Below is a list of careers for pre-health students to consider. This list is not comprehensive, but is intended help you consider what path might be right for you. Within each description, you will find links to relevant resources. Another great place to start is ExploreHealthCareers.org.

Anesthesiologist Assistants

Anesthesiologist Assistants (AAs) are skilled professionals who usually work in hospital settings under the medical direction of qualified anesthesiologists as part of an Anesthesia Care Team. Their functions include but are not limited to: preanesthetic examinations, assisting with advanced monitoring techniques such as pulmonary artery catheterization, inducing/maintaining/altering anesthesia levels, postanesthesia patient rounds, intensive care unit and pain clinic care, assisting in the use of advanced life support techniques, and clinical instruction/supervision others on the team. AA training involves completion of a master’s level program. There are currently 5 AA programs in the U.S. Click here for the AAAA’s complete list of AA programs.

Curriculum:

Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree and have completed premedical coursework, including general and organic chemistry, advanced college math, general and advanced biology, and physics. Click here to see the requirements for each program:

Standardized Test:

All AA programs require either the MCAT or GRE.

Other Resources:

Chiropractic Medicine

Chiropractors (DCs) focus on the relationship between the body’s main structures—the skeleton, muscles, and nerves—and the patient’s health. They try to improve the body’s overall function by making adjustments to these structures, particularly the spinal column. Chiropractic medicine is practiced through non-pharmaceutical and non-surgical means. Chiropractors diagnose and treat problems associated with the musculoskeletal system. Due to its emphasis on holistic health care, chiropractic medicine is associated with the field of complementary and alternative medicine. Accredited programs last 4 years. Click here for the ACC’s complete list of member programs.

Curriculum:

Applicants must have a minimum of 90 semester hours, although most schools prefer or require that applicants hold a bachelor’s degree. Applicants must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5. Prerequisite coursework includes: two semesters of biology with labs, two semesters of general chemistry with labs, two semesters of organic chemistry with labs, two semesters of physics with labs, two semesters of English/writing, one semester of psychology, 15 semester hours of social science and humanities electives. Some schools may also require or recommend certain upper-level science electives, so be sure to check with each program individually.

Application Process:

Some chiropractic colleges participate in ChiroCAS—The Chiropractic Centralized Application Service. For schools that do not participate, application materials must be sent directly to each individual program. Consult the Association of Chiropractic Colleges to find out which schools participate.

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Dentistry

Dentists (DDS/DMD) specialize in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases, disorders, and conditions related to the mouth. After completing dental school, most graduates pursue a one-year general dentistry residency before practicing. While many dentists deliver direct patient care in private practices, but many others work in academic, research, military, and public and international health settings. With additional residency training, dental school graduates can specialize in any of nine recognized fields, such as endodontics, oral and maxillofacial surgery, orthodontics, and pediatric dentistry among others.

Curriculum:

The perquisite coursework for dental school includes: two semesters of biology with labs, two semesters of general chemistry with labs, two semesters of organic chemistry with labs, two semesters of physics with labs, two semesters of English/writing, and one semester of statistics. Many dental schools may recommend or require upper-level courses such as anatomy and physiology, biochemistry, microbiology, immunology, and others. Applicants should contact the individual schools or consult the ADEA Official Guide to Dental School (available to view in the Career Center or to purchase here).

Standardized Test:

Dental Admission Test (DAT). Click here for more information or to register for the DAT.

Application Process:

The ADEA’s Associated American Dental Schools Application Service (AADSAS) provides one central application available to all students applying to the 56 participating dental schools. Click here for more information and to access AADSAS.

Other Resources:

Doctor of Allopathic Medicine (M.D.)

MDs are involved with all aspects of healthcare, including examining, counseling, diagnosing, and treating patients and can be trained in any of 126 specialties or subspecialties. MDs can practice in a variety of clinical settings, teach, conduct research, or work for a public agency. To learn more about allopathic medicine, go to The Association of American Medical Colleges. Depending on the area in which they would like to specialize or the population with which they would like to work, students might also consider dual-degree programs, such as MD/PhD (Medical Scientist Training Programs), MD/MPH, MD/MBA, etc.

