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  1. 1. The Essential Guide to Pre- Health Studies at Old Dominion There are many roads that lead to medical school and other professional health programs. There is no “Pre-Health” major at Old Dominion. There is no set curriculum that you must follow and there are no set rules. This booklet has been created to help you navigate the many paths that you can take towards your goal of attending a professional health program. Information in this booklet includes the following. Prerequisites are listed for all the common professional health programs. Be sure to check with the school to which you are applying for any specific prerequisites for that school. Checklists will guide your progress through your degree and the application process. These may be used with all professional health programs. Pre-Health Forms are used to register you with the Pre-Health Advisory Committee. Web links to the forms are included. Interview Information will help you interview effectively for any of the Pre-Health programs. Some points to keep in mind: - You can major in anything you want and still attend a professional health program such as medical school. As long as you complete the required prerequisites, you are eligible for admission. - Pursue a course of study that is compatible with your interests. You may change your mind about pursuing a health career or you may not be accepted into a program. - Become involved. Get to know your professors, advisors and peers. Join the Pre- Health Club and take on a leadership role. - Gain experience in the health field through shadowing, volunteering and internships. Keep a journal of these experiences; this will be invaluable when you are writing your personal statement and preparing for your interview.
  2. 2. Important Contacts These faculty and staff can answer your questions about medical school admissions and your academic preparation for a medical career. Contact them if you have any questions. Terri Mathews, Assistant Dean College of Sciences Chairman, Pre-Health Advisory Committee Ralph Stevens, Associate Professor Department of Biological Sciences Pre-Health Advisor Sharon Melone-Orme, Program Advisor College of Sciences 2
  3. 3. Is this really your calling? Compassion – A critical part of healing Advocacy – For your patient and for those without health care Leadership – in improving health care, at the team, hospital, and policy level Lifelong Learning – there will always be more to know Interpersonal Skills – communication with patients and among providers is key Negotiation – to work around bureaucratic constraints Grasp – of a health care system in flux Excerpted from The Princeton Review's Complete Book of Medical Schools, by Malaika Stoll 3
  4. 4. Did you know? The 2004-2005 edition of Medical School Admission Requirements, the official admission guide of the Association of American Medical Colleges stated that applicants are evaluated on both the basis of their academic achievement and their personal characteristics? These personal characteristics include: psychological maturity character and integrity self-discipline judgment empathy communication skills concern for helping others intellectual curiosity and enthusiasm motivation and persistence resilience leadership skills experience with, and knowledge of, medicine 4
  5. 5. Welcome to the Pre-Health Advisory Committee (PHAC) The Pre-Health Advisory Committee (PHAC) advises students on and assists students with the application process to post-graduate health programs. The services of the PHAC are available to all students. Your contact point for the PHAC is Sharon Melone-Orme. She is located in OCNPS 131 and can be contacted by email: Services provided to students by the PHAC: 1. Collects letters of recommendation and sends them to post-graduate schools as part of the secondary application. 2. Provides joint letters of recommendation that are required by medical and dental schools. 3. Prepares students for the professional interview required by postgraduate health programs. Students who would like to utilize the services of the PHAC must: 1. Read and review information included in The Essential Guide to Pre-Health Studies. 2. Complete Form A -- available online at: 3. Provide an updated resume – yearly. 4. Provide all college transcripts (unofficial) – yearly. 5. Complete Form B and give it to faculty and professionals from whom you request letters of recommendations – available online at: MOST IMPORTANTLY… 6. Keep records of EVERYTHING. Be sure to journal all of your volunteer experience. We highly recommend that you make a folder for each school in which you are interested. Within that folder, keep the information that you have collected on that school, as well as dates and notes on communication with that school “Failure to monitor application status is one of the common mistakes made by applicants. The application process is complex and requires sequential coordinated actions. Ensure that your completed application materials are submitted and confirm their receipt” – The 2004 Pfizer Medical School Manual, Mike Magee, MD 5
