Are you a high school student who's thinking about pre-medical or pre-professional health studies? Here are a few suggestions for preparing yourself -- in high school and college -- for a professional health program.
What can I do in high school to prepare for pre-medical studies?
What should I major in?
What are the prerequisite courses?
What do professional schools look for in applicants?
How do I choose professional schools to apply to?
How much does medical (or other professional) school cost, and how much financial aid is available?
I am not sure I want to go to professional school, but I know I want to continue my studies. What are my options?
Concentrate on science and math courses. Take additional courses in science rather than math if given the choice, unless you plan to major in biomedical engineering. In that case, you should take as many math courses as possible.
Consider taking Advanced Placement and/or Advanced Credit courses whenever possible. Advanced coursework in science and math is excellent preparation for pre-professional health studies in college. Medical schools generally do not accept AP/AC credit for biology, chemistry and physics. Students are encouraged to take these courses at a 4-year college or university.
Medical schools do not prefer one major over another. In fact, you can major in almost any discipline. Still, many pre-health students choose to major in a scientific field. The Saint Louis University Student Success Center offers students assistance choosing a major as they participate in structured activities in the Major Exploration Academic Advising Office.
In college, you will follow the pre-professional health curriculum, a prescribed series of courses that students must take.
The courses you need to take before applying to professional school include general biology I and II with labs, general chemistry I and II with labs, organic chemistry I and II with labs, physics I and II with labs, upper division biology, calculus I, biochemistry, psychology, sociology and English composition.
Professional schools pay particular attention to the overall GPA, math/science GPA, and standardized test scores (MCAT, DAT, OAT, etc.). Students need to demonstrate a clear motivation to pursue a career in the field and are encouraged to have shadowing and/or volunteer experience in clinical settings. Leadership experience, community service and appropriate extracurricular activities benefit your application. Communication skills and the ability to relate to others are also important, and should be evident in your application and supporting letters.
Choose schools that you have the most competitive application to based on your GPA and standardized test scores. Also consider location, state of residence and cost.
Cost varies depending on the school and whether you are attending as a resident or non-resident of that state. Expect to have debt of more than $170,000 after four years of professional school, beyond any undergraduate debt.
There are limited opportunities for scholarships. The armed services provide medical school tuition assistance, asking for years of service upon the completion of your educational training. There are also various opportunities for underserved community members. Typically, these opportunities require a form of public service in a particular field in response to the receipt of the financial assistance. The most common form of financial aid for medical students is student loans.
There are many opportunities within the health field and other professional sectors, including law school and graduate programs in the sciences and health-related fields. Talk to your major advisors and Pre-Professional Health Advisors for specific suggestions.
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