2013-14 Undergraduate Catalog
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PRE-PROFESSIONAL HEALTH PROGRAMS

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206-281-2797
spu.edu/depts/biology/pre-professional-health-sciences.asp

Seattle Pacific University offers faculty advising for a number of Pre-Professional Health Science programs (PPHS) that prepare students to transfer and/or gain acceptance into professional health programs at other institutions.

All Pre-Professional Health Science Students

A career in health sciences involves both a strong science preparation and a strong foundation in liberal arts — because medicine is a healing art requiring significant skills in human interaction and understanding. And patients are best served by practitioners who are well grounded in the liberal arts, human sciences, and the pure sciences.

Any major is acceptable preparation. However, a strong undergraduate program in the sciences is both required and advised. Admission to professional schools is extremely competitive, especially in medicine, so it is important to obtain advising from the coordinator of the Pre-Professional Health Sciences program to plan an individually appropriate and competitive academic plan throughout undergraduate preparation.

Health science graduate programs consider several factors, including the following:

  • The student’s grades.
  • Students' scores on standardized tests such as the MCAT, DAT, GRE, PCAT, and OCAT.
  • Health-related clinical experience.
  • Letters of recommendation from clinicians, professors, and community service, and leadership representatives.
  • Leadership and service experience is expected, and research experience is strongly encouraged for admission to graduate health programs.
  • To become a viable candidate for graduate schools in the health professions, a student must be well acquainted with the requirements and procedures particular to each health profession career as outlined below.

All students pursuing admission to graduate programs in medicine, dentistry, and veterinary medicine are required by SPU to utilize the Pre-Professional Health Science Advisory Committee system.

Students interested in other graduate health science programs, such as optometry and physician assistant, have the option to utilize the committee interview and letter of evaluation service. However, use of the committee system by these students is not required, because the application process is different for these programs. Traditionally, students intending to enter pharmacy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and other graduate programs in health sciences do not utilize the committee system.

Nevertheless, all PPHS students are expected to utilize the academic advising associated with the PPHS coordinator and Advisory Board, as well as participate in all or most of the PPHS classes described below.

Success in pursuing a career in health science and gaining acceptance to a health science graduate program demands constant self-assessment on the part of the student and mentoring by knowledgeable faculty and clinical professionals who have themselves advised many successful students over the years.

Professional Health Science Graduate School Admissions Checklists

Checklist: First and Second SPU Years

Checklist: Third or Fourth SPU Years

Checklist: Application (Fourth or Post-Graduate) SPU Years

Summary of the Application Procedure

  • Get to know the PPHS coordinator as soon as possible in your first year. Take the PPHS classes as outlined above.
  • Arrange health-related volunteer experiences throughout your first two to three years individually and through the SPU mentor program. Continue a strong and improving academic record. Participate in leadership and service projects.
  • If appropriate for the profession you choose, arrange for an SPU Pre-Professional Health Science committee interview and committee evaluation letter before you submit your primary application in the spring prior to your application year.
  • Take the appropriate standardized test in either spring or early summer prior to the application year or earlier. Generally, programs that require the GRE need a late summer or early fall test date. Do not submit primaries without knowing your test score.
  • Submit your primary application in the early summer of your application year. Complete secondary applications in the months that follow primary application submission. Arrange interviews as requested during the fall and winter of the application year.
  • Go to the graduate school the following fall and make SPU proud.

Pre-Medicine and Pre-Dentistry
Admission to medical and dental schools is extremely competitive, so it is important to obtain advising from the PPHS coordinator to plan an individually appropriate and competitive academic plan.

Key factors considered by medical and dental school selection committees are based on the following:

  • The student’s grades (both science and non-science and in an upward-trending trajectory)
  • Strong performance on the MCAT or DAT
  • An “in-house” interview, recommendation, and letter of evaluation from the SPU Pre-Professional Health Science committee
  • Health-related clinical experience with a support letter
  • Other support letters highlighting extracurricular, leadership, and service experience
  • Research experience (strongly encouraged)
  • A strong interview with the medical or dental school admissions committee.

