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Pre-Medicine and Health Sciences
Each year, first-year students begin their studies toward careers in medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine, optometry, podiatry, physical therapy, pharmacy, nursing, chiropractic medicine, or sports medicine.
Medical schools and other health professional schools have numerous entrance requirements.They seek candidates possessing: a specific and diverse academic background, strong critical-thinking and problem-solving skills, a sincere commitment to a health career, leadership abilities, adequate performance on standardized tests, completion of long application forms, and submission of several letters of recommendation.
Ripon College is ideally suited to prepare you for these requirements. Our pedagogy, stressing hands-on learning, will hone your critical-thinking and problem-solving abilities. We also stress oral and written communication skills across our curriculum. Ripon’s small size allows our faculty to get to know our students, permitting them to write strong letters of recommendation.
The Health Professions Advisory Committee at Ripon College advises students interested in preparing for a career in the health professions. Members of the committee assist students in scheduling their semester programs to meet college requirements and professional school entrance requirements. Committee members also organize seminars and programs of interest to prehealth students, help students register and prepare for standardized tests and interviews, and facilitate applications to health professions schools. The members of the committee include faculty from three departments (biology, chemistry, and exercise science), and the Office of Career and Professional Development.
Letters of Recommendation
The Health Professions Advisory Committee (HPAC) will coordinate letters of evaluation and supply a committee letter for all students applying to medical, dental, veterinary and other health professional schools in the health area. The following procedure has been adopted.
Request letters of evaluation from three to five people who can comment on your potential for a career in healthcare. Letters must be on official letterhead and signed by the evaluator. Letters of evaluation should be returned to the Chair of the HPAC (Dr. Barbara Sisson, Department of Biology).
After all letters have been collected, the HPAC will write a composite letter of evaluation. This letter will be based on the letters received and HPAC knowledge of the applicant.
The HPAC will post the composite letter, along with the other letters from the evaluators, to the application service site. In most cases it is advantageous to apply early in the yearly application cycle so try to have required material submitted to the HPAC by mid-June.
Provide the HPAC with the names of the evaluators, an updated resume, a list of your volunteer, clinical shadowing, and research experiences, and a copy of your personal statement.
Required Courses for Health Professionals Schools
The following is a brief list of courses that typically are required for admission into various health professions programs. It is meant only as a beginning guide to be used while planning an undergraduate curriculum; it is not meant to provide a list of all required courses for all programs. In fact, specific admission requirements for health professions programs vary considerably. It is, therefore, important that the applicant obtain a catalog for the specific program and school where he or she plans to apply.
Careful planning of the student’s academic program is important, and students must select Biology 121 and/or Chemistry 111 in their first year. Consultations with one of the health professions advisers should begin during the first-year orientation.
For entry into training programs for most medical professions, college grades are very important, as well as first-hand experience with the medical professions, demonstrated ability to work well with other people, and involvement in community service and/or volunteerism.
Click one of the following links to learn more about careers in medicine and health sciences:
Athletic Training | Chiropractic | Dentistry | Medicine, Allopathic and Osteopathic | Nursing and Allied Health Sciences | Optometry | Pharmacy | Physician Assistant | Physical Therapy and Corrective Therapy | Podiatry | Veterinary Medicine
Athletic training encompasses the prevention, examination, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of emergent, acute or chronic injuries and medical conditions. Athletic training is recognized by the American Medical Association (AMA), Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as an allied health care profession. Athletic trainers (ATs) are highly qualified, multi-skilled health care professionals who collaborate with physicians to provide preventative services, emergency care, clinical diagnosis, therapeutic intervention and rehabilitation of injuries and medical conditions. Athletic trainers work under the direction of a physician as prescribed by state licensure statutes. Athletic trainers are licensed or otherwise regulated in 49 states and the District of Columbia and the Board of Certification credential of “Athletic Trainer Certified” (ATC) is recognized nationwide.
