Pre-Medicine


What is it?

Admission to medical school is a highly competitive process. Approximately half or more of the students who apply to medical school each year do not get accepted because of enrollment space. Students who want to pursue a medical degree thoroughly prepare themselves to be competitive applicants during the pre-medical years.

Check out what medical schools say about how you can be a apply to their school:

Prerequisite Courses

NOTE: Medical schools determine their own individual requirements. Follow the link below for a general guide of required courses. In addition, you should refer to the Medical School Admission Requirements (MSAR) book, the Osteopathic Medical College Information Book, and your individual school's website to determine the specific requirements for that institution.

IMPORTANT! There are significant changes coming to the Pre-medical prerequisite coursework over the next few years. Stay in touch with your Pre-Health Counselor to keep update on these changes and to find out if they will affect you.

GPA

GPA is a vital part of your application to medical school. The average GPA for accepted applicants is about a 3.6. Medical schools will consider your science, non-science and cumulative GPA as well as the trend of grades.

NOTE: All grades received for college credit will be calculated into your GPA even if you have retaken the class. If you have taken any classes at a different school or if you have retaken classes, your UVU GPA will not be an accurate calculation for medical schools.Be sure to follow the guidelines below for the most accurate calculation.

GUIDELINES:

  • Include every course you have taken for college credit even if you have retaken the course.
  • Include transfer credit from other schools you have attended.
  • D.O. medical schools do not include Math courses in the BCPM and will only use the most recent grade if a course has been retaken.
  • Biology courses include BIOL, MICRO, BOT and ZOOL.
  • Physics courses include ASTR.
  • Exercise Science courses that are science based (Kinesiology, Biomechanics, etc.) should be calculated with the science GPA.
  • Pass/Fail courses are not included in the GPA

Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT)

The MCAT is a standardized examination required as part of your application to medical school. It is a very challenging exam that requires extensive preparation in the form of review and practice. Your preparation for the MCAT will actually begin with the first day of your first premed prerequisite course.

The current MCAT will be administered through January 2015 and consists of the following 4 sections:

  1. Physical Sciences (General Chemistry and Physics)
  2. Biological Sciences (Biology and Organic Chemistry)
  3. Verbal Reasoning
  4. Trial Section

The first 3 sections (PS, BS, and VR) are scored from 1 through 15. The average score for accepted students is a 10 in each section. The minimum score you should have in order to be considered by most medical schools is a 7 in each section.

The Trial Section consists of 32 new questions being tested for the new MCAT in either: biology, chemistry, biochemistry, and physics or in psychology, sociology and biology. If you volunteer to participate, you will receive the following if you put forth a good-faith effort: $30 Amazon.com Gift Card Claim Code (e-mailed to you within 3-4 weeks) and feedback on your performance that will allow you to compare yourself to others who participated in the Trial Section. For more information, visit www.aamc.org.

After January 2015, only the new MCAT 2015 exam will be administered. The exam will consist of the following 4 sections:

  1. Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
  2. Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
  3. Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior
  4. Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills

More information about MCAT 2015 can be found at www.aamc.org/mcat2015

It is recommended that you take the exam in the spring of the year of application so scores can be available for early application to medical school.

You should begin studying for the MCAT at least 6 months prior to taking the test. Consider your study time to be equivalent to the time commitment of a 3-4 credit hour class. Some students choose to study on their own or with other students who are also preparing to take the exam. For students who choose to study on their own, there are various books designed to help guide you through the preparation process. Exam Krackers is just one series that has been recommended by UVU students. There are also books published by Kaplan and Princeton Review to name a few. These books can be purchased online or at various bookstores. You can also purchase previously administered tests to use as practice tools. Go to the MCAT website for additional information on purchasing practice exams.

Other students choose to take a prep course. There are several private companies that offer MCAT prep courses, each with their own individual promises. These courses may range in price from $800-$2000. UVU does not recommend one company over another. Visit the companies' websites listed below and talk to fellow classmates before choosing a prep course.

Local Programs

Medical schools vary in their admissions requirements, it is highly recommended that students choose 5-10 medical schools they would be most interested in attending and make note of those school's admission requirements.

Students should be familiar with both allopathic and osteopathic medicine. There is a good chance that you will apply to both and that you will work with physicians from both backgrounds.

Extracurricular Activities

It is extremely important to be involved in activities outside of the classroom in order to be competitive for admission into medical school. Extracurricular activities are a chance for you to set yourself apart and display your motivation for pursuing medicine and dedication to serving the community.

Volunteering

What is it?

Volunteering is generally considered an altruistic activity, intended to promote good or improve human quality of life, but there are many benefits to volunteering including skill development, meeting others, having fun, and a variety of other reasons. Volunteerism is the act of selflessly giving of yourself without the expectation of compensation. Compensation includes payment, stipends, or grades for a class.

