Health Professional Preparation Program
A Comprehensive Guide
Volunteer, Research, Lectures, Special Events and more:
Dentistry, Pharmacy & Medical School
These three professional programs have similar science course requirements, criteria for selection and application processes. They all require a year of general chemistry, general biology, and organic chemistry. Dentistry and medical school and some pharmacy schools (but not in Washington State) also require one year of physics. In addition, biochemistry, statistics and one or more courses in the social sciences (such as psychology, anthropology, ethnic studies, gender and women studies, and sociology) is a common prerequisite for many schools. Of course, you will also need to meet General Education requirements in English, Multicultural Studies, Humanities and Social Sciences in accordance with your Associates Degree and possibly a Bachelors Degree.
Each of these professional programs are at graduate level, which typically means that a Bachelors degree is required. This is indeed true for Medical School. Some Dental and Pharmacy schools do not require a Bachelor's degree, however, almost all students they select for admission do have a Bachelors degree. Therefore we recommend that you plan on transfer to a university and and complete a Bachelors degree.
These health professional programs emphasize that they look for well-rounded applicants and do not require or favor a Bachelors degree with a major in the sciences. Applicants are advised to choose a Bachelors degree program/major they will find valuable even if, for whichever reason, they do not actually enter the health professional school. Students who really enjoy science studies will be a good fit for choosing a science major, and many students do choose a science major because there are so many science prerequisites. However, we encourage you to also consider other majors. This time can be a great opportunity to deepen a personal expertise or develop one. Also, as a medical professional you will spend most of your day working with people, who don't behave like lab specimens. There are many possible majors you may find interesting and valuable!
All of these programs select for superior personal attributes as well as academic excellence. The application is a combination of a school application and a job application, and includes letters of recommendations and interviews. Think about it, who would you want as your doctor, dentist or pharmacist? You'd like someone who has good communication skills, multicultural awareness and skills, integrity, responsibility and so forth. You can strengthen your skills in these areas in activities outside the classroom, such as campus clubs, community organizations, most jobs.
Lastly, be sure to grow your understanding in the US health care system. It is important
to spend time with health care professionals, by arranging to shadow (observe) the
professional role you are considering, volunteer or work in a health care setting,
talk to patients, read about current concerns and events. An easy way to find out
about local events and opportunities is to subscribe to the SCC Pre-Health Notes Blog.
We typically recommend students to complete the Associate in Sciences Track 1 degree before transfer to a university. Please use the Transfer Planning Guides available on this site; there is one for Dentistry, another for Medicine, and another for Pharmacy.
If you wish to take fewer science courses in your first half of the Bachelors degree and are perhaps preparing for a non-science major, the Associate in Arts - Individualized Plan is a good choice. This degree allows you to design your own course plan with a mix of science and non-science courses. You can find it on the same Transfer Planning Guides page.