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Planning and Preparation for Application

Students who aspire to begin a health professional graduate program immediately following their undergraduate studies should begin preparation for their application as freshmen in college. Those who begin this journey later can also become strong applicants but may require additional time to become a competitive applicant. The very first step once you matriculate at URI is to register with the Pre-Health Professions Advising Program by attending an info session and/or meeting with a pre-health advisor. 

Choosing an Academic Major


URI offers a number of excellent academic programs appropriate for students interested in future careers in medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine, etc. In general, graduate-level health professions programs will accept almost any undergraduate major, so long as you complete certain required coursework prior to application or admission. (See the List of Required/Suggested URI Courses here.)

Many medical schools recommend preparation in the liberal arts; all emphasize that you should have a broad background as an undergraduate. We suggest that you choose the major that is most interesting to you, whether that is in the sciences, humanities or another area. Your academic training at the University of Rhode Island will prepare you well for a future career in the health fields. Students who complete our advisory program have a high rate of success when competing for admission to graduate-level programs in the health sciences.

If you choose a science major such as Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Microbiology or Physics, many of the required pre-medical courses will be included in your major. You should be careful to select electives and general education courses that broaden the scope of your studies; opt for challenging upper-level and/or Honors coursework in the social sciences and humanities when possible, and be sure to include multiple classes that are writing-intensive.

If you choose to pursue a Bachelor of Arts degree, through careful selection of general education and elective credits, you can complete the required pre-medical coursework as well as several additional upper-level science courses within the typical four-year time period. 

Pre-Health students are highly encouraged to complete the University Honors Program.

For more information see our Required and Suggested Courses page.

What Do Health Professional Schools Want?


Professional schools in the health fields generally seek students with strong preparation in the sciences and a well-rounded education in the social sciences and humanities. They expect a high grade point average (typically 3.5 or better for Medical, 3.0 for Dental and Optometry), excellent grades in pre-requisite coursework, and high scores on the required entrance examination (MCAT, DAT, OAT, or GRE.)

Beyond the classroom, applicants must also be able to demonstrate their commitment to serve others and be very well informed about their chosen profession.  Students are encouraged to participate in extracurricular activities, perform volunteer work, and seek experience in health-care settings, such as hospitals and clinics, community ambulance corps, research laboratories, or emergency medical technician services. Shadowing a physician/dentist will let you experience the day-to-day activities of a medical professional. URI's Office of Internships and Experiential Education in Roosevelt Hall can help you arrange internships in a health-related setting.  In addition, the URI Feinstein Center for Service Learning also provides various volunteer opportunities.  Look for other community service opportunities at the Serve Rhode Island webpage and via The Rhode Island Foundation's Directory of Rhode Island's Non-Profits.

Most medical and professional schools require an official letter of recommendation from the Health Professions Advisor at your undergraduate institution. Students apply for this letter and undergo the required evaluation by the Health Professions Advisory Committee by the February 1 of the calendar year in which they intend to apply to medical/dental school (i.e. about 16 months prior to fall start date.)  Application to medical and professional schools normally occurs in the early summer of the year before you intend to begin your medical program.

Pre-Health Advising


Individual and group advising sessions, as well as special guest lecturers and panel discussions, take place regularly through the academic year. The Aspiring Medical Professionals (AMP) student group and the Minority Association of Premedical Students (MAPS) work closely with the program to offer peer-to-peer advising and support. 

You are encouraged to touch base with a pre-health advisor several times each a year.  For information on upcoming events and how to schedule an advising appointment click here.

Pre-health advising is supplemental to, not in place of, the major advising. If you have an advisor hold on e-Campus, please see your major advisor.

Timeline for Pre-Health Undergraduates

The timeline below demonstrates the typical pattern for a traditional undergraduate at URI with serious aspirations to attend medical, dental, or optometry school soon after graduation. Pre-PA students should modify this slightly to put more emphasis on logging direct-patient care and perhaps less on research. Pre-PA students would also take the GRE instead of the MCAT and do not go through the HPAC process. They are, however, strongly encouraged to consult with a pre-health advisor regarding the application process, especially the personal statement and interviews.