Curriculum:

Applicants must complete the basic pre-medical curriculum: two semesters of biology with labs, two semesters of general chemistry with labs, two semesters of organic chemistry with labs, two semesters of physics with labs, one semester of biochemistry with lab, introduction to psychology, introduction to sociology, two semesters of English/writing, and one semester of college math/statistics. We also recommend that pre-med students take two semesters of anatomy and physiology with labs, one semester of microbiology with lab, and one semester of medical ethics. For program-specific requirements and recommendations, students should consult the Medical School Admissions Requirements or check with each school individually.

Standardized Test:

Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT)

Application Process:

The AAMC provides one central application service (AMCAS) for student applying to MD programs. Click here for more information and to access AMCAS. Students should be aware that the state of Texas uses a separate central application service (TMDSAS), and that foreign and “offshore” medical schools do not participate in a central application service, so students must apply to them directly.

Resources:

Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.)

MDs and DOs share many similarities and often work side-by-side, but osteopathic medicine is a distinct form of medical practice in the United States. Osteopathic medicine provides all of the benefits of modern medicine including prescription drugs, surgery, and the use of technology to diagnose disease and evaluate injury. It also offers the added benefit of hands-on diagnosis and treatment through a system of therapy known as osteopathic manipulative medicine. Osteopathic medicine emphasizes helping each person achieve a high level of wellness by focusing on health promotion and disease prevention. DOs can practice in any specialty, but because of its holistic approach to patient care, many osteopathic students choose to go into primary care areas. To learn more about osteopathic medicine go to The American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine. Click here for a list of DO schools. Many programs also have dual-degree offerings, such as DO/PhD, DO/MPH, and DO/MBA.

Curriculum:

Applicants must complete the basic pre-medical curriculum: two semesters of biology with labs, two semesters of general chemistry with labs, two semesters of organic chemistry with labs, two semesters of physics with labs, one semester of biochemistry with lab, introduction to psychology, introduction to sociology, two semesters of English/writing, and one semester of college math/statistics. We strongly recommend that students take two semesters of anatomy and physiology with labs, one semester of microbiology with lab, and one semester of medical ethics.  Some programs may also require other electives, so students should consult the Osteopathic Medical College Information Book or check with each school individually.

Standardized Test:

Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT)

Application Process:

The AACOM provides one central application service (AACOMAS) for students applying to osteopathic schools. Clickhere for more information and to access AACOMAS.

Resources:

Nurse-Midwife

Nurse-Midwives (CNMs)are advanced practice nurses with additional training around delivering babies and providing prenatal and postpartum care to women. Most nurse-midwives deliver babies in hospitals and in homes. In addition, the nurse midwife provides family planning, birth control counseling, and normal gynecological services such as, physical and breast exams, pap smears, and preventive health screening. In most states, a nurse-midwife can prescribe medications.

Curriculum:

Applicants must have a thorough grounding in basic sciences, such as chemistry, biology, and microbiology. In addition, courses in sociology and women’s studies will be very helpful. All programs accredited by the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM) Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (ACME) require a bachelor’s degree for entry. Many also require that applicants be a registered nurse, although 22 programs currently have options for non-nurses. Click here to see requirements for each program.

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Nurse Practitioner

Nurse Practitioners (CNPs) are advanced practice nurses who provide high-quality healthcare services similar to those of a physician. NPs diagnose and treat a wide range of health problems and typically become certified in a specialty. They have a unique approach and stress both care and cure. Besides clinical care, NPs focus on health promotion, disease prevention, health education and counseling. They help patients make wise health and lifestyle choices. They are truly your Partners in Health.

Curriculum:

The entry-level training for NPs is a graduate degree. At this time, NPs complete a master’s or doctoral degree program. This means that NPs earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing (4 years of education), then their graduate NP degree (2-4 years of education). Both types of programs provide the knowledge and clinical skills needed by NPs to perform as independent healthcare providers. Students with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree should consider an accelerated BSN-MSN program. For a list of all bachelors to doctoral programs and accelerated programs, clickhere:

Other Resources:

Nutrition/Dietetics

Nutritionists and dieticians (RDs) are experts in medical nutrition therapy. They plan and supervise nutrition plans for an array patient populations and work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, schools, HMO’s, group practice, community and public health, academia, research, the food and nutrition industry, sports nutrition, corporate wellness programs, and media. Click here for the more information for the American Dietetic Association and to find programs.

