- Make an appointment now with Linda Luck, your pre-health advisor. She is the person who will help you get your portfolio together when you apply. Even as a freshman, it is important to talk with your pre-health advisor.
- Make an appointment with Jamie Grimes, your academic advisor, at least twice a year to stay up to date about opportunities and to create an individualized course plan.
- Arrange for volunteer work or shadowing of a medical person. This is very important and cannot be left to junior or senior year. Your first shadowing experiences should be broad. Eventually you will choose an extended, in depth internship-type experience and can then enroll in Chemistry 297 (Clinical Medical Observation) for 1 semester hour pass/fail credit. To arrange for volunteer work or shadowing, contact your pre-health advisor:
- Attend AED meetings.
Alpha Epsilon Delta
UAB Alpha Epsilon Delta Chapter
Alpha Epsilon Delta is a national pre-health honor society that initiates students with GPA and evidence of service activities in the middle of their sophomore year. However, all interested students are encouraged to attend the program meetings where much valuable information is offered.
Talk with Dr. Nikles about the American Medical Student Association, which is a national professional organization, not an honor society.
- Visit the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC)
The student manual contains all the information you will need in order to understand the Medical Colleges Admissions Test. This test is taken more than one year before your intended medical school admissions data and covers the basic sciences and reasoning. It is not a subject test. It is a critical reasoning test. However, you must know your subject. You will need a reasonably high score on the MCAT, OAT, or DAT in order to earn an interview with the school.
- Buy a MCAT, DAT or OAT Preparation Book (about $50 at university bookstores and most other retail bookstores). You should study the sections that refer to the material covered in courses as you take courses or finish them. This is the material you must know and understand in order to answer the problem, investigation and description questions that follow the passages on these exams.
- Realize that 1/3 of your MCAT score is from the section, "Verbal Reasoning" so you should start now to practice reading fast for comprehension and reading lots of essays and high level non-science material. Some people recommend reading the New York Times every day. You can buy it in the central hall of the education building. Read widely in other journals such as natural history and other topics. These are in the library or you can buy a stack very inexpensively at places such as Goodwill Industries. Practice meaningful marking when you read. Take core courses that require critical thinking and a lot of reading. Philosophy 220 (Introduction to Symbolic Logic) is a recommended course.
- Attend “How to get into Professional School: The Academic Angle.” This one-day session is offered in February each year to freshmen and sophomores. Be sure to attend.
- Keep your GPA high. This should be a top priority. During the first week of each semester, assess what it will require in each course for you to earn an “A”. If you believe it will be impossible for you to earn an “A”, drop the course and add one that is within your range to excel. In some cases, although you strive for an “A”, you may earn a “B”. That is OK a little less than half the time. Learn what “study” means if you do not know. Join study groups in chemistry, biology and physics.
- Plan to apply for a TA position, recitation position or study group leader for Chemistry 115-118 or Chemistry 235-238 after you take these courses. You will be teaching. This is the best way to review for the general and organic chemistry sections of the MCAT.
- Enroll in Chemistry 307 the semester before you plan to take the MCAT, DAT or OAT. This course is an overview of what to expect on these exams, including three specific foci:
- What subject science topics are included on the exams.
- What strategies to use in taking the exams.
- How to prepare.
Dr. Cusic, Dr. Martin, Dr. Nikles and Dr. Gray teach the course.
- Each year, get to know at least two professors, not necessarily in science. Show interest in the subject, meet the professor in their office, do extra work, and show enthusiasm. Most professors welcome student interest, especially when the interest is genuine. As a result, at the end of three years when you are preparing your portfolio for your pre-health advisor to forward to the professional schools, you can choose from at least six professors who are willing and able to write strong letters on your behalf.
- Carefully schedule each piece of your portfolio throughout the four or more years of your undergraduate life. This includes:
- Courses that are right for you.
- Who will write your letters of recommendation
- When you will engage in significant shadowing, internship, and/or volunteering activities.
- When you will take the MCAT