Preparing for a Health Profession

pieces

There are many pieces to every application, including your GPA, stardardized test score, personal statement, list of experiences, letters of recommendation, and biographical information.
Some health professions schools review applications holistically, while others rely on metrics to determine eligibility. The best way to prepare is to develop ALL of the pieces in an application, including yourself. Your personal attributes will play a big role in your success.

The best advice is to stay involved in the advising process. The Health Professions Advising office is here to support you on your journey, but we can only do so much. You must show up to learn about important topics and concepts, all designed for your future success.

Preparing Academically

Each health profession has its own unique set of prerequisites that every student must satisfy in order to be admitted to a school. The "Prerequisite Course List" button on the right will provide you with a list of UC Davis courses that are commonly used to fulfill these requirements. Use the Prerequisite Advising Sheets in the right column to identify required courses for various schools for your health profession.

Some things you should consider about prerequisite coursework:

  1. Different majors require different series. Follow your major requirements.

  2. Complete all of your prerequisite courses for a letter grade - DO NOT take any of them P/NP.

  3. Most medical schools DO NOT accept AP credit to fulfill a prerequisite course for their program. The best course of action is to take the courses recommended below, even if the university has given you AP credit for those courses.

Please see our Prerequisite Course List Options for the list of prerequisite subjects across many health professions. Keep in mind you do not have to take all of these classes just the ones required by your health profession and major.

Health Profession Prerequisite Course Options

Please see our Information Chart for more information about GPA averages per profession. Keep in mind, these are averages, not requirements.

Health Careers Information Chart 2017

How can I satisfy English prerequisites?

Many programs require one year of English. Here are some of the ways you can satisfy this requirement:

1. If you have taken English at a community college, this will count.

2. Any UC Davis UWP (University Writing Program), ENG (English) or COM (Comparative Literature) will count towards this requirement. Please follow your major and graduation requirements first, then add additional classes to satisfy your health profession requirements.

3. Many students take UWP 104F to count towards a year of English. This is a great option because in this class you will produce a personal statement draft.

Click HERE to see a list of UWP course options.

Do you need to take workload chemistry?

Use this helpful guide to determine whether or not you are eligible to enroll in CHE 2A or if you should first complete Workload Chemistry WLD 41C.

For more detailed information, visit the UC Davis Department of Chemistry website.

Safe Zone

Two Minutes with HPA

Two Minutes with HPA

Take two minutes to learn some quick tips from Director of HPA, Joanne Snapp

In HPA, we often refer to the "Safe Zone", which is a GPA above 3.0 (overall and science). A GPA of 3.0 would be barely meeting the minimum requirements for many programs. You cannot have too high of a GPA. If you are struggling to maintain a 3.0, please make an appointment with the Director of Health Professions Advising. Everyone is capable of earning above a 3.0. In almost every case, the lower grades are the result of time management, study techniques, test anxiety, poor reading comprehension, or another skill that can be developed. There are many resources on campus to assist you in achieving your goals.

Strategies for Success

We believe that every student can achieve at this level, but some students experience more challenges than others. There are many resources on campus to help you achieve your academic goals.

  • The Student Academic Success Center offers FREE tutoring in all of the required sciences. Additionally, they offer Drop In Hours in the Sciences Lab Building.
  • Free workshops on Study Skills, Time Management, Overcoming Procrastination and so much more are offered on campus.
  • Assistance with Test Anxiety.
  • Stress Management through Counseling Services.
  • One-on-one appointment with Health Professions Advising.

Myth Buster

Myth: I can do a lot of meaningful experiences to make up for a weaker GPA.

Fact: If you do not have a 3.0 GPA (overall and science), you should not be doing so many extracurricular activities. Having many meaningful activities will NOT make up for a GPA below 3.0. You need to focus on your grades, earn at least a 3.0, and then begin adding experiences. You can always take a year or two off after graduation to gain more experience. If you plan to work on your GPA after graduation, you will be spending a lot of money to do so.

Being Proactive

Being proactive in your success means making decisions that lead to better outcomes before finding out that there is a problem.

For example, many students say, "I'll wait and see how I do on the mid-term before I decide whether I need tutoring."

Being proactive would mean going to tutoring, office hours, study groups BEFORE the mid-term to prevent the low grade.

Another example, many students say, "I don't have time to study 30 hours per week."

Being proactive would include keeping a paper planner, writing out all of the quarter's assignments at the start, breaking those assignments into manageable tasks, and assigning each task to a day and time, and following a schedule. 

Supplemental content

Prerequisite Coursework

Advising sheets were created by HPA to serve as a guide to academic planning.
If you find a discrepancy in an advising sheet and a school's website, please bring that to our attention by emailing healthprofessionsadvising@ucdavis.edu

Use your advising sheet with your academic advisor to determine which courses to take in preparation for graduate/professional school.

Pre-requisite coursework may change. We are not notified when changes are made.

Academic Preparation

What are the prerequisite courses for my health profession?

Each health professions program has its own unique set of prerequisites that every student must satisfy in order to be admitted to the school. Certain courses may be required by one school and recommended by another. Please check our prerequisite coursework advising sheets as a guide for academic planning. Each sheet contains a list of prerequisites required by various schools to which past UC Davis students have applied. Please note that the prerequisite coursework is subject to changes that we are not notified of. If you find a discrepancy in an advising sheet and a school’s website, please bring it to our attention by emailing us at healthprofessionsadvising@ucdavis.edu. If your desired school is not listed, you may have to go directly to their website. Please use your advising sheet with your academic advisor to determine which courses to take in preparation for graduate/professional school and in order to satisfy your degree requirements.

How can I satisfy the English prerequisites?