The athletic training academic curriculum and clinical training follows the medical model. Students who want to become certified athletic trainers must earn a degree from an accredited professional athletic training curriculum. Professional Athletic Training Programs are transitioning to an Entry-Level Masters Degree, meaning that they are no longer admitting freshman, instead requiring a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college. The specific admission requirements for Professional Athletic Training programs differ between schools and a student should plan carefully to ensure your education and work experiences enhance your chances for admission. The following guidelines should be kept in mind while planning an undergraduate curriculum: Anatomy & Physiology, 8 credit hours (BIO 211 and 312); Chemistry, 5 credit hours (CHM 112); Physics, 4 credit hours (PHY 171); Research methods, 4 credit hours (EXS500); Statistics, 4 credit hours (MTH 120 or PSC 211); Athletic Training, 3 credit hours (EXS 211); Biomechanics, 4 credit hours (EXS 432); Nutrition, 3 credit hours; Functional Anatomy 4 credit hours.
A doctor of chiropractic is a primary health-care provider who gives particular attention to the relationship of the structural and neurological aspects of the body. A chiropractor is trained in physical examination, orthopedic and neurological testing, radiographic interpretation and direct palpitation of joint movement. Although most chiropractic colleges specify two years of preprofessional education as a minimum requirement for admission, the majority of entering students have a bachelor’s degree. No specific undergraduate major is required. Most chiropractic colleges require a minimum grade point average, typically around 2.5, with no science course below a “C.”
The specific admission requirements for chiropractic colleges differ from one school to another. However, the following guidelines should be kept in mind while planning an undergraduate curriculum: biology, 8-12 credit hours, vertebrate or human anatomy and physiology preferred or required (Biology 121 and and any two of the following: 211, 216, 312, 314); general chemistry, 8 credit hours (Chemistry 112 and 211); organic chemistry, 8 credit hours (Chemistry 111 and 214); physics, 8 credit hours (Physics 151-152); English/communication, 6 credit hours (English 110 and Communication 115); psychology, 4 credithours (Psychology 110); humanities and social sciences, 15 credit hours (most transferable courses are acceptable, however, courses in public speaking, critical thinking, ethics, writing and sociology are preferred); and additional electives to total the minimum requirements of the particular school.
Although many dental schools specify three years of preprofessional education as a minimum requirement for admission, most entering students have a bachelor’s degree. No specific undergraduate major is required. Most dental schools require a certain level of performance on the Dental Admission Test; students should take this test the spring of their junior year. Dental schools also assess the undergraduate transcript, grade point average, letters of recommendation, and an interview.
The specific admission requirements for dental schools differ from one school to another and it is important that the applicant obtain a catalog from the specific school of dentistry where he or she plans to apply. The following guidelines should be kept in mind while planning an undergraduate curriculum: general chemistry, 8-10 credit hours (Chemistry 112 and 211); organic chemistry, 8-10 credit hours (Chemistry 111 and 214); biology, 8-10 credit hours; physics, 8-10 credit hours (Physics 151-152); mathematics, at least college algebra; English, 6-12 credit hours (English 110 and an additional course); psychology, 3-6 credit hours (at least Psychology 110); and additional electives to total the minimum requirements of the particular dental school.
Medicine, Allopathic and Osteopathic
Medical schools seek candidates with a high level of scholastic achievement and intellectual potential, as well as the motivation and humanistic concern necessary for success as a physician. These qualities are measured by college grades, particularly science grades, letters of recommendation from undergraduate faculty and premedical advisers, Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) scores, interview assessment, an applicant’s personal statement and application, and volunteer work and community service. Acceptance into medical school is competitive, and the mean grade point average for accepted students is about 3.6. Although most medical schools require a minimum of three years of undergraduate work before admission, the majority of entering medical students have a baccalaureate degree.