  6. 6. What will the Prehealth Advisory Committee (PHAC) do for me? and How do I take advantage of their Services? Student PHAC Express an interest in pre- medical education and fill out PHAC adds student name to the interest survey e-mail list Read “The Essential Guide to Prehealth Studies at ODU” Submit Form A, complete with resume and transcript to Sharon PHAC starts a file for the student Melone-Orme. Update yearly. Submit Form B to evaluators for PHAC collects letters for letters of recommendation students Schedule an interview once you have PHAC interviews student within sent off your application to AMCAS 3-4 weeks of receiving request Participate in PHAC interview…be PHAC writes the joint letter of sure to read the tips for interview recommendation preparation Provide PHAC with names and addresses of schools from which PHAC sends out students’ letters secondary applications were received of recommendation 6
  7. 7. ODU Prerequisites Grid Biol 115 & Biol Biol 315 Chem Phys Chem Chem Chem 441 & 116 250 & 115 & 111 & 311 & 313 & 442 251 116 112 312 314 Allopathic School Req’d Highly Req’d Req’d Req’d Req’d Rec’d Osteopathic School Req’d Req’d Req’d Req’d Req’d Physician’s Assistant Req’d Req’d Req’d Req’d Req’d* Req’d* Program Dental School Req’d Highly Req’d Req’d Req’d Req’d Highly Rec’d Rec’d Pharmacy School Req’d Req’d Req’d Req’d Req’d Veterinary Req’d Req’d Req’d Req’d Req’d Req’d School Optometry School Req’d OR 103 Req’d Req’d Req’d Req’d *Or Bio423 Req’d A Computer Math Math Math Engl 110 Medt Comm Stat Psyc Science Course 102 211 212 &111 210 101 130 201, **specific preq 203, vary from school & 204 to school. See Below** Allopathic School Req’d Osteopathic Req’d School Physician’s Req’d Req’d Req’d Req’d Req’d Assistant Program Dental School Pharmacy School Req’d Req’d Req’d Req’d Veterinary School Req’d Req’d* Req’d Req’d* Optometry School Req’d Req’d Req’d Req’d Only 201 *For Physician’s Assistant Program, one can choose either the Chem 311/312 sequence or the Chem 411/412 sequence; for veterinary preparation, either Stat 130 or Math 211 can be used. Choosing A Major Specific prerequisites vary from school to school. Check with the school to which you plan to apply to ensure that you meet all the admission requirements. 7
  8. 8. Medical and professional schools do not require that you choose any particular major, nor do they have a preference for science or non-science majors. However, medical and other professional schools will be interested in what you have learned from your major. By the time you apply for admission, you should be able to answer all of the following questions about your major. - Why did you decide to choose the major that you did? - What is interesting about it? - How does it relate to other disciplines? - How does it relate to real-world issues? - In what ways might it relate to your interest in medicine or a health profession? Choosing a specific minor or double majoring, while enriching your academic life, will not necessarily give you an edge in the admission process. If you are pursuing something that is truly important to you, such a decision may be wise. However, at the end of the day, you will need to articulate why you chose the majors and minors that you did and why they are interesting to you. 8
  9. 9. ADMISSION What does it take? Professiona GPA l Exam Predicts your Proves you can handle the performance on board rigorous coursework in exams after your second medical school year of medical school Depends on you!!!! Depends on you!!!! Success Tips: Success Tips: Study hard, Take practice tests repeatedly. Writing and Study hard, form study groups, anatomy classes will help seek tutoring help. prepare you 9
  10. 10. FORM A APPLICATION FOR EVALUATION BY ODU PRE-HEALTH ADVISORY COMMITTEE (PHAC) Full Name: S.S.# Date of Birth: Place of Birth: Male Female Gender: Parents' or Guardians' Names, Places of Residence and Occupations: Applicant for: Medicine Dentistry Osteopathy Podiatry Optometry Veterinary Pharmacy Physical Therapy Nursing Physicians Assistant This is a sample of Form A. The form may be Proposed entry year 20 online at: accessed early decision status? Yes No Permanent Address: Street Fill out the form online, print and return to Sharon Melone-Orme, OCNPS 131. City State zip+4 phone Local Address: Street City State zip+4 phone E-mail: Do you plan to enter professional school before earning a bachelor's degree? Yes No If yes, do you intend to apply credits from the first year of professional school toward a BS or BA at ODU? Are you attending ODU non-degree status? Yes No If you are attending degree status, indicate the degree you are seeking, major, minor and expected date of conferment. High school location and graduation date: List all colleges attended, dates, and degrees conferred if any: 10