Many programs require one year of English. The following are some of the ways you can satisfy this requirement:

1. English courses at a community college

2. Any UC Davis UWP (University Writing Program), ENL (English) or COM (Comparative Literature) course. Please note that some schools may not prefer a COM class.

Many pre-health students take UWP 104F to satisfy their English requirement. UPW 101 can also be a great option if you are not a strong writer.

Please follow your major and graduation requirements first, and then add additional classes to satisfy your health profession requirements.  

Do I have to complete all of the prerequisite coursework before applying?

No, you are not required to complete all of the required coursework before applying. However, you should complete a majority of the science coursework before you apply. You must complete all of the coursework before you start at the health profession school. Many applicants complete some of the pre-reqs over their application year.

Can I take prerequisites at a community college or online?

The answer to this question depends on the type of program you are pursuing. We recommend those applying to doctoral level programs take as many science courses at UC Davis as possible. If you transferred in with most of your prereqs completed, plan to take some upper division science coursework here.

Most masters level schools do accept credits from an accredited community college. Many students complete some of their required courses at a CC during summers or after graduating. 

In terms of online courses, some schools will accept general education/prerequisite courses taken online, but others will not accept any online courses, especially science courses that require labs. The schools that do accept online courses generally do not accept courses with virtual labs either; a hybrid course with online lectures and in-person labs may be acceptable. Students should check the requirements for each school to which they are applying.

Do health professional schools accept AP/IB credits for prerequisite courses?

Although there are some schools that will accept AP/IB credit as a substitute for certain introductory courses, most schools do not accept AP/IB credit. If they do, those substituted courses generally must be supplemented with other, usually upper division, courses. Students wishing to use AP/IB credit should check with the schools to which they are applying.

 However, regardless of whether the schools accept AP/IB credit, we do not recommend using AP/IB credit to fulfill your prerequisite courses, especially your science courses. While it may seem convenient to save time, the rigor of many AP/IB courses is not equivalent to the rigor of the courses offered during college. Taking the prerequisite courses also provides you the opportunity to develop a solid foundation in the subject, which can greatly enhance, not only your GPA, but also your success on the standardized exams. The best course of action is to take the courses recommended, even if the university has given you AP/IB credit for those courses.

 

Can I study abroad? Can I take prerequisites at an international institution?

Studying abroad is a wonderful experience that we encourage you to pursue. It is a valuable experience that provides the opportunity for growth in both maturity and cultural awareness.

You should not study abroad because you are pre-health in an effort to make your application stand out. You should study abroad because you want to gain the experience.

All coursework taken through a UC Study Abroad program will appear on your UC Davis transcript and will meet the requirements for health professions schools. Several programs offer science coursework. It is fine to take those courses abroad, as long as you complete them successfully.

Can I take a course as pass/no pass (P/NP)?

All prerequisite courses must be completed for a letter grade – do not take any of them P/NP.

Non-required courses may be taken P/NP, but we do not encourage you to do this more than a couple times unless there are extenuating circumstances.

What is counted in my science GPA?

Each centralized application will count different coursework toward your science GPA. For example, medical schools count all math, as well as every science course taken, into your BCPM (Bio, Chem, Physics, Math) GPA. Other programs count only science courses. Some provide clear guidelines as to what counts as science, while others allow you to use your discretion. Please check your centralized application to determine your health profession's guidelines.

To calculate your science GPA, go into OASIS and pull up your Academic Record. Along the left side of the course list, you will see boxes. Check off the boxes for the courses you wish to be included in the GPA calculation.

In HPA, we often refer to the "Safe Zone", which is a GPA above 3.0 (overall and science). However, you cannot have too high of a GPA. A GPA of 3.0 would be barely meeting the minimum requirements for many programs. If you are struggling to maintain a 3.0, please make an appointment with a Health Professions advisor. Everyone is capable of earning above a 3.0. In almost every case, the lower grades are the result of challenges outside the classroom, time management, study techniques, test anxiety, poor reading comprehension, or another skill that can be developed. There are many resources on campus to assist you in achieving your goals.

If I have a lower GPA, should I have more experiences to offset that?

The short answer is no. The idea of a lot of meaningful experiences making up for a weak GPA is a common myth among students. If you do not have a minimum 3.0 GPA (overall and science), you should not be doing so many extracurricular activities. Having many meaningful activities will not make up for a GPA below 3.0. You need to focus on your grades, earn at least a 3.0, and then begin adding experiences. You can always take a year or two off after graduation to gain more experience. If you plan to work on your GPA after graduation through a postbac program, you will be spending a lot of money to do so.

While the cumulative GPA is important, schools will take into consideration if you have improved. This is known as an upward trend. Schools understand that students may find the transition to college life to be difficult. An upward trend demonstrates your ability to adapt and to persevere. You should strive to have no grade lower than a B- in your last 60 units.

What should I do if I'm going to get a bad grade in a class?

Although no one wants a C, it is not the end of the world if you get one or two C’s. You can still get into a health professional school. It just means you will have to work a bit harder to improve your GPA. We recommend taking other courses in the same discipline and do well in those courses. For example, if you do poorly in chemistry, take another science course and do well on that in order to raise your science/BCPM GPA.

You may have been told that if you know you'll get a C-, take a D or F intentionally in order to repeat the course. We do not recommend failing a class on purpose in order to retake it for a better grade. Even though the lower grade will not be included in your UC Davis GPA, it will remain on your transcript and many centralized applications will count that first grade into your application GPA. Additionally, the health profession schools will still see it. It is better to have a C- in the course and improve through other courses in the same discipline than to take a D or F. Although you cannot repeat the C- at UCD, you will need to repeat it somewhere else either over a summer or after graduation. If it is impossible for you to take it somewhere else and the only way you can reach your goal is to take coursework at UCD, then you will have to fail the class to repeat it.