Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Are any of the requisite courses, such as general chemistry, “weed-out” courses to reduce the number of health professional students?

Sam Houston State University is only interested in helping our students succeed in their chosen fields of study, and we provide many resources to ensure that they do succeed. Many high school students start college intending to enter professions such as medicine, law, engineering, and architecture, but few have had any direct experience with those fields. Sometimes students change their minds about their educational directions as they learn more about what preparation to enter these professions really involves.

Q. Can I use Dual Credit and Advanced Placement Credit?

Dual Credit and AP courses may be used as generic credit toward the 120 credits needed to graduate, but they are not recommended to satisfy prerequisites in any of the health professional programs offered at SHSU. Our experience is that High School AP courses, while excellent preparation, are not the equivalent of college courses in many important ways, even if you've been exposed to many of the same topics. The best way to describe the difference is level of academic maturity as opposed to simply the topics covered. Many medical schools will not accept AP courses or limit the number of AP courses used to fulfill their requirements. For the same reasons, Dual Credit courses are not recommended to satisfy requirements for health professional programs.

Q. Can I take some of my requirements in summer school?

You can, but it is not advised to take one or more of the science courses during the summer. Professional schools want evidence that a prospective student can perform well in a science-intensive curriculum. They want to see that applicants have taken at least two science prerequisite courses with labs in the same semester, rather than taking one during the summer. If you must take one of the courses during the summer, it should be taken at your home university or another that is at least as demanding. Medical school admissions staffs are quick to notice transcripts where this is not done. Furthermore, you may find it more difficult to get meaningful recommendations from non-SHSU professors because they will not know you well.

Q. Which is the best Medical School in Texas?

Although you will find personal preference among those people consulted, the best Medical School is still the one that accepts you!

Q. Which Medical Schools have accepted Sam Houston State University Students?

The following list of medical programs is only a sampling of where you can find former ‘BearKats’:

Baylor College of Medicine
Baylor College of Dentistry
Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences
Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine
Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine
Saba University School of Medicine
Saint Georges School of Medicine
Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine & Science
Texas A&M University Health Science Center College Medical School
Texas A & M University School of Veterinary Medicine
Texas Chiropractic College
Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Medicine
University of Guadalajara School of Medicine
University of Houston College of Optometry
University of Kentucky School of Dentistry
University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth
University of Texas Dental Branch at Houston
University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio Dental School
University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio School of Medicine
University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
University of Texas Medical School at Houston
University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
Western University School of Veterinary Medicine

Q. Must I become a science major in order to apply to medical or other health professional schools?

No. You may major in any subject you wish. However, it is essential that you complete at least the minimum required science courses before you apply, and before you take any admissions exam based on those courses. In addition, the admissions exam may presuppose additional courses. This question is particularly germane for pre-medical and pre-dental students although applicable to the other health profession programs. There is no official, required, or recommended pre-medical or pre-dental major or minor. This is clearly stated in the Medical School Admissions Requirements Guide published by the American Medical Colleges:

"No medical school requires a specific major of its applicants or matriculants. Admissions committee members are aware that medical students can develop the essential skills of acquiring, synthesizing, applying and communicating information through a wide variety of academic disciplines. Nevertheless, many premedical students choose to major in a scientific discipline. Ideally, they do so because they are fascinated by science and perceive that such a major can be the foundation for a variety of career options. Choosing science based primarily on enhancing one's chances for admission to medical school is not in a student's long-term best interest. Medical school admission committees seek students whose intellectual curiosity leads them to a variety of disciplines and whose intellectual maturity assures that their efforts are persistent and disciplined." (American Association of Medical College's Medical School Admissions Requirements for 2008-2009, page 11).

The major and minor choices reflect the Texas averages. At SHSU and about 90% of pre-meds are science majors. At SHSU, the ‘others’ represent majors in at least 5 other disciplines. At SHSU, over the past ten years, almost every pre-med student with a GPA of 3.5 or higher, and MCAT scores of 28 or higher, was admitted to medical school regardless of their major. It is "convenient" to major in Biology and minor in Chemistry because most of the wealth professional requirements are also requirements for the Biology / Chemistry degree, so it requires less time to complete both. In conclusion, you can major in any subject you want!

Q. What is meant by Sam Houston State University being a ‘Committee School’?

A medical school applicant must provide letters of evaluation to accompany their medical school application for review. Each of the evaluators promotes the candidate to the extent the evaluator feels appropriate predicated upon their experience with the applicant. Three letters essentially translates as three positive votes. Committee schools differ in the sense that the candidate chooses three evaluators who write their letters to the University’s Medical & Dental Evaluation Committee, instead of to the applicant’s Medical School choices. The evaluation letters, MCAT or DAT scores, and the applicant’s dossier are provided to each of three members of the University Medical & Dental Student Evaluation Committee (MDSEC) who evaluates the candidate relative to previous students accepted to medical or dental school. Each candidate is scored on a five tiered hierarchy as to their potential for success in medical school. Each evaluation must be justified in writing. The scores are returned to the MAHP Director, who summarizes the committee rankings. Applicants whose committee rankings are in the top three categories are endorsed by Sam Houston State University, and not just by three independent evaluators. Further, all letters of evaluation, the results of the three University MDSEC evaluations and a summary letter written by the MAHP Director are communicated to applicants choice of medical schools. The Committee endorsement is a much stronger endorsement to professional school.

Q. What kind of extracurricular experiences should I seek?

You should pursue anything that interests you. Medical and Dental schools are interested in students who have been active contributors on campus, and who have a range of interests. You should choose a few things to do meaningfully and well, rather than dabble in a long list of activities. Community service is an important way to demonstrate your concern and compassion for others.

Q. Do I need to have medically-related experiences?

Yes, it is critically important that you involve yourself meaningfully in a dental or medical setting, to show the professional schools that you have observed medical or dental practice first-hand. Students do this through volunteer work in hospitals and clinics, summer jobs, internships, formal premed summer programs, or shadowing physicians or dentists at work, either during the school year or during summer breaks.

Q. What is the typical profile of a successful medical school candidate?

Successful applicants are highly motivated, well-rounded students with a demonstrated, convincing commitment to the profession, a GPA ≥3.5 and MCAT scores of nines and tens or higher in each of the three scoring categories or DAT scores ≥19. High grades in the requisite science and math courses and good performance on the MCAT/DAT are key indicators in predicting successful performance in medical or dental school.

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