- Academic English Studies (ESL)
- Asian Studies
- Biochemistry/Molecular Biology
- Environmental Studies
- Ethnic Studies
- Exploration and Discovery
- French Studies
- Gender Studies
- German Studies
- Health Professions
- Hispanic Studies
- International Affairs
- Latin American Studies
- Mathematics/Computer Science
- Political Economy
- Political Science
- Religious Studies
- Rhetoric and Media Studies (formerly Communication)
- Sociology and Anthropology
- World Languages
Preparing for Careers in the Health Professions
A Guide for Lewis & Clark Students
- How to be Competitive for Admission to Medical School and other Health Professions
- Required courses for Admission
- A Sample Four Year Course Schedule
- Can I Study Abroad if I’m a Pre-Medical Student?
- Can I Take Some of my Required Pre-medical Courses at Other Colleges?
- Can I Apply Advanced Placement Credits Toward my Medical School Admission Requirements?
- How Important Are College Grades for Getting into Medical School?
- How Important is First-Hand Medical Experience for Admission to Medical School?
- How Valuable is it to Have Research Experience?
- Is it Useful to Participate in Co-Curricular Activities (Sports, Journalism, etc.)?
- The Medical College Admission Test
- Applying to Medical School
The purpose of this guide is to provide general information regarding requirements and criteria for admission to health professional schools, and to make you familiar with the resources available at Lewis & Clark to help you in planning for a career in the health professions. Please bookmark this site and consult it for answers to many of your questions concerning preparation for medical school. If you have questions that the guide doesn’t answer, need some help in deciding whether medicine or another health profession is for you, or just want to discuss your particular situation, contact Lewis & Clark College’s Chief Health Professions Advisor.
There are many professions related to health care and health maintenance. Many students with an interest in these areas want to attend a medical school—either allopathic medical schools, which grant the MD degree, or osteopathic medical schools, which grant the DO degree—with the goal of becoming physicians. A few are interested in dentistry, optometry, podiatry, or veterinary medicine. You should also be aware, however, that there are many additional careers in health care that do not involve going to a medical or dental school. These allied health careers include: biomedical research, epidemiology, medical technology, nursing, nurse-practitioner, nutrition, occupational therapy, pharmacology, pharmacy, physical therapy, physician assistant, public health, public health administration, toxicology, etc. Students who have an interest in improving the health of others should seriously consider these attractive and viable alternatives to medical school.
For convenience we will use the terms “medical school” or “pre-med” in this handbook as a shorthand for any postgraduate school in the health professions (dentistry, veterinary medicine, nursing, optometry, etc.) and for any student interested in careers in these areas. You should understand that we really mean all students who plan careers in the health professions when we use those terms, not just those who plan to earn an MD or DO.
The practice of medicine and the other health-related professions is going through a period of rapid change. Whatever the immediate outcome of governmental action or inaction on health care reforms, it seems inevitable that medical practice and “health care delivery” will be very different in the future than they were in the past. There will be an increase in the number of primary care workers (not just generalist physicians with MD and DO degrees, but also certified Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants), and a corresponding decrease in the number of specialty physicians, in part through enforced reductions in specialty residencies. Private-practice fee-for-service physicians will be far fewer, as an increasing proportion of health care workers will be employed by health maintenance organizations (HMOs) in managed care environments. Collaborative and group health practice will be increasingly common. As you plan for your own future in medicine, be sure you are planning for the medicine of the future.
The key to making the best decision about your undergraduate studies and your career is obtaining accurate and timely information about the career options available to you. Lewis & Clark is an excellent place to prepare for careers in health care because it offers:
- An excellent liberal arts program.
- Wide choice in your major field of study.
- Sound preparation in biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics.
- Opportunities to participate in an Overseas Program.
- Opportunities for independent research.
- Opportunity for significant first-hand experience in health care settings.
- Diverse lectures, seminars, and meetings on important issues facing medicine and on the various types of health-related careers.
The Competitive Applicant. All health professional schools have far more applicants than they can accommodate. They select the “best” (in their judgment) applicants for admission to their programs. Thus, admission to medical schools is a highly competitive process. Allopathic (MD) medical schools are particularly competitive, with about 5 applicants for each 2 medical school seats. Every year, nearly 60% of applicants nationwide are unsuccessful in gaining admission to medical school, even though they meet the minimum requirements for admission. These students are not unqualified, but they are not as well qualified as other applicants — that is, they are not as “competitive.” For this reason we encourage you to exceed minimum qualifications, both quantitatively and qualitatively, and so improve your chances for admission. That means taking challenging courses beyond the minimum needed and earning a GPA or 3.5 or better. It means having work or volunteer experience in a medical field. And, for better or worse, it means earning a good score on the Medical College Admission Test. We want to help you maximize your chances for admission to the program of your choice.
