Virginia Commonwealth University

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Pre-Medicine

Program Information

Leaders in medical education encourage students planning to enter this profession to obtain a broad background in the liberal arts, with a study of not only sciences, but the humanities and social sciences as well. The prospective student should check with the intended school of medicine for specific requirements.

Getting into medical school requires the completion of a bachelor’s degree in any field, plus the necessary pre-requisites.

Biological science, general chemistry, organic chemistry, English, mathematics and physics are required for admission to the VCU School of Medicine. General physiology, genetics and behavioral sciences, though not required, are strongly recommended for the pre-medical student.

Programs of study

Admission to and completion of a pre-medical program offered by the College of Humanities and Sciences does not constitute admission to the VCU School of Medicine. The student must apply separately to the medical school of his or her choice at the appropriate time.

A student entering the university with an interest in preparing for medical school should declare an academic major while also indicating a pre-medical advising track. The pre-medical classification exists to identify the student’s career interests, but the student does not earn a pre-medical degree.

A student who is “undeclared” about an academic major initially, but who has indicated a pre-medical advising track, will clarify his or her academic interests through regular conversations with his advisors. The student will declare a major in one of the degree programs offered within the university. At the same time, the student will complete the necessary pre-requisites for application for admission to the medical school of his or her choice.

Pre-medical students are encouraged to major in fields of greatest interest to them. Students need not major in a science area. In fact, many non-science majors achieve high acceptance rates into medical schools.

Advising Information

Preparation for medical school generally takes four years of undergraduate study. Beyond acceptance into medical school, the medical education is a four-year program leading to a medical doctorate or doctorate in osteopathic medicine. Many students will choose to follow medical school by attending a residency program, which typically takes an additional four years.

Introduction to Medicine MED 101 / UNIV 291

Our School of Medicine and the University College are pleased to offer a 1 credit course entitled “Introduction to Medicine” Content of the course includes advice on preparing for careers in medicine, application strategies, and information on different sub-specialties in medicine. Course is only offered in the spring semester on the MCV campus. This course is recommended for those who have taken a few pre-requisites courses and have some volunteer and health care experience to get the most out of the class.

Pre-requisite course work

The pre-requisites for medical school should be completed before or at the time the MCAT is taken. Typically, pre-requisites are complete and the MCAT is taken at the conclusion of the spring semester that takes place 15 months before a student plans to enter medical school.

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Pre-requisites for medical school

It is strongly recommended that students complete all requirements for a bachelor’s degree in an academic discipline in addition to the required prerequisites before entering medical school. It should be noted that some medical schools require additional pre-requisite course work. The best reference for specific requirements for specific medical schools is individual medical school Web sites and/or the most current edition of The Medical School Admissions Requirements.

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Elective courses

Most medical schools prefer candidates with broad educational backgrounds. In addition to a strong science background, professional school requires a solid foundation in basic verbal and quantitative skills.

Nearly one-half of the MCAT focuses on writing skills and reading comprehension of nonscientific material. It is also advisable for students with a concentration in pre-medicine to have more than the minimum number of science courses required for admission. Science majors will automatically meet this recommendation. They should choose electives from within the liberal arts. Non-science majors should select from upper level science courses, such as genetics, anatomy, physiology, etc.

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Standardized tests (MCAT)

Medical School: The Medical College Admission Test is required. Please see www.aamc.org for additional information.

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Application information

AMCAS begins receiving applications June 1.

Do not send letters of recommendation or other supplementary materials to AMCAS.

If applying for a fee waiver, request it now online. You must have a fee waiver approved before submitting your AMCAS application.

If you plan to take the August MCAT, make sure you indicate this in the appropriate section. It is important for schools to know that they can expect scores in October, even if you have already submitted scores for an earlier test.

If you answer “yes” to the question regarding academic performance or conduct violations, explain fully in the Personal Comments section (but do not make excuses – explain briefly and move on).

Check “yes” to the Advisor Information Service Release — please. You are not required to release your information to your Pre-health professions advisor, however this information is helpful to us in your future advising or the advisement of other students. Also, we like to hear how many of our students have been accepted. All information on individual applicants will remain confidential.

MCAT scores are automatically released to all AMCAS schools. If you are applying to non-AMCAS schools, such as foreign medical schools, you will need to request score reports to be released to those non-AMCAS schools. You may release scores to non-AMCAS schools online.

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Extracurricular information

When listing clubs and organizations, note any offices held or special programs on which you worked. List all volunteer work and employment, not just health-related activities. When listing volunteer work, briefly describe accomplishments. Just listing volunteer experience at a hospital does not tell admissions committees anything about specific experiences. Only 15 post-secondary experiences are allowed, so be selective about what is entered.

