Register with the Pre-Health Professions Advisor by completing as much of the New Advisee Registration form.
It is important for you to register with Martha Smith, Coordinator of Pre-Health Professions Advising, who will serve as your professions advisor. (This means that you will have two advisors while at Messiah, a professions advisor and an academic advisor). Registration materials will be available at the mandatory September pre-health professions advising first year student/new advisee meeting. You are also required to meet with Martha at least once each semester. Appointments are self-scheduled using the sign-up sheet posted on the door of the Office of Pre-Health Professions Advising, Kline 128.
Pre-health professions students frequently complete a major in biology, chemistry, biochemistry, or sports and exercise science. This, however, is not required for acceptance into a health professions graduate program. Many students have graduated from Messiah with degrees outside of these majors and have been accepted into graduate programs in the healthcare field. Whatever major you select should reflect your own personal interests and provide a foundation of rigorous coursework necessary for the pursuit of several career alternatives.
At the very minimum, most health professional schools require certain core classes. They are listed below in a generic manner and the appropriate Messiah counterparts are in italics. Your course of study may be somewhat different, however, if you enter Messiah with AP credits or if you have taken classes for college-level credit elsewhere. These suggested courses are guidelines and you should discuss them with your academic advisor before registering for them.
- Chemistry with lab (2 years)
- CHE 105 - General Chemistry I
- CHE 106 - General Chemistry II
- CHE 309 - Organic Chemistry I
- CHE 310 - Organic Chemistry II
- Physics with lab (1 year)
- PHY 201 and 202 - Introductory Physics (algebra-based), or
- PHY 211 and 212 - General Physics (calculus-based)
- Biology with lab (1 year)
- BIO 160 - Biology I
- And, at least one semester of an upper-level biology course that includes a lab
- Mathematics (1 year) , including MAT 108 or higher (This may be satisfied by AP credits)
- English (1 year) - FYS and a writing intensive courses fulfill this requirement
- Biochemistry, genetics, microbiology and/or statistics.
*It is of paramount importance that you research the course requirements for the graduate program in which you are interested. There are both generic requirements for the field and program-specific requirements for various institutions. You should research several programs and consider their requirements when selecting courses.
Getting to know your professors is an important thing to do during this period. Develop a meaningful dialog with them and let them know about your future plans and interest in their class. You will need strong letters of recommendation from faculty who know you well inside and outside the classroom.
It should go without saying that while you need to do well in all of your course work, it is especially important to do well in the required courses. Competitive graduate schools require a strong cumulative average, often well above a 3.0. Should you receive a disappointing grade in one of the required classes or experience academic difficulty during the semester, contact your academic and professions advisors as soon as possible. Should you decide to take summer courses at another institution, information regarding transferring credits is available through the Registrar’s Office, and you are advised to look into the particulars of this option before planning to avail yourself of it.
- Attend MedAware meetings and become involved. This is a good way to connect with other serious students and explore topics of mutual interest.
- Take advantage of all that Messiah has to offer. Enrich your life culturally and through service to others. Choose your activities carefully and well.
- Whatever you decide to do, make sure that you do it well. Graduate schools are looking for candidates with a depth of interests rather than those who have dabbled in a wide variety of activities. Positions of leadership seem to be particularly important to interviewers, as they reflect both your organizational skills and your ability to work well with others.
- Other Important Suggestions
- Read. Read. Read. Enhance your verbal abilities by reading novels, biographies of people in the profession, essays and periodicals. Not only will this make you a more interesting person, it will also enhance your verbal abilities and help you down the road in your admissions test.
- In particular, read and discuss health related materials. The Science/Medicine sections of the New York Times and the Washington Post should become part of your weekly routine, and you should pay particular attention to articles that cover health economics. Become an informed applicant.
- Keep a careful list of all of your medically-related activities and make sure that they are documented in your portfolio in the Pre-Health Professions Advising Office. Those very experiences that you are sure you will remember might slip your mind three years from now. In some cases, actual documentation of activities, hours, contact names and references are requested on applications, so careful record keeping is vital.
- Because high standards of integrity, character and behavior are expected of health professionals, so too are these expected of successful applicants. One misdemeanor or college disciplinary action can affect your future, and any disciplinary actions taken against you must be listed on your application. Translation: your on- and off-campus conduct during the next three years, especially, should be beyond reproach.
- If you are hoping to take part in a cross-cultural experience, plan your schedule accordingly, so that you will be able to fit it into your four year course of study. Be aware of key periods you will need to be in the United States for graduate school interviews, etc.
- Attend all research seminars, science and faith colloquiums, and as many other related conferences as possible.
- Purchase and begin reviewing a workbook specific to the standardized admissions test you will be required to take. Familiarize yourself with potential topics before you take a related course and highlight those topics in your class notes.
- Visit the Messiah College Career Center in Eisenhower and take advantage of their expertise and personality assessments and inventories.