Curriculum:

Students can pursue nutrition and dietetics at a range of degree levels. Students who are completing or have already completed a B.A., should look for master’s programs in nutrition. Many institutions offer combined degree programs, such as M.P.H./R.D., M.S./R.D., M.A./R.D., M.H.S./R.D. Students should have some coursework in biology, chemistry, anatomy and physiology, computer science, and sociology.

Other Resources:

Occupational Therapy

Occupational Therapists (OTs) help patients improve their ability to perform tasks in living and working environments. They work with individuals who suffer from a mentally, physically, developmentally, or emotionally disabling condition. Occupational therapists use treatments to develop, recover, or maintain the daily living and work skills of their patients. The therapist helps clients not only to improve their basic motor functions and reasoning abilities, but also to compensate for permanent loss of function. The goal is to help clients have independent, productive, and satisfying lives.

Curriculum:

One must earn a master’s degree or doctoral degree in occupational therapy to work as an occupational therapist. Biology, psychology, sociology, anthropology, liberal arts and anatomy are all appropriate college majors for those who ultimately want earn a master’s degree in occupational therapy. Click here for a complete list of accredited programs.

Standardized Test:

Graduate Record Examination (GRE)

Other Resources:

Optometry

Doctors of Optometry (ODs) are the primary health care professionals for the eye.Optometrists examine, diagnose, treat, and manage diseases, injuries, and disorders of the visual system, the eye, and associated structures as well as identify related systemic conditions affecting the eye. They can choose to work in general practice or work in a more specialized area of eye care. Optometrists work in a variety of settings, including group or solo practices, hospitals, community health centers, the military, industry, teaching institutions, and research. There are 20 schools of optometry—19 in the continental U.S. and one in Puerto Rico. Click here for the ASCO’s complete list of accredited OD programs.

Curriculum:

All schools of optometry have their own undergraduate prerequisites, so students should check with each program to which they are applying. This is a general guide and may contain courses not required by some schools and may not contain courses required by other schools: two semesters of biology with labs, two semesters of general chemistry with labs, two semesters of organic chemistry with labs, two semesters of physics with labs, two semesters of English/writing, one semester of calculus, one semester of statistics, one semester of psychology, one semester of biochemistry, one semester of microbiology, one semester of anatomy and physiology, and additional social science and humanities coursework.

Standardized Test:

Optometry Admission Test (OAT). Click here for more information or the register for the OAT.

Application Process:

All schools of optometry participate in OptomCAS—Optometry’s Centralized Application Service. Click here for more information and to access OptomCAS.

Other Resources:

Pharmacy

Pharmacists (Pharm.D.) play an important role in patient care. They dispense medications prescribed by physicians, advise patients and consumers about the use of prescription and over-the-counter drugs, provide expertise to doctors and patients about the composition of drugs, their manufacture and use, ensure drug purity and strength, and make sure that drugs do not interact in a harmful way. While many pharmacists work in community pharmacies, there is a demand for pharmacists in a range of occupational settings, including academic pharmacy, ambulatory care pharmacy, federal pharmacy, hospital and institutional pharmacy, pharmaceutical sciences/industry, and many more. Click here to locate pharmacy programs.

Curriculum:

The required undergraduate courses vary from one program to the next, so applicants should check with each program to which they are applying. Most pharmacy schools will require two semesters of biology with labs, two semesters of general chemistry with labs, two semesters of organic chemistry with labs, two semesters of physics with labs, two semesters of English, and other humanities and social science electives. To find course requirements by school, click here.

Standardized Test:

Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT). For more information and to register, click here.

Application Process:

Most colleges of pharmacy participate in PharmCAS—Pharmacy College Application Service. For more information about PharmCAS and to find which schools do/do not participate, click here.

Other Resources:

Physical Therapy

Physical therapists (PTs) are highly-educated, licensed health care professionals who can help patients reduce pain and improve or restore mobility – in many cases without expensive surgery and often reducing the need for long-term use of prescription medications and their side effects. PTs examine each individual and develop a plan, using treatment techniques to promote the ability to move, reduce pain, restore function, and prevent disability. In addition, PTs work with individuals to prevent the loss of mobility before it occurs by developing fitness- and wellness-oriented programs for healthier and more active lifestyles.

