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Explore the Health Professions

Student posing in front of children's hospital
 

All health professions are related to the health and well-being of humans and animals. The term “health profession” encompasses a wide range of interests, skill sets and career paths, and may be used to describe a clinician who sees and treats patients; an epidemiologist with a master’s degree in public health who investigates the cause of disease outbreaks; a veterinarian who specializes in wildlife rehabilitation; a practitioner in complementary therapies, such as chiropractic and acupuncture; or a health administrator who manages the delivery of healthcare. Health professions vary in philosophy, career lifestyle, education duration and earning capacity.

Which Health Profession Is Right For You?

Students are encouraged to explore a variety of health professions during their time at Smith. Before committing to a certain profession—and the degree required to pursue that profession—you should be confident that your chosen path is the right fit. Following are helpful resources and information about specific health professions.

Prehealth Student Organizations Explore Health Careers Occupational Outlook Handbook

Oriental medicine assesses, diagnoses and treats patients using the traditional Chinese philosophy of Qi (pronounced "chee"). Qi is energy that must flow circuitously in the body for optimum health. Practitioners of oriental medicine manipulate skin and muscle to improve Qi circulation, and thus restore energy and stimulate healing. As a holistic method of healing, oriental medicine also considers patient diet, lifestyle, mental condition and emotional state when constructing a diagnosis or treatment.

Oriental medicine uses a variety of treatments. Some practitioners use acupuncture, which is the process of inserting thin needles at acupressure points on the body. Other treatments include Tui Na, a series of hand techniques to stimulate pressure points in the body; moxabustion, burning herbs around parts of the body; cupping, a warm suction applied topically; and Gua Sha, gently scraping the skin. These treatments are performed alone as a therapy, or as a supplement to acupuncture. Herbal remedies may also be used to treat patients.

Western medicine has adapted techniques from oriental medicine, and acupuncture is well recognized as a treatment for osteoarthritis and other musculoskeletal pain. Research studies regarding the use of oriental medicine for treatment of other illnesses are ongoing, and in many cases reflect good results. Some common ailments that a practitioner might treat include chronic pain, headaches, hypertension, menstrual cramps and depression. Most practitioners of oriental medicine are self-employed in a private practice, but some may work at a hospital in integrative medicine. Practitioners of oriental medicine may work with osteopathic physicians, physical therapists, nutritionists, naturopaths and chiropractors.


Educational Track

To be eligible for licensure examinations, students must complete a master-level education, such as a master of science in acupuncture and Oriental medicine (M.S.A.O.M.), a master of science of acupuncture (M.S.A.), or a master of science in traditional Chinese medicine (M.S.T.C.M.). These degrees typically require three to four years of combined education and clinical work. Curriculum emphasizes traditional Oriental medicine treatments, biomedical science, patient counseling, ethics, practice management, herbal medicine and Chinese medical language. Some schools teach acupuncture or herbal medicine programs separately, and may focus on different types of Oriental medicine, including Traditional Chinese, Japanese, and Five Element.

Students with a master-level education may wish to pursue a doctor of acupuncture and Oriental medicine (D.A.O.M.), which is a two-year program focusing on integrative medicine and specialized patient populations. There are currently five accredited institutions that offer a D.A.O.M. within the United States.

The requirements to practice acupuncture and oriental medicine (AOM) depend on the state of practice. For licensing, national regulation (NCCAOM) separates acupuncture from Oriental medicine (which includes acupuncture and herbal medicine.) Currently, 42 states and the District of Columbia regulate AOM, and all of these states except for California require examinations administered by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. California administers its own board examination. Oklahoma, Kansas, Alabama, South Dakota, North Dakota and Wyoming do not currently regulate AOM. The licensing requirements of each state may change, and there may be additional requirements in some states. Students should research the licensing requirements of their intended state of residence prior to submitting their application to a school of AOM.

International program accreditation, core curriculum and licensing standards may be variable. Students who plan to practice abroad should familiarize themselves with these requirements prior to applying to an AOM program.


Applying to AOM Programs

Accredited AOM master's programs require at least two years of relevant undergraduate education, though some schools require a bachelor's degree. Undergraduate coursework in biology, anatomy and physiology, general chemistry, algebra, and psychology are common requirements. Students applying to a D.A.O.M. program will need a master-level degree or significant clinical experience as an AOM practitioner.

Applications should be submitted directly to the institution. Admissions boards will consider a student's undergraduate grade point average, personal statement, and information gained through letters of recommendation and interviews.

Students considering which AOM program will be the "best fit" may wish to evaluate criteria such as tuition costs, campus location, the types of facilities available, commitment to student diversity, the extent of funding for research projects and the mission statement of the school.


Resources

Physicians are responsible for maintaining the health of human patients, and often work in a specific area of care. For example, an internist diagnoses patient illnesses, a gynecologist works with the female reproductive system, a cardiologist provides care for the heart, and a pediatrician works with sick children. There are many fields in medicine to investigate during medical school.

A physician is one part of a large health care team. Physicians typically work in environments such as clinics, group health organizations or hospitals, and are assisted by a variety of medical and administrative personnel. Some physicians work in private practice. Academic institutions may also hire a physician to teach, conduct research or direct clinical training programs.


Educational Track

A degree in human medicine requires four years of study beyond the bachelor's degree at an accredited institution in the United States. After completing medical school, physicians participate in a residency program that lasts three to eight years, depending on the chosen medical specialty. Many schools offer dual-degree programs (a medical degree combined with another degree such as an M.B.A., M.P.H., J.D. or Ph.D.). These programs require additional months or years of study.

Medical schools in the United States can be divided into two general categories: allopathic (M.D.) and osteopathic (D.O.). The curricula are virtually identical. Both types of schools produce physicians who are eligible to become licensed to practice in the United States and many other countries. Both prepare students to specialize in the area of their choice. Residency programs recognize the degrees as equivalent, and the schools have the same basic admission requirements. Dual-degree programs can also be found at both M.D. and D.O. programs.

However, while graduates of osteopathic medical schools pursue specialties in all areas of medicine, a larger number of osteopathic graduates enter primary care. In addition to the basic and clinical sciences taught at both allopathic and osteopathic medical schools, students of osteopathic medicine receive instruction in osteopathic manipulative medicine (OMM), a form of hands-on palpation and manipulation used to improve health.

Students who complete the D.O. or M.D. degree must pass the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE), or the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination (COMPLEX), respectively, prior to practicing medicine. Some states may have additional licensing requirements.

