Frequently Asked Questions
No, the Pre-Health Professions program is not a major. Loyola does not offer either a pre-med or pre-health major, but we do offer an advising program. The reason is that health professional schools do not require a specific major and actually seek students from diverse educational backgrounds. Students are encouraged to pursue a discipline of interest while completing at least the minimum science requirements for health professional school consideration.
Although health professional schools do not restrict individual choices of undergraduate majors, they do consider the difficulty of courses in preliminary admission screenings. Therefore, students are advised to choose courses that demonstrate their capacity to perform well at an academically rigorous level. Students are also encouraged to choose electives that challenge and develop their oral and written communication skills and analytical abilities.
It is a common myth that pre-medical or pre-health students must major in a science to enhance their chances of acceptance to health professional schools. While biology is the most popular pre-health major, admission officers at health professional schools also look favorably upon applicants with many other majors. For example, students studying the humanities develop effective analytical reasoning, and oral and written communication skills; they grasp human history and human behavior; and they strongly value human life, which is essential for people in health care.
A second myth is that “unnecessary” courses- such as a foreign language, philosophy, theology, literatures, and advanced writing- reduce the time that should be devoted to studying biology, chemistry, and physics. In reality, health professional schools seek well-rounded, mature individuals who display a degree of intellectual curiosity for subjects beyond the sciences. During interview sessions for professional school admission, a candidate may be asked questions covering contemporary events, ethics, cultural activities, or current literature. In addition, students with well-developed literacy and critical thinking skills will have an advantage when taking professional entrance exams, such as the medical College Admission Test (MCAT), particularly if they have included technical or scientific reading and writing skills in their undergraduate major.
Health professional schools differ on their prerequisite coursework. Most health professional schools require at least one year of biology, one year of general (inorganic) chemistry, one year of organic chemistry, one year of English, and one year of physics. In many cases, these are the minimum courses needed, and it is likely that a given health professional school will require additional courses. It is important that students carefully research the professional schools they wish to enter to be fully aware of the requirements for a specific profession and school. The Pre-Health Professions advising staff can assist students in information gathering.
Health professional schools seek well-rounded, mature individuals who demonstrate intellectual curiosity, a firm commitment to the health profession, and involvement in both campus and community activities. The Pre-Health Professions advising staff strongly encourages students to obtain first-hand experience in a health care setting, such as a hospital, clinic, nursing home, or animal shelter. The quality of the experience is more important than the quantity of hours accumulated. However, it is necessary to reflect commitment by working or volunteering for an extended period of time. Students must also be able to articulate how such experience has further reinforced their career decisions.
In terms of campus or additional community activities, we recommend a strong commitment to and involvement in a few activities rather than minimal involvement in many organizations. Health professional schools seek students with strong leadership abilities, a commitment to serving and working with others, and a community-oriented focus.
We offer pre-health students the following services to assist with academic and health career preparation:
- Individual Assistance and Guidance: Our advisors meet with students on an individual basis beginning in the freshman year to assist with identifying required courses for health professional schools, volunteer placements, application materials, and interview preparation. We also help students assess the appropriateness of their chosen career path and provide the opportunity to explore other options within the health field. In addition, we offer mock-interviews to prepare students for their first health professional school interview.
- Workshops: We sponsor and present various workshops and seminars to assist students with their professional school and career preparation. Topics include applicant workshops, effective interviewing techniques, and guidelines for writing effective personal statements. In addition, during the academic year, we present seminars featuring representatives from several health profession schools.
- Pre-Health Professions Advisory Committee: Loyola supports an advisory committee to assist and evaluate students applying to medical, dental, optometry, and podiatric medical schools. This committee is composed of the Pre-Health Professions staff and additional faculty and staff from the College of Arts and Sciences. Most health professional schools prefer a committee evaluation because it compiles information from an array of sources and presents a balanced view of an applicant's candidacy. Students are assigned a committee advisor who provides support and guidance prior to the formal application process. The advisory committee composes a cover letter of evaluation for each recommended student. In addition to helping students write their personal statements, a key component of the health professional school application, advisors discuss students’ strengths and weaknesses, and suggest ways to strengthen their candidacy before submitting applications. Health professional schools value and trust a committee because it is likely to be consistent in its evaluations and in its differentiation of various degrees of achievement. Because the committee has access to each student’s portfolio, the committee is able to present an objective and balanced view of each student’s candidacy.
Loyola graduates have been accepted by esteemed schools around the country and the world. For a listing of schools attended in recent years, please visit Professional School Placement.