The challenges of contemporary society, along with the growth of technology and scientific knowledge, have compelled professional schools in medicine and dentistry to seek candidates with considerable intellectual versatility. Applicants with a broad liberal arts education and a science emphasis are preferred. In general, professional schools require applicants to have completed coursework in the basic sciences but not in areas that duplicate medical or dental school courses, and they seriously encourage study in the social sciences, the humanities, and mathematics. Each student’s program is designed so that by the end of the junior year he or she will have completed the basic requirements for application to professional schools. These requirements are usually stated as follows:
At least 90 credit hours (three years) of college work in an accredited institution, excluding military science and physical education courses but including 6 hours of English and one-year courses with laboratory in principles of biology, principles of chemistry, organic chemistry, and principles of physics. In addition, some schools require one year of mathematics and additional coursework in biology.
Most students accepted to medical or dental schools have majored in one of the sciences, frequently in an area of biology or chemistry. Majoring in science provides some advantages because undergraduate degree requirements may coincide with courses required for admission. Intensive preparation in one of the sciences, therefore, should form a strong foundation for basic professional school courses. While it is understandable that a majority of those who plan to seek careers in the science-oriented field of medicine and dentistry will want to choose such a major field of study, any major is acceptable as long as the science prerequisites are fulfilled.
Applicants are strongly urged to confer with their pre-professional advisor concerning (1) selection of a college major and specific courses, and (2) the early preparation for alternate careers in the event that one either decides not to apply to professional schools or is not admitted.
All premedical and pre-dental students are advised to plan their undergraduate programs with sufficient flexibility to allow career options if desired and/or necessary.
Although a few students are admitted to medical school after three years of pre-professional training, over 95 percent of the students admitted have a bachelor’s degree. Pre-professional training for dentistry is basically a three-year program, although 60 to 70 percent of the students being admitted to dental schools have a bachelor’s degree. It is advisable, therefore, to complete the requirements for admission to professional schools in conjunction with fulfilling requirements for a bachelor’s degree. Students must know the specific requirements for admission to each of the professional schools to which they plan to apply. These requirements are listed in publications available from the following sources:
Admission Requirements of the U.S. and Canadian Dental Schools, published by the American Association of Dental Schools, 1625 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036-2212.
Medical School Admission Requirements, published by the Association of American Medical Colleges, Dept. 66, Washington, D.C. 20055.
Students ordinarily take the national admissions examinations, the DAT (Dental Admission Test), or the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) at the end of the junior year or the beginning of the senior year. During the senior year, professional school admission committees review the student applications. Decisions are usually announced during the spring semester of the senior year.
Both the Dental and Medical Associations provide a centralized application service, AADSAS or AMCAS, where one application can be submitted to several schools. The Westminster PreMedical Society and the Career Resource Center provide additional support and information for pre-health students.
Because of the strong sequential nature of some programs, appropriate course selections should be made in the first year of study at the college if a sound program is to be achieved. Consultation and advisement in pre-medicine and pre-dentistry studies is offered through Westminster’s Biology Program. Early consultation (first semester of freshman year) is strongly recommended. Freshman students should begin coursework with BIOL 105-106, MATH 141, and CHEM 111-112.