International program accreditation, core curriculum and licensing standards may be variable. Students who plan to practice abroad should familiarize themselves with these requirements prior to applying to an M.D. or D.O. program.


Applying to DO or MD Programs

Generally, M.D. and D.O. programs seek college graduates who demonstrate a commitment to academic excellence, aptitude for leadership, and who demonstrate a desire to help people through service in medicine. Information gathered through school transcripts, interviews and letters of recommendation is also important. Undergraduate coursework in biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics is generally required, but an undergraduate science degree is not.

All students applying to D.O. or M.D. programs will be required to take the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT), which tests an understanding of biology, chemistry, organic chemistry, math, social sciences and reasoning.

The admissions interfaces for M.D. and D.O. programs are different. M.D. applications are submitted through the American Medical College Application Services (AMCAS), while D.O. applications are submitted through the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service (AACOMAS). Osteopathic medical schools on average receive slightly fewer applications than allopathic medical schools. Nevertheless, entry to osteopathic medical school remains highly competitive and these schools should not be regarded as safety nets.

AMCAS and AACOMAS currently serve most allopathic and osteopathic medical schools in the United States, with the exception of medical schools in Texas, which process both D.O. and M.D. applications through the Texas Medical and Dental Schools Application Service (TMDSAS). Students are advised to confirm the application interface and admission requirements of their intended institutions prior to starting the application process.

Students comparing D.O. or M.D. programs should, if possible, visit the institutions to get a feeling for "best fit." Other factors to consider are tuition, location, the types of facilities available, commitment to student diversity, the extent of funding for research projects and the mission statement of the school.


Resources

Resources for Allopathic Medicine
Resources for Osteopathic Medicine

Chiropractors use adjustive therapies to treat patients with joint inflammation, osteoarthritis, muscle soreness or chronic pain. This branch of care involves realigning the spine by physically manipulating areas of the body around the back and neck. As necessary, chiropractors may also manipulate extremities as part of their treatment. Chiropractors use this treatment holistically in conjunction with other medical therapies, such as those that utilize naturopathic medicine, physical activity, nutrition or physical therapy.

A chiropractor does not prescribe medication. However, a chiropractor will take a medical history and gather information to assess a patient, diagnose a condition and implement a treatment plan. A chiropractor might refer patients to other fields of medicine for treatment if symptoms suggest disease elsewhere in the body.

Some chiropractors specialize in a patient population, and may work with osteopathic clinicians, nutritionists, athletic groups, massage therapists or physical therapists. Most chiropractors are self-employed in a private practice, but some may work in a shared office with other healthcare providers. Academic institutions may hire a chiropractor to teach, conduct research or direct clinical training programs.


Educational Track

A doctor of chiropractic (D.C.) degree typically requires four years at an accredited institution. Students will learn about anatomy, physiology, pathology, kinesthesiology, biochemistry and biology. Students apply theory during their final two years, as they gain experience through clinical practice and laboratory work. Chiropractors who wish to teach, conduct research or specialize within a patient population should expect to spend one to two years in residency after completing their degree.

All chiropractors are required to pass national and state exams. The National Board of Chiropractic Examiners (NBCE) regulates a four-part national examination, which is administered at different times during the chiropractic education. Many states require practicing chiropractors to undergo periodic examinations and be engaged in continuing education. There are currently 16 accredited institutions that offer chiropractic programs within the United States.

International program accreditation, core curriculum and licensing standards may vary. Students who plan to practice abroad should familiarize themselves with these requirements prior to applying to a D.C. program.


Applying to D.C. Programs

The application process and the requirements for a chiropractic program vary by institution. Generally, chiropractic programs require 90 credit hours of undergraduate coursework, with at least 24 credit hours emphasizing life and physical sciences such as biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, anthropology, anatomy, physiology and physics. Students should check the specific requirements of their intended program prior to submitting an application.

Some institutions may waive certain requirements if a student has a high GPA. Conversely, students with a cumulative GPA below 3.0 may be required to take the Chiropractic College Aptitude Test (CCAT) as part of their application, which is a test that measures competency in chemistry, biology, mathematics and physics. Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores are accepted, but not required.

Students should submit their applications directly to each program of interest. In evaluating incoming applications, admissions boards will consider a student's course work, GPA, personal statement and information gained through letters of recommendation, essays and interviews.

Students considering which chiropractic school will be the "best fit" may wish to evaluate criteria such as tuition costs, campus location, the types of facilities available, commitment to student diversity, the extent of funding for research projects and the mission statement of the school.


Resources

The field of dentistry broadly encompasses the processes of diagnosis, treatment and preventative care of oral tissue and the surrounding facial areas. A dentist may repair damaged teeth, perform corrective surgery on bones or tissues that support the mouth, interpret X-rays or emphasize practices to prevent dental disease. A dentist can write prescriptions for antibiotics or analgesics. Dentists are trained in all organ systems, and may refer patients to other medical specialties if oral symptoms suggest disease elsewhere in the body. Dentists who have their own practice will need to supervise administrative tasks, such as ordering equipment or conducting employee reviews.

Some dentists seek a career in a specific field of dentistry. Common dental fields of specialization include oral surgery, pediatric dentistry, oral pathology, endodontics, periodontics and prosthodontics.

Dental school graduates have many options when choosing a career. Some may initially opt to work for another dentist, while others will directly enter into their own private practice. Other graduates continue on to residency programs for one of the advanced specialties. Dentists find employment in hospitals or other public health facilities. Many academic institutions hire dentists to teach, conduct research and direct clinical training programs.


Educational Track

Receiving an education in dentistry typically takes four years and involves both theoretical and practical curricula. Dentists who wish to teach, conduct research or specialize in a field should expect to spend two to six years of postgraduate education within career-related programs. All dental students are required to pass a practical exam, as well as National Board Dental Examinations, in order to obtain a license to practice dentistry in the United States.

All accredited dental institutions in the United States award either a degree of doctor of dental surgery (D.D.S.) or a degree of doctor of dental medicine (D.M.D.). Aside from the title, there are no differences between these two types of degrees.


Applying to Dental Programs

The application process and the requirements for dental school may vary by institution. It is generally recommended that students who seek to enter dental school complete a bachelor's degree. Coursework in biology, chemistry, physics, health and mathematics is usually required, but a science degree is not necessary.

