Pre-Med/Pre-Health

Premedical and Preprofessional Health Programs

The premedical and preprofessional health programs are designed for those students who are preparing for admission to medical school and professional schools in medically related fields. Students who plan to earn a baccalaureate degree from Iowa State University will enroll in one of the departments of the university in their first or second year of study. Other students will transfer to a professional school before earning the baccalaureate degree. Coursework is individually tailored to fit the admission requirements of the professional schools and the interests of the student.

For more information, look under Premedical and Preprofessional Health Programs in the General Catalog Index.

Pre-Health Areas

Dentistry

Dentists diagnose, treat, and prevent diseases and injuries of the teeth, jaws and other structures of the oral cavity. The professional training of a dentist requires four years in a college of dentistry to earn the doctor of dental surgery (D.D.S.) or doctor of dental medicine (D.M.D.) degree. Specializing in dental public health, endodontics, oral pathology, oral surgery, orthodontics, pediatric dentistry, periodontics or prosthodontics requires one to four years of additional training beyond the dental degree. Dentists may pursue careers in general or specialized dentistry, education, research and administration.

Dental schools generally require at least 90 semester credits (three years) of college coursework before admission to the professional program. However, students are encouraged to earn their baccalaureate degrees before entering dental school and most do so. The degree may be earned in any major area of study. Completing the requirements for a B.S. or B.A. usually requires four years, but some departments will allow credits from the dental program to be transferred back to Iowa State to partially fulfill degree requirements. Combining the predental program with a degree in engineering or business may require five years.

The courses required for admission to most dental schools, including the College of Dentistry at the University of Iowa, are the following:

  • English (ENGL 150, 250)
  • General chemistry with laboratory (CHEM 177, 177L and 178, 178L)
  • Organic chemistry with laboratory (CHEM 331, 331L and 332, 332L)
  • Physics with laboratory (PHYS 111, 112 or PHYS 221, 222)
  • Biology with laboratory (BIOL 211, 211L and 212, 212L)

Selection of applicants for dental school is based upon consideration of the academic record, Dental Admissions Test (DAT) scores, interview, letters of recommendation and extracurricular activities. Most dental schools use the American Association of Dental Schools Application Service (AADSAS) for the initial application. Details about the dental profession and the AADSAS application are available from the American Dental Education Association (ADEA) website at http://www.adea.org. Details about the DAT exam are available at http://www.ada.org. For further information, contact tthe coordinator for the preprofessional health programs in 102 Carrie Chapman Catt Hall, phone (515) 294 4831 or prehealth@iastate.edu.

Deadlines to take the DAT and submit the AADSAS are determined by each dental program. Applicants to the University of Iowa should take the DAT by August 1 of the summer preceding the final year at ISU and submit the AADSAS application as early as possible during the June 1 – Nov. 1 period.

Hospital and Health Services Administration

Graduates of professional programs in hospital and health services administration hold management positions in hospitals, health maintenance organizations, long-term care institutions, mental health centers, insurance companies, federal and state agencies. The Graduate Program in Health Management and Policy at the University of Iowa (UI) is accredited and awards M.A. and Ph.D. degrees. The Health Care Administration program at Des Moines University (DMU) awards a Master of Health Care Administration (M.H.A.)

At Iowa State, undergraduates may prepare for admission to the UI master’s degree program by earning a degree in any major. There are no prerequisites for the UI master’s program although students may want to include introductory economics, accounting and statistics courses in their curriculum. Contact the UI Hospital and Health Management and Policy, College of Public Health, 2800 Steindler Building, UI, Iowa City, IA 52242, 319-335-9627 for further information.

You can find more information about the DMU program at http://www.dmu.edu or 3200 Grand Avenue, Des Moines, Iowa 50312, 515-271-1400 for further information.

Visit the AUPHA’s (Association of University Programs in Health Administration) website at www.aupha.org.

Visit the ACHE’s (American College of Healthcare Executives) website at www.ache.org for further information.