Academic preparation for the health professions. The undergraduate major that you choose will not affect your chances of getting into medical school. While it may be easier to meet medical school course requirements if you are a science major, students with majors in a wide variety of disciplines successfully enter medical schools. No one major is “best,” and no medical school requires that successful applicants major in a particular subject or avoid any subject. We advise you to concentrate in those academic areas you are most interested in, because you’ll do your best work in those areas. In addition, this will prepare you for alternate future plans in case a health professional school does not accept you. Because Lewis & Clark College does not have a special pre-medical major, many pre-meds choose to major in biology, chemistry, or biochemistry, but others choose majors in other sciences (computer science, mathematics, physics) or humanities and social science (anthropology, art, communication, economics, East Asian studies, English, environmental studies, foreign languages and literature, history, international affairs, music, philosophy, political science, psychology, religious studies, sociology, theatre—just about anything.) The quality and scope of your academic accomplishments counts far more than the field in which you major. Nevertheless, your performance in science and mathematics courses is weighted heavily in the admissions process. If you decide not to major in science, then be sure to take more than the bare minimum of science courses required by professional schools, and in particular take several upper-division biology or biochemistry courses that have laboratories.
The following list of courses is the result of a survey of the minimum requirements for admission to 110 allopathic medical schools. The third column represents the number of these schools that require each subject for the 2000-2001 entering class. The basic courses in biology, inorganic and organic chemistry, and physics must include a laboratory.
|Subject||Required||No. of Schools||Appropriate Lewis & Clark courses|
|Biology||1 year||108||Biology 151 and 200|
|Physics||1year||107||Physics 141/142 or 151/152/251|
|General Chemistry||1 year||105||Chem 110/120 or 115/135|
|Organic Chemistry||1 year||104||Chem 210 & 220|
|English||1/2-1 year||74||many possibilities, including Exploration & Discovery|
|Calculus||1/2-1 year||43||Math 131/132|
|Behavioral or Social sciences||1/2-1 year||16||many possibilities|
|Humanities||1/2-1 year||15||many possibilities|
Many medical schools additionally require appropriate upper division biology courses, often at least another year. But even if your favorite medical school does not require upper-division biology, you should take such courses anyway. Appropriate courses include: animal behavior, animal physiology, biochemistry, cell biology, developmental biology, immunology, microbiology, neurobiology, etc. We particularly recommend biochemistry, a course that is already required by some medical schools. If you are not a science major, you should take at least two upper-division biology courses, with laboratory. After all, medicine is applied biology. But it is a myth that you must have lots of upper-division biology courses. Most medical schools require no more than two years of biology (1 year of general biology, 1 year of upper-division courses).
The amount of required college mathematics varies widely. Some medical schools require none, while others require a year of calculus. Whether or not a medical school requires mathematics, you will need good quantitative skills for all your basic science courses—biology and chemistry as well as physics. We recommend that all premedical students take math through Math 132. It is also best to take a calculus-based physics course. (Lewis & Clark’s physics courses are calculus-based, but non-calculus-based courses can be found at other colleges). Non-calculus-based physics courses are not necessarily easier; time is taken in these courses to teach you enough calculus for you to do the physics. Since you will have had calculus by the time you start physics, why waste time in needless duplication?
Many medical schools require one or two semesters of English for admission; for most schools, writing-intensive courses such as Exploration and Discovery are acceptable substitutes for an English composition course. We suggest that all pre-medical students take at least one English literature course.
The information in this handbook is a composite of current requirements at several kinds professional schools; these can change rapidly. Make sure that you should familiarize yourself as early as possible with the specific requirements for the schools that you are interested in attending.
Requirements for each MD-granting school, along with much other useful information, are described in the book Medical School Admission Requirements (updated yearly; cost: $15.00), which may be purchased from:Association of American Medical Colleges,
2450 N Street N.W.
Washington, DC 20037-1126
The equivalent booklet about osteopathic medical schools is Osteopathic Medical College Information (cost: $2.00), which may be purchased from:The American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine
6110 Executive Boulevard, Suite 405
Rockville, Maryland 20852
Comparable books, updated annually, are available for schools of dentistry, optometry, podiatry, and veterinary medicine. You may wish to purchase your own copy, but you needn’t do so until the beginning of the year in which you are planning to apply.