All students applying to dental school will be required to take the Dental Admissions Test (DAT) which tests an understanding of biology, chemistry, organic chemistry, math and problem solving. In evaluating incoming applications, admissions boards will consider a student's DAT score, grade point average, and information gained through letters of recommendation and interviews. Most applications are submitted through the Associated American Dental Schools Application Service (AADSAS), located within the website of the American Dental Education Association. However, applicants of dental schools that are within the state of Texas must use the Texas Medical and Dental Schools Application Service (TMDSAS) instead of AADSAS. The University of Mississippi School of Dentistry does not participate in the AADSAS process and directly manages student applications. Students should confirm the application interface of their potential institutions prior to starting the application process.

Students considering which dental schools will be the "best fit" may wish to evaluate criteria such as tuition costs, campus location, the types of facilities available, commitment to student diversity, the extent of funding for research projects and the mission statement of the school.


Resources

An M.D.-Ph.D. program is an integrated program that trains a candidate to become both a physician and a researcher. Though this career does require the provision of clinical care, a student pursuing an M.D.-Ph.D. should expect to spend the majority of her career conducting research. The hybridization of research and practice allows clinicians to hypothesize and investigate hypotheses that might arise from time spent in clinical care, and these practices often lead to improved standards for patient care.

Educational Track

M.D.-Ph.D. programs integrate research experience with clinical practice and involve both theoretical and practical curricula. The program duration is about eight years. Typically the first and last two years are devoted to clinical training, while the interim four years are focused on graduate school experiences in research. Biomedical specialties that students might choose to research include immunology, biochemical pathology, microbiology and infectious disease, bioethics, epidemiology, genetics, bioengineering and medical imaging, computational bioinformatics, and pharmacology. Students may also conduct research in non-biomedical fields.

Funding for an M.D.-Ph.D. education is often subsidized through stipends and grants. Students pursuing a specialty should expect to spend three to seven years in residency after graduation. Other graduates may elect to enter directly into substantial research in the private sector, a role that has less emphasis on clinical care. Many students receiving an M.D.-Ph.D. degree will have the option to work in academia as medical school faculty. Very few M.D.-Ph.D. candidates will exclusively practice medicine after graduation.


Applying to M.D.–Ph.D. Programs

M.D.-Ph.D. programs integrate research experience with clinical practice and involve both theoretical and practical curricula. The program duration is about eight years. Typically the first and last two years are devoted to clinical training, while the interim four years are focused on graduate school experiences in research. Biomedical specialties that students might choose to research include immunology, biochemical pathology, microbiology and infectious disease, bioethics, epidemiology, genetics, bioengineering and medical imaging, computational bioinformatics, and pharmacology. Students may also conduct research in non-biomedical fields.

Funding for an M.D.-Ph.D. education is often subsidized through stipends and grants. Students pursuing a specialty should expect to spend three to seven years in residency after graduation. Other graduates may elect to enter directly into substantial research in the private sector, a role that has less emphasis on clinical care. Many students receiving an M.D.-Ph.D. degree will have the option to work in academia as medical school faculty. Very few M.D.-Ph.D. candidates will exclusively practice medicine after graduation.


Resources

A practitioner of natural medicine accounts for individual psychological, physical and behavioral contexts when diagnosing or treating a patient. Natural health practitioners train in Western medicine, and learn the technologies necessary to make effective diagnosis and treatment plans. However, pharmacology and treatments with harmful side effects are de-emphasized. There is increased focus on finding natural, individualized ways to prevent illness and stimulate natural healing processes in the body.

A naturopathic practitioner might encourage a diet and exercise plan as a means of prophylaxis, assist with childbirth in a patient home, or treat the underlying cause of an illness with natural agents, minor surgery, acupuncture or other minimally invasive processes. Some naturopathic clinicians are able to write prescriptions for medication.

Practitioners of natural medicine can be primary care providers in certain states. Others pursue careers in pharmacy, public health, wellness education or research. Practitioners of naturopathic medicine may work with osteopathic physicians, practitioners of Oriental medicine, acupuncturists, physical therapists, nutritionists and chiropractors. Most naturopaths are self-employed in a private practice, but some may work in a shared office with other healthcare providers.


Educational Track

A doctor of naturopathic medicine (N.D.) degree typically requires four years of education from an accredited naturopathic medical school. Naturopathic institutions teach the same biomedical principles that are taught to students of allopathic (M.D. degree) and osteopathic (D.O. degree) medicine. In addition, students are taught about botanical medicine, homeopathic treatments and counseling. Typically, the first two years of education are devoted to theory, while the remaining two years are completed in a clinical setting. N.D. students are not required to complete postgraduate residency training, but most schools offer a few residencies to students who wish to gain further exposure in a specific field of interest. There are currently seven accredited schools of naturopathic medicine in the United States.

Students must also pass two examinations created by the Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Examination Board (NPLEX), which are administered by the North American Board of Naturopathic Examiners (NABNE). The first test is typically completed when the student has completed the biomedical science coursework, while the second test must be taken after graduation. Additional tests may be required, depending on the licensing procedures of each state.

Sixteen U.S. states strictly regulate naturopathic medicine and require licensing. In these states, a doctor of naturopathic medicine describes a person who has completed appropriate training at an accredited institution. In contrast, other states would use the term "traditional naturopath" to broadly describe any health provider who focuses on naturopathic medicine.

The scope of clinical naturopathic care depends largely on the state of practice. Doctors that prescribe medications and serve as primary care physicians in one state may be unable to provide the same services in a different state. Because of this variance, it is crucial that students consider where they plan to live before pursuing an education in naturopathic medicine.


Applying to Naturopathic Programs

Accredited naturopathic programs require a four-year undergraduate degree. Coursework in biology, general chemistry and organic chemistry is required. Some schools will also require coursework in physics, psychology, mathematics and biochemistry. Exposure to botany, physiology and anatomy is recommended but not required.

Applications for prospective students are processed through the Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine Centralized Application Service (NDCAS), which is located on the website for the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges (AANMC). Three accredited N.D. programs do not participate in NDCAS. Students will need to apply directly to these schools. In evaluating incoming applications, admissions boards will consider a student's coursework, undergraduate grade point average and information gained through letters of recommendation and interviews.

Students considering which naturopathic school will be the "best fit" may wish to evaluate criteria such as tuition costs, campus location, the types of facilities available, commitment to student diversity, the extent of funding for research projects and the mission statement of the school.