  11. 11. (Please provide the Pre-Health Advisor with an unofficial transcript from each university) The MCAT and other Standardized Tests Students who plan to apply to either allopathic or osteopathic medical schools should plan on taking the Medical College Admission Test. The MCAT is offered twice a year, once in April and again in August. The MCAT should not be attempted until all premedical coursework is complete or very nearly complete. You do not want to repeat the MCAT unless you were ill, not rested, extraordinarily stressed, or suspect that you recorded the answers to the test incorrectly. If you adequately reviewed for the test, completed the necessary coursework, and still scored significantly lower than your grades or practice tests would otherwise predict, consult with your advisor before you repeat the test. Both sets of scores will be reported to the medical schools. Ideally, you should take the April MCAT to take advantage of the rolling admissions process that most medical schools use in reviewing applications. In other words, an application is reviewed as soon as the application is complete. If you send your applications in early, but do not take the MCAT until August, they will not be considered until the scores are reported in late October. Therefore, your chances of being admitted may be reduced if you are not already a strong candidate. 11
  12. 12. Letters of Recommendation -- Remember, if approaching ODU faculty, you must use Form B. ( -- Do not wait until the last minute. It is perfectly reasonable to request that recommendations be submitted within three to four weeks. Members of faculty often use semester breaks to write these letters. -- Letters of recommendation can be accepted at anytime, but ones that are three or more years old should be replaced with more up to date recommendations. -- Do not assume that you cannot get a letter from an instructor of a large class; meet with her/ him to discuss your application and motivation for medicine. --Letters from teaching assistants are generally not acceptable. -- Always provide the evaluator with some written information about yourself (copy of AMCAS, personal statement, resume). -- Waiver: If a student signs this waiver, she/he will not be entitled to read the letter of recommendation submitted on her/his behalf. Most health professions schools prefer that recommendations be confidential. In other words, they prefer to receive letters that the student has waived her/his right to see. In fact, many individuals who write recommendations prefer to do so knowing that the letter will remain confidential. -- If you have worked for, or volunteered with, a doctor or other health professional, consider asking them for a letter of recommendation. Many osteopathic schools require a letter from a D.O. -- Try to obtain letters from people who know you well. However, letters from peers, family friends and politicians should not be written unless they have had a chance to supervise you in a work situation or volunteer position. -- It is your responsibility to request these letters of recommendation and make sure that they are submitted in a timely fashion. Just because an individual has agreed to write a letter, she/he sometimes procrastinates and does not send it in a timely fashion. A polite e-mail or telephone call works well. -- When you receive your requests for secondary applications, email Sharon Melone-Orme with the schools and their addresses. The PHAC will then send out the letters of recommendation. You do not send the letters of recommendation out yourself. -- Thank the evaluators. Thank them in advance for writing the letter, but follow up with a note of thanks and let them know, once you are accepted, where you will be attending school. -- One final note: Packages do, occasionally, get lost in the mail. It is very important that you ensure that the schools to which you are applying have received all of your letters. The Joint Letter of Recommendation is perhaps the most important letter of recommendation that goes to the schools to which you are applying. 12
  13. 13. FORM B OLD DOMINION UNIVERSITY EVALUATION FORM FOR PRE-HEALTH PROFESSIONS STUDENTS Dear ______________________________________: The student named below has indicated your willingness to complete this form in consideration of his/her application to,__________________________________ school. If you have not discussed this matter with the student, or the waiver statement is not signed and checked, please return the uncompleted form to the Pre-Health Advisor. This information will be used by the Pre-Health Advisory Committee to prepare a comprehensive letter of evaluation to be sent, with this form attached, to schools designated by the student. I, ____________________________________ (S.S.N. _____--___--_____), hereby (do ______; do not ______) waive any and all rights of access to this evaluation prepared by____________________________________. This right of access is granted through 437 of Public Law 93-380. If I agree to waive my right of access, I understand that it is limited to this particular evaluation form. ________________________________ _________________ Student Signature Date GUIDLINES FOR EVALUATOR Check boxes on this side of the form, comparing the student to others at Old Dominion University. It is very important that you provide a narrative to accompany this form on your Department’s official letterhead. Please address the