Pre-Health Professions Advising
Whatever career you decide on, we will find the right path to get you there.
A Career in Healthcare
A career in healthcare can be one of the most rewarding ways to earn a living while giving back to your community. Whether you want to become a physician, physician’s assistant, physical therapist, occupational therapist, pharmacist, optometrist, or other career, we can help you get there!
The Pre-Health Advisory Committee offers advisement for students interested in medical, dental, veterinary, optometry and other post-graduate professional schools. Gaining admission to these schools can be a complicated process. We will help you decide on the best career choice for you and help to prepare you for the challenge.
There is no specific pre-med major at Plattsburgh — a student in any major can apply for admission to these post-graduate schools. However, there are certain core science requirements for each discipline. The PHPAC will advise you on which classes and extracurricular activities will best prepare you for your career choice.
Finally, the committee will write a composite letter of recommendation based on an evaluation of your record of achievement. Most schools will require you to have this letter in your application — it is a very important part of the application process.
PHPAC Roles and Procedures for Getting into Medical School
This is the basic information about the role of the Pre-Health Professions Advisory Committee (Pre-PHAC) and the usual procedures involved in applying to medical school.
- The role of the committee is to review the contents of your Pre-PHAC file and make a recommendation to the schools to which you apply. You can get the forms for this file from Janet Manor in the Biology Department office (second floor Beaumont). It’s good to get this early (freshman year is not too soon) and read it over — get started early so that you will know what is expected of you and won’t have to rush to get things together at the last minute.
- The basic course requirements of most medical schools are:
- General Biology (BIO101 & 102) 8 Credits including lab
- General Chemistry (CHE111 & 112) 8 Credits including lab
- Organic Chemistry (CHE 241 & 242) 8 Credits including lab
- Physics (PHY111 & 112) 8 Credits including lab
- You can find the specific requirements and the average GPAs and MCAT scores of students accepted at any one of the medical schools, dental schools, PA schools and some other schools in the U.S. in books that are on reserve in the Career Services Center (Kehoe, second floor). They also have a number of other books, practice tests, videos, and other materials there that you should check out.
- I regularly get brochures from Medical and Graduate schools and I put them in the rack in the reading room across the hall from the Biology Department office. You can scan these to get an idea of what schools are out there, although the best schools don’t advertise so you should write or call them for information.
- MCAT exams are usually given in April and August. Deadlines for application are usually about 1 month before the test. I have applications for the exams and they are also in the Biology office (2nd floor Beaumont). The Pre-PHAC needs MCAT scores before we can write a letter of recommendation. You should plan to take the MCAT or other entry tests more than once to get your best score.
- You should set up an appointment to see me sometime before your senior year to make sure that you’re on track.
If you have any questions about the committee that I haven’t answered, or you would like to be on the Pre-Med mailing list please email me. If you’d like to stop by and talk, I’m in 325 Hudson Hall. Email ahead to make sure that I’ll be there.
Recommendation Letter Application
A letter or recommendation from your school’s Pre-Health Professions Committee is a very important part of your medical school application. All schools will want to receive one one have an explanation why one is not included.
How to Apply
In order to have the PHPAC write a letter of recommendation for you, you will need to fill out the following forms and submit them to the committee along with this information:
- Official college transcripts.
- MCAT or other test scores.
- At least 3 letters of recommendation (the more good letters the better).
Once your file is complete, let the committee know that you would like a letter of recommendation, when it is due, and the addresses of the schools that it should be sent to. Be sure to give the committee at least 3 weeks before any deadlines to complete this letter.
Successful Acceptance Rates for SUNY Plattsburgh Graduates
In the past three years, most of our graduates applicants have been accepted in post-graduate professional schools. This included medical, dental, veterinary, optometry, and other health professions.
Year Acceptances 2007–2008 8 2008–2009 10 2009–2010 5 2010–2011 9 2011–2012 6 2012–2013 6 2013–2014 10 2014–2015 8 2015–2016 10
Here are the schools our graduates have entered in the past 10 years
- Albany School of Medicine
- American University of Antigua
- BU Medical School
- Clarkson University
- Cornell Vet School
- D’Youville Chiropractic
- George Washington University
- Howard Medical School
- Indiana University
- Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine
- MA College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, Optometry
- Morehouse School of Medicine
- New York College of Osteopathic Medicine
- New York College of Chiropractic Medicine
- Nova Southeastern
- Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
- Ross University
- Sackler School of Medicine
- St. George’s University
- SUNY Upstate Medical
- Touro College
- U Cincinnati
- Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences
- Univ. of Conn.
