Pre-Health Advising & Resources

Pre-Health Studies at Bates College has developed a well-earned reputation for providing access to the rigorous preparation required for admission to professional schools. A successful application depends primarily upon the applicant’s performance and potential as measured by grades, standardized test scores, and health-related experience. Students who have taken advantage of available curricular and co-curricular preparation, met with the pre-health advisors, and met the high standards required for professional school admission are, as a group, highly successful in gaining admission into the medical professions and in the completion of their training.

Our graduates have distinguished themselves across the country in private practice, clinical and basic research, and academic medicine. Well over a thousand physicians, dentists, Ph.D.’s, PAs, NPs, etc. trained in medical sciences have received their undergraduate education at Bates.

The pre-health advisors at Bates help students gain experience in, and knowledge of, the health professions through individual advising, assistance with securing job shadows and internships, and obtaining clinical and volunteer experiences (see the “Gain Experience” section below).

The Team

  • Karen Daigler, M.A. Director of Graduate and Professional School Advising, Bates Center for Purposeful Work, 207-786-6230  kdaigler@bates.edu
  • Bruno Salazar-Perea, M.D. Lecturer – Biology, Faculty Fellow for Medical Studies, Dana Hall, 207-786-8269 or 207-713-1551 (cell), bperea@bates.edu
  • James Smith, B.A. Assistant Director for Program Design & Support, Bates Center for Purposeful Work, 207-786-6467 jsmith6@bates.edu

To Schedule a Meeting with Karen or Bruno

  • Students: Make an appointment via Handshake (login to Handshake, go to the upper tab “Career Center” and then click “Appointments”)
  • Alumni: Contact purposefulwork@bates.edu

Pre-Health Coursework

General Course Recommendations

  • General Chemistry, two semesters with labs (Chem 107/108).
  • Organic Chemistry, two semesters with labs (Chem 217/218).
  • General Physics, two semesters with labs (Physics 107/108).
  • Calculus, one semester (Math 105 or 106).
  • Statistics, one semester (from any department).
  • Biology, (Bio 195, 202, and 204).
  • English, any two courses designated or cross-listed as “Eng.” First Year Seminars may not count.
  • Biochemistry, (Bio 321 or Chem 321 & 322) is required for many health professional programs and is tested on the MCAT.
  • Psychology and Sociology, the content of basic psychology and sociology is tested on the MCAT.

Additional Information

  • First-year students should take Chemistry 107/108 and Bio 195 during their first year.
  • Physical Therapy, Veterinary, Nursing, Occupational Therapy, and Physician Assistant programs have similar but often additional prerequisites. See an advisor regarding requirements for specific career fields.
  • All prerequisites need to be taken for a grade, NOT P/F. Grades lower than a C do not meet the prerequisites.
  • Good grades are important. While many students take Chemistry and Calculus in their first semester, you should be mindful of your own abilities and academic background. It is more important to do well than to overload your schedule. If you need help deciding what courses to take, check with one of the Pre-Health Advisors.
  • Study Abroad is a great way to develop important skills and competencies that are valued in the practice of medicine: flexibility, resilience, and cultural sensitivity, to name a few. Most, if not all, health profession programs require that prerequisite courses are taken in the U.S.

General Notes on Selecting Courses

  • It is important that you begin planning your overall academic program early. Most science courses are sequential, beginning in the fall semester. Plan accordingly to allow for a reasonable distribution of required and recommended courses during your undergraduate years (and beyond), so that you can do as well as possible in each course, while also ensuring that you can prioritize your broader educational goals (such as studying abroad).
  • For students who become interested in healthcare later, work closely with your health professions advisor to create a plan for completing some or all of your prerequisites while at Bates.

Advanced Placement (AP) Courses

AP credit will not meet the admission requirements for many health-related graduate or professional programs. For example, a student who has AP credit that allows opting out of Chem 107 would need to take another Chem course (with a lab) at a higher level in addition to Chem 108, Chem 217, and Chem 218. Admission requirements may vary from program to program.

Direct Entry Path & Standardized Tests (MCAT/DAT/GRE)

Students wishing to enter medical and podiatry school directly after graduation should plan to complete all prerequisites by the end of the spring semester of junior year. They also should plan to take the MCAT by early May of junior year and be prepared to submit a primary application in early June – this usually involves studying for the MCAT during spring of junior year while taking a rigorous course load. Prior to taking the MCAT or DAT, students should have completed all prerequisite courses. Students pursuing direct entry should work closely with their academic and health professions advisors beginning in their first year to chart an individual curriculum plan that best aligns with their academic, personal, and professional goals.

Dental applicants who wish to apply direct entry must also investigate what course material they need to successfully take the DAT, and which prerequisites must be competed before applications open in June (after junior year).

Similarly, veterinary students must evaluate how many prerequisites they are expected to have completed before the application deadline in September of senior year.

