Frequently asked questions about our pre-health programs

Question- I think I want to do something in the medical field, but I don't know what area exactly. What should I do?

Answer- There are a variety of strategies for learning more about medical professions. One suggestion is to enroll in HLH 195, Introduction to the Health Professions. This one credit course is designed to familiarize students with a variety of health career opportunities, and to provide guidance in early curriculum planning and alternative career options. This course brings in health care professions from a variety of fields and gives students the chance to really learn about a variety of professions.

Another suggestion is to read about the medical related careers you are considering (a good place to start is with the Occupational Outlook Handbook). You should also consider doing some job shadowing. You can arrange this on your own, or contact The Career Center at Missouri State for more information. Meeting with a Career Counselor is very important in helping you to assess your interests, strengths, and career goals.

Question- I want to be a doctor. Does Missouri State have a "pre-med" major?

Answer- There is no such thing as a "pre-med" major. "Pre-med" refers to one's professional intentions, not a specific major of study. Students often choose to major in one of the sciences, such as Biology, Biomedical Sciences, Chemistry, etc. but this is not required. Students must, however, meet the medical school's admission requirements, including prerequisite coursework. Premedical students may choose to major in any field, and should choose a major based upon an interest in that field of study and consider this field to be an alternative career path.

Question- What are the core premedical student requirements?

Answer- The following courses are the absolute minimum that will satisfy most medical school entrance requirements, but it is usually advisable to complete additional courses. (and to check with the school that you are interested in-some may have additional course requirements)

  • 2 semesters of general chemistry (with lab)
  • 2 semesters of general biological science (with lab)
  • 2 semesters of organic chemistry (with lab),
  • 2 semesters of physics (algebra or calculus-based, with lab),
  • 2 semesters of English composition (writing I and II).

Question- What should I do first, if I know I want to go to medical school?

Answer- You should contact one of the departments below to schedule an appointment with a premedical advisor. Your premedical advisor can provide information relevant to your overall course of study. They can also provide information about the Premedical Society, internships, and the MCAT. It is extremely important that you develop a good working relationship with your premedical advisor, as they will be part of the committee to write letters of evaluation/recommendation.

Question- What should I major in if I am contemplating attending medical, dental, veterinary, podiatry, optometry or chiropractic school?

Answer- Professional Associations, including the Association of American Medical Schools, do not recommend any particular major for professional school preparation. Pre-health students can major in anything discipline, as long as they complete the appropriate prerequisite courses. The important thing to consider when contemplating majors is that you choose something you enjoy. Chances are, if you enjoy the subjects you are studying, you will do better than if you choose something just because you think it will get you into a professional school. So, while which major you choose is not all that important, your grades and overall performance in your chosen major is extremely important! You should also seriously consider a back-up plan. Because acceptance to professional schools is extremely competitive, you may need a back-up plan to use temporarily or for a longer period of time. You should consider this and plan accordingly. If you never need a back-up plan - excellent. If you do, you will be glad you have one. Need help choosing an alternative career? Visit the The Career Center.

Question-What does a professional school focus on for admission purposes?

Answer- Your undergraduate grade point average (GPA) as well as your science GPA - composed of your Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics composite GPA. The next important factor to admission is your Admissions Test (MCAT, DAT, OAT, or GRE) score. These are extremely important parts of your application. Professional schools also look very favorably on health care experience in your field. If you are interested in medicine, optometry or dentistry, you should try to get health care experience in a variety of settings and with a diverse group of practitioners. If you are interested in veterinary medicine, you should get experience in both small and large animal care. Other factors include; part-time work, extra curricular activities, diversity issues, maturity, well-rounded education, letters of recommendation, personal statements, and hopefully, an interview. Because professional schools look at all of these factors when considering admission, it is important to make them all as strong as possible. Grades and test scores are most important because professional schools want to make sure that you are ready for the work that lies ahead. There is no magical path to a professional school acceptance besides hard work and dedication. No major and no particular school will gain you admission to medical school. You will be responsible for that.

Question-How important are extracurricular activities for medical schools admissions?

Answer- Although extracurricular activities are not viewed as an alternative to your GPA or admissions test score, professional schools do look for "well-rounded" applicants and one way to demonstrate this is to get involved in campus and community activities. Choose organizations that interest you because those are the ones that will make your collegiate experience more meaningful. However, you need to keep in mind that your GPA is more important than campus involvement, so never sacrifice your grades by becoming over committed with extracurricular activities. If you are not enjoying a particular activity, choose another. The type of activity you choose is not as important as just getting involved.