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Transcripts

Transcripts must be sent to AMCAS directly from the Office of Records and Registration. Do not send them yourself. Request transcripts from all U.S., U.S. Territorial or Canadian post-secondary institutions attended, even if transfer work appears on your VCU transcript. If you are enrolled in school during the summer or fall semester while or after you apply, send updated transcripts to all schools for which you are still in consideration immediately following the semester. Do not send additional transcripts to AMCAS after your initial application. Send these directly to the schools to which you have applied

Academic record: Fill out the academic record carefully, following all instructions exactly. All courses must be marked biology (B), chemistry (C), physics (P), math (M) or other categories. The AMCAS instruction booklet will give you other designations for courses that do not fit into the BCPM. If you are unsure of which category a course is in, ask your professor. For a course to be considered a science course, the course content should be at least 51 percent biology, chemistry, physics or math related. Your GPA will be calculated by AMCAS, and it will be broken down into science (BCPM), non-science (AO) and total (TOT). Each GPA also will be broken down into first year, sophomore, junior, senior, post-baccalaureate, cumulative undergraduate and graduate.

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The Pre-Health Advisory Committee

Pre-Health Advising offers a committee evaluation letter of evaluation file. If students participate in the committee process, they are required to keep their individual letters of evaluation on file with pre-health advising. Students are invited to set up a letter of evaluation file without going through the committee.

The pre-health advisory committee is a long-standing tradition at VCU. The committee consists of 40 faculty members from University Academic Advising, College of Humanities and Sciences, Honors College, School of Engineering, Division of Student Affairs and Office of the Senior Vice President for Health Sciences. There is a $20 fee to participate in either the pre-health advisory committee or file service.

The pre-health advisory committee will provide supportive letters of evaluation for those VCU students who present strong credentials to the committee. If students meet the requirements listed below, they are given the opportunity to interview before a subcommittee of our pre-health advisory committee. The two or three-person committee will write a letter evaluating the student’s credentials for medical school or dental school and will present that letter to the entire committee for approval. Upon approval of the committee letter, the committee letter and the student’s individual letters of evaluation are transmitted to all the medical schools to which a student applies.

Members of the committee interview students in the latter part of the spring semester before they apply to medical school. The committee writes a letter evaluating the applicant’s academic performance, health care experience, individual references, extracurricular activities and personality characteristics. The committee evaluation will be summarized by one of the following statements: that the individual is highly recommended, recommended with confidence, recommended, recommended with reservations or not recommended to medical school.

If the student selects the service of the pre-health advisory committee, the right of access to the committee evaluation must be waived. This waiver of access is included in the student’s evaluation file and is sent to medical schools along with a cover letter and all the individual evaluations that a student solicits.

Participating in the committee process is optional but strongly recommended, as most medical school admission committees are familiar with our committee process and expect students to participate.

Regulations Concerning VCU’s Pre-Health Advisory Committee

VCU’s Pre-Health Advisory committee is an evaluation service provided to those students who will be candidates to dental and medical school. The process to obtain a Pre-Health Advisory Committee letter for applications to schools of Dentistry and Medicine (to include Allopathic and Osteopathic) occurs once a year during the spring semester of each academic year. Eligible VCU students and alumni must submit an application, references and participate in the interview process to obtain a committee letter. The committee letter is valid for the current application cycle only.

Eligibility Guidelines

Students must meet the following in order to be eligible for the Pre-Health Advisory Committee:

New Applicants

  • Must be a current degree or certificate seeking student or an alum who has graduated within the past two years
  • Earned a minimum VCU GPA of 3.2 by end of Fall 2014 (including repeat courses)
  • Have or will complete at least 25 credits at VCU (Spring 2015 enrollment will be considered)
  • Release admissions scores (MCAT, DAT) when registering for respective admissions test to VCU (they will not be used in the evaluation process)

Re-applicants

  • Must be a current degree or certificate seeking student or an alum who has graduated within the past two years
  • Earned a minimum VCU GPA of 3.2 by end of Fall 2014 (including repeat courses)
  • Have or will complete at least 25 credits at VCU (Spring 2015 enrollment will be considered)
  • Release admissions scores (MCAT, DAT) when registering for respective admissions test to VCU (they will not be used in the evaluation process)
  • Provide an updated statement on what you have done differently in preparing to re-apply for this current admissions cycle, current test scores and future test dates (if applicable)

In order to participate in the Pre-Health Advisory Committee for the Fall 2016 application cycle new and returning applicants must complete the following:

Meet all eligibility criteria to participate.