Nursing, Physician Assistant, Physical Therapist, and other health professions programs have a variety of application deadlines. Most of these programs require the GRE, the timing of which depends on the specific program – please consult with your health professions advisor.

Postgraduate Path & Standardized Tests (MCAT/DAT/GRE)

For some students, working for one or two years after graduation in a healthcare-related position can help confirm whether a health professions career is the right choice, and show admissions committees evidence of relevant experience and commitment. Nationally, 68.5% of medical school matriculants from the 2021 AMCAS application pool had taken at least one gap year. Students taking a gap year typically take the MCAT, DAT, or GRE during the summer after junior year, or the summer after graduation if planning to work for two years between Bates and professional school. Prior to taking the MCAT or DAT, students should have completed all prerequisite courses.

Many applicants have found that gaining additional experience benefits their candidacy; here are some important factors when considering time off before professional school, including an article on ways to spend your gap/glide year.

As with the Direct Entry Path, applicants should consult with their academic and health professions advisors to develop a plan that best supports their long-term goals and success.

Nursing, Physician Assistant, Physical Therapist, and other health professions programs have a variety of application deadlines. Most of these programs require the GRE, the timing of which depends on the specific program – please consult with your health professions advisor.

Selecting a Major: Science or Otherwise?

No specific major is required for admission to most health profession programs. Students should select a major that reflects their academic interests, and strengthens their personal and professional development. Health professions programs are seeking well-rounded individuals who have pursued a liberal education while demonstrating an aptitude for biological and physical sciences.

If possible, students should take more than the minimal number of prerequisite science courses and earn strong grades. In particular, non-science majors should complete a total of 11 science courses during their undergraduate years. Competence in the sciences, regardless of your major, is a key factor in health professions school admission.

Overall, no one major can be said to provide an edge in terms of health professional school admission. These programs readily accept well-qualified students with diverse academic backgrounds and strong performances in biology, chemistry, physics, and math courses. Academic excellence, regardless of major, is essential for success.

Grades, Cumulative GPA, and BCPM GPA

Course grades and cumulative GPA are considered to be extremely important indicators of future success by health professional admissions committees. In 2021 the national average overall GPA of students admitted to allopathic (MD) medical schools was 3.74. The national average overall GPA of students entering osteopathic (DO) schools in 2021 was 3.63.

The average GPA for applicants admitted to dental and veterinary school varies. Competitive dental applicants typically have at least an overall GPA of 3.4, while veterinary applicants are closer to 3.5.

In addition to the overall GPA, the “science” GPA (also called the “BCPM”), calculated to include all biology, chemistry, physics, and math undergraduate courses, is another important academic metric considered in the admission process.

Applicants with lower GPAs who are admitted either have demonstrated an improved academic trajectory in their later years of college and/or have exhibited other characteristics deemed desirable for health professional programs by admissions committees. Frequently, such students have “proven themselves” academically by taking more science courses, completing a special master’s program, and possibly working for one or more years following graduation.

Do not assume that if you do poorly in a course required for professional school that you will no longer be able to pursue your aspirations. If you are struggling in a course or there are external factors that are impacting your performance, your faculty and advisors at Bates want to partner with you to help you find solutions and develop a strategy to achieve your professional goals.

Non-Academic Requirements

Medical schools, in evaluating applicants, also seek evidence of “social competencies” that correlate with becoming an excellent physician.

These nine interpersonal and intrapersonal competencies, outlined by the AAMC, should be used as a guide to identify activities to explore both in and outside of the classroom:

Interpersonal Competencies
Service Orientation
Social and Interpersonal Skills
Cultural Competence
Teamwork
Oral Communication
Intrapersonal Competencies
Integrity and Ethics
Reliability and Dependability
Resilience and Adaptability
Capacity for Improvement

A combination of volunteering, internships, community service, leadership, campus involvement, summer jobs, and shadowing is critical in demonstrating to health professions schools your competencies and commitment to any health profession. Documented clinical hours are required by most PA, NP, and PT programs as admission requirements. Opportunities on campus, in the Lewiston-Auburn community, and at home should be sought early and often throughout your Bates experience.

You should also seek opportunities to engage in special projects or individual research:

For students majoring in the natural sciences, laboratory research projects may happen at Bates, at another college or university, or in a hospital or other research setting. This research will demonstrate your understanding of how research is conceived, organized, and conducted.

For students majoring outside of the natural sciences, it is also beneficial to get involved in science research, as well as research in your discipline, especially if it relates to healthcare.

Pre-Health Basics

What does it mean to be a “pre-health” student at Bates?

Pre-Health at Bates means that you are considering going to medical, veterinary, dental, nursing or another health professions school sometime after you finish your undergraduate degree. It means that you have a deep and abiding interest in science and humanity, that you have a particular interest in health and disease, that you have a desire to help others, and that you thrive on hard work, responsibility, and leadership.