Resources

The field of nursing is devoted to diagnosing and treating human illnesses or injuries. A nurse may work with a clinician collecting patient data, administering medications and performing diagnostic tests. A nurse with an advanced degree may give anesthesia, assist a surgeon or provide postoperative care. Nurses often work in hospitals, but they also find careers in hospice care, public schools, insurance companies, private practices and governmental agencies. Academic institutions may hire a nurse to teach or direct clinical training programs.

Career options within the field of nursing are expanding to allow nurses to adopt roles with increased responsibilities. Nurses with advanced degrees might conduct clinical research to improve patient care, or enter private practice as a primary health care provider. In a hospital setting, nurses with advanced degrees can adopt managerial or administrative roles constructing and implementing longitudinal health management plans for long-term patients.


Educational Track

There are many educational paths to a career in nursing. The time spent in school and tuition costs of each path are different.

Masters- and Doctoral-Level Nursing Degrees

Most graduates of Smith College who pursue a career in nursing choose to enter an advanced degree program. The master of science in nursing (M.S.N.), which typically takes two years, is available for students who have already completed a B.S.N. (bachelor of science in nursing). The M.S.N. prepares nursing students for entry-level practice as certified nurse practitioners (C.N.P.), certified nurse midwives (C.N.M.), nurse anesthetists (C.R.N.A.) or clinical nurse specialists (C.N.S.). Some M.S.N. programs offer an accelerated B.S.N. that can be completed in about 18 months, and this can be an appealing option for Smith alumnae.

Students holding a B.S.N. or M.S.N. may choose to spend an additional three to six years obtaining a doctor of nursing practice (D.N.P.), doctor of nursing education (D.N.) or doctor of nursing science (D.N.S.). These advanced degrees emphasize academic research methods, leadership within clinical practice, and allow nurses to pursue careers in clinical research or independent healthcare.

As of 2013, the American Nurses Credentialing Center and the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners suggest that all nurse practitioners complete a D.N.P. degree, as opposed to a M.S.N. degree. Students seeking to become nurse practitioners should stay abreast of this topic prior to selecting a certification program.

A variety of advanced nursing professions may be achieved through the M.S.N. and D.N.P. tracks. Regardless of the educational path, all students must pass a National Council Licensure Examination before they are able to practice. There may be additional requirements or examinations depending on the state of practice.

Associates- and Bachelor-Level Nursing Degrees

Other nursing degrees not usually pursued by Smith graduates include the L.P.N. and R.N.. A licensed practical nurse (L.P.N.) has completed one to two years at a state-accredited program. An L.P.N. may work in rehabilitation settings, nursing homes, home care or doctor's offices, and the scope of practice is limited. A registered nurse (R.N.) typically holds either an associate of science of nursing degree (A.S.N./A.D.N.), or a bachelor of science nursing (B.S.N.). The A.S.N./A.D.N. takes two years at an accredited institution. The B.S.N. for students without a B.A. or B.S. requires four years of education through a college or university. Students may also choose to enroll in a military ROTC Nursing program, and receive an R.N. degree in two to four years. An R.N. usually works in environments where critical thought and good judgment is important. Their scope of practice is broader than an L.P.N. but less than a D.N.P.


Applying to Nursing Programs

Prerequisites for each program will vary depending on the degree that is granted. Students should check the prerequisite requirements of each institution prior to applying.

Generally, an A.S.N. or B.S.N. degree requires completion of high school. College-level coursework in science, math, chemistry and psychology are also recommended. Students pursuing an L.P.N. or nursing diploma should check the application requirements for programs in their state of intended practice, or their institution of employment, respectively.

Students applying for an M.S.N. program do not necessarily need a B.S.N. degree, but some programs require it. Many institutions offer the option to participate in a bridge program for non-nursing students transitioning to a B.S.N. or M.S.N. program. These accelerated programs build on current education, are more rigorous, and allow students to complete B.S.N. or M.S.N. certification within one to two years, or two to three years, respectively. Students applying to these programs must submit Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores, official transcripts, letters of recommendation and, if applying for an M.S.N. accelerated program, evidence of R.N. licensure. For many combination B.S.N.-M.S.N. accelerated programs, R.N. licensure is obtained after completing the B.S.N. portion of the program.

Applicants for a D.N.P. or equivalent degree must have either a B.S.N. or M.S.N.. Students must submit GRE scores, official transcripts, letters of recommendation, and evidence of R.N. licensure. A résumé, research proposal and writing sample may also be requested.

Students applying for an accredited B.S.N., A.S.N. or M.S.N. degree program will submit their applications through the Nursing Centralized Application Service (NursingCAS). Students applying to D.N.P. programs should do so directly with each program. Students should check the application process and admission requirements with each potential institution prior to submitting their application.


Resources

Optometrists traditionally provide primary general health care for areas of the body that relate to vision. An optometrist performs routine tests for diseases of the eye, assesses vision acuity and depth accuracy, and prescribes corrective lenses, or other medications, as necessary. Optometrists who have specialized in a particular field of optometry may have a specific role outside of performing annual checkups. For example, an optometrist may exclusively provide care for patients who are either entering, or recovering from, optical surgery. Another common specialization provides optical therapy for patients who are experiencing low vision, which is the permanent reduction or loss of vision. Other specializations include geriatric care, pediatric-specific care or family practice.

Optometry should not be confused with ophthalmology, which is a medical specialization requiring the M.D. educational path. Ophthalmologists are licensed to treat diseases of the eye and perform corrective surgery, which have not traditionally been within the scope of practice for an optometrist. It should be noted that the scope of practice for an optometrist might vary depending on the state of practice. An optometrist should also be distinguished from an optician, or optical technician, who work with an optometrist and perform tasks such as fitting and designing eyewear, or dispensing medications.

Optometrists are needed in many institutions such as hospitals, outpatient clinics, schools and research facilities. Serving within the military is also a career option. Academic institutions may hire an optometrist to teach, conduct research or direct clinical training programs. Optometrists may open a private practice or work with other optometrists or doctors in a shared office. In these instances, an optometrist will likely spend time on administrative tasks, such as employee management or office maintenance.


Educational Track

A doctor of optometry (O.D.) degree typically requires four years at an accredited institution. Students will learn about anatomy, physiology, optics, pharmacology, visual sciences, biochemistry, neurophysiology of the vision system and the epidemiology of optical afflictions. Students apply theory during their final two years, as they gain experience through clinical practice. Optometrists who wish to teach, conduct research or specialize in an area of optical care should expect to spend one to two years of postgraduate education within residency in their area of specialization.

