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Facts about the Health Professions

Overviews of health professions and their associated professional educational requirements.


Allopathic Medicine

Description: Physicians are licensed to perform medical examinations, diagnose illnesses, treat people suffering from disease or injury and advise patients on how to maintain good health.  They may be general practitioners or specialists and may combine medical practice with research and/or teach in medical schools.

Degree: M.D.

Program Length: 4 years

Professional School Affiliations: AAMC (American Association of Medical Colleges) http://www.aamc.org

Admission Requirements: 1 Year each: Biology, General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Calculus/Statistics, Physics, English. Biochem is recommended.

Admission Exam: MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) http://www.aamc.org/students/mcat

Personal Attributes and Experience: Integrity, responsibility, leadership, social maturity, purpose, motivation, initiative, curiosity, common sense, and perseverance. Understanding of profession developed through experiences in health care settings, especially clinical, talking to health professions, reading the literature, exposure to undergraduate research.

Recommendation Letter: Health Professions Committee letter sent with additional individual letters of support.


Osteopathic Medicine

Description: Osteopathic medicine was developed as a method of treatment emphasizing the musculoskeletal system and a concern for the patient as a complete entity.  DOs diagnose and treat human diseases and injuries, and practice preventive medicine, sometimes combined with research and/or teaching.

Degree: D.O.

Program Length: 4 years

Professional Schools Association: AACOM (American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine) http://www.aacom.org

Application Service: AACOMAS (American Association of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service) www.aacom.org/students/application.html

Admission Requirements: One year each: Biology, General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Calculus/Statistics, Physics, English. Biochem is recommended.

Admission Exam: MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) http://www.aamc.org/students/mcat

Personal Attributes and Experiences: Similar to allopathic medicine.  Also a knowledge and commitment to the DO’s traditional concern for the whole person and a “holistic” approach to the practice of medicine in general.

Recommendation Letters: Health Professions Committee letter sent with additional individual letters of support.


Dentistry

Description: Dentists diagnose and treat diseases of the hard and soft tissue of the mouth.  Specialties: orthodontics, oral and maxillofacial surgery, endodontics, periodontics, pedodontics, prosthodontics, oral pathology, and dental public health.

Degree: D.D.S.

Program Length: 4 years

Professional Schools Association: ADEA (American Dental Education Association) http://www.adea.org/

Application Service: AADSAS (American Association of Dental Schools Application Service) http://adea.org/”AADSAS/AADASAS_Main_”Page.htm

Admission Requirements: One year each: General & Organic Chemistry, Physics, Biology, English, Calculus & Upper level Biology recommended.

Admission Exam: DAT http://www.ada.org/dat.aspx

Personal Attributes and Experience: Motivation toward dental career, good interpersonal skills, leadership qualities, and desire to help others; Evidence of fine motor skills to perform technical tasks in dentistry. Have developed an understanding of dentistry through experiences in clinical settings.

Recommendation Letters: Health Professions Committee letter sent with additional individual letters of support. (Not all schools require a Committee Letter.)


Veterinary Medicine

Description: Veterinarians diagnose, treat, and control diseases in animals and are concerned with preventing transmission of animal diseases to humans.  They treat injured animals and develop programs to prevent disease and injury.

Degree: D.V.M. or V.M.D.

Program Length: 4 Years

Professional Schools Association: AAVMC (American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges) http://www.aavmc.org

Application Service: VMCAS (Veterinary Medical Colleges Application Service) Some schools do not use VMCAS services and have their own applications. http://www.aavmc.org/vmcas/vmcas.htm

Admission Requirements: Two semesters each of English, Biology, Physics, General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry. Some schools have very specific requirements often including Microbiology, Statistics, Biochemistry, Animal Science, Nutrition.

Admission Exam: GRE (Graduate Record Exam) http://www.ets.org/gre or MCAT http://www.aamc.org/students/mcat

Personal Attributes and Experiences: Demonstrated knowledge of profession, confidence and comfort around a variety of animals. Strongly recommend veterinary and non-veterinary, animal-related experience.

Recommendation Letters: Usually three letters, two from faculty and one from employer, vet, or another academic source.