Human Medicine

Medical professionals study, diagnose, prevent and treat the numerous forms of illness and injury which cause human suffering. Careers may involve direct patient care, research, teaching and administration. Professional training consists of four years of study in a college of medicine to earn the doctor of medicine (M.D.) degree followed by three or more years in a hospital residency to receive training in a specialty such as family practice, pediatrics, general internal medicine and surgery. A doctor of osteopathy degree (D.O.) is awarded to those students who complete four years in an osteopathic medicine college before their residency. Students interested in medical research and teaching may apply for a medical school program that leads to a combined M.D. Ph.D. degree. College preparation for this program should be strong in the biological, physical and mathematical sciences and include research experience.

All medical schools recommend a broad preprofessional education, and almost all students earn a bachelor’s degree while taking the courses required for admission to medical school. The degree may be earned in any major area of study.

The courses required for admission to most medical schools are the following:

  • English (ENGL 150, 250)
  • Biology (BIOL 211, 211L and 212, 212L)
  • General chemistry (CHEM 177, 177L and 178,178L OR CHEM 201/201L)
  • Organic chemistry (CHEM 331, 331L and 332, 332L)
  • Mathematics (1 or 2 semesters of calculus, depending on medical school)
  • General physics with laboratory (PHYS 111, 112 or PHYS 221, 222)
  • Advanced biology (one course required by the University of Iowa College of Medicine; examples are BIOL 313, 314, 335, 351, 423)
  • Biochemistry (required by a few medical schools outside Iowa, can be taken as BBMB 404 and 405, or 420)

In Iowa, students may study medicine at The University of Iowa in Iowa City or Des Moines University, College of Osteopathic Medicine in Des Moines. State supported medical schools admit in state residents preferentially while private schools usually take a large proportion of out of state students. Premedical students usually plan to take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) during the spring or summer of their junior year and submit the American Medical College Admission Service (AMCAS) application during the summer. Applicants to osteopathic schools are also required to take the MCAT exam and submit the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service (AACOMAS) application. Selection of medical school students is based upon high scholastic achievement and intellectual potential indicated by grades and MCAT scores. Information about personal and social characteristics provided by recommendations, interviews and autobiographical materials are also used to evaluate students. The Premed Club provides opportunities for students to meet other premed students and learn about the profession from practicing physicians. For further information, consult the premed advisers in 102 Carrie Chapman Catt Hall, phone (515) 294 4831 or prehealth@iastate.edu. Visit the AAMC’s website at www.aamc.org or www.aspiringdocs.org for information about allopathic (M.D.) medical schools and the AACOM website at www.aacom.org for information about osteopathic (D.O.) medical schools.

Optometry

Optometrists examine, diagnose, treat and manage diseases of the visual system, the eye and associated structures. Treatment may include corrective glasses or contacts, vision therapy and therapeutic drugs. Optometrists usually set up their own offices or work in group practices. The professional training requires four years in a school or college of optometry and leads to the doctor of optometry (O.D.) degree.

Most optometry schools have a prerequisite of at least 90 semester credits of college courses, including those listed below. Students have three options with regard to their preprofessional education: 1) They may spend three years at Iowa State taking the required courses and enter the optometry school without earning a bachelor’s degree. 2) They may spend four years at Iowa State taking the required preoptometry courses as they earn a degree in any major prior to entering the professional school. 3) They may spend three or four years at Iowa State taking the required courses and meeting most of the requirements for a bachelor’s degree, then transfer back to Iowa State a maximum of 32 semester credits from the optometry school in order to fulfill requirements for a bachelor’s degree (with permission of their department). A major in Bachelor of Liberal Studies will allow a student to spend three years at Iowa State fulfilling most of the requirements for a B.S. degree, then transfer credits from the first year of optometry school to complete requirements for major and elective courses.