All optometrists are required to pass a national board exam administered by the National Board of Examiners in Optometry (NBEO), in order to obtain a license to practice optometry in the United States. Some states require practicing optometrists to undergo periodic examinations and be engaged in continuing education. As of 2018, there are 23 accredited institutions that offer optometry programs within the United States.

International program core curriculum and licensing standards may be variable. Students who plan to practice abroad should familiarize themselves with these requirements prior to applying to an optometry program.


Applying to O.D. Programs

The application process and the requirements for an optometry program may vary by institution. It is generally recommended that students complete a bachelor's degree, although this is not necessary. Students who have completed three years of undergraduate coursework may also apply. Coursework in biology, organic chemistry, bacteriology, chemistry, physics, psychology and mathematics is recommended, and may be also required at some institutions.

All students applying to an optometry program will be required to take the Optometry Admissions Test (OAT) which tests an understanding of biology, chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, reading comprehension, and qualitative reasoning. In evaluating incoming applications, admissions boards will consider a student's OAT score, GPA, personal statement, and information gained through letters of recommendation and interviews.

As of 2013, all applications are submitted through the Optometry Centralized Application Service (OpomCAS), which is located on the website for the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO).

Students considering which optometry program will be the "best fit" may wish to evaluate criterion such as tuition costs, campus location, the types of facilities available, commitment to student diversity, the extent of funding for research projects and the mission statement of the school.


Resources

Occupational therapists assist people who are living with physical or emotional illness, injury or disabilities. They work with patients, their family members and caregivers to create and execute a plan of care that will allow the patient to develop, hone, or recover the motor or cognitive skills necessary to carry out their desired daily activities.

An occupational therapist might work in hospitals providing therapeutic regimens for patients diagnosed with a permanent illness. For example, an occupational therapist might assign gardening or painting to a patient recently diagnosed with Parkinson's disease as a means of preserving hand-eye coordination, which degenerates during the course of the disease. Other occupational therapists work onsite to help aging patients maintain independent, productive lifestyles in their home environment as their physical capabilities diminish. Occupational therapists might recommend adaptive technologies to assist with mobility and balance, such as a wheelchair, splint or lift.

Occupational therapists work for the military, hospitals, nursing homes, within patient homes, within schools, or in offices with physical, speech or other occupational therapists. Often, occupational therapists will collaborate with physical therapists and physicians. Academic institutions may hire an occupational therapist to teach, conduct research or direct clinical training programs.

There are many similarities in the roles of a physical therapist and occupational therapist. Both work with people to maximize or regain function. Physical therapists, however, target broad motor functions such as walking or climbing, while occupational therapists target activities of daily living such as eating, toileting and bathing. Physical therapists generally direct their interventions to the patient's body, while occupational therapists direct their interventions towards changing the daily ways that a patient interacts with their environment.


Educational Track

A practicing occupational therapist (O.T.) must have a minimum of a master's degree at an accredited institution, which takes about two years. Students learn biology, anatomy, cellular biology, physiology, biomechanics, kinesiology, neuroscience, pharmacology, pathology, behavioral sciences, body systems and clinical reasoning. Students may receive a master of arts (M.A.), master of science (M.S.) or master of occupational therapy (M.O.T.). These designations depend on the degree-granting institution and are all appropriate degrees for an occupational therapist.

Students with a master's degree have the option to pursue a doctorate in occupational therapy (O.T.D.). This post-professional education provides one to two years of training in research, theory development, advocacy and education. Students pursuing an O.T.D. should expect to complete an experimental project in a specific subfield of occupational therapy. Students who complete an O.T.D. may choose a residency to obtain further clinical experiences.

Students who complete a master-level education must pass the Occupational Therapist Registered (OTR) examination administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT), which provides the certification necessary to practice as an occupational therapist in any state. Some states may have additional licensing requirements.

International program accreditation, core curriculum and licensing standards may vary. Students who plan to practice abroad should familiarize themselves with these requirements prior to applying to O.T. programs.


Applying to O.T. Programs

The application process and the requirements for an occupational therapy program may vary by institution and type of program. Generally, O.T. programs that provide a master's degree require a bachelor's degree with a minimum GPA of a 3.0 and undergraduate coursework in relevant classes such as psychology, anthropology, anatomy, physiology, statistics and medical terminology. Many programs require Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores. Volunteer or observational experience in occupational therapy is a requirement for some programs.

Doctoral programs generally require a master's degree in occupational therapy, as well as experience within an occupational therapy setting. Many students choose to work for a few years as an occupational therapist before applying for an O.T.D. program. In evaluating incoming applications, admissions boards will consider a student's coursework, field experience, GPA, personal statement and information gained through letters of recommendation and interviews.

Most entry-level applications are submitted through the Occupational Therapy Centralized Application Service (OTCAS), which is located within the website for the American Occupational Therapy Association (ACOTA). Students pursuing an O.T.D. should apply to each program independently of OTCAS.

Students considering which O.T. program will be the "best fit" may wish to evaluate criteria such as degrees offered, tuition costs, campus location, available facilities, commitment to student diversity, research funding and the mission statement of the school.


Resources

A pharmacist houses, regulates and distributes medications. They work with patients, clinicians, nurses, research labs or other health practitioners to determine the safest, most effective way to deliver a therapeutic drug.

Pharmacists work in a variety of settings. They can be found in hospitals, working within the army, dispensing drugs at grocery or drug stores, conducting clinical research for private pharmaceutical companies or government funded laboratories, working for public health care organizations or acting as consults for insurance companies. Academic institutions may hire a pharmacist to teach, conduct research or direct clinical training programs.


Educational Track

A pharmacy degree (Pharm.D.) requires three to four years of education at an accredited institution. Curriculum varies broadly by the educational institution, but generally students can expect a heavier emphasis on theory in the earlier years, while later years emphasize clinical exposure and patient care. Though many students begin working immediately after pharmacy school, some choose residency, which will prepare them to work as a pharmacist in a clinical setting. Other students may pursue a Ph.D. after graduation, and are more likely to conduct pharmaceutical research or teach pharmacy.

Upon graduation, students must pass the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX), which is a nationwide examination administered by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy. This test ensures that students can safely, accurately and effectively dispense therapeutic drugs to patients. Additional examinations may be required for licensure depending on the student's intended state of practice.

