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Healthcare Student Advising

by vaughan last modified Apr 23, 2014 07:17 AM

Dr. Merriman ( advises healthcare-interested students regardless of major. This includes:
  • PreMedical (MD and DO and MD/PhD)
  • PreDental
  • PrePhysician Assistant 
  • PreOptometry
  • PrePodiatry
  • PreChiropractic
  • PrePharmacy
  • MS or PhD bound
PrePhysical Therapy is advised by Dr. Mrotek of Kinesiology (
PreVeterinary Medicine is advised by our Campus Vet & Associate Dean, Dr. McDermott of Biology (
Your BS degree comprises 120+ college credits that complete your undergraduate degree.
Your "Pre" will be around 30 credits in college that earn you eligibility to apply to a graduate program.  These 30 credits will be tucked into the 120+ credits that earn your BS degree.
A cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher is likely required.
YOU, the student, must research your own "Pre".  Experience shows that only those students who take ownership of their own future actually achieve it.  Don't take anyone else's word for what "Pre" is; be your own expert.  Here is how (I call this assignment your "Pick 6").
  • Find a minimum of 6 schools (med, dent, whatever) that interest you.  More than 6 is fine.  You have the best chance of admission in the state school where you are a resident, but pick some out of state programs also. 
  • Take careful notes of their required AND recommended applicant qualifications.
  • Make a chart comparing & contrasting those qualifications. 
  • Your schools likely require an entrance exam (MCAT, DAT, GRE, etc.) that you will take a year before your graduate from college.  Research the content areas of this exam and add them to your Pick 6 chart.  You will need to complete courses in these content areas prior to the exam, for best results.
  • This chart is now your "Pre". Bring it to EVERY advising appointment.
  • Use this chart to select a major that will help achieve your "Pre" goals. To ensure BS completion in 4 years, choose a major that overlaps a lot with your "Pre".  In the Biology Department, Biology-Healthcare-Science has been designed with this purpose in mind.  However, graduate programs tend not to care what your major is. 
  • Every spring, update your Pick 6 chart, because programs can and do alter their admission criteria. 
Experience shows that successful applicants MUST have:
  • College GPA that is 3.5+ (this includes "Pre" courses and all courses).
  • Satisfactory entrance exam score (schools set their own "basement" scores). Higher is better.
  • Detailed, enthusiastic letters of recommendation from college professors and practicing healthcare providers in the field. 
  • Record of community service.
  • Job shadow and/or volunteer and/or paid patient care experiences.
  • An interesting, thoughtful personal essay where your voice comes through as does your motivation and suitability.  A second round of essays are often required; these tend to be in response to specific prompts.
  • Excellent interpersonal skills appropriate for patient care. 
  • Diverse personal histories that will mesh well with the diversity of patients who will be encountered. 
Supports for admission include:
  • Prior job experience in healthcare.
  • Experience outside your cultural comfort zone (e.g. Peace Corps, military deployment).
  • Fluency in second language such as Spanish or Hmong. 
  • Experience in research, perhaps even publications.
  • Experience in public health, such as an AHEC summer internship. 
Problems for admission include:
  • Bad credit score.  These graduate programs come with financial aid packages because they are costly.  The moment you are admitted, the program will run a credit check and if it's not good, you will be instantly un-admitted. 
  • Criminal background (including charges that may have been dropped or expunged).
  • High GPA but low exam score, or vice versa (balance is desired).
  • Waiting to complete application until late in the cycle.
NOTE: Applicants with families, outside jobs, athletics obligations, and/or military service often do not have time for many extracurricular activities.  They worry they will be found deficient. Admissions committees understand this and allow for it, but only if your application reveals these features of your life.   Such extra-busy applicants need to work closely with advisers to ensure that the extracurricular activities they squeeze into their lives are of highest possible impact.  For example, a PrePA student should ALWAYS choose patient care experience over research experience.
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by vaughan last modified Apr 23, 2014 07:17 AM