Because medical school admissions are now so competitive, students who have completed only the minimum required courses in science, math, and English are at a disadvantage. In addition to taking the required and recommended courses, you should study in a variety of academic areas. Don’t concentrate solely on science courses (and don’t avoid them, either). Medical schools want students who are broadly educated, not merely well trained.
“Standard” four-year pattern for taking all pre-medical courses. Many pre-meds apply to medical schools the summer before their senior year and take the MCAT or its equivalent in April of their junior year. The usual pattern of taking the MCAT-required courses is as follows, with others fitting in where convenient:
|Fall Semester||Spring Semester|
|Chemistry 110||Chemistry 120|
|Exploration & Discovery||Exploration & Discovery|
|(Math 131)||(Math 132)|
|Chemistry 210||Chemistry 220|
|(Math 131)||(Math 132) You should complete Calculus before you take Physics|
|Physics 141||Physics 142|
|Advanced Biology or Biochemistry||Advanced Biology or Biochemistry|
|Study for and take MCAT. Solicit letters of evaluation from professors. Write personal essay|
|Apply in June||Interviews at Medical Schools|
|Interviews at Medical Schools||(Overseas Program?)|
BUT … there is no a priori reason why you must adopt this “standard” three-year pattern! There are many good reasons to spread out your science courses, perhaps taking only one per semester rather than doubling up, and to postpone taking the MCAT until the end of your senior year, at the earliest. This means that there would be a least a year after graduation before you enter medical school. No big deal! It will be worth taking a little longer if that allows you to fulfill some other goals such as maintaining a competitive GPA (at least a 3.4), majoring in a nonscience, go overseas, and/or taking a greater diversity of liberal arts courses. Your four-year academic record is likely to be stronger than your three-year record, and many medical schools actually prefer their first-year students to be a bit older and more mature. Thus it will not compromise your plans for a career in the health professions if you delay applying until after graduation; it might even help.
Pre-medical students who wish to study on an Overseas Program face challenges in planning. The best time to go abroad is probably during the first semester of your junior year. Because you would normally take a yearlong course in General Physics during your junior year, you should consider one of these alternatives:
- Take physics during your sophomore year (along with Bio 200 and Chem 210, 220). This is not a happy alternative for most students.
- Take a yearlong physics or organic chemistry course in summer session at another approved college or university. Make sure summer session courses meet the standards of our on-campus courses in these subjects.
- Delay application to medical school so that you can take physics during your senior year, after returning from overseas, and thus take the MCAT in April of your senior year. There’s no harm in delaying your application a year or two.
- Study abroad in the fall or spring semester of your senior year (if you are applying to medical school during your senior year, this option will probably reduce your chances of admission).
Despite these logistical problems, going on an Overseas Program is an unparalleled experience, and we highly recommend it.
Because Chem 120 (or 135) is prerequisite to both Chem 210 and Bio 200, students who delay starting chemistry until their sophomore year are at a disadvantage in completing all required science courses by the end of the junior year. This is particularly true for students who plan to major in biology, chemistry, or biochemistry. For this reason, we strongly encourage all first year students who think you might be interested in applying to medical schools to start Chem 110 in your first fall semester. However, even if you do not take Chemistry in your first year, you can still complete your pre-medical requirements before graduation through careful selection of your courses at Lewis & Clark and/or picking up some required courses in summer sessions.
Courses taken away from Lewis & Clark College. There are many reasons why you may want or need to consider taking some basic pre-MCAT courses during summer sessions at a college other than at Lewis & Clark. This is OK, though you should take most of your pre-MCAT science courses here. Physics is probably the best course to take elsewhere, but be sure that it is the course appropriate for science majors, not a “Perspectives” type course. What you should look for is a calculus-based year-equivalent general physics course with laboratory, designed for science majors, at a four-year college or university. (The same principles apply to taking introductory biology or inorganic or organic chemistry elsewhere). Summer session courses should be taken at four-year colleges where the quality of education is equal to that at Lewis & Clark College. Beware of taking any of these important science courses at community colleges once you have matriculated here. Medical school admissions committees are likely to react negatively to a transcript listing community college courses taken after you enroll at Lewis & Clark, especially those required for medical school. We recommend that you discuss your plans with your advisor and with the Chair of the appropriate department at Lewis & Clark (e.g. the Physics Dept. if you plan to take a physics course) to be sure that you are taking the course that best meets your needs.