International program accreditation, core curriculum and licensing standards may be variable. Students who plan to practice abroad should familiarize themselves with these requirements prior to applying to a pharmacy program.


Applying to Pharmacy Programs

Application requirements are not unified among accredited pharmacological programs. Some schools require students to have ACT or SAT scores and will matriculate students who have completed two years of undergraduate prerequisite coursework. Other schools require a bachelor's degree and scores from the Pharmacology College Admissions Test (PCAT), which measures academic ability and scientific knowledge. Prerequisite coursework also varies by institution, but common required classes include microbiology, immunology, anatomy, biochemistry, organic chemistry, statistics, calculus and public speaking.

Many applications are submitted through the Pharmacy College Application Service (PharmCAS), which is located within the website for the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP). Students should consult each institution for admission criteria prior to submitting applications.

Students considering which pharmacy program will be the "best fit" may wish to evaluate criteria such as the degrees offered, tuition costs, campus location, available facilities, commitment to student diversity, research funding and the mission statement of the school.


Resources

A physician assistant (P.A.) is well trained in clinical technique and works in a team with a physician to develop appropriate diagnoses and treatments. For example, a P.A. may collect X-rays and interpret results. If treatment is warranted, a P.A. will administer medication or assist a physician with operative procedures, such as providing suture after surgery. A P.A. may also be responsible for collecting medical history, writing prescriptions or providing patient education or counseling.

P.A.s cannot practice autonomously and have a scope of practice that is determined by their supervising physician. However, P.A.s often have the authority to do many tasks that a physician would do such as diagnosing and treating patients, admitting or discharging patients, ordering tests, performing minor surgeries and ordering treatment. P.A.s may also take on administrative or managerial roles.

A P.A. works anywhere a physician works: hospitals, nursing homes, outpatient care clinics, private practices, or any larger institution such as a university or government agency. A P.A. may also choose to study rural primary care, which would allow the P.A. to work remotely from a supervising clinician. A P.A. can specialize in virtually any division of medicine including family practice, neonatology, obstetrics and gynecology, geriatrics, pediatrics, cardiology and pulmonology.


Educational Track

P.A. programs typically award a master's degree, which requires two years of education at an accredited institution. The curriculum is geared to teach about medicine on a clinical level and will instruct students on topics of pathology, anatomy, physiology, clinical medicine, physical diagnosis, pharmacology, therapeutics and medical ethics. Students will also participate in clinical clerkships throughout their education. After graduation, students who decide to specialize typically spend one to two years in a postgraduate program, and may participate in a fellowship or residency.

Students who wish to begin practicing after graduation must pass the Physician Assistant Certifying Examination, administered by the National Association on Certification of Physician Assistants. Most states require an individual license to practice. P.A.s are required to continue with either education or practice after licensure and must complete a recertification examination every six years.

International program accreditation, core curriculum and licensing standards may vary. Students who plan to practice abroad should familiarize themselves with these requirements prior to applying to P.A. programs.


Applying to P.A. Programs

Physician Assistant programs do not have uniform prerequisites. Some schools require a minimum of two years of undergraduate prerequisite coursework, while others require a bachelor's degree. General prerequisite requirements include biology, chemistry, organic chemistry, calculus, composition, anatomy & physiology, microbiology, physics, computer sciences and medical terminology. Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) scores may be a required by some schools. Students should consult each institution for admissions criteria prior to submitting applications.

In evaluating incoming applications, admissions boards will consider applicant GPA, breadth of exposure to clinical care, and information gained through letters of recommendation and interviews. Admission committees expect that applicants understand what it means to work in clinical care, and experience in healthcare is a requirement for some programs. Many applicants have worked as registered nurses, emergency medical technicians, medical assistants or as medics in the military.

Some, but not all, applications are submitted through the Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA). Students should check the application requirements, deadlines and matriculation dates of their programs of interest.

Students considering which P.A. program will be the "best fit" may wish to evaluate criteria such as the degrees offered, tuition costs, program size, campus location, available facilities, commitment to student diversity and the mission statement of the school.


Resources

Physical therapists assist people living with physical or emotional illness, injury or disability. Physical therapists work with patients, their family members and caregivers to diagnose injuries and formulate treatments that will allow the patient to develop, hone or recover the motor or cognitive skills necessary to carry out their desired daily activities.

Physical therapists evaluate and treat patients who may have developmental delays such as children born with cerebral palsy or Down syndrome, or patients with physical injuries needing rehabilitation. Physical therapists might teach a patient stretches to restore muscle function, reposition joints to improve joint mobility during healing, or teach strengthening exercises to improve or regain daily function. Physical therapists often work closely with occupational therapists, who assist patients with adaptive technologies to maximize mobility or balance.

The field of physical therapy encompasses many specialties such as pediatrics, women's health, sports medicine or cardiopulmonary or neurological rehabilitation. Physical therapists practice in hospitals, nursing homes, patient homes, outpatient clinics or in the military. They may collaborate with other medical specialists such as doctors, occupational therapists, and speech therapists. Academic institutions may also hire a physical therapist to teach, conduct research or direct clinical training programs.

There are many similarities in the roles of a physical therapist and occupational therapist. Both work with people to maximize or regain function. Physical therapists, however, target broad motor functions such as walking or climbing. Occupational therapists target activities of daily living such as eating, toileting and bathing. Physical therapists generally direct their interventions to the patient's body, while occupational therapists direct their interventions towards changing the ways that a patient interacts with their environment.


Educational Track

A practicing physical therapist requires a minimum of a master's degree at an accredited institution, which takes about two years. Students may receive a master of physical therapy (M.P.T.) or master of physical sciences therapy (M.S.P.T.) degree. However, both these degrees are in the process of being phased out. Most accredited institutions now offer a doctor of physical therapy (D.P.T.), which is a three-year degree.

The first two years of a physical therapy (P.T.) program emphasize biology, anatomy, cellular biology, physiology, biomechanics, kinesiology, neuroscience, pharmacology, pathology, behavioral sciences, body systems and clinical reasoning. In the third year students are exposed to patient care in a clinical setting. Students who complete a D.P.T. may choose a residency to obtain further clinical experiences, or a fellowship, which prepares students for specialization.

Students who complete the M.P.T., M.S.P.T. or D.P.T. must pass the National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE) to obtain the certification to practice as a physical therapist. Students who wish to become board-certified in a specialty field may also need to pass examinations administered by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties (ABPTS). Some states may have additional licensing requirements.