Why should I do it?

To be a strong applicant for health professions programs you should demonstrate dedication to serving the community. The volunteer opportunities you choose can also be an excellent way to set yourself apart by showing health professions programs what is meaningful to you. The activities you choose to be involved and the reasons why can make you unique. Consider which opportunities will be the best reflection of who you are.

Volunteer service can be done with any group or organization and does not have to be healthcare related, but it can be helpful to look for opportunities that will take you out of your comfort zone and show a diversity of experience. Being involved in 2-3 service opportunities will benefit you more than having several brief experiences. The number of hours each year we typically see from students who get accepted to medical programs are 75-100 hours.

What are the expectations?

In order to be a competitive applicant, you should plan to be involved in volunteer service throughout each academic year (August-July). Most students are already busy taking a full-time schedule and oftentimes working, but it is important to make volunteering a priority. Fit it into your schedule any way it works best. Perhaps you will volunteer for one hour a week. Maybe it will better in your schedule to volunteer four hours on a Saturday once a month. You decide what works best for you.

It is important that you find something you can be dedicated to and passionate about. You will find the experience that much more rewarding. And remember, you are not just checking off boxes to get into a health professions school. You are making a difference in your community and learning valuable lessons about yourself and the world around you.

How do I do it?

It is up to you to find the volunteer experiences that are the best fit for you. One of the first places you can start looking is UVU's Volunteer and Service-Learning Center. This office maintains information on volunteer needs in the community in many different areas. There is a very good chance you will find something there that interests you. Other good resources include United Way and the website U Serve Utah maintained by the state.

Shadowing Program

NOTE: Because the demand is so high, many clinics are restricting students who can shadow their physicians. Some clinics and organizations are now requiring that students go through a shadowing program at their university. 

UVU has arranged a shadowing program with Central Utah Clinic and IHC. These organizations assist students accepted into the program to set up shadowing opportunities with physicians. Students will receive 9-12 hours of shadowing with 1-2 different physicians. On average, pre-medical students will want to have 40 hours with at least 3 different physicians. The Pre-Health Office manages a shadowing program to help you get connected with physicians. Email prehealth@uvu.edu for more information. There are limited spaces available so apply early.

Program Requirements

  • Minimum 3.0 GPA
  • Completion of at least 60 semester hours
  • Completion of BIOL 1610/1615 and CHEM 1210/1215 with a grade of C or better
  • Immunizations: 2 MMR, 2 Varicella or proof of immunity (include the year you had chicken pox for proof), 1 TB Tests within the last year, Hepatitis B 3 shot series

Research

What is it?

Research is more than just reviewing what others have already done and summarizing it in a long research paper for class. Research revolves around a specific hypothesis and follows the scientific method. Most research is experiment, survey, or observationally based. Research does not have to be limited to healthcare or science fields and instead, may cover diverse subject matters. 

Examples of research:

  • Working in a genetics lab to determine how gene therapy influences deafness in mice
  • Collecting sea snails and observing how quickly they reproduce and in what conditions
  • Conducting interviews with women about how religion influences their self-efficacy
  • Experimenting with how fire-fighters get dressed to increase response rates in emergencies
  • Surveying teens about their views of sexuality

Why should I do it?

Many health professions programs will require you to assist in research, understand how to interpret research, or even run your own research projects. Moreover, you will likely have opportunities to participate in research as a way of receiving financial compensation or to improve your attractiveness to residency programs. Completing research in your undergraduate coursework shows your potential to be successful in graduate level research—you are proving that your learning curve will not be too steep because you have done this before.

Research is essential for medical school (especially MD).

What are the expectations?

Many students wait to start working on research until their sophomore or junior year because research often requires enough coursework to provide a strong academic background and an introduction to research principles. Regardless, research should typically be completed prior to the application in order to qualify for credit on the application. Research may be in any subject, as long as it is hypothesis-based.

  • Research must be hypothesis-based
  • Research must be supervised or mentored by someone familiar with research processes
  • Research must follow scientific processes and is not simply reading about research that is already completed
  • Your hypothesis may be your own or you may assist in another person's research
  • Research is typically completed outside of class and not as part of your major
  • Plan on at least 50 hours to be competitive

How do I do it?

There are a few different ways to participate in research.

  1. Create your own project
    1. Develop a hypothesis for a subject of your choice
    2. Approach a professional who knows how to conduct research and ask for his or her help as a mentor
    3. Work with the professional to complete the research following sound scientific principles
  2. Help a professor with his or her own project
    1. Approach a professor to see if he or she is participating in research
    2. If YES, ask if you might be able to participate/assist.
      1. Follow the professor's expectations to complete the research
    3. If NO, ask if he or she knows 2-3 people that might be able to help
      1. Use that reference to approach the referral
      2. Repeat steps until you find a professor who will accept your assistance
  3. Find a professional (healthcare professionals, research organizations, other universities, etc.) to help with an existing project
    1. Approach a professional to see if they might accept your assistance OR
    2. Apply for a research position/internship like you would apply for a job
    3. Follow the professional's expectations to complete the research

Healthcare Experience

What is it?