The courses required for admission to most optometry schools are the following:

  • English (ENGL 150, 250)
  • Biology (Biol 211, 211L; 212, 212L)
  • Human anatomy and physiology (BIOL 255, 255L; 256, 256L – biological science majors may prefer to fulfill this requirement by taking BIOL 335 and 351)
  • General chemistry (CHEM 177, 177L, 178, 178L)
  • Organic chemistry (CHEM 231, 231L or the CHEM 331, 331L, 332, 332L series)
  • Biochemistry (BBMB 301, 316, or 404/405 required by certain programs)
  • Physics with laboratory (PHYS 111, 112 or PHYS 221, 222)
  • Mathematics (one semester of calculus will satisfy most optometry programs)
  • Statistics (STAT 101 or 104)
  • Psychology, 2 semesters (PSYCH 101, 230)
  • Microbiology (MICRO 302, 201L)
  • Additional courses in social sciences and humanities are required by certain professional schools.

Professional schools may change their prerequisites. Students are responsible for maintaining direct contact with specific professional schools for current prerequisite guidelines.

Some optometry schools award a bachelor’s degree to students entering without one, provided that certain courses have been taken. These may include foreign language, English literature, social science, arts and humanities courses. Preference is given to applicants with bachelor’s or higher degrees.

Applicants to an optometry school will take the Optometry Admission Test (OAT) about one year before planned entry. The OAT is a computerized exam offered at various test centers. Registration for the exam can be completed online at: http://www.opted.org. Students apply to optometry schools through a standardized application service called OptomCAS: http://www.optomcas.org. Information regarding schools, their admission requirements, and the profession are available from the preprofessional adviser in 102 Carrie Chapman Catt Hall, phone (515) 294 4831 or prehealth@iastate.edu. For further information visit the American Optometric Association, ASCO’s website at http://www.opted.org.

Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapists provide purposeful activities to develop independence and restore basic functions to people who have been disabled by physical illness or injury, emotional disorder, aging, or drug abuse. Therapists treat patients in hospitals, schools, and rehabilitation centers.

Students at Iowa State who plan to become occupational therapists spend four years here and earn a degree in a related field as they take the courses that are required to enter a professional program at another university where they earn a master’s degree. Most professional programs are two years in length.

The following courses are required by most occupational therapy programs:

  • English composition (ENGL 150, 250)
  • Biology (BIOL 211, 211L and 212, 212L)
  • Chemistry (CHEM 163/L or CHEM 177, 177L and 178, 178L)
  • Human physiology and anatomy (BIOL 255, 255L and 256, 256L – biological science majors may prefer to fulfill this requirement by taking BIOL 335 and 351)
  • General, developmental, and abnormal psychology (PSYCH 101, 230, 460)
  • Mathematics (3 credits of Math 140 or above)

Other frequently required or recommended courses are:

  • Physics (PHYS 101 or 106, as specified by professional program)
  • Philosophy (PHIL 230)
  • Sociology (SOC 134)
  • Anthropology (ANTHR 201)
  • Statistics (STAT 104 or 101)
  • Arts (Art, Dance, Music courses which are applied courses)
  • Speech (SP CM 212)
  • Computer Science (COM S 103)
  • Medical Terminology (V PTH 401)
  • Additional social science and humanities courses are required by certain professional schools.

Professional schools may change their prerequisites. Students are responsible for maintaining direct contact with specific professional schools for current prerequisite guidelines.

Volunteer experience in an occupational therapy department is strongly recommended and may be obtained at hospitals, nursing homes, clinics and other settings.

Career information and a list of accredited programs is available at the AOTA’s (American Occupational Therapy Association) World Wide Web Site at www.aota.org.

Physician Assistant

Physician assistants provide medical services under the supervision of physicians. They may be responsible for patient interviews, medical histories, routine physical examinations, treatment of illnesses and injuries, follow-up care and counseling. They work in hospitals, clinics, physicians’ offices, nursing homes, and other health care facilities.

The professional training is usually 24-36 months in length and most often award a master’s degree. Students at Iowa State preparing for PA school will complete requirements for a bachelor’s degree and PA prerequisites before entering a master’s degree program.