International program accreditation, core curriculum and licensing standards may be variable. Students who plan to practice abroad should familiarize themselves with these requirements prior to applying to a P.T. program.


Applying to P.T. Programs

The application process and requirements for a P.T. program vary significantly by institution. Generally, matriculants have a bachelor's degree, and a GPA that exceeds the stated minimum requirements of the program. P.T. programs require undergraduate coursework in relevant classes such as anatomy, biology, cell biology, chemistry, physics, developmental psychology, statistics and English. Many programs require Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores. Volunteer or observational experience in physical therapy is a requirement for some programs, and experience that reflects exposure to and awareness of multiple areas of physical therapy is helpful.

Most applications are submitted through the Physical Therapy Centralized Application Service (PTCAS), which is located within the website for the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). However, roughly one quarter of all P.T. schools do not use PTCAS. Students will need to apply directly to these programs.

Students considering which P.T. program will be the "best fit" may wish to evaluate criteria such as degrees offered, tuition costs, campus location, available facilities, commitment to student diversity, research funding and the mission statement of the school.

It should be noted that a physical therapy assistant (P.T.A.) degree is a terminal degree that is not considered as an intermediate stepping stone to a D.P.T. degree. A student holding a P.T.A. degree has been trained to assist a physical therapist by carrying out treatment plans. P.T.A.s are not trained to evaluate patients, and coursework rarely transfers to master's or doctorate level P.T. programs.


Resources

Podiatrists diagnose and treat conditions of the foot, ankle and calf. A podiatrist may diagnose and treat foot fungus, perform surgery on a broken ankle, amputate a foot to prevent the spread of disease, address dermatological concerns or issue a treatment plan for an inflamed tendon. Though their work is typically limited to the foot, podiatrists will also perform general physical exams and collect complete medical history. Podiatrists are trained in all organ systems, and may refer patients to other medical specialties if podiatric symptoms suggest disease elsewhere in the body.

Podiatry specialization options include primary podiatric care, orthopedics or surgery. Career choices are broad. A podiatrist may work in sports medicine providing performance care for athletes or they may work with geriatric populations to improve patient mobility and balance. Other podiatrists work in pediatrics, addressing developmental problems that may arise from scoliosis or other deformities.

Podiatrists practice in private or group practices, hospitals, extended-care facilities, the armed forces or in the department of veteran health affairs. Academic institutions may hire a podiatrist to teach, conduct research or direct clinical training programs.


Educational Track

A practicing podiatrist requires a doctor of podiatric medicine (D.P.M.) degree, which is typically completed in four years at one of nine accredited podiatric schools in the United States. Theory is taught during the first two years where students learn relevant anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, pathology, immunology, microbione to four years in training.

All students must pass a three-part examination created by the National Board of Podiatric Medical Examiners (NBPME). The examination is issued once in the second year of podiatric school, once after the student has completed the program and once after all residency requirements have been fulfilled and the student is ready to begin autonomous practice. Additional NBPME-administered tests may be required, depending on the licensing restrictions of each state and whether the student intends to specialize. Students should check with their intended state of practice to confirm any additional licensing requirements.

International program accreditation, core curriculum and licensing standards may vary. Students who plan to practice abroad should familiarize themselves with these requirements prior to applying to a podiatric school.


Applying to Podiatric Programs

Accredited podiatric schools strongly encourage the completion of an undergraduate degree. Coursework in biology, general chemistry, physics, English and organic chemistry are required. Some schools also recommend coursework in biochemistry. Almost all schools require the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT). Currently, the Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine will accept the DAT (Dental Admissions Test) score instead of an MCAT score.

All applications from prospective students are processed through the American Association of Colleges of Podiatric Medicine Application Service (AACPMAS), which is located on the website of the American Association of Colleges of Podiatric Medicine (AACPM). In evaluating applications, admissions boards will consider a student's undergraduate grade point average, medical potential, clinical exposure, personal statement and information gained through letters of recommendation and interviews.

Students considering which podiatric school will be the "best fit" may wish to evaluate criteria such as tuition costs, campus location, the types of facilities available, commitment to student diversity, the extent of funding for research projects and the mission statement of the school.


Resources

AACPM Application Service

American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine

American Association of Colleges of Podiatric Medicine (AACPM)

American Podiatric Association

Contact a Podiatrist or Current Podiatric Student

Licensing Requirements by State

National Board of Podiatric Medical Examiners (NBPME)

Public health seeks to improve health on a community level. Rather than focusing on individual clinician-patient relationships, public health emphasizes education or action that can be applied broadly. Public health professionals rely on policy development and implementation, as well as research strategy to address prevalent health issues within a community.

Not all public health professionals work in medicine, but a public health clinician is uniquely poised to use medical training to catalyze change within specific communities. They might provide medical reasons for more stringent tobacco laws in Pittsburgh restaurants, propose vaccine campaigns to address epidemics in underserved countries, or develop programs to increase healthcare access for migrant farm workers. Clinicians specializing in public health may also address issues such as air and water quality, childhood weight management, vaccination requirements, drug regulation or occupational safety.

Professionals in law, business administration, and academic research also find occupations within public health. There are many hybrid programs that allow a student to study these professions with a public health emphasis.


Educational Track

A master of public health (M.P.H.) is an entry-level degree that requires two years in an accredited program. An M.P.H. does not enable students to practice medicine, but prepares a student for entry-level work in public health. A public health clinician will typically hold an MPH degree, as well as a clinical degree. The two degrees may be obtained sequentially, on in tandem by entering a dual program.

Some other master's degrees are related to specific areas of public health, such as the master of public policy (M.P.P.), master of science (M.S.), master of science in public health (M.S.P.H.), master of health science (M.H.S.), and master of health administration (M.H.A.). Students interested in these degrees are encouraged to contact the appropriate institutions to determine the requirements, cost and timeline of their programs of interest.

A doctor of public health (Dr.P.H.) is designed to follow an M.P.H. degree and is a three- to four-year program that links public health theory to practice. This degree prepares students for high-level administrative roles analyzing and implementing public health policies, translating research to application, and evaluating the efficiencies of current public health models. Public health students wishing to teach, or conduct research may choose to get a Ph.D. concentrating on public health.

International program accreditation, core curriculum, and licensing standards may be variable. Students who plan to practice abroad should familiarize themselves with these requirements prior to applying to a public health program.


