The road to professional school
Pre-health students are preparing for entry to medical, physician assistant, dental, pharmacy, optometry, podiatry or veterinary programs following graduation. Pre-health students can major in any discipline while completing prerequisite coursework in the natural sciences. They must maintain high academic standards and engage in extracurricular activities related to their chosen career.
At TWU, our Pre-Health Advising team guides and supports students from across the university as they prepare for careers in healthcare.
TWU Pre-Health Advising works with students planning careers as physicians, PAs, dentists, pharmacists, veterinarians, optometrists and podiatrists. Pre-nursing students should seek advising through the College of Nursing. Students planning to apply to physical or occupational therapy programs should seek advising through the College of Health Sciences.
Explore healthcare careers
A physician completes four years of medical school after graduating with their bachelor’s degree, followed by three-four years of further training after graduating from medical school. There are two main types of medical school: an allopathic medical school grants the MD and an osteopathic medical school grants the DO. Either type of physician is fully licensed to practice medicine in the United States. The medical specialties of optometry and podiatry have their own separate training programs and schools.
In addition to maintaining strong academics, pre-medical students should seek clinical opportunities such as shadowing, scribing, or working or volunteering in healthcare settings. Many pre-medical students also participate in research while they are undergraduates.
Physician assistant/physician associate (PA)
A physician assistant/physician associate completes a master’s degree in PA studies. A PA works in a healthcare setting in partnership with a physician. While a PA can work in many different specialties, a main focus is primary care.
In addition to strong academics, students intending to apply to PA school typically need 1000 or more hours of patient care experience. Many PA schools require or recommend that an applicant shadow or work with a PA before applying to gain a better understanding of the profession.
A dentist cares for people’s teeth and general oral health. Dentists complete four years of dental school; after graduation, some dentists go directly into practice, while others pursue additional training in a specialty. Because dentistry requires excellent fine motor skills, hobbies and extracurricular activities that improve hand-eye coordination are good choices for pre-dental students. Many dental schools also require an applicant to shadow or work with a dentist before applying.
A pharmacist is an expert in medications. Pharmacists manage pharmacies, prepare prescriptions and advise patients about their prescription and over-the-counter medications. Pharmacists can also administer vaccines. A pharmacist completes four years of pharmacy school to earn the PharmD. Working as a pharmacy technician as an undergraduate is an excellent way to prepare for pharmacy school.
A veterinarian is a medical professional who specializes in caring for animals. Veterinarians complete four years of veterinary school to earn their DVM, and some veterinarians pursue further training in a specialty after graduation. In addition to strong academics, a student planning a career as a veterinarian should work or volunteer for a minimum of 100 hours in a veterinary clinic and have a recommendation from a veterinarian.
Steps for success
Admission to professional programs is highly competitive. Many factors are taken into account, including college GPA, test scores (MCAT, DAT, etc.), extracurricular activities, research and clinical experience.
The following are just a few of the actions you can take to strengthen your prospects:
- Maintain a strong academic record.
- Prepare thoroughly for your admissions exam. Take full length, timed practice tests at least six months ahead of the actual admission test date. Be aware of the exam content and scoring system.
- Take advantage of opportunities that offer hands-on patient care.
- Gain job shadowing experience that pertains to your desired field.
- Be active in community service organizations that allow you to interact with diverse communities.
- For medical and dental school applicants, participate in research.
- Seek out leadership roles in your extra-curricular activities.
- Compose a thoughtful and persuasive personal statement. Request that an advisor or faculty member review the statement and offer feedback.
What is JAMP?
The Joint Admission Medical Program (JAMP) is a special program created by the Texas Legislature to support and encourage highly qualified, economically disadvantaged students pursuing a medical education. Visit our JAMP page to learn more>>
Page last updated 8:39 AM, November 8, 2022