Medical schools do not require a specific major; however, most applicants major in biology, chemistry or such combinations as the chemistry-biology major. Although an understanding of the principles of the sciences basic to medicine is required of entering medical students, breadth of education also is expected. A successful medical student must effectively acquire, synthesize, apply and communicate information. Thus, studies in the humanities and in the social and behavioral sciences and opportunities for the development of effective writing skills are strongly suggested. Independent study and research also are encouraged.
The specific admissions requirements vary from school to school, and you should plan carefully to ensure your education and work experiences enhance your chances for admission. The following guidelines should be kept in mind when planning an undergraduate curriculum: general biology or zoology (with lab), 4 credit hours (Biology 121); advanced biology or zoology (with lab), 4 credit hours; general chemistry (with lab), 8 credit hours (Chemistry 112 and 211); organic chemistry (with lab), 8 credit hours (Chemistry 111 and 214); physics (with lab), 8 credit hours (Physics 151-152); English, 6 credit hours (English 110 and an additional course); mathematics, at least college algebra for most schools. Some schools such as the University of Wisconsin at Madison require biochemistry. Others may require calculus, additional electives to total the minimum requirements of the particular medical school, and an internship with a physician (Biology 551 or 552). Courses such as human anatomy and physiology, vertebrate structure, genetics, microbiology, cell biology and biochemistry also are helpful when preparing for medical school.
Ripon College is affiliated with Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM) in Erie, PA and Bradenton, FL. Our affiliation via the LECOM Early Acceptance Program (EAP) allows qualified students to be provisionally accepted, i.e. a reserved seat, to LECOM’s medical school to earn a doctorate in osteopathic medicine (D.O.). Applicants must be U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents. Application to the EAP can occur as early as the senior year in high school and up through the second year at Ripon College. To receive a provisional acceptance, students must complete a successful interview by LECOM at a LECOM campus or a regional interview site. Affiliates must be officially enrolled in the Ripon-EAP for the two consecutive years prior to matriculating at LECOM. LECOM will follow the progress of students in the Ripon-LECOM EAP throughout their time at Ripon College. In addition, students in the Ripon-LECOM EAP participate in events at the LECOM campus and elsewhere.
To matriculate to LECOM, the student must have completed the prerequisite course work as an un-interrupted full-time student, have a cumulative science GPA of 3.2 or higher, and a cumulative overall GPA of 3.4 or higher. LECOM does not restrict the number of AP credits that may be used to fulfill the credit requirements. The medical school entrance exam, MCAT, is not required for most students in the Ripon-LECOM EAP. Students applying to LECOM via the EAP apply directly to the medical school and not through application services such as AACOMAS and AMCAS.
Students interested in enrolling in the Ripon-LECOM EAP should consult with a member of the Health Professions Advising Committee and take the following prerequisite courses: 6 credits in English (ENG 110 or CTL110 and one additional English course), 6 credits in behavioral science, 4 credits in physics (PHY171), 8 credits in biology, genetics (Bio 219), 8 credits in inorganic chemistry (CHM 112, CHM 211), 8 credits in organic chemistry (CHM 111, CHM 214), and biochemistry (CHM 422). Required prerequisites must all be completed with a C or better.
Nursing and Allied Health Sciences
Although a person with an undergraduate nursing degree will have no trouble finding employment, to advance in this field it usually is necessary to obtain a master's degree. Graduate entry-level nursing programs are available for those students who have earned a baccalaureate degree. Graduate programs in nursing include a master’s of science (M.S.), doctor of nursing (N.D.) and doctor of nursing science (D.N.Sc.). For these programs, an applicant must have a minimum grade point average of 3.0. The graduate record exam (GRE) and an interview are required. Prerequisite course work includes human anatomy and physiology (Biology 211 and 312), microbiology (Biology 314), inorganic chemistry (Chemistry 112) and organic chemmistry (Chemistry 111). Coursework in psychology (110, 235, 242 or 243), sociology (110 or 115), English (110 and another English course), and statistics (Mathematics 120 or Psychology 211-212) are recommended.
