Pre-Med & Pre-Health
Pre-Professional Advising at Denison
Healthcare admission decisions, including but not limited to, medicine, dentistry, occupational therapy, physical therapy, nursing and veterinary medicine, etc., are based on performance on nationally-sponsored admissions tests (Medical College Admissions Test, Dental Admission Test, Graduate Record Examination), on academic achievement in both science and non-science courses, as well as other components such as personal statements and experiences. Most of our undergraduates considering the health professions bolster their preparations and gain an overview of several related fields by conducting internships, externships and health-related volunteer work in hospital and/or clinical settings.
Denison University, like many other colleges, does not offer a single pre-med or pre-health professions major, as there are many possible paths to embarking on careers in these areas. For many students, majors in Biology; Biochemistry; Chemistry; or Health, Exercise, and Sport Studies provide the background needed for medical, dental, veterinary, optometry and other professional schools.
Other students pursue alternative majors being careful to complete the prerequisite science courses required by the professional schools they would like to attend. However, requirements for such schools differ greatly, and for this reason the University offers students access to faculty members who assist students to prepare for success in these fields. Additionally, the University’s The Knowlton Center for Career Exploration staff provides individual career advising so that students have the necessary support and resources as they plan their pre-med and pre-health occupation paths.
Schools of the health professions are seeking students who have solid undergraduate backgrounds in the sciences as well as the communication skills and well-rounded experiences in the humanities and social sciences that are hallmarks of a liberal arts education. This is why Denison University graduates have been so successful in establishing careers as physicians, dentists, veterinarians, optometrists, physician assistants, and other medical professionals. Our graduates have attended medical school in California, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and many other schools throughout the nation.
Pre-Med/Pre Health Guides
- Occupational Therapist
- Physical Therapist
- Physician Assistant
- Public Health
The information that follows provides guidance to some of the questions and issues many undergraduates have when seeking careers in the health professions.
Healthcare Exploration Videos
- Allopathic Medicine (MD)
- Art Therapy
- Genetic Counseling
- Medical Illustrator
- Naturopathic Medicine (ND)
- Occupational Therapy (OT)
- Osteopathic Medicine (DO)
- Physical Therapy (PT)
- Physician’s Assistant (PA)
- Public Health
- Veterinary Medicine
*The videos featured above belong solely to the creators and were not produced or endorsed by Denison University
Schools of the health professions do not specify a preference for any particular undergraduate major. We always advise students to major in a discipline that they find intellectually stimulating and which will prepare them for a desirable alternative career in the event that they decide not to become a health professional. Most of our pre-professional students major in biology; biochemistry; chemistry; or health, exercise, and sport studies. However, other majors are acceptable as long as the student has completed the necessary undergraduate course requirements.
Health professions schools do have specific undergraduate course requirements. These vary considerably for different professions, and to a lesser degree between different schools for the same profession. It is essential that you learn this information early in your college career to ensure that you take all of the courses you need.
Please see the Pre-Health Guides above for additional details regarding healthcare professions and admission requirements. It is strongly encouraged that all pre-health students, whether interested in medicine, dentistry, physical therapy, or any other healthcare profession, work closely with their faculty advisor to design an academic plan that best fits their interests and goals
Your performance on the admission test is a critical factor that will determine your chances of a successful application. Even if you have an excellent GPA, do not assume that you will know the material well enough to achieve adequate test scores without a comprehensive study program. Our students have taken various study approaches.
These include the following:
- Detailed review of the material covered in the required biology, chemistry, and physics courses
- Study materials such as manuals, study guides, and practice tests
- Commercial preparation courses
Through the generous donations of Denison University alumni, limited scholarship funds are available for students to take commercial preparation courses. If you are interested, contact the office of Student Development, 740-587-6208. Graduate school is becoming increasingly competitive.
It is to your advantage to take the appropriate standardized tests early, even a year in advance. Remember, test registration deadlines are well in advance of the actual test dates, and most are given only a few times a year. Links are provided with each admissions exam for registration.
- MCAT — The Medical College Admission Test is a requirement for admission to medical school. Interested student must also complete the American Medical College Applications Service, AMCAS.
- DAT — The Dental Admission Test is a requirement for admission to dental school.
- PCAT — The Pharmacy College Admission Test is a requirement for admission to pharmacy school.
- OAT — The OAT is sponsored by the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) for applicants seeking admission to an optometry program.
- GRE — The Graduate Record Examination is required for many pre-health graduate programs such as Physician Assistant, Public Health, Physical Therapist, and Occupational Therapist
Preparation manuals have been published for most of the major examination programs and are available at bookstores. These manuals typically contain several practice tests, as well as “refresher” sections designed to assist in updating your skills in recall, judgment, and mathematics. There is a selection of books available in the The Knowlton Center for Career Exploration library.