Applying to Public Health Programs

The educational requirements for M.P.H. programs are broad, and students should check the requirements with each institution prior to applying. Some M.P.H. programs only require college-level coursework in science and math. Other institutions require an undergraduate degree, and a few require graduate degrees such as an M.D., M.S., Ph.D. or M.S.W. In all instances, experience working or volunteering within public health is desirable. Students may also need to submit Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores, official transcripts and letters of recommendation.

Applicants for a Dr.P.H. must have substantial experience working within public health. Though some institutions may accept a bachelor's degree as a minimum educational requirement, many institutions will only consider students with a graduate degree such as an M.D., M.S., Ph.D. or M.S.W. Students may also need to submit GRE scores, official transcripts, recommendation letters, a résumé or writing samples.

Students should be aware that medical experience does not necessarily translate to public health experience. Public health has a significant administrative component, and student experiences may involve working within social service agencies, or public health departments.

Many accredited public health degree programs accept a centralized application, submitted through the School of Public Health Application Service (SOPHAS). However, roughly one-fifth of accredited public health programs do not use SOPHAS. Students should check the application process with each potential institution prior to submitting their application.


Resources

Sports medicine and exercise science are broad terms that encompass many different educational programs. Students in this field are prepared to work in sport-related or health-related fields of academia or applied practice. For example, a student in exercise and sport studies may be enrolled in a master's program, receiving training to coach college varsity teams. Kinesiology master's programs prepare students for a wide range of careers as health and fitness professionals. They may work as personal trainers, exercise instructors, and health coaches in a variety of settings, including medical fitness facilities. Many work in cardiac and other rehabilitation programs. Students who achieve certification in athletic training at either the bachelor's or master's level work with athletes in professional, college and high school athletic training programs.

Other students in the field may enter a Ph.D. program in a specific area of exercise science or sports medicine such as biomechanics or exercise physiology, which would train them to teach or conduct research in these areas. A student wishing to provide medical care to athletes would pursue that subspecialty after completing a D.O. or M.D. program.

Students interested in exercise science or sports medicine are encouraged to explore the links below. Please contact departments and organizations directly to determine the requirements, cost, and timeline of programs.


Resources

Veterinarians specialize in the treatment and care of animals. Their jobs require them to care for sick, frightened or injured animals, in addition to supporting the general well-being of healthy ones. Typical tasks in private practice include administering vaccinations, setting broken bones, treating renal failure, administering medication for infections and performing reproductive sterilization. Veterinarians in this profession also communicate frequently with pet owners and with other offices specializing in animal care.

While many veterinarians have private practices to provide care for domestic animals such as dogs and cats, the scope and location of a veterinary career varies widely. Veterinarians practice in rural areas, providing care for farm animals, and they work for the USDA, assessing nutritional standards for cattle populations. Veterinarians work in zoos to provide care for exotic species, and for the military, where they may support canine or aquatic units. Veterinarians are needed virtually everywhere that animals live.

Many veterinarians provide general animal care in a private practice after completing veterinary school, but they can also specialize. They might, for example, study reproductive patterns of an endangered species, or provide surgical services in equine podiatry. There are many opportunities for veterinarians in academic disciplines such as international epidemiology, molecular biology, clinical research, toxicology, environmental health, aquaculture and immunology. Specialization typically requires extensive residency experiences following veterinary school.


Educational Track

A veterinary program is typically four years and awards a doctor of veterinary medicine (D.V.M.) degree. The University of Pennsylvania veterinary program awards the veterinariae medicinae doctoris (V.M.D.), which is a comparable degree that differs only in name. Many veterinary schools offer D.V.M.-Ph.D. or D.V.M.-M.B.A. dual degrees, which take additional years to complete.

In a veterinary program, students can expect to spend the first two years learning animal anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, anesthesiology and surgery, as well as relevant epidemiology, pathology, immunology, pharmacology, microbiology and virology. The remaining years emphasize clinical care and require students to interact with a variety of animals. Students are expected to know how to treat the full spectrum of animals upon graduation.

Residency is not required following graduation from veterinary school, but many students choose this option, either to increase their competitiveness as a job applicant or to pursue a specialty. Some graduates may return to school for an M.B.A. or Ph.D., which typically requires an additional two to four years of education. An M.B.A. prepares students for the business of owning a veterinary practice, while a Ph.D. might be of interest to students who wish to teach veterinary medicine in academia or conduct research.

To be licensed to practice in the United States, all veterinarians must pass the North American Veterinary Licensing Exam, administered by the National Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners (NBVME). This license must be kept current for practicing veterinarians. There may be additional requirements or examinations depending on the state of practice.

International program accreditation, core curriculum and licensing standards may vary. Students who plan to practice abroad should familiarize themselves with these requirements prior to applying to a veterinary program.


Applying to Veterinary Programs

Admission to veterinary programs is competitive. Accredited programs require coursework in biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, biochemistry, genetics, microbiology, calculus and English. Some schools might also require coursework in anatomy, physiology, embryology, cell biology, and zoology. A bachelor's degree is recommended, but not required. Test scores from a standardized test, either the GRE or MCAT, are required. Some veterinary schools require the GRE subject test in biology.

All applications are processed through the Veterinary Medical College Application Service (VMCAS), located on the website of the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC). In evaluating incoming applications, admissions boards will consider a student's undergraduate grade point average, standardized test scores, personal statement, and information gained through letters of recommendation and interviews.

Veterinary schools seek students with a demonstrated passion and enthusiasm for helping all animals. Because specialization is minimized in veterinary school, applicants are encouraged to seek exposure to many fields of veterinary medicine. For example, an ideal applicant might have such varied experiences as conducting research with sheep in an agricultural setting, volunteering at a shelter for abandoned animals, and shadowing surgeries in a veterinary office.

Students considering which veterinary school will be the "best fit" may wish to evaluate criteria such as tuition costs, campus location, the types of facilities available, commitment to student diversity, the extent of funding for research projects and the mission statement of the school.


Resources


For International Students

International students face unique challenges when applying for health profession schools in the United States. Most health profession schools, as competitive as they are for United States citizens and permanent residents to gain admission, are even more competitive for international students. Some do not accept international students at all. Additionally, finances can be difficult, as international students are not eligible for 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. The Board of Prehealth Advisers strongly encourages all international students to meet with the director or another member of the board to discuss individual circumstances.

Resources for International Students