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FAQ about the “Pre-Med Program”

What constitutes a "Pre-med" major at Fitchburg State

Even though medical schools do not designate any special “pre-medical” major, Fitchburg State University has the Health Sciences concentration within the Biology major to prepare students for admission to health professional schools. Though this major is recommended, students are free to pursue whatever major they want as long as they fulfill the pre-medical course requirements, which are listed elsewhere. One other consideration to make is what other career would you like to pursue if you do not get admission to to your choice of medical/health professional school; i.e., what is your Plan B?
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What are the premedical course requirements?

The prerequisite courses for medical school admission are: one year of English two semesters each of General Biology, General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Physics. Many require at least one Calculus course but the requirement varies with medical schools and beginning 2015 admission cycle, the requirement is reduced to one semester of calculus and one semester of applied statistics or biostatistics. Biochemistry, Psychology and Sociology courses are currently recommended and will become requirements for the 2016 entering class.
All schools value strong communication skills. Physiology, genetics, developmental biology, cell biology and other specific courses are also recommended.
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What academic record do I need to get into medical or other health professional school?

Applicant pressure for medical schools is very intense, particularly in the Northeast U.S. Successful applicants to medical schools usually have a grade point average of 3.5 or better (overall and in the BCPM courses), a composite MCAT score of 30 and strong letters of recommendation. Osteopathic medical and dental schools admit students with slightly lower GPA followed by schools of optometry, podiatric medicine, chiropractic medicine, physician assistant and physical therapy programs. Application to schools of pharmacy and veterinary medicine are also quite intense and strong academic credentials are required. You need to consult relevant resources for specific requirements.
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Is there any way to predict what sort of scores I will have on the MCAT?

Yes, look at your SAT scores! The best correlation medical schools and pre-med advisors have seen between MCAT and any other achievement is between the MCAT and the SAT scores. In fact, of the schools that do not require MCAT scores, ALL require the SAT’s. Nevertheless, there have been cases of the exceptional student with modest SAT’s achieving strong MCAT scores.
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What can I do to strengthen my application to medical school?

Most successful applicants, in addition to strong academic records, have had experience working in hospitals or in the health professions community. Many have held responsible positions outside of college: employment, service, volunteerism and so forth. Remember that nothing substitutes for a strong academic record. Data from UMass Medical School shows that 77% have medically related work, 70% community service/volunteer work, and 80% have done undergraduate research. A strong application requires careful planning and preparation.
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What other factors are considered in medical school admissions

Admissions committees often consider employment, the number of hours students are employed during the school year, extracurricular involvement including sports, research, and community service.
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Does the University write letters for all applicants?

Fitchburg State University has not yet established a formal Health Professions Advising Committee as the case with many other colleges and universities that place a large number of students in health professional schools. Currently, the Pre-Health Advisor writes a composite letter of recommendation on behalf of the student. In either case you will need to get letters of recommendation from your professors (usually a minimum of two from science courses), employers, and others such as academic advisor, internship supervisor, and supervisor at a volunteer agency where you worked. Contact Dr. Govindan early and arrange for the letters of recommendation to be sent to him so that he can submit the composite letter in a timely manner.
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When should I apply to medical school?

A number of pathways are available:

  1. Application after the junior year for students with a 3.5-4.0 average, good MCAT scores (combined scores of 30 or better), evidence of a working knowledge of the profession and a commitment to service.
  2. Application after the senior year if the student has developed a competitive academic profile.
  3. Application after a student completes post-baccalaureate study to improve a weak academic profile.
  4. Application after a year or several years of "life experience," often as a career change.*

*There definitely appears to be preference for applicants with some "life experience."
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What if I'm not ready to apply to by the time I graduate?

The average age of matriculating medical school students is approximately 26. This means that a lot of students elect not to apply right away. The Health Professions Advisor works with both undergraduates and alumni to provide advice and support during the preparation and application processes. Sometime graduates pursue other interests before submitting their medical school applications. They work in the biomedical profession, teach school, work in a variety of service organizations. The possibilities are endless and the experiences are invaluable.
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Can I reapply to medical school if I have been rejected?

Yes! A very high percentage of the applicants who reapply are accepted to medical school. There are a lot of ways to improve an application to medical school. The statistics quoted above do not include a follow-up on rejected students who reapply. A good percentage of these are admitted after improving their applications. Traditionally, students apply after completion of their junior year in college. However, many students wait until their senior year; some complete post-baccalaureate preparation for medical school; some complete masters degrees; some do not apply until later in their lives and careers.

Much of the information in this document is taken (with permission) of a similar document prepared by Dr. Carol Crafts of Providence College.