following areas: How long you have known the student, the student’s motivation to enter the chosen profession, student’s realistic perception of the profession, and potential to succeed both as a student and as a practitioner of the profession. Fill in the blanks at the bottom, sign, date and return the form with your written commentary to: Terri Mathews, Pre-Health Advisor, Dean’s Office, College of Sciences, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA 23529-0266 (757-683-5201 or 5200, Criteria This is a sample of Form B. Above Average mayAverage Superior Excellent The form be Unacceptable (lower half) Unable to 3-10% Evaluate accessed online at: 1-2% 11-25% 25-50% Intellectual ability Academic performance Fill out the form online and give to your evaluator. oral expression written expression Maturity Cooperation Resourcefulness Reliability overall evaluation Evaluator’ Name _______________________________ Evaluator’s Signature___________________________ Address: ________________________________ Phone/email________________________ _______________________________ ________________________ 13
  14. 14. The Interview The interview is the most overlooked portion of the professional school admissions process!!! The limited number of seats in every professional school class means that admissions committees need to choose their students very carefully. Just because you have a high GPA and test score does not mean you understand what it take to become a health professional. The interview helps admissions committees determine your commitment to and knowledge of the medical or health profession. It also gives the admissions committee an idea of who you are… will you “fit” with their program and will you relate well to patients? You MUST articulate why you want to pursue a career in medicine or health and that you will be able to work with all kinds of patients. You must demonstrate an understanding of what becoming a physician or other health professional means in terms of a daily routine and a lifestyle. Also, you must convince the committee that you are a better applicant than others who applied. EJA Experience Journal Articulate Experience in a medical or health setting or working with people: shadow a physician or other health professional. Journal your experiences: this will help you remember what lesson you have learned from the many experiences you will have. Articulate: in the interview talk about your experiences and how they will help you both in the professional school and as a health practitioner. The Prehealth Advisory THE INTERVIEWyou with preparing for the Committee can assist interview!! 14
  15. 15. THE INTERVIEW Schedule o Schedule the interview once you have submitted your application to the professional school application service. Do not wait for the requests for secondary applications, as you will not have enough time. o To schedule an interview, contact Sharon Melone-Orme at It may take three to four weeks to schedule your interview after submitting the request. Prepare o Name 10 characteristics that you possess that will help you be an effective health care practitioner i.e., hard working, compassionate. o Match these characteristics to experiences you have had that highlights those characteristics. o Review all of the materials that you have submitted o Know the medical profession and familiarize yourself with current controversial medical issues o Be able to comfortably discuss:  why you want to be a physician or other health care professional;  what extracurricular/research activities you have been involved in and why they are important;  poor performance in the past and find a positive point to leave with the interviewers. o Know when, where and at what time your interview will take place. Plan on dressing formally and conservatively. If you do not own an appropriate set of clothing this might be a good time to update your wardrobe. 15
  16. 16. At the Interview o Arrive early. o Dress professionally, conservative business attire. o Bring a personal copy of your application/essay. o Introduce yourself to the interviewers with a handshake. Be sure to make eye contact. o Professional behavior is expected from all interviewees. This mean that you are to be courteous and respectful to everyone you encounter, regardless of their position. Negative interactions with anyone during your interview visit can hurt your chances. o Once the interview begins, be sure to maintain eye contact. Do not fidget, cross your arms or play with items on the desk. o RELAX. Smile at appropriate times. Most interviews are not interrogations. A two-way dialogue with a conversational tone is best. o If questioned aggressively, remember this is an attempt to see how you handle pressure. Your specific response is less important than your composure. If you don’t know the answer, admit it. And don’t forget… **Post Interview** In some schools, all verbal, written and physical contacts are captured in your application file. A thank you note to the Dean of Admissions and your interviewer is always appreciated. Gratitude is a becoming attitude in everyone, and a thank you letter leaves a favorable impression on the people who many accept you. Occasional respectful contacts to check on the status of your application are generally received as an expression of continued interest. ** Adapted from “The 2004 Pfizer Medical School Manual: A Practical Guide To Getting Into Medical School” by Mike Magee, MD, Spencer Books, Canada, 2004 16