A graduate degree in medicine is obtained by attending an allopathic medical school and earning a medical doctor (MD) degree or by attending an osteopathic medical school and earning a doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO) degree. Both types of graduates are fully eligible to become board certified in any specialty and practice medicine in all 50 U.S. states.

A graduate degree in dentistry is obtained by attending any U.S. dental school and earning either a dental medical doctor (DMD) degree or a doctor of dental surgery (DDS) degree. The type of degree varies by school, but both types of graduates are qualified to practice dentistry in all 50 U.S. states.

 

Since specific coursework requirements vary from school to school, students should become familiar with the specific prerequisites of the medical or dental schools to which they intend to apply. However, nearly all medical and dental schools have at least the following minimal expectations for coursework:

 

Chemistry. Including one year “general,” and one year “organic.”  All must have labs: CHM 1211, CHM 1212, CHM 2540, CHM 3371, CHM 3372, CHM 3373.

30

   

Biology. One year “general” with labs: BIO 2101, BIO 2102, BIO 2103; plus selected upper-division core courses, especially biochemistry, genetics, and physiology.

20–25

   

Physics. One year algebra-based or calculus-based with lab: PHY 1101, PHY 1102, PHY 1103, or PHY 1121, PHY 1122, PHY 1123.

15

   

English.“ENG” courses, writing courses, and general education coursework.

10

   

Math. Variable amounts of college-level mathematics ranging from one quarter of statistics to one full year of calculus — discuss with coordinator.

5–20

Total

80–100

 

Additional science courses are strongly recommended (and sometimes required), such as anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, genetics, cell biology, microbiology, developmental biology,  histology, bio-ethics, and upper-division chemistry courses. Some medical and dental schools also suggest knowledge of calculus.

All applicants must complete a minimum of 135 quarter-credit hours (three years) of academic work. However, with the increasing competition to enter medical and dental schools, it is extremely rare for applicants to be admitted with less than four years of undergraduate work and a bachelor’s degree.

Pre-Veterinary Medicine
These recommendations are for students desiring to enter veterinary medicine as a profession and to earn a doctorate in veterinary medicine (DVM).

Competition is intense to gain acceptance to a school of veterinary medicine. Application to veterinary medicine schools begins with submitting a “primary application" in the summer before the application year. Students seeking admission to these graduate programs need to complete a bachelor’s degree in any field, plus include the following prerequisite coursework:

 

General Biology BIO 2101, 2102, 2103

15

General Chemistry CHM 1211, 1212

10

Introductory Inorganic Chemistry CHM 2540

5

Organic Chemistry CHM 3371, 3372, 3373

15

Physics PHY 1101, 1102, 1103 or 1121, 1122, 1123

15

Animal Physiology BIO 4413

5

Vertebrate Biology BIO 3432

5

Genetics BIO 3324

5

Microbiology BIO 3351

5

Biochemistry BIO or CHM 4361 and 4362

10

Mathematics (including a course in calculus)

5

Statistics MAT 1360 or HSC 4044

5

Nutrition (preferably an animal nutrition course)

5

Total

105

 

Note: Additional courses in English composition, humanities, and social science may be required by individual veterinary medical schools. Other recommended courses are speech (public speaking), English literature, economics, psychology, and history.

Pre-Physical Therapy and Pre-Occupational Therapy
To meet American Physical Therapy Association accreditation standards, all physical therapy graduate programs must lead to a doctorate degree in physical therapy (DPT).

Most programs have transitioned to doctorate programs, and a few schools still offer a master’s degree. Students seeking admission to a physical therapy graduate program need to complete a bachelor’s degree in any field, plus include the prerequisite coursework listed below.

While many of these courses are not required for occupational therapy, following the Pre-Physical Therapy track makes students strongly competitive for a master's in occupational therapy (MOT). There are beginning to be doctorate programs in OT called the OTD as well.