Because different institutions cover the topics in their basic science courses in different sequences, it is difficult, and usually impossible, to combine one semester of a year-long basic science course at Lewis & Clark with another semester taken during a summer session elsewhere.
Advanced Placement Credits. Relatively few medical school admissions committees and state licensing boards accept advanced placement for courses that are premedical requirements. Most medical schools insist that all required biology, chemistry, and physics courses be satisfied while you are enrolled in college. Because you might want to apply to a medical school that requires you to satisfy its course requirements while you are in college, it is safest simply to do that for all your basic science courses. Even medical schools that accept AP credit toward their admission requirements require you to take an additional college course or two in any science subject in which you received AP credit, particularly biology, in order to show that you can perform well in college-level science courses.
Grades. Grades are, whether we like it or not, the single most important criterion for medical school admissions. You must maintain a reasonable GPA in college, in both science courses and overall, if you expect to be admitted to a health professional school. Although many factors are taken into account in the admission process, grades from college are probably the most important single evaluative factor. Medical and veterinary schools state that the average GPA of their entering classes is about 3.5 (B+/A-), but they rarely publish the range of acceptable GPAs. Most medical schools will not consider a student whose GPA is below 2.5, and many in practice do not consider applicants whose GPA is below 3.3, unless high MCAT scores, glowing recommendations, or unusual life experiences make the applicant attractive. Fortunately, an occasional low grade, even in a science course, will not by itself keep you out of medical school. But don’t make a habit of low grades! And remember, you will need a high grade in another course (preferably on the same or related topic at a more advanced level) to balance out each low grade. You should avoid excessive use of the CR/NC option in any of your courses and you should take all required and suggested pre-med courses for letter grades. The required GPA for admission into osteopathic and dental schools is somewhat lower than for most allopathic (MD) medical schools, but increased numbers of applicants to all health professional schools have resulted in an increase in the GPA of accepted students. Our experience with previous Lewis & Clark College applicants to allopathic medical school shows that a GPA less than 3.4 is not competitive.
Health care experience. Enjoying work in a medical setting is essential to a successful medical career. All medical schools admissions committees look for evidence that you have significant first-hand knowledge of medicine and health care, as part of their assessment of the depth of your commitment to this career. Most medical schools, including all osteopathic schools, now require significant health care experience. You can obtain this experience in a wide variety of ways, including working or volunteering in hospital emergency rooms or in pediatric clinics, in physician’s offices, in health care clinics and screening agencies, and/or in public health programs. This experience can be paid or unpaid; it doesn’t matter. This is a good way to spend a summer, but you can also find relevant experiences here during the academic year. Inquire at the Center for Service and Work, or talk with the Chaplain about opportunities available in the Portland area. With medical school admissions so very competitive right now, you are well advised to seek out first-hand experience in a health-care setting. This type of experience not only helps you decide whether you are pursuing the correct career path, but also lets medical schools know that you are very serious about becoming a health care provider. You will probably want to include a letter from your health care supervisor in your medical school application, so be sure that you perform your duties reliably and responsibly.
You should also take the time during your undergraduate years to become well informed about the issues that confront the health care professional today or that are likely to arise in the future. You should have informed opinions on current major issues in medical care, such as private and public health care plans, health care financing, universal coverage, single-payer plans, HMOs, AIDS, abortion, euthanasia, physician-assisted suicide, rationed care, managed care, the professional’s role in recognizing and reporting spousal and child abuse, etc. You will be asked questions about these issues in interviews when you’re applying to medical school, so stay abreast of current issues in health care. Regularly read newspapers and appropriate magazines. Attend lectures on campus and elsewhere in town.
Independent Research. The advancement of medicine depends on basic and clinical research. Many students find it both enjoyable and worthwhile to do independent research during the academic year and/or during summers. Listings of many summer research internships in biomedical sciences are kept in the Bio/Psych Conference Room and in the Center for Service and Work. If you plan to enter an MD/PhD program, you will not be seriously considered unless you have had significant research experience as an undergraduate. Letters of recommendation from your research supervisors are important additions to your application, so again be sure to make a good impression.
If you have limited time available and must choose between them, it is more important to have direct experience in a health care setting than to have research experience.
