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Frequently Asked Questions

Why is Smith is a great place to prepare for a career in the health professions?

As a liberal arts college, students are encouraged to take courses in a wide variety of subjects, providing them with the opportunity to be well-rounded learners and develop broad academic skills. Academics are rigorous, much is expected of students, and a great deal of support is provided. Smith students undertake challenging coursework and are encouraged to think critically about what they are learning and to apply new skills and concepts. All of this is excellent preparation for any health profession school. Being a small school, Smith offers ample opportunities to develop strong connections with professors. These relationships are some of the most important that you can make when building skills, experiences, and - in the long run - a career.

What does Smith offer in the way of prehealth advising?

Our Board of Prehealth Advisers is comprised of six professors, a career counselor who specializes in prehealth, the director of Health Services, and the health professions program director. The Board of Prehealth Advisers conducts outreach, including at orientation, to introduce new students to Board members and the resources we offer. We hold regular office hours and set up additional appointments as needed. All members of the Board are available to all prehealth students, and students are not "assigned" a specific prehealth adviser.

It is important to note that prehealth advisers do not "get students in" to a health profession school. We provide strong support, guidance, recommendations, cautions, resources, and so on, but in the long run it is the student who prepares herself, does the necessary work, and gains entry to professional school. We empower aspiring health professionals at Smith to do the all-important preparation work.

Does Smith have a prehealth major or minor course of study?

Like many of our peer schools, Smith does not offer a fixed prehealth major or minor course of study because there is not just one, but rather many different paths to a health profession school. What we do is support each prehealth student in finding the path that is right for her. United States Health profession schools have highly competitive admissions. When admission officers review applicants' materials and consider, among other factors, academic preparation, they look to see that someone has successfully completed the required courses and that she is a strong student overall. Smith's academic program and prehealth advising will support you in achieving that goal.

What prehealth programming is offered on campus?

We offer weekly presentations that include practitioners in the health care field, representatives of offices of admission at health profession schools, current prehealth students, and alumnae who have pursued health professions after Smith. We also provide transportation to a few off-campus events each year. Print and electronic resources are available to our prehealth students through this website, our prehealth mailing list, the reserve section of the Young Science Library, and the prehealth advising office. Our advising and events are designed to help interested students explore their interest in a career in the health field. Several prehealth-focused student organizations exist at Smith College, and they are open to anyone to join.

Can I do research at Smith?

Many of our students become involved with research during the academic year. We have many active research laboratories and projects, and the health professions program director supports students who wish to connect with research opportunities early (in their first or second years). Involvement in a research project is not guaranteed, but students who establish relationships with professors early on are usually successful.

Please see our research page for more information about research opportunities.

How can I gain clinical experience?

Smith students find clinical and volunteer opportunities in a wide variety of places. Some are through campus organizations such as Smith College EMS and Global Medical Training. Some are through study abroad programs. Some are at local hospitals, private practices, or health clinics. Aalumnae are often excellent connections for current students. Opportunities beyond the local area are limitless. Both the prehealth advising office and the Lazarus Center for Career Development have resources to help students find summer and vacation opportunities. We provide support, contacts, and resources, but as with everything, the students who take the most initiative to seek out those resources and opportunities are ultimately the most successful in finding them.

What is Smith's acceptance rate at medical schools?

In the past ten years (2004-2013), a total of 209 Smith graduates were accepted to medical school (MD/DO). Our acceptance rate was 87% for graduates with science GPAs of 3.3 or higher and 28 or higher scores on the MCAT. These numbers are comparable to Smith's peer schools. It is important to remember that different schools will show and explain their data in different ways, so to compare one school's "acceptance rate" to that of another school is often like comparing apples and oranges - it's not standardized data. More importantly, the key to acceptance at a medical school is the work of the individual applicant. Smith provides support and advising for all prehealth students, including those interested in medical school, but when it comes down to it, we are not the ones who "get you in" to medical school - you are!

Are there tutors or faculty to help students who are struggling academically?

Yes. There are designated tutors for most of the introductory science courses, and all of those that prehealth students take would fall into this category. Tutoring hours are held regularly at the Spinelli Center for Quantitative Learning and the Jacobsen Center for Writing, Teaching and Learning (for biology). All faculty have regularly scheduled office hours. While office hours can be used for any topic, it's most common that students will go to ask questions about a class. It is also possible to set up meetings with professors at a separate time, if you are not free during office hours.

I am an international student. Can I attend a health profession school in the United States?

International students face unique challenges when applying for health profession school in the United States. First, most health profession schools, as competitive as they are for U.S. citizens and permanent residents to gain admission, are even more competitive for international students. Some do not accept international students at all. Every year Smith has international alumnae who enter U.S. health profession schools, but they are typically the most outstanding applicants. Additionally, finances can be difficult. International students are not eligible for low-interest-rate federal student loans, and for immigration purposes, many health profession schools require international students to demonstrate upfront that they have sufficient funds to pay for their full course of study. Finally, if you hope to eventually practice in your home country, it's important to research schools carefully and be sure that the degree you wish to earn will be recognized where you intend to practice.

On the other hand, if you hope to enter a health profession school in your home country or elsewhere but wish to attend undergraduate college in the U.S., it's important to know in advance what qualifications that health profession school expects and to be sure you can meet those qualifications through a U.S. undergraduate education.