What is pre-health?
“Pre-health” is any studies or activities that help you prepare for a career in the healthcare field. Pre-health is not a major at the University of Houston. There is no prescribed or preferred major for students who are pre-med, pre-dentistry, pre-optometry, pre-pharmacy or pursuing any other pre-professional program.
“Pre-health” is a curricular program students follow to complete the requirements for entry into professional schools upon graduation.
What's a prerequisite?
These are courses required for admission and also may be the basic preparation for the admission tests.
Should a student major in Biology or at least a science?
Students should major in the disciplines they truly enjoy. If it includes the prerequisite courses fine, if not they will take those courses in addition to their major. Professional schools want students skilled in science, but not exclusively.
What are some steps involved in choosing a major or career path?
Making career or academic decisions is a process involving several steps. First assess your interests, abilities, and values. Next explore a variety of career options. Identify resources that can help you implement your decisions. Develop an action plan and finally evaluate your progress and set goals.
What do students need to do to qualify for admission into these professional schools?
To be a qualified, competitive applicant, students must do the following:
- Successfully complete their degree and major with an excellent record
- Complete prerequisite courses with superior grades.
- Perform very well on admission tests (MCAT, DAT, PCAT, OAT, or GRE)
- Compile a strong record of references and if applying to medical or dental school, a UH Health Professions Advisory Committee Letter.
- Participate in sincere and sustained health related service activities
What are the minimum course requirements for health professional school?
There is no simple answer since each school sets its own requirements. There are some differences between professions and even among different institutions within each profession. But medicine and virtually all of the others 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. It is important that students carefully research the health professional schools they wish to enter to be fully aware of the requirements for a specific profession and school. The pre-health counselor can assist students with researching specific programs and gathering information, and the Pre-Health advisors can help students determine the specific coursework they need to take in order to meet the pre-requisites for the professional program they are interested in.
When do students take admissions tests?
They can take them as soon as they have the four basic prerequisites done, but the real answer is when they feel best prepared. Students hoping to start professional school the fall after graduation should plan to be ready for the tests by the spring of their junior year.
If I am not accepted the first time, should I reapply?
Applying to professional school is a time consuming, stressful, and costly process- it is best to wait to apply when you think your application packet is the strongest it can be. With that said, however, it is not uncommon for individuals to reapply to professional school. A couple of reasons why an individual might decide to reapply can be due to the timing of their application or their academic credentials weren't as strong as they could have been. The admissions process to professional school is extremely competitive. In order to be successful in reapplying your application needs to have changed in some significant manner. You will need to demonstrate effort to improve your application by taking advanced science classes, retaking the MCAT, DAT, PCAT, etc., or gaining more experiences in healthcare settings. Applications that are resubmitted without any significant change do not fare well in the application process the second time around. It is highly recommended that re-applicants consider taking more than a year in between application processes. This amount of time will allow for the application to grow in its strength and provide the applicant with a better chance at being accepted to professional school.
Should I make alternative plans just in case I am not accepted into professional school?
Yes! Thousands of applications are received by health professional programs each year, and most of these programs are highly competitive. If you are not admitted to the program of your choice, it is in your best interest to have an equally exciting “Plan B” to fall back on.
What should pre-health students remember?
- Everything you do is a part of your permanent record so compile the record with which you will be proud to apply. Freshman year counts!
- Pick a realistic program that will prepare you for your major and complete the pre-health prerequisites. Not every student can do this in four years. Don't get caught in the "I don't want to get behind" syndrome. Speed won't make up for weak grades.
- Learn strategies to approach professors for references. Don't wait until your junior year.
- Participate in service and health related volunteer work or research from early on at UH. This cannot be done authentically in the semester before your application.
- It is your job to become educated about your intended profession and how to qualify.
Where can a student find help with these questions?
Students can schedule an appointment with a Career Counselor through University Career Services at 713-743-5100 or through our website.
Students should also meet with a pre-health advisor through The Academic Advising Center (Undergraduate Scholars @UH) located at 56 University Libraries, 832-842-2100. Office hours and services are listed through their website.