In this concentration, students receive counseling early in their careers to prepare for the rigorous application process to professional schools. The Health Professions Advisor meets with students early in their freshman year to help choose a program of study and inform students of important application time tables. Many students may opt for careers in podiatry, osteopathy, or optometry; these professional schools have similar prerequisites for application.
Professional Medical School Preparation
Acceptance into professional medical schools takes planning, preparation and a high level of academic performance (Preparation Booklet). Students contemplating a professional career as a Medical Doctor (M.D.), Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.), Dentist (D.M.D.) or Veterinarian (D.V.M.) need to gather information early in their college careers.
Dr. Charlotte Berkes is Merrimack College’s Health Professions Advisor (H.P.A.) who assists students in all aspects of their preparation. Please also visit our Health Professions Advising site.
Charlotte Berkes, Ph.D.
Health Professions Advisor
Associate Professor of Biology
Students applying for medical schools also need to obtain a letter from the Health Professions Advisory Committee. View the guidelines for obtaining the letter.
The average age of matriculants into medical school is now between 23 and 24. Dental and veterinary schools are similar. That means fewer students are accepted directly after graduation from their undergraduate institution. You should factor this into your plans. In the intervening time, you can do something to enhance your life experience in a meaningful way, if not your experience in a biomedical or clinical setting.
Requirements for Medical, Dental and Veterinary School
Individual medical, dental and veterinary schools vary in their specific requirements. A good strategy is to take courses as an undergraduate that prepare for all contingencies, as well as courses that provide solid preparation for the standardized entrance exams for each profession.
Taking the time early in one’s career to investigate individual schools is also an excellent way to prepare. What follows are sample curricula for each degree program. (NOTE: You do NOT have to be a science major to apply to medical or dental school - 50% of the matriculants to medical school are non-science majors who have completed all the course requirements listed below).
Medical Schools - M.D. and D.O. degrees
Commonly required and recommended courses for medical schools (M.D. and D.O. degrees) are given below. Check with individual programs for specific requirements. Note: Other types of degree programs have different lists of requirements.
- Introductory Bio I and II, with laboratory
- General Chemistry I and II, with laboratory
- Organic Chemistry I and II, with laboratory
- Physics I and II (algebra or calculus based), with laboratory
- Two semesters of English composition
- Biochemistry I
- Calculus I
- Sociology and/or Psychology
Veterinary Schools - D.V.M. degrees
The schools vary in their pre-requisites. What follows is an all purpose pre-vet curriculum:
- General Biology with laboratory (two semesters)
- Comparative Physiology or Zoology with laboratory
- Microbiology with laboratory
- General Chemistry with laboratory (two semesters)
- Organic Chemistry with laboratory (two semesters)
- Physics (two semesters)
- Genetics (one semester)
- Biochemistry (one semester)
- Mathematics (two semesters): Calculus and Statistics
- English (two semesters)
- Social and Behavioral Sciences (two semesters)
- Humanities and Fine Arts (two semesters)
Dental Schools - D.M.D. degrees
Requirements are similar to those listed above for Veterinary Schools. From the American Dental Association (ADA)…
“General biology, organic and inorganic chemistry, biochemistry and physics are recommended courses to take in college. Majoring in science is not a must, but completion of the pre-dental science requirements is necessary.”
Required Prerequisite Courses - Boston University School of Dentistry:
- Biology - One-and-one-half years with lab (12 semester hours); suggested courses include basic biology, genetics, embryology, molecular biology, cell biology
- Biochemistry/Chemistry - Two years with lab divided equally between general and organic chemistry courses (16 semester hours)
- Physics - One year with lab (8 semester hours)
- English - One year or the equivalent at the college level, even if the applicant received advanced placement credit or was exempted from English courses on entry into college
- Mathematics - One year (6 semester hours); a basic understanding of calculus is needed
- Social Sciences and Humanities - Three years (18 semester hours)
Overall Guidelines For A Successful Application
For a successful application, you should strive for a minimum of:
- GPA > 3.4
- Several extracurricular activities at which you excel
- Extensive volunteer work, laboratory research, internship and/or job related experience
- Excellent reading and writing skills
- Completion of specific course requirements for the schools to which you intend to apply (visit individual school websites)
- A score of 30 on MCAT (medical college admissions tests), or equivalent DAT (dental) and GRE (veterinary school) scores. This will require test taking skill preparation, in addition to reviewing the facts for the physical science and biological science portions of the test.
- Medical schools also require a letter of evaluation from the Health Professions Advisory Committee (HPAC) at each undergraduate institution. Please see the Guidelines for Obtaining a Health Professions Advisory Committee Letter.
Investigating Medical Schools
Some good places to gather information about a professional career in health care are the websites listed below. Students are encouraged to investigate the requirements for the specific schools they might like to attend.
Links to Medical Schools and Medical School Information
ASSOCIATION OF AMERICAN MEDICAL COLLEGES (AAMC)
AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF COLLEGES OF OSTEOPATHIC MEDICINE (AACOM)
AMERICAN OSTEOPATHIC ASSOCIATION (AOA)
AMERICAN OSTEOPATHIC ACADEMY OF SPORTS MEDICINE (AOASM)
Links to Dental Schools and Dental School Information
AMERICAN DENTAL ASSOCIATION (ADA)
DENTAL ADMISSION TEST (DAT)
Links to Veterinary Schools and Veterinary School Information
ASSOCIATION OF AMERICAN VETERINARY MEDICAL COLLEGES ( AAVMC)
CUMMINGS SCHOOL OF TUFTS UNIVERSITY
Links to Related Fields
AMERICAN COLLEGE OF NURSE PRACTITIONERS
AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PHYSICIAN ASSISTANTS (AAPA)
Preparation Booklet for Merrimack College Students
Health Professions Advisory Committee Letter Information (HPAC) Letter