The following courses are frequently mentioned as prerequisites:

  • English (ENGL 150, 250)
  • Human anatomy and physiology (BIOL 255, 255L; 256, 256L – biological science majors may prefer to fulfill this requirement by taking BIOL 335 and 351)
  • Biology (BIOL 211, 211L and 212, 212L)
  • Microbiology (302, 302L)
  • General chemistry (CHEM 177/L & 178/L)
  • Organic chemistry (CHEM 231/L or 331/L and 332/L depending on school)
  • Biochemistry (BBMB 301, BBMB 404/405, BBMB 420)
  • Psychology (PSYCH 101 and 230)
  • Statistics (STAT 101 or 104)
  • *All PA programs require extensive patient care experience (usually 1000 hours or more). It is important to begin obtaining this experience as quickly as possible.

The University of Iowa offers a master’s degree program with information available at: http://www.medicine.uiowa.edu/pa/. Des Moines University offers a master’s degree program with information available at: http://www.dmu.edu.

Professional schools may change their prerequisites. Students are responsible for maintaining direct contact with specific professional schools for current prerequisite guidelines.

More information is available in 102 Carrie Chapman Catt Hall, phone (515)294 4831 or prehealth@iastate.edu. Visit the American Academy of Physician Assistants World Wide Web Site at http://www.aapa.org for a wealth of professional and educational information.

Pharmacy

Pharmacists prepare and dispense therapeutic drugs; educate health care professionals, patients and the general public about the appropriate use of drugs; conduct pharmaceutical research and work in industrial positions which involve the manufacture, marketing and advertising of pharmaceuticals. Students prepare to enter doctoral pharmacy programs by completing at least 60 credits (2 years) of college course work. Most students complete at least 90 credits (3 years) of couse work and about one third of students accepted to the U of I in recent years have earned bachelor’s degrees.

The University of Iowa offers a Pharm.D. program. Students planning to apply to the U of Iowa are encouraged to review admissions information and make contact with admissions staff as soon as possible. Information is available at: http://www.pharmacy.uiowa.edu.

Professional schools may change their prerequisites. Students are responsible for maintaining direct contact with specific professional schools for current prerequisite guidelines.

Some of the most common prerequisites for pharmacy schools are listed below.

  • English (ENGL 150, 250)
  • Speech (SP CM 212)
  • Economics (Econ 101 and/or 102)
  • Philosophy (230)
  • Mathematics (one semester of calculus)
  • Statistics (STAT 101 or 104)
  • Computer Science (COM S 103)
  • Biology (BIOL 211, 211L and 212, 212L)
  • Anatomy and Physiology (BIOL 255/L and 256/L)
  • Inorganic Chemistry (CHEM 177, 177L and 178, 178L)
  • Organic Chemistry (CHEM 331, 331L and 332, 332L)
  • Physics (PHYS 111, 112 or 221, 222)
  • Microbiology (302, 302L)
  • Humanities and Social Science electives

More information is available in 102 Carrie Chapman Catt Hall, phone (515) 294-4831. prehealth@iastate.edu. Visit the AACP web site at http://www.aacp.org for further information and a full directory of professional programs. The Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT) should be taken during October of year before application depending on a students academic plans. Information about applying for and taking the PCAT can be found at: www.pcatweb.info. Most pharmacy schools use the standardized application service called PharmCAS: http://www.pharmcas.org. It is also highly encouraged that students obtain some experience by job shadowing or working in a pharmacy.

Podiatry

Podiatrists diagnose and treat diseases, injuries and deformities of the feet with medications, surgery, physical therapy, orthoses and by setting fractures. Podiatrists also work to prevent foot problems. Professional training requires four years of training in a college of podiatric medicine and leads to the degree of doctor of podiatric medicine (D.P.M.) This training is usually followed by one to three years of residency training in a hospital or outpatient facility. Some podiatrists specialize in surgery, treating sports injuries, treating children or the elderly.

