Hendrix has a long-standing tradition of preparing students,
within the context of a liberal arts education, for the pursuit of advanced
degrees in the health professions (i.e. medical, veterinary, dental, physical
therapy, nursing and other schools) or for immediate entry into health-related
occupations. In preparing students for these fields, the Hendrix curriculum
focuses on the principles of science and scientific reasoning. After all,
science is the backbone of each of these fields, and problem solving is at the
heart of what health practitioners do.
Students who are successful in the pre-health
programs at Hendrix are well versed in their particular scientific field and
accomplished communicators. Furthermore, while science will certainly be the
focus of the undergraduate preparation, it will not be so consuming that
students are restricted from taking full advantage of the breadth of a liberal
arts academic program. Students who are interested in becoming physicians,
dentists, or veterinarians but also want to know their Plato, Chaucer, and Marx
should look into the liberal arts…they should look into Hendrix.
Hendrix students who are interested in the health sciences
field usually choose to major in biology, chemistry, health
science, or biochemistry-molecular biology.
Post-graduate programs expect successful applicants to have taken certain
science classes as well as a variety of classes outside of the sciences. Most
graduate or professional schools also require satisfactory scores in one of
several standardized tests, such as the MCAT (Medical College Aptitude Test)
for medical school and the DAT (Dental Aptitude Test) for dental school.
Faculty advisors ensure that the students are taking the necessary classes to
prepare for the exams.
Graduate and professional schools generally
require successful applicants to have spent time in classes that address the
non-scientific side of the healing professions. English courses are required to
hone writing skills, while speech classes are often mandated to polish
interpersonal communication abilities. Hendrix students are able to satisfy
these requirements while also meeting the diverse requirements of the Hendrix
liberal arts curriculum.
Many students at Hendrix will take advantage of the
opportunities to get involved in undergraduate research. Unlike large
universities, at Hendrix there are no graduate assistants to compete with for
chances to work with professors in the laboratories. Most science classes
require weekly laboratory work to complement the work done in class. Research is a powerful tool that reinforces the
analytical skills necessary for careers in the health professions. This not
only has intrinsic value educationally, but also helps to enhance applications
for competitive professional schools.
to the Future
Students interested in pre-medical or other health-related
fields requiring the MCAT, DAT, VCAT, OAT, PCAT or similar exams in the spring
of the junior year or the fall of the senior year usually need to take at least
2 biology, 4 chemistry, 2 physics, and 2 mathematics courses in the first three
years. Some schools require 3 or more biology courses. Thus, they need 10
science courses in six semesters, many of which have laboratories and need to
be sequenced properly, regardless of the student’s major. These 10 courses are
typically the following: Cell Biology and Genetics (we strongly recommend
Animal Physiology as well), Chemistry I and II, and Organic Chemistry I and II,
Physics I and II (algebra or calculus-based), and one or two mathematics
courses. While some professional schools state a mathematics requirement of
“two courses,” others state “Calculus I” or “Calculus II” as a requirement.
Some have no specified math requirement and others require statistics. Proper
course sequencing throughout the first three years of the four-year curriculum
is crucial. One should consult course requirements for any specific major in
the Catalog. Once a major has been decided upon, the student should consult
with a faculty member in that department for further information on optimum
As long as the minimum science requirements are met, one’s major
is not a criterion of professional school admission, but overall grade point
average, science grade point average, and the standardized exam scores (which
have science sections covering courses listed above) are critical. Students
with equivalent credentials (e.g., MCAT, GPA, and grades in science courses)
who major outside of the sciences will be a little unique when their
applications are considered, and this may even be an advantage.
Generally, first-year students need to start at least two
science sequences and to take at least four science/math courses in the first
year regardless of their projected major. An absolute maximum is six science
courses (three per term), but this is not often recommended. Taking fewer than
three science courses will make it difficult for students to be prepared for
the professional school standardized exams in three years. It is recommended
that in the first year, pre-professional school students take Cell Biology and
Chemistry I and II. Other science courses which are often taken by first-year
students include selections from this list: Zoology (Biology majors), Functions
and Models, Calculus I and Calculus II. Physics may be an appropriate choice
for Physics or BCMB majors. Outside the Natural Sciences, students should
consider coursework in psychology, sociology, ethics or speech communication.
While the courses listed above are the most frequently specified prerequisites
by professional schools, students should check for additional prerequisites
when they have chosen the particular school to which they want to apply. All
students are encouraged to visit the web site of the professional organization
that they wish to enter, as well as the websites of any specific schools they
might consider applying to, for further information.
For additional information, please select one of the specific health-related fields in the menu on the right-hand side of the page. Each field has a Faculty member who can be contacted by students. There is also an active Pre-Health Club.