YEAR 1

 

Fall Semester

  • Register with the Pre-Health Program and learn the requirements.
  • Attend information sessions, workshops and guest lectures offered by the Pre-Health Program.
  • Attend Aspiring Medical Professionals (AMP) social hours (4pm on the third Thursday of each month in Lippitt 401)
  • Obtain strong grades in a challenging curriculum.
  • Select extracurricular activities.
  • Read regularly.

 

Spring Semester

  • Explore medically-related summer employment or volunteer opportunities.
  • Apply for peer mentoring and tutoring opportunities, if this interests you, or seek out research programs.
  • If you are economically disadvantaged or from an underrepresented group in medicine: Apply for special enrichment programs, such as the NIH Undergraduate Scholarship or the Summer Medical and Dental Enrichment Program.  Seek guidance from Pre-Health Advisor.

 

SUMMER 1

 

  • Log hours shadowing. Consider observing a variety of health professionals.
  • Complete medically-related experience (paid or volunteer).
  • Read regularly.

YEAR 2

 

  • Attend Sophomore Information Session for Pre-Health Students.
    • If you are eligible for the Brown EIP or other early identification programs, touch base with Chair of HPAC before end of the fall semester
  • Attend information sessions, workshops and guest lectures offered by the Pre-Health Program.
  • Attend AMP social hour (4pm on the third Thursday of each month in Lippitt 401)
  • Continue to obtain strong grades in a challenging curriculum.
  • Pursue research opportunities, if this interests you. Apply for competitive summer research opportunities.
  • Continue active involvement in one or two extracurricular activities that you feel passionate about.
  • Obtain more experience in a medical setting.
  • Apply for special enrichment programs and competitive opportunities.
  • Read regularly.

 

SUMMER 2

 

 

  • Log more shadowing hours, ideally developing a mentorship with a doctor.
  • Continue medically-related summer employment/volunteer opps.
  • Participate in research, study abroad or other enrichment activity appropriate for your interests and goals, as discussed with your advisors.
  • Read regularly.

 

YEAR 3

 

  • Attend Junior/Senior Information Session for Pre-Health Students. Establish your timeline for applying in consultation with advisor.
  • Attend information sessions, workshops and guest lectures offered by the Pre-Health Program.
  • Attend AMP social hour (4pm on the third Thursday of each month in Lippitt 401)
  • Obtain strong grades in a challenging curriculum.
  • Continue active involvement in one or two extracurricular activities that you feel passionate about.
  •  If applying through HPAC this spring, solicit letters of recommendation and prepare dossier in time for Feb 1 HPAC. 
  • HPAC Group Interview in March, Individual HPAC Interviews in April.
  • Begin to prepare for the standardized admissions exam (MCAT/DAT/OAT) for 3 to 6 months in advance of administration.  Take many online practice tests.
  • Apply for competitive summer internships and research opps.
  • Read regularly. 

 

SUMMER 3

 

If planning to apply this summer:

  • Take exam by end of May (June for DAT/OAT)
  • May/June: Prepare final draft of application in consult with HPAC.
  • If test scores are acceptable, submit application before July 1.
  • Complete secondary applications promptly.
  • Continue medically-related summer employment or volunteering.
  • Continue research and/or leadership activities.

 

If applying next year after graduation:

  • Study and take exam at end of summer.
  • Continue medically-related summer employment or volunteering.
  • Continue research and/or leadership activities.
  • Explore “glide year” opportunities in consultation with pre-health advisor and make timeline for applications (such as: NIH Post-Bac Training, AmeriCorps, Teach for America, etc.)

 

YEAR 4

 

 

 

 

 

  • Attend information sessions, workshops and guest lectures offered by the Pre-Health Program.
  • Obtain strong grades in a challenging curriculum.  
  • Attend AMP social hour (4pm on the third Thursday of each month in Lippitt 401)

 

Junior Year Applicants:

Prepare for Interviews, Investigate Financial Aid, Apply to National Health Services Corps, Keep HPAC informed of your progress and consult as needed

Senior Year Applicants:

  • Solicit letters of recommendation and prepare dossier in time for Feb 1 HPAC. 
  • If you need to re-take the standardized admissions exam (MCAT/DAT/OAT) , address weaknesses, take additional practice exams . Consider a January administration.

 

Pre-Health Program

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