All podiatric colleges require at least three years (90 semester credits) of preprofessional study that includes the following courses:

  • English (ENGL 150, 250)
  • Biology (BIOL 211, 211L, 212, 212L)
  • General chemistry (CHEM 177, 177L, 178, 178L)
  • Organic chemistry (CHEM 331, 331L, 332, 332L; the UOMHS program in Des Moines will accept the sequence CHEM 231, 232 and BBMB 301)
  • Physics (PHYS 111, 112 or PHYS 221, 222)

Courses in English literature, biochemistry, genetics, comparative anatomy, mathematics and general psychology are recommended. Examples are

  • English (ENGL 201, 230, 231, 340-394)
  • Biochemistry (BBMB 301)
  • Genetics (BIOL 313)
  • Comparative anatomy (BIOL 351)
  • Mathematics (MATH 160 or other depending upon major and placement tests)
  • Psychology (PSYCH 101)
  • Physiology (BIOL 335)

Professional schools may change their prerequisites. Students are responsible for maintaining direct contact with specific professional schools for current prerequisite guidelines.

Although students may enter a school of podiatry without a bachelor’s degree, most (over 95%) will have completed at least a bachelor’s degree before enrollment. The bachelor’s degree may be in any major: biology, chemistry, biochemistry, history, microbiology, psychology, or sociology, for example. A degree in business or engineering is also possible, but the length of time needed for meeting the requirements for the degree and for admission to the podiatry program may exceed four years.

Applicants for podiatry programs must take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). Usually the exam is taken in the junior year after completion of the courses required for admission. Application to any of the seven podiatric colleges is made through a central application service at the American Association of Colleges of Podiatric Medicine, http://www.e-aacpmas.org One college is located in Iowa: Des Moines University College of Podiatric Medicine and Surgery in Des Moines. Selection of applicants for admission to all colleges is based upon academic performance, MCAT scores, and personal interviews. Further information about podiatry is available in 102 Carrie Chapman Catt Hall, phone (515)294 4831, prehealth@iastate.edu. Visit the AACPM’s (American Association of Colleges of Podiatric Medicine) World Wide Web Site at http://www.aacpm.org.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapists are involved with health promotion, prevention of physical disabilities, and rehabilitation of persons who are disabled by pain, disease, or injury. They evaluate the needs of patients and use physical therapeutic agents such as heat, cold, light, sound, electrical stimulation, and exercise rather than medicines, surgery, or radiation. They work in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, schools, rehabilitation centers, home health agencies, and academic institutions.

The professional training program for physical therapists requires two to three years. Students planning a career in physical therapy earn a bachelor’s degree at Iowa State before entering a professional school to earn clinical doctoral degree. University of Iowa, St. Ambrose University, and Des Moines University offer a DPT programs in Iowa. The bachelor’s degree from ISU may be earned in any area, provided that the physical therapy prerequisites are completed.

Courses required for admission to most physical therapy schools include the following:

  • Biology (BIOL 211, 211L; 212, 212L)
  • English (ENGL 150, 250)
  • Human anatomy and physiology (BIOL 255, 255L; 256, 256L – biological science majors may prefer to fulfill this requirement by taking BIOL 335 & 351)
  • Chemistry with laboratory (CHEM 177, 177L; 178, 178L; some schools require additional chemistry courses)
  • Mathematics (MATH 142 at minimum; calculus is required by a few programs)
  • Physics with laboratory (PHYS 111, 112 or PHYS 221, 222)
  • Psychology (6-9 credits often required, abnormal psychology specified by certain programs)
  • Statistics (STAT 104 or 101)

Professional schools may change their prerequisites. Students are responsible for maintaining direct contact with specific professional schools for current prerequisite guidelines.

Competition for admission to physical therapy schools is intense. Selection is based upon the science and cumulative grade point averages, Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores, interview, clinical experience and observation, recommendations, and extracurricular activities. Preference is given to state residents by public institutions. Students apply to most schools using the centralized application service PTCAS: http://www.ptcas.org. Further information about the career and professional schools is available from the Prephysical Therapy Club and the pre-health advisors in 102 Carrie Chapman Catt Hall, phone (515) 294 4831 prehealth@iastate.edu. Visit the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) website at http://www.apta.org for news about the PT profession and a full directory of PT programs.