- University of Buffalo
- University of Albany
- University of Washington (Seattle)
- University of the West Indies
- University of Vermont
- University of Toronto
Allopathic vs. Osteopathic Medicine
When most of us say "doctor," we’re thinking of allopathic doctors. But there is a whole other branch of medicine called osteopathic medicine. Osteopathic physicians are doctors too, and perform the same types of activities as allopathic physicians. And it is often easier to get into an osteopathic school than an allopathic school.
Learn more about the difference between allopathic and osteopathic medicine from Missouri State University.
Here is the site for AACOM (American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine).
Check out the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine.
Caribbean Medical Schools
Entry into American medical schools has become more and more competitive. MCAT scores that would have been acceptable ten years ago (e.g., combined scores of 24 to 27) are now considered below consideration by many schools. Part of the problem is that while more and more students entering college are pre-med and apply to medical school, the number of slots available in U.S. medical schools has remained relatively constant.
One option that has become more popular is attending a Caribbean medical school. These schools once had a poor reputation due to the inability to attract good students. With the increasing competitiveness of American schools, these schools are now much more attractive.
The major advantage of attending a Caribbean school is that the entry requirements are much easier. While American schools do an initial screen using only MCAT scores and GPA, Caribbean schools are more likely to look at the whole person. Someone with low MCAT scores or a mediocre GPA may have other qualities that would make him/her a good candidate, e.g., EMT training and experience. Because of the deluge of applications at American schools (e.g., 3000 applicants for 100 seats), they don’t have a chance to see these qualities. Another distinction is that many Caribbean schools have multiple start dates (September, January, and May) and their admission deadlines are closer to the start date than American schools. Many students apply to these schools after they get bad news from American schools. Finally, Caribbean schools usually shorten the preclinical, basic science portion to between 15 and 18 months (as opposed to 24 months in American Schools). This means that there are very short breaks between semesters.
There are many factors that should go into your decision to attend a Caribbean school. You should read about these factors in this web page: http://www.missouristate.edu/bms/30613.htm
Not all Caribbean schools are the same. Some are fully accredited and some are not. In the accredited schools, students only take their general science courses at the Caribbean campus and then do their clinical rotations in U.S. hospitals. This is important because you will make your connections for letters of recommendations during your clinical years and this will determine your ability to match in a good residency. So it is important to go to one of the schools with U.S. clinical rotations.
The Pre-Health Advisory Committee recommends the following Caribbean medical schools:
Programs for International Students
It is a very difficult challenge for international medical students to gain admission into U.S. and Canadian medical schools. Many schools do not accept applications from non-U.S. students and the schools that do accept applications have a limited number of slots.
Read more about this in these sites:
Physician’s Assistant Programs
Most questions about physician’s assistants are answered on the web site for the American Academy of Physician’s Assistants (AAPA).
Q: How long is the average PA program?
A: The average course is approximately 24 to 26 months, post-baccalaureate.
Q: What are the undergrad requirements for admission to a PA program?
A: Most programs require a bachelor’s degree and some experience in a health field. Many require as much as 100 hours of service in a medical field before you can apply.
Q: Is there a “bridge” from PA to MD if you want to go on?
A: I couldn’t find any information on this, but there’s no reason that you couldn’t go to medical school after working as a PA. You may also find that being a PA is fulfilling enough and decide not to go further.
Q: How many programs are there in US?
A: There are 130 accredited programs in the U.S. Here is a web page with links to these programs: http://www.aapa.org/pgmlist.php3
Special Master’s Programs
Postbac pre-med programs are for students who already have a bachelor’s degree but have not taken the prerequisite science courses. They are designed for people who make the decision to go to med school late in their college career or decide on a career change after working at a different career. They can also be helpful to students who did poorly in their prerequisite science courses and need to improve their academic standing.
Special master’s programs are for students who are almost qualified for med school, but not quite. Maybe your GPA is too low but your MCATs are good, or vice, versa. Students in these programs often take the same classes as students currently in medical school. We recently had an alum take the SM program at Boston University and then matriculate into BU Med School, so these programs work if you qualify.
Here is more information: