Qualifying for the Health Professions

Some marks of a successful pre-health student:

  • Successful pre-health students are motivated by love - they genuinely care about people, feel they can make a beneficial difference in people's lives, and find satisfaction in doing so.
  • Successful pre-health students are intelligent - they are knowledgeable, understanding and aware, thoughtful, quick to learn, problem solvers; they respond successfully to new situations.
  • Successful pre-health students are fascinated by the biological and chemical processes of life - they are attracted to a scientific understanding of the molecular, biochemical, cellular mechanisms and the genetic and developmental processes that produce and maintain the structure and function of the body.
  • Successful pre-health students are gratified by hard work - they are diligent, resourceful, committed, persistent, and resilient.

Derived from: Preparing for a Career in Medicine by Kent Shih

Knowledge, Skills, Abilities, Experiences

Essential/Minimal Requirements

  • Earn at least a B or better in all prerequisite courses
  • Score at least 499 or better on the MCAT, average 18 or better on DAT, 300 or more as the total of the percentile scores on PCAT
  • Maintain an overall GPA of 3.5 or better
  • Accumulate a well rounded academic record that includes the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities
  • Solid evidence of a sustained commitment to a voluntary activity (e.g. humanitarian, social, talent, hobby, interest, etc.) that shows personal initiative, persistence, time management and leadership.
  • Clear and substantive evidence of a commitment to help others, of empathy, of altruism, of compassion.
  • Regular interaction/exposure to the health profession that includes an extended, in-depth experience (shadowing, volunteering, internship) associated with a health care professional.
  • Strong letters of support from high-quality recommenders (from academics - the sciences, health fields, humanitarian, personal interaction).

Highly Recommended

  • Complete a successful experimental research project under the supervision of a faculty member or research professional
  • Complete an honors thesis
  • Successfully complete lab-based courses in cell biology, human anatomy and physiology, genetics and microbiology.
  • Complete an MCAT, DAT, PCAT, OAT prep course (i.e. Kaplan, Princeton Review)
  • Have informed opinions about current issues (social, economic, political) that influence health care in the USA
  • Successfully complete an academic minor in the humanities (e.g. a foreign language) or social sciences (e.g. psychology)
  • Complete an academically rigorous program of studies with high GPA

Optional But Recommended

  • Successfully complete CPR or EMT training
  • Successfully complete a course or courses in statistics, public speaking, persuasive writing
  • Successfully complete a course in histology, pharmacology, immunology, bioinformatics, molecular genetics.
  • Accumulate a substantial record of volunteer tutoring or assisting teaching
  • Demonstrate a highly unusual experience or notable individual achievement (e.g. missions work, recognition as an expert, travel overseas, championship competition, etc.)

Marks Of An Exemplary Health Care Professional

  • Skills and Abilities
  • Personal Dispositions
  • Moral Qualities and Values

Skills and Abilities

  • Intelligence - knowledgeable, understanding and aware, thoughtful, quick to learn
  • Leader - ability to direct, guide, command
  • Problem Solver
  • Ability to work collaboratively - act or work together effectively with others
  • Communicator - interact interpersonally, articulate, effective listener
  • Common Sense and Judgment - wisdom, practicality
  • Manages Time Well - set appropriate priorities, efficient

Personal Dispositions

  • Servant to Others - loving, altruistic
  • Compassionate - having sorrow for suffering and an urge to help
  • Empathetic - understanding or can identify with the feelings or ideas of others
  • Cooperative - team player
  • Responsible - accountable, trustworthy, dependable, reliable
  • Motivated - focused, committed, determined, dedicated
  • Persistent - faithful, persevering, enduring
  • Overcoming - resilient, recovers from adversity
  • Self Aware - can recognize strengths, weaknesses and limits of abilities; reflective
  • Life Long Learner - strives for self improvement, curious

Moral Qualities And Values

  • Beneficent - work for the health (or good) of the patient
  • Non-maleficent - do no harm to patient
  • Altruistic - commitment to advocate at all times the interests of one's patient over one's own interest
  • Charitable - commitment to provide care to patients who are unable to pay and to advocate for access to health care for members of traditionally underserved groups.
  • Just - treat like patients alike
  • Honest and act with integrity in all interactions with patients' families, colleagues and others with whom health care professional must interact in their lives
  • Respect for patients' privacy, for dignity of patients as persons
  • Nonjudgmental of patient's wishes, desires, intentions