Prehealth Information for First-Year Students
Davidson has a rich tradition in the preprofessional training of doctors, dentists and veterinarians, and its students are, and continue to become, leaders in these professions.
In addition, interest in other health professions, such as physician assistant, pharmacy, nursing practice, physical and occupational therapy, are on the rise among Davidson students. The liberal arts education you receive here prepares you, as a future health care provider, to meet the challenges and shoulder the responsibilities that await you.
Below you will find answers to some common questions about our Premedicine and Allied Health Professions program. In addition, we strongly suggest that interested students meet with the director of Premedicine and Allied Health Professions, and attend programs, information sessions and health professions-related events early in their academic careers to begin exploring options.
1. What should I major in if I want to go to medical, dental, nursing, veterinary school, etc.?
Prehealth students at Davidson have a wide range of majors from Neuroscience to Africana Studies to Art History. You should plan to major in a discipline that excites you and for which you have the most aptitude. However, you must plan to take one or two prerequisite courses each semester.
2. How do I connect with the Premedicine and Allied Health Professions Program Office?
Students who have an interest in a career in medicine, dentistry, veterinary or an allied health profession should plan to attend the Premedicine and Allied Health Professions meeting in the fall (September), where you will hear from premedicine faculty and staff; faculty and staff from the Public Health Department; directors of the Center for Civic Engagement, Betty and B. Frank Matthews II ’49 Center for Career Development (Matthews Center), and the Dean Rusk International Studies Program; officers of prehealth professional societies; and local physicians, among others.
Schedule a group meeting (required) with Premedicine and Allied Health Professions Program Director, Naila Mamoon, to discuss a plan of study that will equip you well for your future career. To schedule a group meeting, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Though many of the recommendations listed below are geared toward medical and dental programs, these recommendations are also applicable to veterinary medicine, nursing, and other health professions. Remember that there are many options in healthcare and that health care professionals, irrespective of their roles and settings, apply their skills to reduce suffering and enhance quality of life. Here's an overview as you plan a course of study:
- Identify learning strategies that work best for you.
- Focus on developing effective study habits, time management and critical thinking skills.
- Sign up for a small Group Meeting (required) with the program director. The meeting is an opportunity for you to ask questions and learn about the required courses and recommended healthcare volunteering/shadowing opportunities. To schedule a group meeting, email email@example.com. After the initial small group meeting, all subsequent meetings will be held one-on-one with the director.
- Meet regularly with the director of Premedicine and Allied Health Professions, your professors, and health professionals to gain insight into your potential career. Begin acquiring exposure to health care in a variety of settings, contributing to campus life and making a positive difference in the greater community.
- Every student has a unique set of strengths and weaknesses. As such, a student's preparation for a career in the health professions must be tailored to his/her own set of skills, values and passions. Consequently, each student will follow their own path to medical or other health professions school and it is this difference that will distinguish you from other students. The path to a medical/dental school is as much about academic preparation as it is about self-discovery and self-knowledge.
There are many different paths to medical, dental, nursing, and veterinary school, etc.; learn more about requirements and courses.
3. I have an interest in the premedicine, predentistry, prenursing, pre-PA, preveterinary programs, etc. What courses should I take my first year at Davidson College?
You will need to start with one science course (BIO or CHE) with the lab your first semester and the writing course requirement (this may also be taken in the spring semester). The other two courses will vary with interest and availability.
4. What if I don’t receive one of the required courses via WebTree this summer? What alternative courses should I take?
There are a lot of courses available for first-year students interested in the Premedicine and Allied Health Professions program, so please review the list of recommended courses on the Plan of Study page. You will be able to make adjustments to your schedule once you are on campus.
5. Are there courses that I need to take for the MCAT or DAT?
Allopathic, osteopathic and podiatric medical schools require all candidates for admission take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), administered each year in January and March through September by the Association of American Medical Colleges. You should not take this exam until you have completed all prerequisite courses, which will likely be during the spring of your junior year. If you are interested in dental medicine, you are required to take the Dental Admissions Test (DAT), which is offered in the spring and fall of each year.
The conservative strategy is to take four semesters of Chemistry, two semesters of introductory Biology, a semester of Biochemistry, two semesters of English (WRI 101 counts as one), two semesters of Physics, and two semesters of college level Mathematics courses. Many medical schools currently accept a Biochemistry course in lieu of the second semester of Organic Chemistry and a Statistics course in lieu of the second semester of Mathematics. Introductory Psychology and Sociology courses are also strongly recommended. Review the list of recommended courses on the Plan of Study page.
Some dental schools require additional upper-level biology courses, such as anatomy, physiology, microbiology, and histology. Some dental schools will allow the substitution of the second semester of organic chemistry with one semester of biochemistry.
6. How do my AP/IB credits fit in with the prehealth school requirements?
If you use an AP/IB credit for a course, consider taking an upper level course in the discipline. Among the prerequisite/recommended courses, AP/IB credits for Calculus, Chemistry, Psychology and Statistics are accepted.