Ripon College is affiliated with Rush University School of Nursing in Chicago, and Ripon graduates who meet the admission requirements can be automatically accepted into the Generalist Entry Master of Science in Nursing program. Required prerequisite courses, all completed with a grade of C or better, include chemistry (CHM 111-112), human anatomy and physiology (BIO 211-312), and microbiology (BIO 314). A GPA of 3.0 or higher is required (both overall and science-specific GPA), and the GRE exam is waived if the applicant has a Ripon College GPA of 3.25 or greater.
The American Optometric Association (AOA) published definition of an optometrist is: “Doctors of Optometry are independent primary health-care providers who examine, diagnose, treat and manage diseases and disorders of the visual system, the eye and associated structures, as well as diagnose related systemic conditions.” Most students entering optometry school have a bachelor’s degree from a four-year college or university. Optometry programs assess undergraduate grade point average, scores on the Optometry Admission Test (OAT), undergraduate degrees, biographical information, knowledge of the profession, letters of reference and an interview.
The specific admission requirements for Optometry schools differ markedly from one school to another, and it is important that the applicant obtain a catalog from the specific school or college of optometry where he or she plans to apply. The following guidelines should be kept in mind while planning an undergraduate curriculum: biology, including general zoology (Biology 121), microbiology (Biology 314), human anatomy and physiology (Biology 211), cell biology (Biology 327) and genetics (Biology 219); chemistry, including inorganic (Chemistry 112), organic (Chemistry 111) and biochemistry (Chemistry 422); general physics (Physics 151-152); English composition (English 110); psychology (Psychology 110); mathematics, including calculus (Mathematics 201) and statistics (Mathematics 120); and computer science (Computer Science 101). Additional courses may include sociology, public speaking, business and economics.
A Pharm.D. degree requires at least two years of preprofessional study followed by at least four years of professional study. Consequently, a number of students obtain their bachelor’s degree before matriculating into a Pharm.D. program. Entry-level Pharm.D. admission is based upon completion of pre-pharmacy courses, quality of academic record, Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT) scores, letters of recommendation, resume and a personal interview. The specific admission requirements for Pharm.D. programs differ markedly from one school to another and generally are more extensive and detailed than those of medical schools. It is important that the applicant obtain a catalog from the specific school of pharmacy where he or she plans to apply.
The following guidelines should be kept in mind while planning an undergraduate curriculum of preprofessional preparation: inorganic chemistry, 8-10 credit hours (Chemistry 112 and 211); organic chemistry, 8-10 credit hours (Chemistry 111 and 214); biology, at least 12 credit hours including general biology (Biology 121), vertebrate structure (Biology 216), and genetics (Biology 219) or botany (Biology 227); general physics, 8-10 credit hours (Physics 151-152); calculus, 4-5 credit hours (Mathematics 201); communication, 3-6 credit hours (English 110 and possibly Communication 115); microeconomics, 3-4 credit hours (Economics 212); social science, 3 credit hours, sociology (Sociology 110) or anthropology (Anthropology 110); behavioral science, 3 credit hours, (Psychology 110); history, 2-3 credit hours; humanities, 6 credit hours; ethnic studies, 3 credit hours; and additional electives to total the minimum requirements of the particular pharmacy school.
Physical Therapy and Corrective Therapy
There are several academic paths to certification as a physical therapist; however, the most common has become a master of science degree in physical therapy. In this case, the student’s undergraduate degree is not in physical therapy and a complete bachelor’s degree will be required of all students applying for admission to the physical therapy professional program. Although there is no specific major required for entrance into a physical therapy program, the undergraduate major often is biology, exercise science or self-designed.
