I want to be a pediatrician, OB/GYN, surgeon, cardiologist, psychiatrist, etc. How do I start?
These are career paths one can choose to specialize in after graduating from medical school, and selecting a specialty can begin early during your medical school experience. Your third year rotations give you experience within various options so by the time the end of your third year in medical school comes around, many medical school students have chosen their specialty. You would then apply for residency during your final year of medical school, interview with potential program and begin residency training after medical school.
What classes do I need?
Each health professions school program has particular courses that are required in order to apply for that particular program. The HCAO has provided a general table of these pre-requisite courses per particular health profession for you to use when planning your undergraduate career at Cal State LA. Please note that the table is provided as a guide, and we strongly recommend that students research their top schools. It is the responsibility of the applicant to check with the individual programs for the most updated information, and for any additional requirements your particular program may require.
What should my major be? Am I a pre-health major?
Cal State LA does not offer a pre-health major. Since health professonal schools do not prefer one major over another, students may select a major that they find interesting and can do well in. A large percentage of students do select a major in the sciences, likely reflecting the fact that most of the pre-requiste coursework for health professonal schools are also requirements for the major. Students who decide to major in something outside of the sciences can absolutely get accepted into professional schools, provided that in addition to their major and graduation requirements, they complete the additional pre-requisite coursework for the health professions school.
What grades do I need to get in order to get admitted to medical/pharmacy/dental school?
Strive for A's! Per statistics provided by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the overall average gpa for admitted medical students (2015) was a 3.7. Similarly, dental and pharmacy average was roughly a 3.5/3.6. Remember, B's are slightly below your goal, so A's are critical to preserve a competitive GPA. If you are struggling in your coursework, Cal State LA provides many resources for students, and we encourage you to utilize them! Please click on the link to get information on the writing center, tutorial center, and advising centers which can help discuss how to improve your academic performance.
In addition to doing well in classes, what else should I be doing?
Health profession programs are interested in students who are not only academically prepared, but are active and engaged individuals on campus and/or in his or her community. Seek extracurricular activities that are appealing, and meaningful to you. While having a variety of experiences can be valuable, admissions committees are interested in the depth of your experiences and what you learned/how you changed/what you gained from them. Do not shy away from leadership opportunities or responsibilities.
Is volunteering and/or shadowing required?
While not formally listed as a requirement for admissions into your health professions school, these type of experiences are critical to your application and your own exposure to the field. These type of activities not only show admissions committees (and yourself) that you are committed to the career, it can also be a place to make connections for letters of recommendations, leadership opportunities, and impactful moments for your personal statement. Be sure to balance the time you spend on these activities with enough study time, though. You don't want GPA to suffer!
When should I apply to medical school?
Each student is unique, and will choose the time to apply that is the best fit for their journey. The goal for many students is to enter medical school the fall immediately after they graduate from college. If a student graduates Cal State LA in Spring 2020 with the goal to enter medical school in Fall 2020, then the application would be submitted the preceding summer (Summer 2019 - so, roughly a year in advance). This would mean taking the MCAT during junior year - along with coursework, etc. Some students opt to take a gap year, and apply during the summer they graduate. Using the same example, if a student graduates Cal State LA Spring 2020 (and they apply the same summer June 2020), they would not enter medical school until Fall 2021. This allows for more time to study for MCAT, and the opportunity to do research, volunteer, shadow, etc. during their gap year(s). Some students decide to take some time off to work, gain more experience in the field, or various other reasons and apply at a later time, once they feel prepared to do so. It really is a unique decision for each student.
I've heard I can have my letters of recommendation stored with your office.
The Health Careers Advisement Office no longer stores letters of recommendations for students. We do encourage students to look into third party storage companies, like Interfolio, which do offer a way for letter writers to directly upload their letters of recommendations for students before they are ready to apply. Once students are ready to send their letters of recommendations to the proper application service, Interfolio will electronically distribute them as you instruct. For more information, contact Interfolio directly.