Activities. High grades and high MCAT scores alone will not get you into medical school, though they certainly help! Medical and professional schools are interested in well-rounded applicants, those who have shown interest in, and ability to work with, people. Service to humanity is one of the highest ideals of medicine. Get involved in internships through the Center for Service and Work. Get involved in on-campus activities relating to health care. Take on leadership positions in student or community organizations, athletic teams, or in student and dormitory government. Be a Resident Assistant. Write for The Pioneer Log. Tutor underprivileged children in the community. Demonstrate your leadership skills and abilities to work effectively with others on group activities. Letters of recommendation from your activities’ supervisors can be important additions to your application.
The MCAT. While there is some variation in the specific courses that medical schools require of their applicants, almost all allopathic, osteopathic, and podiatric medical schools require you to take a standardized admissions test, similar in format to the SAT or ACT test you took when applying to college. The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), given in April and August of each year, has four parts: Verbal Reasoning, Physical Sciences, Writing Sample, and Biological Sciences. There are similar exams for dentistry (the Dental Aptitude Test (DAT)), optometry (Optometry Aptitude Test (OAT)), pharmacy (Pharmacy College Aptitude Test (PCAT)), and veterinary medicine (either the Veterinary Aptitude Test (VAT) or the Graduate Record Exam (GRE). The exams test your understanding of material that you should have learned in year-long majors courses in: general biology, general(inorganic) chemistry, organic chemistry, and general physics. It’s a waste of time to take these tests before you have completed all these courses.
We strongly suggest that you take the MCAT exam in April, as scores from the August sitting arrive very late at admissions offices (mid-October), putting those applicants at a great disadvantage. Thus, if you plan to take the MCAT at the end of your junior year so that you can apply to medical school when you are a senior, you must complete the required courses by the end of the junior year. If you do not plan to apply to medical school so early, you don’t need to cram all these courses into your first three years of college. The other courses that are required or desirable for admission to medical schools but not required for the MCAT, such as English or advanced biology, do not all have to be completed by the end of your first three years in college. Information about the MCAT is available online from the Association of American Medical Colleges.
MCAT scores for each section of the test range between 2 and 15, and are normalized to a median score of 8 (that is, 50% of the people who take the exam receive a score of 8 or better). Achieving just this median score will not get you into medical school. Aim for MCAT scores of 10 or better on each section. This means spending at least two to three months of concentrated serious studying before attempting the MCAT, equivalent to the time that you spend on a regular science course. You do not need to spend $1000 or more on a commercial MCAT-prep course if you have good study habits and good self-discipline.
Applying to medical school.
To apply to medical school you must fill out a computerized application form from the American Medical College Admission Service (AMCAS). (The process is similar for applying to other health professions schools). You will be asked to list your courses taken and grades received; you also need to submit transcripts from all your college-level work at Lewis & Clark and elsewhere. You will have to send your MCAT scores to the medical schools to which you are applying. You will be asked to indicate your non-academic activities. And you will be asked to prepare a one-page “personal statement”, explaining why you are interested in a career in medicine, and persuading the admissions committee that you are someone who would be an excellent doctor.
If your grades, MCAT scores, and personal statement are persuasive, you will be asked to submit a secondary application (at additional expense). You may be asked for additional information about yourself, and you will certainly be asked to have letters of evaluation sent on your behalf. Usually medical schools require 3 letters of evaluation, and prefer that at least two come from faculty members in the sciences. (For this reason, it is especially important for students who are not majoring in the sciences to make an extra effort to get to know science professors).
If, after reviewing your complete application, including your letters of evaluation, the admissions committee sees that you have the potential to be a successful physician, they will invite you for a personal interview at the school (again, at your expense). This is the crucial last hurdle. A successful interview is necessary for admission. Some schools interview many more applicants than they will admit, so the interview is a make-or-break process. Others interview only students they expect to admit, but may screen some out on the basis of the interview. In either case, it is essential to prepare for the interview, and to put your best foot forward at this time.
Here is a succinct checklist of what you should do to prepare for admission to a medical school or professional school in another health profession.
Plan ahead. Start your serious planning about 2 years before you expect to enter medical school. In your junior year we schedule meetings about the MCAT and the entire application process. You don’t need to worry much about either until then. The opening date for receipt of medical school applications is June 1. Plan on applying to medical school in the early summer — to apply late (say, after mid-July) is to place yourself at a significant disadvantage.
