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Pre-Health Sciences Programs  >  Guidelines

Guidelines for Pre-Med/Pre-Dent Students


SCHEDULING COURSES:

Since freshmen often require a period of adjustment to college level courses, premedical and predental students are normally advised to take only one of the required science courses each semester, and mathematics as needed, during their freshman year. General Chemistry I (CHM 203/204) and General Chemistry II (CHM 205/206), prerequisites for organic chemistry, are frequent freshman-year choices. If mathematics need not be taken during the second (spring) semester because sufficient calculus has already been completed, then another science course such as General Biology might be reasonably taken along with CHM 205/206.  If physics was not taken in high school, Introduction to Physics (PHY 187) is a good choice for pre-medical and pre-dental freshment (currently offered only in the fall semester).

GRADES:

The detailed academic record is the prime indicator of talent, performance, and judgment. In general, medical and dental schools look for A to B grades in both science and other courses. GPAs calculated on medical and dental school applications normally include coursework done at all colleges attended, including courses not transferred to Creighton. If a course is repeated, both grades would be included in the grade point averages calculated by the medical and dental school application services.

AVOIDING GRADE BLUNDERS:

C is an honorable grade. However, an F can be fatal, and a D injurious. Faced with the prospect of a C, some students will want to withdraw (W) and try for a higher grade later. More than two W's indicates a lack of judgment and an inability to handle the situation.

CHOOSING A MAJOR:

Students are accepted into medical and dental schools with a wide variety of academic backgrounds. No particular major is given preference. In choosing a major the rule is to follow your own interests. Ideally, the major should be one that will support an alternate career. Your choice may range from a concentrated science major to a major in social studies or the humanities. Since so much of medicine and dentistry is derived from a scientific basis, most students who major in a nonscientific field should still take a little more than the minimum number of science courses. However, the point to realize is that demonstrated ability in the sciences is of greater importance to admissions committees than the quantity of science coursework taken.

NATIONAL ADMISSION TESTS:

All applicants must take the appropriate national, standardized computer-based test. The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) and Dental Admission Test (DAT) are normally taken in the spring of the junior year. The DAT is administered year-round. The MCAT is only offered on about 20 different days during the year, so seats will fill quickly for each date and registration must still be submitted early in order to test on the date you desire. To do well on these standardized tests it is necessary that the required science courses listed above be essentially completed, and intensive study specifically designed to prepare for the test also be completed. Information regarding the nature and scope of these tests, registration deadlines, etc., may be obtained from the Special Advisors for Pre-Health Sciences. Registration websites include www.aamc.org/students/mcat/ for the MCAT and www.ada.org/prof/ed/testing/dat/ for the DAT. Be sure to release your scores to your pre-health advisor.

OTHER FACTORS:

1) Letters of Recommendation from three (rarely more) of the applicant's professors, of whom at least two taught the applicant in natural science or math courses and at least one in non-science courses emphasizing the human condition (social sciences or humanities), are a required part of the application process. Some medical schools require that one of the letters be from a professor in the applicant's major department.  Supervisors of relevant paid or volunteer work, research, etc., may also provide helpful evaluations.  The College of Arts and Sciences offers a service (for a small fee) that facilitates the solicitation and distribution of these letters (Go to the Pre-Health Letters  of Recommendation Request form, or contact the Letters of Recommendation staff members at 280-2813 or email them for more information.)

2) Extracurricular activities are very important.  Clinical experiences (whether paid employment, volunteer service, or observational shadowing) in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, etc., are essential.  Some volunteer service (even if not in a health care setting) is also essentail.  Leadership experience (such as positions of responsibility in student groups) and research experience (especially in a health sciences laboratory) are also very helpful.

3) Most dental and medical schools will interview promising applicants.  The Career Services Center offers assistance preparing for an interview, including holding mock interview sessions.

4) Creighton gives special consideration to applicants who have attended Creighton for at least two years. Some special consideration is given by most schools (including Creighton) to applicants from socioeconomic groups underrepresented in the profession. A state (public) school is chiefly interested in applicants from that state.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Meet with a pre-health advisor at least once each semester. Subscribe to the prehealth_news listserv (to subscribe to Creighton email lists, see http://www.creighton.edu/doit/lists/). Access the web pages of Creighton's Medical and Dental schools and the web page of the National Association of Advisors for the Health Professions. Participate in Creighton's pre-medical (http://groups.creighton.edu/premedsociety/) or pre-dental groups.  Visit the web pages of national medical (AMSA) or dental (ASDA) student organizations.  Make an appointment with medical or dental admissions office personnel in the spring of the junior year to personalize the application process and open lines of communication as you complete the application.


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