Curriculum:

More than 50% of physical therapy programs specifically require Anatomy and Physiology (minimum one course); chemistry (minimum one course); physics (two courses); statistics (one course); psychology; general biology (minimum one course), and an undergraduate degree. In addition, more that 75% of programs require a minimum GPA of 3.0. Other courses that may be required less than 50% of the time by selected academic programs include English composition; social science; humanities; computers; medical terminology; exercise physiology; human development; kinesiology; organic chemistry; research methods; cell biology, and pathology. It is recommended that you go to the Directory of Accredited Physical Therapy Programs and to review the table of program prerequisites by academic program.

Standardized Test:

Graduate Record Examination (GRE)

Application Process:

Most PT programs participate in PTCAS—Physical Therapist Centralized Application Service. Click here for more information and to access PTCAS.

Other Resources:

Physician Assistant

Physician assistants (PAs) are health professionals licensed to practice medicine with physician supervision. PAs are trained in intensive education programs accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) and certified by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants(NCCPA). Within the physician/PA relationship, physician assistants play an important role in medical decision making and provide a broad range of diagnostic and therapeutic services.

Curriculum:

Most master’s level PA programs require two semesters of general biology, two semesters of general chemistry, one semester of organic chemistry, one semester of math, one semester of English, coursework in the social/behavioral sciences, and some upper-level sciences, such as microbiology, biochemistry, anatomy & physiology, genetics, or others. The required undergraduate courses vary from one program to the next, so students should check with each program to which they are applying. To find PA programs and their requirements, use the Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA).

Standardized Test:

Some programs require the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).

Application Process:

Most PA programs participate in CASPA—Central Application Service for Physician Assistants. Click here for more information and to access CASPA.

Other Resources:

Podiatry

Doctors of podiatric medicine (DPMs) are dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of conditions affecting the foot, ankle, and related structures. Podiatrists often have a general practice but many choose to specialize in fields such as pediatrics, surgery, sports medicine, biomechanics, geriatrics, and public health. Click here for more information and to find programs.

Curriculum:

All colleges of podiatric medicine require the following: two semesters of biology with labs, two semesters of general chemistry with labs, two semesters of organic chemistry with labs, two semesters of physics with labs, and two semesters of English.

Standardized Test:

Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). Some programs will accept other test scores, such as the GRE or DAT. Check with each individual school to find out if test scores other than the MCAT are acceptable.

Application Process:

There are currently 9 colleges of podiatric medicine, all of which participate in AACPMAS—The American Association of College of Podiatric Medicine’s Application Service. Click here for more information about AACPMAS.

Other Resources:

Public Health

Public Health involves the science and art of creating healthy communities through education, research, and promotion of healthy lifestyles. It focuses on the wellbeing of entire populations, rather than individuals. Public health encompasses a number of disciplines, but some of the core areas are: Epidemiology, Biostatistics, Environmental Health, Behavioral Sciences/Health Education, and Health Services Administration. Public health professionals can work in a wide variety of settings in both the public and private sectors. Students can pursue public health on the master’s or doctoral levels.

Curriculum:

Coursework in biology and mathematics is highly recommended for students who plan to concentrate in epidemiology or biostatistics. For Behavioral Sciences, Health Education or Global Health, courses in sociology, psychology, education or anthropology are beneficial. Health Services Administration students find that a business background is a plus. A biology or chemistry background is helpful for the study of Environmental Health. All schools of public health require competence in effective communication (both verbal and written); therefore, students should try to take advantage of undergraduate opportunities to hone these skills.

Standardized Tests:

Graduate Record Exam (GRE)

Application Process:

To search for accredited programs and apply, use the Schools of Public Health Application Service (SOPHAS). Clickhere for more information and to access SOPHAS.

Resources:

Veterinary Medicine

Veterinarians (DVMs) specialize in animal welfare and provide healthcare for pets, livestock, zoo, sporting, and laboratory animals. Most perform clinical work in private practices, while other work in basic or applied research settings.

Curriculum:

Pre-veterinary requirements vary slightly from school to school, so students should check with each program to which they are applying. Generally, pre-vet students must take two semester of general biology with lab, two semesters of general chemistry with lab, two semesters of organic chemistry with lab, two semester of physics with lab, one semester of biochemistry, two semesters of English, coursework in math/statistics, and some upper-level biology courses (such as microbiology), and coursework in the humanities/social sciences. Click here for school-specific requirements.

Standardized Tests:

GRE, MCAT, or VCAT—check with each program.

Application Process:

The Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges manages VMCAS–a central application service for all U.S. veterinary programs. Click here for more information and to access VMCAS.

Other Resources: