Health Professions Advising FAQs




How do I get advised for a career in osteopathic, chiropractic, veterinarian, dental, or allopathic medicine?

Please contact Kelly Boos, assistant to the dean, School of Natural and Social Sciences, located in Classroom Building A-113, (716) 878-6674 to be included on the pre-health student database.

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What major should I choose?

There is no required major, however a strong math / science background helps prepare you for entrance exams and the medical school curriculum. The choice of a major is entirely up to you. Choose a field which you will enjoy and can do well in. Be sure that it is in an area that you can use should you not be accepted into a health professional school right away.

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What courses are required?

Requirements vary from school to school; therefore, you should consult the catalogs of those schools to which you wish to apply to be certain that you will satisfy their specific entrance requirements. For instance, a full year of calculus*, while generally not required for medical school, is required for many of the other health professions, and may be needed for the physics courses you choose. We suggest the following courses as a minimum
Biology (8 credits) (BIO 211, 212 or 213)
General Chemistry (8 credits) (CHE 111-112)
Organic Chemistry (8 credits) (CHE 201, 202, 203, 204)
Physics (6-8 credits) (PHY 107-108 or 111-112)
Math-Calculus (6-8 credits) (MAT 126-127 or 161/163-162/164) * see note above
Also highly recommended are courses such as Biochemistry and Microbiology

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What about grades?

It is imperative that you take all of the required courses and that you obtain very good grades. Grades of C, S, or P will not be acceptable. A successful pre-med average is around 3.5/4.0. One “C” is not going to keep you out of medical school, but multiple ones may. If it is clear that you are doing poorly in a course, talk to your professor and adviser about dropping or withdrawing from the course – keeping in mind financial aid requirements for full-time attendance. A “W” will always be on your transcript, but it is still better than a “D” “E” or “F”.

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What about extracurricular activities?
In addition to academic credentials, certain characteristics are desirable in future physicians such as leadership, social maturity, curiosity, and responsibility. These qualities are perceived by medical schools through interviews, recommendations, essays and extracurricular activities. But do not sacrifice good grades for a long list of extracurriculars.


Inquire about local, on-campus research activities with your science professors. Use your summers wisely and investigate summer internships: http://people.rit.edu/gtfsbi/Symp/premed.htm#start


Admissions committees look for solid commitment to a few activities (quality, not quantity of experiences)


Exposure to your chosen field
We strongly suggest that you gain practical experience in your chosen profession. Volunteer in hospitals, nursing homes, veterinary clinics. This demonstrates your motivation and interest in the profession and may the source of a good letter of recommendation.

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What about standardized tests / entrance exams?

Many test preparation services offer free practice tests:

Kaplan: http://www.kaptest.com/
Princeton Review: http://www.princetonreview.com/

Visit the Career Development Center to check for scheduled free practice exams on campus.

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What is the timeline for applying?

Sophomore Year and Earlier
Contact the pre-health professions adviser
Complete the minimum science requirements by the end of your sophomore year, so you are prepared to take the MCAT (or similar test) in the spring of your junior year.
Work on your personal statement


Junior Year
Begin review for the admissions exam to be given during the spring. Many of these tests are administered online. Check online for more information and registration.
Talk to professors about letters of recommendation. You should have three to five letters of recommendation sent to the committee secretary before your senior year.
Research where to apply and how many applications to submit. Compare your credentials against the schools you are considering. You should choose a few “dream” schools that might be a reach for you, a few realistic schools, and a few safe schools. Investigate the schools to which you will apply, and contact them for applications. In spring of junior year of summer before senior take board exam.  Have advisor review personal statement and finalize.



Summer before Senior Year
Prepare and submit AMCAS or other application service materials (many are online applications).

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How do I get letters of recommendation?
Try to think in terms of who will write an effective letter on your behalf. The letter of evaluation or recommendation is traditionally written by individuals who have taught or who have worked with applicants in an instructional, laboratory, research, or service setting. You should make an appointment to meet personally with the professor for a relaxed discussion about your plans, academic record, extracurricular activities, and your suitability for a career in medicine.


A recommendation from an employer or colleague in your chosen field is highly recommended. We suggest least three letters of recommendation, two of which are from faculty in the sciences. You may have as many letters as you wish.

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What about the personal statement / essay?

The personal statement is your opportunity to distinguish yourself from all other applicants. This part of your application should not be taken lightly, and considerable effort and thought should be expended to make a positive statement. Use this essay to describe some activity which demonstrates your motivation for medicine. Your personal statement should not be just another list of all the activities and experiences you have had; it should explain the importance of your activities or experiences and how they have shaped you into the person you are. Expect to edit your essay several times. Members of the Pre-Health Advisement Committee are available to review your essay with you. Also feel free to contact the Writing Center (Ketchum Hall 323) and the Career Development Center (Cleveland Hall 306) for assistance.

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What if I am not accepted the first time?
Since competition for admission into health professional schools is indeed intense, and even well qualified students will inevitably be rejected, it is wise to keep an alternative goal in mind. In fact, every pre-health student should select an alternative career. You may be questioned about it during an interview. You might consider a post baccalaureate pre-medical program. Remember to keep in touch with the pre-health committee, especially when you reapply.

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1300 Elmwood  •  Classroom Building A 113
Buffalo, NY 14222  •  Phone: (716) 878-6434  •  Fax: (716) 878-4009

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