The specific admission requirements vary considerably from school to school and generally are more extensive and detailed than those of medical schools. It is important that the applicant obtain a catalog from the specific school of physical therapy where he or she plans to apply. Many admission requirements include a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university; GRE; a minimum cumulative grade point average, usually a 3.0; a minimum science grade point average; successful completion of all prerequisite courses no later than the spring semester prior to summer admission; evidence of professional behavior required to participate effectively in a health-care environment; and satisfactory completion of volunteer or paid patient care experience in two physical therapy settings under the supervision of a physical therapist, usually at least a minimum of 20 hours in each setting.
The following guidelines should be kept in mind while planning an undergraduate curriculum: biology, including introductory biology (Biology 121), animal biology, with lab (any zoology course); human physiology, with lab (Biology 211 and 312), anatomy, with lab (Biology 211, 216, 312); a year sequence of chemistry, with lab (Chemistry 111 and 112); biochemistry (Chemistry 422); a year sequence of general physics, with lab (Physics 151-152); psychology, including general psychology (Psychology 110) and human development (Psychology 235, 242 or 243); and statistics (Mathematics 120). In addition, the following courses are recommended by many schools and required by others: kinesiology, exercise physiology, neurosciences, physiological psychology, calculus, ethics, medical sociology, cultural diversity, counseling, public speaking, public health, English and technical writing, English composition, computer science, and additional courses in the humanities and social sciences. Internships with physical therapists also are required (Biology 551 or 552).
A baccalaureate degree with a major in physical education is a prerequisite for admission to a training program in corrective therapy. Following graduation, the interested student enters a one-year training program at an approved institution where corrective therapy is available. There is a subsequent certification examination. For more information, consult any member of the Health Professions Advisory Committee.
Physician assistants are health professionals licensed to practice medicine with physician supervision. Within the physician/PA relationship, physician assistants exercise autonomy in medical decision-making and provide a broad range of diagnostic and therapeutic services. For example, PAs are qualified to take medical histories, order laboratory tests, diagnose and treat illnesses, give medical advice, counsel patients, perform physical exams, assist in surgery and set fractures.
The specific admission requirements for PA programs differ from one school to another, and it is important that the applicant obtain a catalog from the specific PA program to which he or she plans to apply. Although no specific major is required, you should plan carefully to ensure that your education and employment experiences enhance your chances for admission. Most PA programs require applicants have a minimum of two years of college credit, and more than half of those who apply already have a college degree. Many programs now are completely at the graduate level, and a baccalaureate degree is required. Further, some health-care experience is required prior to admission. Thus, it is a good idea to volunteer in a hospital and to obtain EMT or CNA certification. Some schools also require the Allied Health Professional Admissions Test (AHPAT).
The following guidelines should be kept in mind while planning an undergraduate curriculum: inorganic chemistry (Chemistry 112), organic chemistry (Chemistry 111), biochemistry (Chemistry 422); general biology (Biology 121), zoology (Biology 215 or 216), microbiology (Biology 314), human anatomy and physiology, (Biology 211 and 312); general psychology (Psychology 110); and additional electives to total the minimum requirements of the particular physician assistant program.
Podiatric medicine is a branch of the medical sciences devoted to the study of human movement with the medical care of the foot and ankle as its primary focus. A doctor of podiatric medicine (DPM) specializes in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of foot disorders, diseases and injuries. Although schools of podiatric medicine specify three years of pre-professional education as a minimum requirement for admission, a baccalaureate degree is strongly recommended (more than 90 percent of entering students have a bachelor’s degree). No specific undergraduate major is required. Most colleges of podiatric medicine require a certain level of performance on the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). Podiatric colleges also assess the undergraduate transcript, grade point average, letters of recommendation (one from the Health Professions Advisory Committee, two from science faculty, and one from a podiatric physician), and an interview.
The minimum semester credit hour requirements for all of the colleges of podiatric medicine include the following: biology, 8 credit hours (Biology 121 and an additional course); chemistry (general/inorganic), 8 credit hours (Chemistry 112 and 211); organic chemistry, 8 credit hours (Chemistry 111 and 214); physics, 8 credit hours (Physics 151-152); English, 6 credit hours (English 110 and an additional course). It is strongly recommended that the college curriculum also include three or more of the following courses: anatomy (Biology 211, 216 or 312), biochemistry (Chemistry 422), genetics (Biology 219), histology (Biology 216); microbiology (Biology 314), and physiology (Biology 211 and/or 312). The latest a student may take the MCAT is in the spring of the year prior to fall admission.