Private, “short,” courses exist to help you prepare for examinations such as the MCAT. Before investing money into one of these services, it is advisable to thoroughly research them. There are several preparatory resources available online.
Your application to schools of the health professions will be strengthened by the experiences you have had in health care. (In fact, most veterinary schools specify the number of hours you must have logged in animal care clinics.) Schools want to be certain that you understand your career choice and that you are highly motivated to complete the rigorous educational requirements you will face in medical, dental or veterinary school.
We strongly encourage our students to find part-time positions or volunteer their time in hospitals, nursing homes, etc. This can be done during summer breaks in your home town or worked into your class schedule during the school year.
It takes a lot of research to identify the program that best meets your needs. Establish your own criteria with which to compare graduate schools.
- What are the requirements?
- Do you meet the program requirements?
- What type of students does the program attract?
- What specializations are available?
- Is the program focused on theory and original research, or the practical application of knowledge and skills?
- Do the research facilities suit your needs?
- How long does it take to complete the program?
National Graduate School Rankings
Take a look at which institutions offer the “best” programs of study. Pay attention to the criteria used to rank the school to find out if those criteria coincide with your personal criteria. Rankings are available online from U.S. News & World Report.
- Political and social temper
- Setting (Urban or Rural)
- How large is the institution and the department?
- How many students are enrolled?
- What is the student to faculty ratio?
- Who are they?
- Are there specific people doing the type of research in which you are interested?
- What have they published?
- In-state preference of applicants?
- Issues related to state licensure, boards, etc.?
- Are there opportunities for teaching or research assistantships?
- Will you receive assistance in your job search?
- What companies express interest in graduates from your department?
- How helpful are the departmental faculty in your search?
Any application may receive larger awards at some institutions depending on university budgets. Graduate aid is based largely on merit, not need.
You may get more information by talking to faculty in your chosen field. Discuss your interests and which institutions would be most appropriate for meeting your goals. Admission officials and faculty members can help you with this information. Do not hesitate to contact them by phone, letter, email, or even a personal visit.
- Peterson’s Education Center Guide
- Graduate School Guide Online
- Association of American Medical Colleges
- ExploreHealthCareers.org - Medical careers, their roles and responsibilities, average salaries, educational requirements, and associated affiliations with your career option
- American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine
- AMA finance - resources to help pay for medical school
- ProfessionalDevelopmentPath.com - Overview for anyone considering med school
- Pre-Health Recommended Reading List
- Letters of Recommendation: Advice for Students
- Letters of Recommendation: A Guide for Faculty
Statistics from top U.S. medical schools show that schools are demanding higher MCAT scores and undergrad GPAs. During the 2017-2018 admission cycle, there were a total of 51,680 applicants to allopthic medical programs (MD), with a 41% national acceptance rate (AAMC). In osteopathic programs (DO) in 2017, there were 20,860 applicants with an acceptance rate of 37% (AACOM). For the Denison class of 2018, the acceptance rate for MD & DO programs was 75%.
- Harvard Medical School
- University of Massachusetts Medical School (for combined MD/PhD)
- Marshall University’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine
- University of Cincinnati College of Medicine
- Rush Medical College
- The University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences
- Meharry Medical College
- Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine
- University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine
- Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine
- Des Moines University College of Osteopathic Medicine
- Rocky Vista University College of Osteopathic Medicine-Colorado/Utah
- Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine
- The Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University
- University of Michigan Medical School
- The David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
- The Ohio State University College of Medicine
- University at Buffalo’s Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences
- Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine
- Chicago Medical School at Rosalind Franklin University
- Saint Louis University’s School of Medicine
- Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine
- Arkansas College of Osteopathic Medicine
- Campbell University Jerry M. Wallace School of Osteopathic Medicine
- University of Kentucky College of Medicine
- West Virginia University School of Medicine
- University of Michigan Medical School
- Creighton University School of Medicine
- Medical College of Wisconsin
- Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine
- Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
- Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine - Virginia Campus
- West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine
- Marian University College of Osteopathic Medicine
- Association of American Medical Colleges: Financial Advice and Resources
- Association of American Medical Colleges: Database of Loan Forgiveness and Scholarships
- Osteopathic Medicine Financial Aid and Scholarships
- National Medical Fellowships
- American Medical Association Scholarships
- Cost of Education Map
- Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC): Scholarship Listing
- AAVMC: Funding your Vet Education