As soon as a student decides to enter into pre-health studies at NEIU, they should declare such intent to the proper academic staff so they can be assigned a pre-professional advisor. It is strongly recommended that students seek advisement early in their studies at NEIU. This will facilitate the development of a timely and well-crafted academic strategy.
Who is the academic staff that students should speak to? It depends on the student's status. If the student has a declared major in the sciences, particularly biology or chemistry, they will be assigned a pre-professional advisor in the department. If a student is in a department without pre-professional advisors, they can be assigned a pre-professional advisor from another department to advise them on the pre-requisites necessary for admission to professional schools. They can inquire at the College of Arts & Sciences or at an appropriate departmental office. If a student is undeclared but wants to investigate pre-health studies, they can simply make an appointment with one of the pre-professional advisors on campus to discuss the nature of pre-health studies.
There are no majors labeled "pre-med", "pre-dent", etc. at NEIU. Pre-health students of various majors are taking a group of courses that will fulfill the requirements for admission to specific professional programs. Professional programs are receptive to any major in the liberal arts and sciences areas as long as the admission requirements have been met. The decision of what major to declare is contingent on the student?s interests. Since health professions are closely aligned with the undergraduate science curriculum, students usually choose an academic major in one of the scientific disciplines. This tends to be a natural fit with the student?s interests and career objectives. Most of the pre-health students at NEIU are biology majors. However, it should be emphasized that professional schools are interested in a broad background.
As students begin to think seriously about their future in a health profession, they should examine why they have chosen to embark on this path. How strong is the interest in the career that the student thinks they want? Are there other factors that are driving the decision? Do they realize the degree of dedication and lifelong learning that is entailed in most health professions? These are only a few of the questions that a student should routinely ask himself or herself as they travel through their undergraduate studies. Students should not hesitate to discuss any reservations they have with their advisor. Advisors are a valuable resource that can point students in a direction that may not be readily apparent to them.
WHAT ARE THE PRE-REQUISITES FOR PROFESSIONAL PROGRAMS?
The requirements for admission to professional schools are variable. It is always recommended that students investigate each school by studying the catalogue and respective web site of the school of interest. Pre-professional advisors should also be consulted, as they will be instrumental in charting out a course of action during the student?s undergraduate studies. For those students interested in pre-medical studies, the association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) publishes the Medical School Admissions Requirements (MSAR) booklet. This booklet lists the specific requirements for admission to medical schools.
Is there a core curriculum that the student can begin to orient around? Yes, there is a sequence of course work that is relatively uniform for many of the professional programs. However, what is designated as the core curriculum on this web site is a minimal approach to pre-health studies. Most programs will have additions to the core courses, and it is recommended that students do not limit themselves to the core courses. The basic requirements listed below contend with the biological and physical science requirements for admission to many professional programs. Generally speaking, completion of the general education requirements for the baccalaureate degree at NEIU will cover the English and behavioral and social science requirements. The core curriculum consists of the following course work:
|One year of General Biology
||BIO 201 and 202|
|One year of Inorganic Chemistry
||CHEM 211 and 212|
|One year of Organic Chemistry
||CHEM 231 and 232|
|One year of Physics
||PHYS 201 and 203; PHYS 202 and 204|
Since most pre-health students major in one of the sciences, particularly biology, these requirements are usually exceeded. Regardless of the student?s major, it is important that students perform well in the science component of their undergraduate curriculum. Success in pursuing a career in the health professions is contingent on a strong science background. Therefore, it is beneficial for students to exceed the core curriculum in order to maximize their potential for success in professional programs.
Again, it is important to recognize that the basic requirements mentioned above only serve to frame the discussion of what the student should take during their undergraduate studies at NEIU. The course work will need to be adjusted to meet the specific requirements of certain professional schools. This is done in collaboration with the student?s pre-professional advisor. Examples of adjustments that NEIU students frequently encounter are:
- Pharmacy schools will often require 3 semester hours of calculus, 3 or 4 semester hours of human or vertebrate anatomy, 3 semester hours of economics, and 2 or 3 hours of speech in addition to the aforementioned required courses.
- Optometry schools will often require 3 semester hours of calculus, 3 semester hours of statistics, and 3 semester hours of microbiology with laboratory. However, they only require 3 semester hours of organic chemistry (without laboratory).
- Dental schools do not necessarily require more than 4 semester hours of organic chemistry, although the total chemistry requirement may be such that the second semester of organic chemistry will be needed. They tend to give strongest consideration to applicants that take at least 3 upper division courses from the following list:
- The same often applies to medical schools. Applicants are expected to take upper division biology courses to fill out their requirements for admission. Examine the web sites of the individual medical schools and the aforementioned booklet to get specific requirements.
- Veterinary medicine programs may require only 8 semester hours of biology, but it is strongly encouraged that students take additional course work in anatomy, physiology, microbiology, immunology, advanced biology, and genetics. The chemistry requirement will include biochemistry.
How heavy should the student's course load be? If a student is just beginning their undergraduate experience, it might be prudent to start with a relatively light load of science and math courses. However, as they progress in their studies they should eventually be able to take 2 to 3 courses per semester in the sciences and math and be able to attain good grades. The curriculum in professional schools is rigorous and this will demonstrate a level of academic competence that is necessary for success in these programs.
In addition to course work requirements, most professional schools require applicants to take some type of standardized examination. There are specific tests for medical school, dental school, pharmacy school, and optometry school. Colleges of veterinary medicine usually accept the Graduate Record Exam. Generally speaking, it is recommended that students take these exams in the spring of their junior year. This will allow early completion of the student?s application portfolio and will give some breathing space if the student finds it necessary to repeat the exam. Specific times that exams are offered and further information about the exams can be accessed at the following web sites:
WHAT MAKES UP A COMPLETE APPLICATON TO PROFESSIONAL SCHOOL?
Although details may vary, there are several key components of most application portfolios. The following checklist enumerates some of these features.
- Academic course work will be complete at the time of matriculation. This includes the successful completion of all pre-requisites. Usually, this includes the completion of the baccalaureate degree at NEIU.
- The appropriate admissions test should be taken prior to the transmittal of application material.
- Application materials should be completed before the deadline, preferably early. Applications are usually available in early May. Many professional schools participate in centralized application services. There are application services for medical (AMCAS), dental (AADSAS), osteopathic (AACOMAS), podiatric (AACPMAS), physician assistant (CASPA), pharmacy (PharmCAS) and veterinary (VMCAS) schools.
- A personal statement usually accompanies the application. The personal statement is an opportunity for the student to express the thinking behind their motivations to pursue a career in the health professions. The personal statement functions as an outlet to elaborate on experiences that helped form personal characteristics that would be of interest to the admissions committee. For example, experiences that highlight critical thinking and problem-solving skills would be appropriate for discussion in the personal statement.
- Letters of recommendation. Common practice is to require 3 letters of recommendation or a committee letter. In the future, NEIU will structure a committee that will provide a committee letter for those students who plan to apply to medical school.
Pre-Medical School Timeline