What constitutes a successful pre-health student? Students who tend to be successful are:

  • Excellent students in any discipline
  • Strong in the science courses they’ve taken, whether or not science is their major
  • Inclined to help others and take on leadership roles
  • Self-aware and interested in the challenges that face others in society
  • Eager to gain experience through job shadowing, volunteering, and internships

Preparing for a Career in the Health Professions (our fall semester meeting packets are linked below):

Additional Information:

Gain Experience: Summer & Academic Year

+Student Groups

Student organizations and clubs are available to all students at Bates College. If you’re interested in a group, visit their booth at the Activities Fair in the fall, look for posters announcing their meetings, or check the listings in Bates Today – the daily electronic campus newsletter, or Bates Engage. Feel free to attend an organization’s meetings; they’re always looking for members.

  • The Bates College Health Sciences Society (Club Med) is for anyone interested in medicine, veterinary medicine, dentistry, physical therapy, occupational therapy, nursing, physician assistant, and any other field within the health sciences. Club Med plans meetings, lectures, book readings, and alumni presentations. Contact: Gretchen Lindenfeldar (President).
  • The Bates Public Health Initiative (PHI) provides students with an opportunity to engage in public health outreach both on the Bates campus and in the surrounding area. PHI offers opportunities to volunteer at a local free clinic, engage in public health awareness campaigns, and invites guest speakers to campus. Contact: Sophie Ham and Rabih Chughtai (Co-Presidents)
  • Bates Emergency Medical Services (EMS) is a Maine licensed EMS service that provides emergency care to the Bates College community. All members are volunteers that have completed the Emergency Medical Technician course. An entirely student run service, Bates EMT’s volunteer their time to be on call and are ready to respond to any campus emergency 24 hours a day, 7 days a week when school is in session. Contact: Colton Sochia & Adelle Welch (Co-Chiefs) and Noah Jaffe (Membership Coordinator).
+Internships

Purposeful Work Internship Program

There are multiple funded summer opportunities available to Bates students, including the Purposeful Work Internship Program. Through paid internships specifically designated for Bates students and through positions independently secured by students, participants in the Purposeful Work Internship Program will test their passions, build their skills, develop their networks, reflect on their learnings, and connect their experiences on and off campus.

Summer Opportunities

The following is a list of summer enrichment opportunities, organized by state, for students from underrepresented populations, disadvantaged backgrounds, and/or who identify as BIPOC. These programs provide a supportive environment in which to enhance your preparation for a career in medicine, dental medicine, research, and other health-related fields.

separate list of programs is available for international students searching for similar opportunities in science and healthcare without citizenship requirements.

Finally, the following is a list of opportunities that do not target a specific population of students. Many institutions and organizations offer summer programs that incorporate clinical or research experiences, and many of these programs provide generous stipends to participants. You may wish to include these programs in your search.

+Job Shadows

Purposeful Work Job Shadow Program

The Purposeful Work Job Shadow Program involves a partnership between the Bates Center for Purposeful Work and Bates alumni and parents, as well as local employers, from a diverse range of industries and locations. Students from all four class years may apply to these job shadows during the Fall semester. Shadows take place anytime between December and May.

Local Healthcare Connections

Local health professionals have agreed to provide insight and advice, job shadows, and/or internships to Bates College undergraduate students. Please pay close attention to the health provider’s contact information and instructions, communicate professionally and if job shadowing or interning, dress in business casual attire.

If you have any questions, please reach out to James Smith at the Bates Center for Purposeful Work at jsmith6@bates.edu.

+Summer Research

Join a faculty research team or design your own project. Conduct research at Bates or with another institution. Contribute new knowledge and develop as a scholar. Get started on your thesis. Summer Research Grants and Fellowships.

+Harward Center for Community Partnerships

The Harward Center for Community Partnerships offers summer and academic year opportunities for Bates Students.

Committee Letter Application Process

The Bates Medical Studies Committee’s goal is to guide students and alumni through the medical, dental, and podiatry school application process. This includes helping applicants to decide when to apply, and how to put together the strongest and most comprehensive application.

The timeline for medical, dental, and podiatry school is about 14 months in length. Students hoping to begin medical or dental school directly after graduation will begin the Committee process as early as the winter semester of junior year. Those who decide to take a “glide year” between undergraduate and health professions school will begin the application process in the winter of their senior year. Still, others may return as alums to utilize the Medical Studies Committee and the services of the Bates Center for Purposeful Work.

The Bates Medical Studies Committee Letter application process begins on January 15th, 2023 for 2024 matriculation.

  1. When to Apply
  2. Standardized Tests
  3. Applying to Medical, Dental, or Podiatry School (Bates Medical Studies Committee Letter)
  4. Medical Studies Committee
  5. Committee Letter Process
  6. Primary and Secondary Applications
  7. Application FAQs
  8. Selecting Schools
  9. Interviews
  10. Financing
  11. Tips & Strategies for MD/DO & MD/PhD Applicants