  17. 17. Information for Post Baccalaureate Students Students who have already received a Baccalaureate degree and want to apply to medical school need only fulfill the pre-requisites for medical school. This information can help post- baccalaureate students plan a course of study. Starting with a degree and none of the science pre-requisites, the minimum time to prepare and apply for professional school is two years. The MCATs are only offered in April and August. The application for professional school should be started in the summer/fall one full year before you plan to enter. Therefore the MCAT must be completed the April or August one full year before you plan to enter professional school. Required courses for health profession schools include general biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, university physics and first semester calculus. Not all schools require the same courses, so check with the schools to which you plan to apply. The MCAT covers biology, chemistry (both general and organic), and physics. It is, therefore, essential that you understand these courses prior to sitting for the MCAT. If you have a degree but still need all the science pre-requisites, the quickest, but extremely rigorous, route is possible. If you take general chemistry over the summer, you can then take biology, organic and physics during the regular school year. This will be a heavy load and will be full time (13 hours). You can, then, sit for the MCAT in April. However, you will not have completed all of the courses and will not have had much prep time. The advantage to taking it in April is that you can see what will be on the test and can then take the following summer to prepare and take it again in August. You will then start the application process and during the year you are waiting to hear from the professional school application committee, you can take other courses, work, or both. This time line can be extended so that you can take a course sequence during the second summer but that will affect the MCAT prep time. You can further extend the time line by taking the pre-requisites over two years instead of over one year but it will mean that from the time you first start taking classes to the time you enter professional school is extended to three years. 17
  18. 18. Helpful Websites Association of American Medical Colleges American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy American Association of Colleges of Podiatric Medicine American Dental Education Association Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry Association of Schools of Public Health National Association of Advisors to the Health Professions Alpha Epsilon Delta AAMC’s database of postbaccalaurate premedical programs Information on becoming an MD 18
  19. 19. Things to keep in mind… " Take everything seriously, except yourselves. " --Rudyard Kipling “The most dangerous physicians are those who, being born actors, imitate born physicians with perfect imposture”-Nietzsche, Human All-too-Human, I, 1878 Marrying the skills and sensitivities of the applied scientist with the clinical practitioner, is essential to making a diagnosis and treatment plan. It’s not all clinical; Remember, you have to treat the whole patient. “Depression is frequently undertreated in patients with medical illness because of the mistaken belief that it is a normal response to the latter, particularly in the case of elderly patients” - “Treating the Whole Patient” by Elizabeth Fried Ellen, LICSW , Geriatric Times, Nov/Dec 2001Vol2 Issue 6 “Very good doctors have an ability to rapidly synthesize information from a variety of sources, which is probably innate .” “Showing signs of humility and inter-personal skills may be key for wannabe doctors at the University of Manchester. University bosses have announced that achieving straight A grades will no longer be enough to guarantee one of the much coveted places …In particular, tutors, when interviewing candidates, will be looking for “humility” in would-be doctors, as well as other interpersonal skills such as good- communication, essential when dealing with patients.” “Humility and Social Skills key for future Manchester Med Students” Stewart on Apr 26, 2004 - 11:55 AM “Medical school students often say that "helping others" is their primary motivation for pursuing an M.D. However, there are other altruistic careers out there…The desire to help others should be one, but not your only reason for becoming a doctor.”- Complete Book of Medical Schools, by Malaika Stoll “We are going to need a specimen”--Seriously, can you deal with the messy/smelly side of illness? You can prove this to the admissions board by volunteering. You would be surprised how many medical students pass out during Gross Anatomy. 19