The main pre-PT and pre-OT track is the BS in applied human biology. Students should contact individual PT and OT schools for their admissions requirements or consult the APTA or AOTA websites.

 

   

General Biology BIO 2101, 2102, 2103

15

Human Anatomy and Physiology BIO 2129, 2130

10

General Microbiology BIO 3351

5

General Chemistry CHM 1211, 1212

10

Organic and Biological Chemistry CHM 1330

5

Introductory Inorganic Chemistry CHM 2540

5

General Physics PHY 1101, 1102, 1103

15

Statistics (e.g., MAT 1360 or HSC 4044)

5

General Psychology PSY 1180

5

Life Span or Developmental PsychologyPSY 2470 or 4420

5

Abnormal Behavior PSY 4460

5

Biomechanics PE 3570

5

Exercise Physiology PE 3580

5

Total

95

 

Suggested additional courses include human nutrition, communication, and two courses in English are strongly suggested.

Pre-Optometry
The need for well-trained doctor of optometry (OD) recipients is increasing. Admission committees for four-year programs leading to the doctor of optometry degree consider the following factors:

  • Strength and breadth of the student’s academic record
  • OAT scores
  • Evidence of work (paid or volunteer) under the supervision of a professional optometrist
  • Extracurricular activities and community service
  • Strength of recommendations and on-campus interviews

Consult each optometry school’s website for its admission prerequisites.

Enrollment in optometry schools is limited, and admission is selective. All pre-optometry courses must be completed before entering a college of optometry.

The following list of courses represents a minimum pre-optometry program:

 

General Biology BIO 2101, 2102, 2103

15

Anatomy and Physiology I and II and Microbiology BIO 2129 and BIO 2130 and BIO 3351

15

General Chemistry CHM 1211, 1212

10

Introductory Inorganic Chemistry CHM 2540

5

Organic Chemistry CHM 3371, 3372, 3373

15

Mathematics (including a course in calculus)

10–15

Statistics MAT 1360 or HSC 4044

5

Physics PHY 1101, 1102, 1103 or 1121, 1122, 1123

15

Psychology

5

Other Social Sciences

5–10

English (must include a course in expository writing)

6-9

Total

106-119

 

While some optometry programs admit students with prerequisites complete and no bachelor's degree, a most competitive applicant has a completed degree. 

Pre-Pharmacy
The following recommendations are for students desiring to enter pharmacy as a profession. Currently, the entry degree for pharmacists is the doctorate of pharmacy (PharmD).

Pre-pharmacy students must have a sound background in math and science, which can be accomplished by majoring in biology, chemistry, or biochemistry. However, a Science major is not required.

Good communication skills are important, as is a broad general education in the social sciences and humanities. The Pre-Pharmacy Program required by schools of pharmacy is an absolute minimum of two years, but a minimum of three years is highly recommended. The most competitive candidates earn a bachelor’s degree prior to matriculation at a pharmacy graduate program.

Below is a list of courses required by many pharmacy schools. One should check the individual school for specific requirements and also check with the PPHS coordinator. Applications to pharmacy schools begin with a primary application available at ParmCAS.

 

General Biology BIO 2101, 2102, 2103

15

Anatomy & Physiology BIO 2129 and 2130

10

Microbiology BIO 3351

5

General Chemistry CHM 1211, 1212

10

Organic Chemistry CHM 3371, 3372, 3373

15

Introductory Inorganic Chemistry CHM 2540

5

Mathematics (including a course in calculus)

5–10

Biochemistry

5–10

Statistics MAT 1360 or HSC 4044

Total

5

75-85

 

Other undergraduate biology courses recommended are genetics, cell biology, neurobiology, and immunology. Two courses in English composition, humanities, and social science are required.

Other recommended courses are speech (public speaking), English literature, economics, psychology, history, and physics. 


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