  • Attend a pre-health applying workshop (Medicine or Dentistry) (Dates for Spring 2015 will be posted in January)
  • Complete the application in its entirety by March 23, 2015 by 5PM EST
  • 2-3 letters of recommendation must be received by March 23, 2015 PM EST. An additional letter can be submitted if planning to apply to an Osteopathic Medical School or a MD/PHD program
  • Pay $20.00 committee participate fee
  • Participate in Pre-Health Committee interview in April
  • Check VCU email account for information regarding the Pre-Health Advisory Committee

All communication will be done through your VCU email account. No other email will be used in order to communicate with candidates for the Pre-Health Advisory Committee. Failure to adhere to this policy will forfeit your opportunity to participate in committee. It is the responsibility of the applicant to follow all instructions in order to participate in the Pre-Health Advisory Committee.

Pre-Health Advisory Committee Application (Uses Adobe Forms)

Pre-Health Advisory Committee Letter of Recommendation (Uses Adobe Forms)

Spring 2015 Pre-Health Committee Payment Form

General Information

Letters of evaluation are required for application to medical and dental school. Pre-Health Advising acts a central agency to:

  •  Evaluate applicants for the purposes of creating a composite letter based on the following criteria: Cumulative GPA, Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Math (BCPM) GPA, Letters of Evaluation, Interview, Healthcare experience and Co-curricular activities to include volunteer, leadership and service
  •  Maintain a confidential file of the student’s recommendation letters (up to three). Students applying to both school of Osteopathic and Allopathic Medicine and/or MD/PHD programs may have a maximum of four letters
  •  Transmit letters of evaluation files to schools of Dentistry, Medicine, and Osteopathic Medicine as designated by the student. This process saves the applicant and letter writers from transmitting correspondence to every school for which a student makes an application.

Admissions Cycle Process

Students who plan to apply for admission to schools of Dentistry, Medicine, and Osteopathic Medicine for fall 2016 should start a file in the early part of the spring 2015 semester. Your file must be completed by March 23, 2015 5PM EST in order to participate.

Your file packet will include:

  • Pre-Health Committee Application
  • 2-3 Letters of evaluation
  • All transcripts from every college attended
  • Personal Statement and completion of short essay questions

Letters of Recommendation – Do not wait to ask for letters of recommendation. Professors, physicians and dentists are busy and you do not want to wait too late to ask for them to write on your behalf. Letters should come from faculty (science faculty are highly encouraged), practitioners – physicians and dentists, and supervisors. Recommendations should really speak to who you are as a student, your character and integrity and your aptitude for the sciences. Please provide your information to them to be completed on your behalf. There is an option to upload their recommendation in addition to a short assessment on the form. Recommendations should be written on letterhead and signed in order to be deemed as official.

Admissions Testing – Most students plan on taking their admissions tests (MCAT/DATs) during the summer of their application cycle. Students must release scores to VCU in order to have a letter written on your behalf. Test scores will not be used in your evaluation but are for evaluative purposes.

Transmission – Once you complete the application process, you must request your letters of recommendation to be sent, or transmitted.  You will be required to complete a form and submit to prehealthadv@gmail.com. We will only transmit to schools in the US and Caribbean. Schools that require letters to be sent via US mail must be addressed by the student and then submitted to the office for mailing.

Admissions Testing Information

It is the responsibility of the applicant to register online in a timely fashion for the necessary admissions test. You must release your scores to this office. It is in your best interest to take your admissions test before August.

  •  MCAT- www.aamc.org
  • DAT- www.ada.org

Application Process

It is the responsibility of the applicant to complete the application to medical and dental schools and submit applications prior to deadlines. You must release your information to this office. Prepare to submit your application well before established deadlines. Centralized application services do not accept applications after deadlines have passed. Below are websites to apply to medical and dental schools.

Medical

  1. Allopathic- www.aamc.org
  2. Osteopathic- www.aacom.org

Dental- www.adea.org

Remember to print a copy of your completed application for your files. You must provide a final copy of your submitted AMCAS, AACOMAS, or AADSAS application,  and complete the transmission request form to this office before your letter will be transmitted.

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Establishing a Letter of Evaluation file (Forms will be available in February 2015)

Students can elect to establish a letter of evaluation file with Pre-Health Advising without participating in the pre-health advisory committee. If you want to create a letter of evaluation file do the following:

  1. Complete online forms and submit $20 fee.
  2. Download and distribute the evaluation form to those from whom you are requesting evaluations.

Upon applying to take the MCAT, you are required to release your scores to VCU.

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The PreMed Society

The PreMed Society is a student-run organization that assists students in the medical school application process by exposing them to a variety of medical school programs in Virginia and beyond. Events include presentations from Deans of Admission and trips to medical schools to tour facilities and meet with faculty and students.

Helpful Web sites for pre-medicine

National organizations

Testing and preparation services

Personal statements and interviewing

Applications online

Post-baccalaureate pre-medical programs

Other

Financial aid information for pre-health students

Holistic/naturopathic medicine

Medical schools outside of the United States

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