Healthcare experience outside of shadowing usually includes volunteering or finding employment in a healthcare setting, usually with direct patient contact (i.e. offering clinical care and not just working in a healthcare environment). Many students will consider getting a basic certification or may find opportunities that offer on-the-job training.

Examples of healthcare experience:

  • Volunteering with hospice
  • Working full-time as a paramedic
  • Taking a C.N.A. certification course and finding a position at a local hospital
  • Receiving on-the-job training to work as a Physical Therapy or Occupational Therapy Tech
  • Getting an internship with the 30-Day Heart Challenge

Why should I do it?

Health professions programs will have greater confidence in your ability to interact positively with patients and withstand the rigor of a career in healthcare if they know you have already been part of the industry. As you work in healthcare, you will develop concrete examples of yourself showing compassion to patients, working with a team of healthcare providers, and solving problems. These experiences will likely assist you in your application, personal statement, letters of recommendation, and interviews. Additionally, many health professions programs actually REQUIRE healthcare experience or patient contact.

What are the expectations?

Research the requirements for your health professions program to ensure you are meeting their expectations for healthcare experience. Some programs will specify the hours required and may require the experience to be paid. The recommendations for pre-medical healthcare experience is 100 hours of patient contact in at least two different settings.

How do I do it?

How you choose to get healthcare experience will depend on the qualifications of the jobs or volunteer opportunities you are seeking. Many positions in healthcare require a certification (e.g. C.N.A., medical assistant, paramedic) while others are more flexible and require on-the-job training. Sometimes approaching organizations directly is more effective than simply responding to job ads online. Many students will also offer to volunteer for free, which sometimes leads to paid employment.

For assistance looking for and applying to healthcare jobs, contact the UVU Career Development Center.


Personal Statement

Many students underestimate the power of a personal statement. It should not be written quickly or without planning. Your personal statement can determine whether you will be accepted into the program you want or not. It is the greatest tool an admissions committee has to get to know you, so it should be an accurate depiction of yourself. Remember, it's about what you learned, not what you did! Listed below are some dos and don'ts of personal statements.

  • DO talk about your motivation for choosing the career that you have (medicine, dental, pharmacy, PT, etc.).
  • DO make it interesting and compelling.
  • DO ask some of your friends and family to read it and ask them what kind of person they would think you are if they had never met you.
  • DO be honest and sincere.
  • DO NOT sound arrogant. Avoid using 'I' unless you are about to explain something you learned from a particular experience.
  • DO NOT describe the characteristics of a good doctor, dentist, pharmacist, etc. and how you have those same characteristics.
  • DO NOT repeat information that can be found elsewhere on your application unless you are adding additional details.
  • DO NOT list your experiences. This is not a resume. DO NOT write it like it is one. Choose one, two or three experiences and discuss them in detail.

Consider the following information from the NAAHP's publication Write for Success: Preparing a Successful Professional School Application:

"Answering some of the following questions my reveal some insights that you can share in your personal statement. As you are writing, you may find yourself feeling the urge to write about a specific event. Follow that urge. You may come up with something that will eventually make it into your personal statement.

  • Who are the most influential people in your life?
  • What have been the pivotal moments in your life? Looking back, what can you recall having changed you? How were you affected?
  • Do feel a passion for medicine [dentistry, pharmacy, physical therapy, etc.]? What is the source of that passion?

If you have a strong reaction to something you are writing about, it means the situation is important to you. Take a moment to think about how your reaction reflects who you are."

Click here for some examples of personal statements. You can also go to www.accepted.com/medical/sampleessays.aspx for more examples.

If you would like help with your personal statement, contact the Pre-Health Office at 801-863-6484 to schedule an appointment with a Pre-Health Counselor.


Letters of Recommendation

Pre-Med Letter Service

UVU uses an electronic service for gathering letters of recommendation called veCollect. This service will allow you to track your letters through the veCollect website. Additional information is below. It is highly recommended that you submit 6-7 letters of recommendation. Check with the individual schools where you are applying to determine which letters you need:

  • 2 science professors (No lab instructors)
  • 1 non-science or science professor
  • 1 supervisor from medical experience and/or physician shadowing
  • 1 supervisor from volunteer experience (Required for University of Utah)
  • 1 supervisor from research experience (Required for University of Utah)
  • 1 additional of your choosing (optional)
  • If you are applying to Osteopathic Medical Schools, you should also have the following letters:
  • 1 DO Physician you have shadowed or worked with (Required)
  • Pre-Health Advisor (Recommended)

UVU Letter Service Process

Note: Please include the Letter Request Form when you request your letters of recommendation. All letters must be on letterhead and signed whether they are submitted by mail or electronically.

