applicants. However, those that have these experiences are more competitive.
Q: What is the difference between a Physician Assistants (PA) and doctor?
Physician Assistants (PAs) attend a two-three year program while doctors attend four years of medical school. Doctors will also attend three-seven years of post-graduate residency depending on their planned area of specialization. For a more detailed comparison of the two professions click here.
Q: What is the difference between a dentist and a dental hygienist?
To become a dentist, you must attend dental school. This means a student will: complete their bachelor’s degree, take the appropriate prerequisite courses, complete the DAT, and enroll in a dental college. Dentists diagnose patients, advise them on necessary treatment and perform dental work. Their job requires them to have excellent leadership skills to effectively lead their staff, they often supervise dental hygienist.
Job responsibilities of a dentist include:
- Removing decay from teeth
- Filling cavities
- Repairing teeth
- Giving anesthetics for procedures
- Prescribing medications needed
- Creating models of the teeth to use for different dental needs
To become a dental hygienist you do not need to complete a bachelor’s degree. While there are bachelor’s degrees in dental hygiene they are rare. More commonly dental hygienists obtain an associate’s degree. Dental hygienists are responsible for cleaning teeth and educating patients on techniques to use to improve their overall oral health. Dental hygienists work closely with patients, including patients who are nervous to have dental work done, so hygienists must have excellent interpersonal skills and show compassion to patients to ensure their visit is successful.
Job responsibilities of a dental hygienist include:
- Using sealants and fluoride treatments to protect teeth
- Teaching patients to brush and floss
- Recording treatment and creating plans
- Recognizing signs of oral disease
- Taking X-rays of the patient's mouth
Q: Don’t see your question here? Feel free to reach out to the Pre-Health Professions Advisor at [email protected] or at 423-425-4573 to schedule an appointment