7. Can I take premedicine, predentistry, prenursing or preveterinary (etc) requirements over the summer?
Yes, you may take a limited number of prerequisite courses in the summer from rigorous academic institutions after receiving pre-approval from the Registrar’s Office. However, to receive an endorsement from the Premedical/Prehealth Advisory Committee (PAC) when you apply to medical, dental, or veterinary school, you must take 75 percent of your prehealth courses at Davidson College.
8. How many credits of summer work can I transfer?
75 percent of the prehealth science prerequisite courses must be taken at Davidson for students to receive Prehealth Advisory Committee (PAC) endorsement which translates to two courses. Often, when a course is not offered at Davidson College (such as Human Anatomy), which may be a requirement for a few allied health programs, a student may transfer credits for those courses from another institution. You should seek pre-approval from the Davidson College Registrar’s Office to find out if your specific course will transfer back to Davidson College.
9. Can prehealth program courses be taken pass/fail?
You may designate a prehealth course pass/fail only if you retake the course. Also, keep in mind that you can only earn credit for a course once. Medical school admissions use grades from your prehealth courses to compute your science GPA. It is often better for you to keep the grade and do well on a subsequent upper level course in the same discipline as it demonstrates resilience and your ability to learn from mistakes, two personal qualities highly valued in an applicant by medical school admissions.
10. How many Davidson students apply to medical, dental, PA, nursing veterinary school, etc.? What is the admission rate?
Approximately 13-15 percent of the student body in each class apply to medical, dental or veterinary school each year. An average of 79 percent of first-time applicants from the past three graduating classes have been successful in gaining admission to at least one medical, dental, nursing, or veterinary school, etc.
11. How does Davidson prepare and support students for their medical, dental, nursing, and veterinary school application?
We offer the unique opportunity for Davidson students to be evaluated by our Prehealth Advisory Committee (PAC), which is comprised of the Premedicine and Allied Health Professions program director and faculty members from a variety of disciplines. The evaluation assesses each student with respect to their academic ability, commitment to medicine, and development of humane instincts, and offers a rating that denotes the committee's appraisal of his/her overall preparedness to apply in the upcoming application cycle.
12. What are the weed-out classes?
There are no weed-out classes. Prehealth school prerequisite classes feel like ‘weed out’ classes because these classes are generally taken in the first two years when students are still developing effective study skills for college level courses. At Davidson, faculty members are easily accessible during office hours and eager to provide additional support should you need it. In addition, group and individual tutoring support through the Tutoring Center and academic coaching is available for any Davidson student who wishes to improve their scholastic performance. You will have an opportunity to discover your learning styles, develop personal time management techniques, learn broad efficient strategies for note taking, studying, reading, writing papers, preparing for and taking reviews. Learn more about academic access and resources available to students though the Center for Teaching and Learning and the Academic Access & Disability Resources.
13. Can I study abroad for a summer, a semester, a year?
Studying abroad for a summer or a semester are distinct possibilities, and Davidson students routinely do so with great success, learning much about themselves and the world, in the process. However, it requires careful planning and consultation with the Premedicine and Allied Health Professions director and professors within a student’s major department and the Education Abroad Office.
14. Are there requirements outside of classes that I need to consider?
Yes, since you are interested in working in healthcare, it will be important for you to demonstrate that you value service to others and that you have an in-depth understanding of the profession to which you aspire. A sustained track record of service to the sick, the vulnerable and the disadvantaged, and of exposure to clinical medicine will be of paramount importance. Also, seek and create opportunities that will require you to think holistically about health and health care and to develop problem-solving and communication skills.
Some dental and nursing schools require additional upper-level biology courses, such as anatomy, physiology, microbiology, and histology. Some dental schools will allow the substitution of the second semester of organic chemistry with one semester of biochemistry.
15. Life balance question: Be honest, how much of my life am I going to spend tired and anxious because I want to get into medical school?
The prehealth program tracks at any institution will require sustained commitment to your studies; think of it more as a marathon than a sprint. However, the prehealth course of study is not just academic preparation but also helps you develop the intellectual stamina you will need to be successful in medical school. Rest assured that the fulfillment you will get from your career will compensate for all the hard work.
16. Do I need to limit my extracurricular activities?
Yes, but only initially. We encourage you to limit your extracurricular activities until you have developed effective study habits. Successful students are judicious in their choice of extracurricular activities and the extent of their involvement in such activities, particularly early in their college careers.
17. How many more classes will I have to take and how much harder will my life be if I choose to be a prehealth student?
You will not have to take any additional courses; most prehealth students graduate with 32 credits similar to other students.
18. Do I need to register for the prehealth programs?
You do not have to register for the Premedicine and Allied Health Professions program. First-year students should attend the fall semester director's meeting, and then meet individually with Program Director Naila Mamoon early in your college career to discuss a plan of study. Students are encouraged to sign up for the email listserv to receive announcements of upcoming programs and meetings.
19. Do I get a prehealth adviser?
The program director serves as your academic adviser for the premedicine and allied health track, which includes veterinary medicine. You can reach us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, by telephone at 704-894-2658 or by visiting the Premedicine and Allied Health Professions and Public Health in Watson Building, Room 162. In addition, each first-year student is assigned a pre-major holistic academic adviser.
20. Where is the Premedicine and Allied Health Professions office?
We are located in Watson Life Science Building, Rooms 162.