Frequently Asked Questions


This is an unprecedented time, and in an effort to keep folks safe many things are changing in regards to the application and preparation for professional health programs. Below are frequently asked questions and resources for students at this time.

Q: With the cancellations of test days how do I know if my test will be rescheduled?

Q: I was planning on shadowing or gaining Direct Patient Care over the spring and summer, will I still be able to do this?

In accordance with CDC and other Public Health officials, many hospitals and clinics are restricting visitors, non-essential staff, and volunteers from healthcare centers. Many clinics and hospitals have discontinued shadowing and observation for the foreseeable future. Students interested in shadowing and volunteering are encouraged to wait and contact healthcare centers after public health recommendations have been lifted as to not pull essential staff away from serving the community. 

Q: Will Professional Programs be changing their requirements with the COVID-19 outbreak?

Q: Can I still schedule a Pre-Health Advising Appointment?

Yes, UTC is serving students remotely, current students can still og in to Navigate to schedule a Pre-Health Advising Appointment. Please indicate in the comment box if you would like to hold the meeting via email, Zoom, or by phone.

Q: My class moved online, should I drop it since I have been told online courses are not accepted for prerequisites for my program?

Programs are aware many schools moving 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 volunteering options do I have when traditional shadowing and internships are on hold due to COVID-19?

During this time, students have a few options, they can research programs, internships, and shadowing opportunities. Then contact them when public health officials have deemed it safe for non-essential personnel to be in healthcare settings. Students can also review the Virtual Volunteer Opportunities for places they can support their community virtually. 



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 have all the required 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.

To determine what study materials are available for your specific exam and resources to prepare study plans you can schedule a meeting with the Pre-Health Professions Advisor.

Q: Will I still get into medical school with a C in organic chemistry?

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.

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 with GPAs not competitively high often opt to enroll in a graduate program in a health related field such as Public Heath, or a science. Professional programs will then consider the graduate GPA as well as the undergraduate GPA. For more information on what is considered a competitive GPA, and what path is right for you please schedule a meeting with the Pre-Health Professions 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 insures an interview, however, 500+ (50th percentile or higher) is considered competitive for most medical schools.

Q: How long do I need to study for the MCAT, DAT, or GRE?

It is recommended to spend at least 1 semester (4 months) preparing for a graduate entrance exam.

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 flash cards, 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?

The application process to medical school is about 18 months from start to finish (timeline can vary a bit from school to school). The first step in this process is taking the MCAT. For students who wish to enroll in medical school the August after they graduate from their undergraduate degree, this would be the April or May 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. Often time’s students will take a gap year when applying to medical school, meaning they will not start the process of applying to medical school until after they have graduated with their bachelor’s degree. Many students will use this year to travel or gain medical experience. Students wishing to go to Physician Assistant (PA) School will take gap years to finish up their direct patient care hours required for application to PA school. Gap years are becoming far more common and are not an obstacle in gaining admittance into professional programs.

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. Professional schools programs differ in timeline, working 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 is that the student must be participating 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?

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 to apply to medical school. However, those that have these experiences tend to be more competitive. If they move to the interview stage of the application process, they will have much more to contribute that an applicant who has not had any medical experience or exposure.


Professional Programs

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 to see what University of St. George has to say about the differences between PA and MD.

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 hygienist enroll in a community college and 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 or at 423-425-4573 to schedule an appointment