Optometry

Description: Optometrists are the major providers of primary eye care in the U.S.  They examine the eyes for vision problems, disease, and other abnormal conditions. They test for proper depth and color perception, the ability to coordinate and focus the eyes, and they prescribe lenses and/or treatments including glasses, contact lenses, corrective eye exercises, therapy, and in some states, therapeutic drugs for specific diseases.

Degree: O.D.

Program Length: 4 years

Professional Schools Association: ASCO (Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry) http://www.opted.org

Application Service: Optomcas http://www.optomcas.org

Admission Requirements: Two semesters General Chemistry; one to two semesters Organic Chemistry; two semesters each of Physics, Biology, Math.  Microbiology, Psychology, English, (specific additional requirements recommended by individual schools)

Admission Exam: OAT (Optometry Admissions Test) http://www.opted.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=3444

Personal Attributes and Experiences: Optometry students must be intelligent, scientifically curious, motivated, and socially conscious. Demonstrated knowledge of profession.

Recommendation Letters: Health Professions Committee letter sent with additional individual letters of support.


Physical Therapy

Description: Physical Therapists care for people who have been disabled through injury, illness, developmental defects, and aging.  PTs evaluate muscular and related functions and use various therapeutic treatments.  PTs may work on referral of a physician or independently.

Degree: DPT

Program Length: 2 –3 Years

Professional Schools Association: APTA (American Physical Therapy Association) http://www.APTA.org

Application Service: PTCAS http://www.ptcas.org

Admission Requirements: Two semesters each of Chemistryand Physics; three semesters minimum of Biology including one semester each of Human Anatomy and Human Physiology. One semester each of General Psychology and Advanced Psychology, Math, English, Statistics.

Admission Exam:  GRE (Graduate Record Exam) http://www.ets.org/gre

Personal Attributes and Experiences: Most PT programs require significant experience in physical therapy clinics.

Recommendation Letters: Individual Letters of Support


Physician Assistant

Description: Physicians Assistants are trained to screen patients, take histories, perform physical exams, perform developmental screening exams for children, manage emergencies, etc.  A physician willing to accept responsibility may assign more complicated therapeutic procedures to the PA who has demonstrated ability.

Degree: P.A.

Program Length: 2 Years

Professional Schools Association: AAPA (American Academy of Physician Assistants)http://www.aapa.org

Application Service: CASPA (Central Application Service for Physician Assistants) http://www.caspaonline.org

Admission Requirements: Varies with school but may include two semesters each:  Biology, Chemistry (some Organic/Biochemistry), Microbiology, Anatomy, and Physiology; one semester Math.  Also, Psychology.

Admission Exam:  GRE (most) http://www.ets.org/gre, or MCAT   http://www.aamc.org/students/mcat

Personal Attributes and Experiences: Most PA programs require health care experience (e.g. EMT, volunteering in a hospital, orderly, nurse’s aide, nurse, etc.)  MOST programs expect life experience as well as medical experience.

Recommendation Letters: Individual Letters of Support


Pharmacy

Description: Pharmacists educate patients about prescription and over-the-counter medications, advise other health care professionals on drug decisions for patients, provide expertise about the composition of drugs, including chemical, biological and physical properties as well as use, ensure drug purity and strength, ensure drugs do not interact in a harmful way.

Degree: Pharm.D

Program Length: 3 – 4 Years

Professional Schools Association: AACP (American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy) http://www.aacp.org

Application Service: PharmCAS (Pharmacy College Application Service) – 39 of 84 schools use the service. http://www.pharmcas.org

Admission Requirements: Varies by school, but typically: General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, General Biology, Microbiology, Physics, Human Anatomy, Calculus, English, Social Sciences, Biochemistry.

Admission Exam:  PCAT (Pharmacy College Admission Test) or GRE (Graduate Record Exam) http://education.pearsonassessments.com/haiweb/Cultures/en-US/Site/Community/PostSecondary/Products/PCAT/PCATHome.htm or http://www.ets.org/gre

Personal Attributes and Experiences: Integrity and adherence to rigid ethical standards; Commitment to building community, to patient care, and to life-long learning to maintain competency; Willingness to accept responsibility and accountability;

Recommendation Letters: Three letters of recommendation as requested by schools.