Your Personal Statement. Your personal statement is an essential part of your application because it’s your main opportunity to distinguish yourself from the other 40,000 or so people who apply to medical school every year. Is there some unusual story about how you became interested in medicine? Tell it. Have you had a meaningful experience on an overseas program that made you want to be a physician? Explain what it was. Did you meet and overcome adversity in order to achieve a goal? Describe that. The Admissions Committee will read literally thousands of applications every year, almost all from students with good grades and good MCAT scores. But some will make better physicians than others—because they’re more dedicated, more compassionate, more committed, more persistent. Your personal statement is your opportunity to explain why you’re in the select group who should be among those admitted to medical school.
Something as important as your personal statement cannot be dashed off in a few days. You should plan to start working on your personal statement several months before you plan to apply to medical school, and expect to go through many drafts as you refine and hone your words. Get advice from friends and from your professors. In particular, you should consult with the Health Professions Advisor, Dr. Todd Watson (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Letters of recommendation. The most important thing you can do now, before you start into the application process, is to get to know a number of your professors, and have them get to know you. You will be asking them for letters of evaluation. Cultivate relationships with your instructors early in your academic career. Ask questions in and out of class. Show your interest in the course activities, including laboratories, discussions, writing assignments, and so forth. (Medical schools want people who are intellectually curious and eager to learn because such people make the best health care providers. You don’t get graded after you complete medical school, but you must go on learning throughout your career. The professors who write your evaluations will be more enthusiastic about you if they realize that you are motivated by curiosity rather than the desire for high grades). Get to know faculty outside the classroom. Visit your professors during scheduled office hours. Take them to lunch (it’s free in Templeton through the faculty meal plan). If you are shy about this, collaborate with a couple of your friends on a faculty lunch. Share with your faculty your goal of becoming a physician. Seek their advice in designing your curriculum and selecting related academic courses and areas. Lewis & Clark faculty are very open to exchanging ideas with students and helping promote their success. But you must initiate the contact yourself. Faculty are always willing to write letters for students they know well, but cannot say much about someone who is just a line of scores in a gradebook. Choose your evaluators well. The best letters come from those people who know you well and have been able to form a good impression from your coursework, activities, or research. It is critical for you to identify supportive individuals willing to convey a meaningful and realistic evaluation of your abilities, giving insight not only into your academic abilities, but also into your personal character. Return to top of page.
The Interview. Medical, dental, veterinary, etc. schools that are seriously interested in your application will invite you for an interview at your own expense (plan to spend at least $3000-4000 applying to medical school and going on interviews). All prefer to interview you on their campus, so that you have an opportunity to see their institution first hand. A few schools will arrange for you to be interviewed by alumni who live in your area if there are financial or other compelling reasons why you cannot travel to their campus. (Being on an overseas program is not a compelling reason to a medical school. They’ll expect you to come back to the U.S. for an interview, and if you don’t, they’ll assume that you’re not serious about medical school). The Lewis & Clark Health Professions Committee can arrange a mock interview for you, so you can practice your interviewing skills before you encounter the real thing.
- To arrange a mock interview, contact Todd Watson (email@example.com).
- You can also read our guide to Preparing for Your Interview page for a list of common questions and ideas for how to respond.
- A site called The Interview Feedback Pages offers examples of questions recently asked in real medical school interviews.
What if you are not accepted anywhere that you apply? Give serious thought while you’re at Lewis & Clark to what you might do if you are not accepted. Consider alternatives as options, not as second choices. You may even be asked questions about this during interviews, to see if you are being thoughtful and realistic about your options in the health care field. If you choose to reapply to medical school after not being accepted, talk with the Health Professions Advisor and also contact medical school admissions offices to find out what you specifically need to do to improve your chances. (Don’t ask: “why didn’t I get into your medical school?” Rather ask: “Are there any things that I can do to strengthen my application?” They will generally be pretty straight with you if there is some deficiency, such as low MCAT scores, a weak personal statement, etc., that you can do something about). Merely resubmitting the same unsuccessful application the following year is guaranteed to be unsuccessful again. Stay in touch with the faculty members who are writing your letters of evaluation so that they can update their letters when you reapply.
Enjoy your years at Lewis & Clark College. Perhaps our most important advice is to relax. Don’t consider Lewis & Clark as merely a stepping stone to medical school. A liberal arts education is the best preparation for medical school, but it’s also a way to build a foundation for a rich and satisfying life. Develop an enthusiasm for learning, for education, for life. Develop interests and activities you can cultivate the rest of your life. Become an interested and interesting person.