  1. Go to: collect.virtualevals.net and register for veCollect access. Find UVU and set up your account.
  2. We will manually activate your account once you have paid and attended a veCollect workshop.
    • You can pay by cash, check, or credit card at LC 402 or you can pay over the phone at: 801-863-6484.
    • The fee for Pre-Medical Letters is $20.
  3. Once your account is activated, you will receive notification email.
  4. Add evaluator and letter records for each person for whom you are requesting a letter.
  5. Track the status of your letters through veCollect and follow up with letter writers.
  6. Once your file is complete, you will receive an email instructing you to create and lock your quiver.
  7. Letters are transmitted to AMCAS and DO Medical Schools electronically by the Pre-Health Office.

How to Submit your Letters

There are 3 possible ways to have your letters of recommendation submitted:

  1. Have your letter writers mail their signed Letter of Recommendation to the address listed below. This is best for letter writers who may not be computer savvy. The Pre-Health Office will create an electronic version of the letter and post it to your veCollect account once the hard copy is received.

    Pre-Health Professions
    Utah Valley University – MS 101
    800 West University Parkway
    Orem, UT 84058

  2. The letter writer may submit an electronic PDF or Word document that includes their signature and letterhead to veCollect. This may be a scanned PDF copy or a Word document that has the signature and letterhead added electronically. If your letter writer prefers this method, you will need to send them the email request from veCollect under the My Evaluators section.
  3. As a last result, you can pick the letter up and deliver it to the UVU Pre-Health Office. In this case, the letter must be in a sealed envelope with the letter writer's signature over the seal to ensure confidentiality.

FAQ

What if I did not do well in some of my early semesters? Can I still go to medical school?

Yes, you may still be able to go because your admission will be based on your cumulative GPA as well as the trend of grades.


Do I have to transfer to a different university if I want to go to medical school?

Yes, once accepted you will have to transfer to a medical school. UVU offers Bachelor programs in preparation for Medical Profession.


Why should I do premed at UVU?

You should consider doing premed at UVU because we offer: an accredited program that can transfer to any school, devoted counselors committed to help you succeed, clubs, workshops, and orientations that provide you with additional tools needed upon entering the medical field.


What is the difference between MD and DO schools?

The traditional medical degree, the MD, requires training in allopathic medicine. Osteopathic medical schools award the DO degree, which is the holistic perspective on practice of medicine based on a belief in treating the "whole patient" (mind-body-spirit) and the primacy of the musculoskeletal system in human health and the utility of osteopathic manipulative treatment.


How do I apply to medical school?

Medical schools use a central application service where students submit transcripts, list activities/experiences, and complete the personal statements that are then compiled and sent to the individual schools. There is a separate application for allopathic schools and osteopathic schools.


Where can I apply for medical school?

There are many factors to consider when choosing which schools to apply to. The average student applies to 10-20 schools; usually a mix of allopathic and osteopathic schools. Listed below are some things to consider:

  • Location
  • Board Scores and Pass Rates
  • Cost
  • Curriculum
  • Mission Statement
  • Rotation Options
  • Prerequisite Requirements

Pre-Med Self-Assessment

What is a good club to join?

What's Your Brand?

This year, we challenge you to decide what your personal brand is. Own it.

Each of these brands imply an image. Of quality. Of style. Of being the best. Likewise, we all have our own personal image, our own brand. We can either haphazardly make choices that allow others to define our brand for us, or we can consciously define who we are, what we stand for.

So we ask the question, Who are you?
What qualities do you want others to associate with your name?

Good Examples

  • Take control of the way you want others to view you by living consistently
  • Volunteering at an animal shelter because it is helping animals.
  • Making sure that you have done your required researching.
  • Choose a profession that you are interested in.

Bad Examples

  • Volunteering at the local animal shelter merely because it is convenient.
  • The inquisitive researcher might seem inconsistent if she is a coordinator for the Super Spring Break Bash, but has limited research experience
  • The friendly future pediatrician may not seem genuinely interested in children if he only works in geriatrics

Avoid the random. Proactively plan who you are and who you want to be.

Remember that applying to professional school comes down to marketing YOU. Find and define your brand so you are memorable. Consistency is key. Here are a few avenues in the application process to consider using effective personal branding:

  • Personal statement – Tell them who you are
  • Extra-curricular activities you choose to participate in – Show them who you are
  • Letters of recommendation – What others see in you
  • Interviews – Confirm who you are