Advanced Practice Nursing

Description: “Advance Practice Nurses” include nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists (CNS), nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives and others.  They are primary and acute health care providers.  License depends on specialty and generally allows advanced practice nurses to conduct physical exams, order and interpret lab tests, diagnose and treat illnesses, and counsel patients.  They are independent practitioners.

Degree: Advance Practice Programs are Master’s Degree Programs leading to M.S.N.  Types of Advance Practice Nurses include N.P. (Nurse Practitioner), C.N.S. (Clinical Nurse Specialist), Nurse-Midwife, Nurse Anesthetist and others.

Program Length: Accelerated B.S.N. Programs, 1 year.  Direct Entry Master’s Programs, approximately 3 years.

Professional Schools Organization: AACN (American Association of Colleges of Nursing) http://www.aacn.nche.edu

Application Service: School specific applications.

Admission Requirements: Schools vary considerably. These courses are common: Human Anatomy & Physiology, General Chemistry (4-8 credits), Statistics, Psychology (including Developmental), English. For school specific detail: http://www.aacn.nche.edu

Admission Exam: GRE (Graduate Record Exam) http://www.ets.org/gre

Personal Attributes and Experience: Maturity, motivation, commitment to and interest in working closely with patients, ability to work independently.  Direct patient care experience.

Recommendation Letters: Individual letters of support.


Public Health

Description: Public Health focuses on prevention of disease and promotion of health in populations. The public health disciplines include: health policy and management, health services administration, nutrition, biostatistics, epidemiology, oral health, family health, health education and communication, occupational safety and health, environmental health and international and global health.

Degree: MPH (Master’s in Public Health), DrPH (Doctorate in Public Health)

Program Length: Approximately 2 years for master’s degree programs

Professional Schools Association: ASPH (Association of Schools of Public Health) http://www.asph.org

Application Service: SOPHAS. Some school specific applications http://www.sophas.org

Admission Requirements: School specific and vary with specialty area, e.g. epidemiology requires science background where policy and management requires management background.

Admission Exam: GRE (Graduate Record Exam) http://www.ets.org/gre

Personal Attributes and Experiences: Skills and competencies in the public health disciplines include: analytic and assessment, policy development and program planning, communication, cultural competency, financial planning and management, leadership, understanding of systems.

Recommendation Letters: Individual Letters of Support


Podiatry

Description: A Doctor of Podiatric Medicine examines, diagnoses, treats, and helps patients prevent diseases and disorders affecting the foot and lower leg. DPMs share with other physicians the legal authority to make independent professional judgments and to administer medical and surgical treatment.

Degree: DPM

Program Length: 4 years

Professional Schools Association: AACPM (American Association of Colleges of Podiatric Medicine) http://www.aacpm.org

Application Service: AACPMAS (American Association of Colleges of Podiatric Medicine Application Service) http://www.e-aacpmas.org/

Admission Requirements: One year each: Biology, General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Math (through calculus), Physics, English.

Admission Exam:  MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) http://www.aamc.org/students/mcat

Personal Attributes and Experiences: Similar to medicine. Knowledge and commitment to podiatric medicine gained through experience or shadowing a practicing podiatrist.

Recommendation Letters: Health Professions Committee letter and a letter of recommendation from a practicing podiatrist.


Occupational Therapy

Description: Occupational Therapy involves the social, emotional, and physical rehabilitation of people of all ages who are mentally, developmentally, or emotionally challenged.  OTs provide patients with activities that aid them in mastering skills necessary to perform tasks at home, work, school, and in the community.  The goal is to guide the patient to a life that is as independent, productive and satisfying as possible.

Degree: OT or MSOT (Masters degree program recommended for students who have completed a BA/BS degree)

Program Length: 2 years (MS)

Professional Schools Association: AOTA (American Occupational Therapy Association) http://www.aota.org

Application Service: OTCAS (OT Centralized Application Service) https://portal.otcas.org/

Admission Requirements: A BA/BS degree including a minimum of 12 credits in social sciences.  Also Human Anatomy, Human Physiology, Statistics, Abnormal Psychology and Developmental or Child Psychology.

Admission Exam: GRE (Graduate Record Exam) http://www.ets.org/gre

Personal Attributes and Experiences: Experience in health care or other related fields.

Recommendation Letters: Individual Letters of Support.


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