For more information: In order to be sure that you are on track for applying to the health professions school of your choice, we encourage you to consult with the Health Professions Advisor (Todd Watson, firstname.lastname@example.org), as well as with your academic advisor early in your career at Lewis & Clark College. You should also be sure to attend the information meetings about preparing for the health professions that we will be holding during your years at Lewis & Clark.
A collection of catalogs and other information about medical schools and allied health professions is maintained in the Dean of Students Office and many materials also are available in the Biology Dept. office. A great deal of information is also available online via the worldwide web; several informative sites are listed below. You should consult these resources as you plan for admission to medical schools and/or other health professions programs.
Useful Web Sites: As you know, a large amount of information is available through the world wide web. While not all sites are completely trustworthy, the following are authoritative sources of information on their respective disciplines, and many pages contain links to the pages of individual medical, dental, veterinary, etc., schools.
Allopathic Medicine (MD) Programs:
- Association of American Medical Colleges: www.aamc.org
- American Medical Association: www.ama-assn.org
Osteopathic Medicine (DO) Programs:
- American Assn. Of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine: www.aacom.org
- Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges: www.aavmc.org
- American Academy of Physician Assistants: www.aapa.org
- American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy: www.aacp.org
Occupational and Physical Therapy
- American Occupational Therapy Association: www.aota.org
- American Physical Therapy Association: www.APTA.org
For more information on these or other health-related occupations, consult the attached resource list or contact Todd Watson (email@example.com).
Financing medical education. Medical school tuitions are steep, some more than $40,000 per year. Few people can to afford these costs out of pocket, and so medical schools will work closely with you to develop a comprehensive financial aid package. For almost all medical students this package will include a substantial sum in loans. These loans will be provided by commercial lenders, such as banks, operating in partnership with the medical school. To qualify for most such loans, you must have an excellent credit rating. Therefore, be very careful in how you use credit when you are an undergraduate. You are likely to be offered credit cards with high debt limits, even though you have limited ability to pay off such debts, which will accumulate rapidly due to high interest rates. You can completely destroy your ability to get medical school loans if you have amassed significant consumer debt as an undergraduate. Resist the temptation to use credit cards to finance your undergraduate years. Pay off all consumer debt before you apply to medical school. It would be a terrible shame if you were to gain admission to medical school, but then have to pass up the opportunity because you are unable to obtain financing for your education.
One of the few sources of outright grant aid (scholarships) for medical school is the U.S. military service. The U.S. military and Public Health Service will provide assistance for medical school financing in exchange for your promise to serve a certain number of years as a military doctor, dentist, or vet. The Public Health service requires you to commit a certain number of years to Public Health Service hospitals, usually the Indian Health Service that provides health care to Native Americans.
Summary of the Lewis & Clark Process. The following 5-step sequential process is essential for all pre-health career students at Lewis & Clark College, with the hope that step #6 will be the happy result. Remember that a successful application to a school of medicine or one of the allied health professions is the result of collaboration between you and many other people. Don’t try to go it alone. Talk with your advisor, or with Dr. Watson, the Health Professions Advisor, early in your undergraduate years about your plans. Ask for advice whether deciding which health profession is best for you, which schools to apply to, what to say in your personal essay, and so forth. The College wants you to succeed, and encourages you to draw on all the resources available to help you do so.
- Identification. If you have an interest in a health profession, get on our database (email firstname.lastname@example.org) to receive important notices of activities such as campus visitors from professional schools, meetings, workshops, and test dates.
- Curriculum. Be sure you are advised by a knowledgeable faculty member, get to know your professors, take appropriate courses, and maintain a competitive GPA
- Experience. Gain valuable career experience by volunteering or obtaining a job in health care.
- Application. Apply early to a broad spectrum of professional schools. Obtain good letters of evaluation. Write a fine personal essay.
- Interview. Polish your interviewing skills prior to your first interview. Be prepared for any kind of question, and remember to be spontaneous, interested, and interesting
- If you work hard at the first five steps, then you have an excellent chance of reaching step 6. Acceptance to Medical School.
- Acknowledgment: We are grateful to Professors Alvin Beilby and Larry Oglesby of Pomona College, Claremont, CA, for permission to adapt their Health Careers Handbook for use at Lewis & Clark College.
Maintained by: The Office of the Academic Dean