Schools of veterinary medicine are among the most selective of professional schools. They assess the undergraduate transcript and grade point average, standardized examination (usually the GRE, but occasionally the MCAT or VCAT, taken in the spring of the junior year), animal contact and work experience with both large and small animals, veterinary medical experience, other preparatory experience, college degree earned, extracurricular activities, letters of recommendation and a personal interview.
The specific admission requirements vary considerably from school to school and generally are more extensive and detailed than those of medical schools. It is important that the applicant obtain a catalog from the specific school of veterinary medicine where he or she plans to apply. Although no specific major is required, you should plan carefully to ensure that your education and animal work experiences enhance your chances for admission.
Typical course requirements include: general and qualitative chemistry, 8-10 credit hours (Chemistry 112 and 211); organic chemistry, 8-10 credit hours (Chemistry 111 and 214); biochemistry, 3-4 credit hours (Chemistry 422); general biology or zoology, 5-6 credit hours (Biology 121 and an additional course in animal biology, most likely Biology 216); genetics or animal breeding, 3 credit hours (Biology 219); microbiology, 3-4 credit hours (Biology 314); physiology, 3-4 credit hours (Biology 211-312); general physics, 6-10 credit hours (Physics 151-152); statistics (Mathematics 120); English composition, 3-6 credit hours (English 110); social science or humanities, 6-10 credit hours; and additional electives to total the minimum requirements of the particular veterinary school. In addition, calculus (Mathematics 201) and courses in animal behavior (Psychology 233) and husbandry may be required.
Your Ripon Experience There is no pre-med major at Ripon College. There are two very important reasons for this. First, although certain courses are required for entrance into health professional schools, no specific major is required. And, second, as a liberal arts and sciences college, Ripon seeks to give its students an appreciation and awareness of the major areas of human intellectual endeavor and to provide a broad foundation upon which specialized studies may be based. For this reason, we encourage you to avoid the “pre-med pitfall” of viewing your undergraduate years as a hurdle placed in your way. Instead, we urge you to view your college experience as an opportunity to obtain a broad academic background.
Preparation for the health professions does not involve merely the study of science and technology. It also encompasses many aspects of human nature and knowledge. Professional schools look for well-rounded individuals who are articulate, well-read, caring and giving of their time, and who have the historical and philosophical background to place scientific discoveries in context. The liberal arts and sciences approach at Ripon College is ideally suited to providing this critical balance between human interaction and specialized knowledge.
Co-Curricular Activities Most professional schools are concerned with your life outside the classroom in addition to your academic work. This is a way to demonstrate the kind of person you are, your leadership qualities and skills, and how well you deal with other people. The Ripon College community and the city of Ripon provide a multitude of activities in which students may assume leadership roles. These include a number of campus organizations and groups such as athletics, student government, intramural sports, music and drama groups, and the student newspaper. Because of our small size, you will find that you can participate in whatever co-curricular activity you enjoy.
One testament to the success of our program at Ripon College is the high rate for acceptance of our graduates into health professional schools. The national average for acceptance into medical school is approximately 40 percent, whereas the acceptance for Ripon students has been more than 75 percent; and for all other health-related programs, the acceptance rate has been more than 85 percent.
In addition, we take advising very seriously. Every Ripon student has a faculty adviser to provide help in planning a suitable academic program. You will find that our advisers genuinely are interested in you and your career goals.
Ripon’s Health Professions Advisory Committee (HPAC) advises students interested in preparing for a career in the health professions, organizes programs of interest to pre-health students, and helps students prepare for standardized tests and interviews.