Preparing for a Career in Medicine, Dentistry, Podiatry, Optometry, Veterinary, Chiropractic Medicine

Congratulations! You are considering a challenging and rewarding professional goal and we wish you every success. To help you adequately prepare for these careers, you must begin early in your UB career in order to build your record of academic and personal accomplishments.

Physician Assistant (PA) Advisement

Our office also can assist you if you are considering admission to PA graduate (masters) programs. The academic requirements and patient care/contact hours can vary substantially from what is expected for admission to the other health professional schools noted above. Most PA schools require courses in general biology, general chemistry, anatomy, physiology, psychology, and sometimes biochemistry and microbiology. However, requirements can vary dramatically dependent on the programs to which you are applying. You can consult with any of the prehealth advisors about preparing for admission to PA graduate programs. Also, several handouts pertaining to PA programs are available from the resource area in 108 Norton Hall.

Getting Started

You may meet with a prehealth academic advisor to discuss your interest. Full-time preprofessional health advisors are available for individual appointments. A staff of full and part-time professional advisors further supports this office, located in Student Advising Services, 109 Norton Hall. Workshops and information sessions are conducted throughout the year. A resource library is open every weekday, and numerous handouts are available to students. You will be building a complete dossier with which to apply to these professional schools. Each of the requirements is an essential part of the whole dossier and includes the following elements.

Future applicants also need to consider other important factors to be sure they are truly making an informed decision about their intended profession. A certain degree of soul searching is required to be sure you possess the personal characteristics that offer a good "fit" for these professions. Professionalism and maturity are essential pieces that are assessed in the admissions' process. The professional schools will seek information that assures them that you are genuinely commited to their professions, and that you possess integrity and values in line with serving others as a health professional.

Undergraduate Major

Choosing a Major: Professional health schools do not necessarily prefer one major to another. The University at Buffalo offers over 90 different majors as well as the option to create your own individualized field of study. UB does not have a specific “preprofessional” major. The key is to select a major which you thoroughly enjoy insuring the greatest likelihood of excellent academic success. Select a major that is of interest to you and that will provide the background necessary to pursue several career alternatives.

Prerequisite Courses

If you are considering one of the six four-year professional health schools for which we advise, start planning as a freshman to meet the following course requirements: one year each of Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Biology, and Physics, all with a year of lab; one year of English; and one year of Calculus is recommended. Although specific requirements do vary somewhat from one profession to another, these six prerequisite course sequences are common to all. Below are the UB courses that we recommend you take in order to meet these requirements.

Chemistry CHE 101-102, 105-106, or 107-108 10 credits
Organic Chemistry CHE 201-202 or 251-252 10 credits
Biology BIO 200-201 9 credits
Physics PHY 101-102 w/labs 151-152
PHY 107-108 or 117-118 w/lab 158
9-10 credits
English ENG 101-201
(If any waived take 3 or 6 credits of English literature)
6 credits
Mathematics MTH 121-122 OR 141-142 (Recommended) 8 credits
  • Given changes to the MCAT scheduled for spring 2015, premedical and prepodiatry students are encouraged to also take BIO 205, PGY 300, PSY 101, SOC 101, and a statistics course.
  • Predental students are encouraged to take BIO 205 and PGY 300.
  • Veterinary Colleges: Nearly all require biochemistry; others require genetics, microbiology, math and/or nutrition.
  • Optometry Schools: All require psychology and statistics; others require microbiology, biochemistry, and anatomy, as well. Check with the prehealth advisor regarding the specific schools you are interested in.
  • AP Coursework: AP credit used for prerequisite courses should be followed with additional upper level work. Math is the only subject in which more advanced work is not usually required.

Scheduling courses: Students usually take Chemistry and/or Biology in their first year perhaps adding Math. This is the recommended sequence for Biology majors. Organic and Biology can be taken in the sophomore year and Physics follows in the third year. There are several sequences that can be followed when completing these courses. Advisors will help you throughout your career to select the best schedule possible so that you can complete these prerequisite courses in the right order and in time to take the required admissions tests.

References and the Prehealth Committee Letter

UB has a ten member Prehealth Committee that will assist you in preparing your file of recommendations. Upon application, the Committee will provide all students with a composite evaluation letter addressing their qualifications for professional school. The Prehealth Committee provides the service of transmitting the evaluation letter and individual references to all the professional schools to which each student applies and maintains this file for five years. See details under "Prehealth Committee" tab off the main page.

Admissions Tests

All health professional schools require a strong score on the required admission test. The required tests are as follows:

The best preparation for these tests is good performance in your coursework in science, math, and English. UB offers all of the courses for this preparation.

Health Care Experience

Volunteer health care experience is a major consideration for most professional schools. The extensive medical community in Buffalo offers students tremendous opportunities for first hand experience in a variety of settings. Furthermore, the Community Action Corps (370 Student Union), a student organization, has already identified volunteer opportunities in all the major health care facilities in Buffalo and is ready to assist any student seeking such placements. Other volunteer service is also valuable. Please also go to the "Getting Started" tab on the web site for various links to identify local, national, and international volunteer opportunities.


Research experience is important when applying to certain health schools. UB, as a major public research university in New York State, has a multitude of faculty doing research and who frequently involve undergraduates in this activity. Any student seeking such experience should pursue these opportunities. Begin by consulting UB’s Center for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (CURCA). Please also go to the "Getting Started" tab for a pdf pertaining to identifying research opportunities.

Overall Preparedness/Professionalism

As noted above, all the professional health schools will want to see that you possess the personal characteristics that are necessary to be a compassionate, competent and caring health professional. Many schools look for evidence of an applicant's professionalism, maturity, sound reasoning, integrity, service orientation, and true commitment to helping others. Applicants need to be aware that their actions, behavior, and choices as undergraduate can influence a decision regarding admission. We encourage all prospective applicants to reflect on the expectations of behavior you have for the professionals you have chosen for your healthcare and be sure you feel prepared to emulate those same qualities when serving others.

Early Assurance

Both UB’s Medical School and Dental School have special programs in which sophomores may apply. (The SUNY Medical Center in Syracuse also offers an early assurance program for sophomores.) This assurance of admission affords students the chance to complete additional studies, study abroad, and pursue other interests free of the pressures of the admission process. Acceptance is determined at the end of the sophomore year and matriculation begins two years later, after the student has completed the bachelor’s degree. Interested students should seek the help of the preprofessional health advisors in the freshman year.

Student Organizations

Several student organizations provide information, programs, assistance, and networking for students preparing for health careers. These associations are all listed with current contact information on this website under the "Getting Started" tab about halfway down the page under "Prehealth Services."

  • Last updated: January 16 2014 10:49:50.