- Visit the association website in your particular field(s) of interest. You will be amazed at how much free but priceless information is available to you.
- Advising Services
It is vitally important to schedule at least one meeting per semester with Martha Smith, your professions advisor, to update your portfolio and make sure that things are on track. E-mail will be one of the primary ways that you will be informed of upcoming events and important dates. Your Messiah e-mail address will be your point of contact with the Pre-Health Professions Advising Office, and you are responsible for checking it regularly and/or for having your e-mail forwarded.
- Course Requirements
The minimal course requirement are previously described. It is a good idea to take a look at your transcript yearly to make sure that it is accurate. This is especially true if you have taken college courses at other institutions. You should continue to keep your textbooks and maintain all course notes in an organized manner.
- Other Important Suggestions
- Try to do something scholarly rather than simply meeting the minimal requirements. There is interesting scientific research going on both at Messiah and at nearby institutions. Get involved! Any amount of experience will be beneficial.
- Gain medically-related volunteer experience either through Messiah or through your own connections. Information about Messiah's practicum and physician shadowing programs is available in the Career Center. If you are considering a career in osteopathic medicine, make sure that some of this medically-related exposure includes spending time in an osteopathic setting.
- Surf the internet. Contact medical schools and ask them to send you information.
- If you know anyone currently in medical school, this would be a good time to arrange a visit.
- Continue to visit the Career Center and take advantage of their expertise and personality assessments and inventories. Self-knowledge is a powerful tool.
- Advising Services
Meet with Martha Smith as often as necessary, but at least once per semester. Just remember that there is no such thing as being too careful. There will be a lot of important deadlines this year and forms to fill out. Check your Messiah email frequently for deadlines, meetings and recommended help sessions.
- Course requirements
You should plan to complete all required courses by the end of the spring semester if you are taking a standardized admissions test in the spring. If you are planning to ask one of your professors from the Fall semester to write a letter of recommendation, it is especially important that you get to know him/her and that you participate in class in both a meaningful and appropriate manner.
Additionally, you should arrange to gain research experience this year, if you have not already done so.
- Other Important Suggestions
- Request letters of recommendation from faculty and employers early in the Fall using the Request for Recommendation forms available online. These documents provide LOR writing guidelines and contain a waiver/non-waiver of access statement which you are required to sign before distributing it. Virtually all students choose to waive the right to see their LORs. This choice does not change the content of the letter. It does, however, positively influence the perception of the accuracy of the letter by the admissions people who read it. Remember that your letter-writers are doing you a favor and that you should allow them plenty of time. Don't assume that just because you have submitted the required documents that the letters have been written. It is always a good idea to check back with your recommenders to see that they have, in fact, completed and sent their letter. Once you are sure that the LOR has been submitted, send your LOR writers a hand written thank you note.
- Obtain and complete the Personal Information Form (PIF) that is available through the Pre-Health Professions Advising Office and on the PHPA website. This form will be very important, especially if you require a committee letter of recommendation. It should be completed with great care. Copies of this PIF are often given to LOR writers to supply them with additional information about you that they might include in your LOR.
- If your application requires an essay, have several trusted people read it and offer you feedback. Make sure that what you said is what you meant to say.
- If you are planning to take a formal review course, determine the type of course you are planning to take and register for it. The main types available either concentrate on the mechanics of taking the test, or provide a content review. If you are not sure which type of review course you should take, or if you should take one at all, contact the Pre-Health Professions Advising Office.
- Whether or not you are taking a formal test review, you should plan to study efficiently and steadily for the exam, especially during the Spring semester. Take as many practice tests as you can.
- Register for the exam as early as possible so that you can take it in the location of your choice. Materials are available online. Check the association websites for details.
- If you are in need of a fee assistance program, careful documentation and strict adherence to the deadlines is crucial.
- Obtain a copy of your transcript from the Registrar's Office at Messiah and at every other institution where you have taken college courses. Verify that they are correct.
- Submit your application as soon as allowable. Remember: many schools have a rolling admissions policy, and it is to your advantage to do everything as early as possible.
- Submit your completed PIF to Martha Smith by February 15th.
- Arrange to have your recommendation letters sent to Martha Smith by April 15th.
After receiving your PIF and recommendation letters, Martha Smith will submit your name to the Pre-Health Professions Advising Committee and a committee interview will be scheduled between you, Martha and a PHPAC Committee member.
Sept. - May
Notify Martha Smith about scheduled interviews.
If you are fortunate enough to be accepted at more than one medical school make your choice and let the other schools know as soon as possible so that they can offer that place to another applicant.
Try not to be discouraged if you don't receive an acceptance early in the year. While acceptance letters may arrive as early as mid-October, they may arrive as late as the week or two after the start of school to replace dropouts (usually from an Alternate List).
If you are not accepted into medical school, please see Martha Smith. The average age of an incoming medical student is 26. If you really want to be a doctor, careful planning in the next year or so should improve your chances considerably.