Health Professions Program

The Program

Students interested in a career in the health professions become part of a careful mentoring and advising process beginning in the first year (or whenever they decide to pursue a health professions career). The advisor of the Health Professions Program, Geoffrey Church Ph.D., located in Bannow 207:

  • Guides each student in the selection of an appropriate course of study for a wide variety of careers in the health professions
  • Reviews the academic standards applied by the various medical/professional schools, and the specific tests required by these schools
  • Helps students to identify internships, research, and volunteer opportunities
  • Discusses a range of other important issues related to the world of the health professions
  • Organizes program meetings where health care workers or professional school admissions officers present information

You'll receive specific advice on how to best prepare yourself to become a strong applicant for admission to a health professions school. Each semester, in addition to regular program meetings with all other pre-health students, you'll meet one-on-one with the program advisor. Those strategy sessions will help you determine how to best to plan and carry out all of the components of building your application packet for graduate programs. The health professions advisor also works with the Office of Career Planning to offer general and specific advice, to anyone on campus, concerning the many professional opportunities in the health sciences including:

  • Medicine
  • Dentistry
  • Optometry
  • Veterinary science
  • Osteopathy
  • Physical Therapy
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Pharmacy
  • and many Allied Health Professions

In addition to the necessary science courses, internships and research opportunities, Fairfield also provides you with a strong background in the liberal arts that emphasizes the ethical and human side of medicine, through appropriate courses in the social sciences and humanities. This helps students to build a broad perspective on healthcare and its associated issues, such as patient's rights, health care policy and legislation, ethics, etc. All of this serves to make Fairfield applicants stand out during the very competitive admissions process.

Requirements

Entry into the Health Professions Program is not competitive. Any undergraduate student may enter the program and receive university support at any time. There is no "pre-health" major at the university and students may enter from any of the colleges or schools of Fairfield University (College of Arts & Sciences, School of Engineering, etc.).

Although many pre-health science students select a major in Biology, or Chemistry, it is possible to take all the courses needed for admission to most professional schools while majoring in any of Fairfield's many majors. Some medical and dental schools may actually prefer non-science majors as it demonstrates a well-rounded individual. Students should explore all their interests regarding potential majors, there is no "best major" for a health professions program student.

In general, pre-health professions students will need the following courses:

  • 1 year of general biology with laboratory
  • 1 year of physics with laboratory
  • 1 year of general chemistry with laboratory
  • 1 year of organic chemistry with laboratory
  • 2 semesters of English (already required as part of college's core curriculum)
  • 1 semester of biochemistry lecture (for all pre-meds and various other pre-health areas)
  • 1 semester of introductory psychology

If you wish to apply to medical, dental, veterinary, or optometry school, or a Ph.D. program, you must also complete the appropriate pre-professional admissions tests such as the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT), Dental College Admissions Test (DAT), Optometry Admissions test (OAT), or Graduate Record Exam (GRE). These tests are generally taken at the end of the junior year; therefore all preparatory courses must be completed by that time. Planing ahead and working with the advisor to come up with the best schedule of courses is therefore very important!

Course of Study

Fairfield's program is designed to prepare you for an exciting career in one of the many fields of the health sciences. Consistent with national standards, there is no major in the health sciences. Although most students choose one of the sciences - biology, chemistry, physics - as a major, it is possible to complete the national requirements for admission to medical school, dental school, or veterinary school while majoring in any of Fairfield's academic programs.

Freshman Year

Introduce yourself to Dr. Church and pick up a copy of the Health Professions Handbook. Dr. Church will sit down with you and discuss your plans or thoughts about a career in the health professions. You will then be asked to fill out an enrollment form. This imparts no obligation and should be filled out even if medicine is not your finial objective.

Due to the number of required courses your schedule is tight. In the freshman year you should register for General Chemistry (CH 111 and 112) and college mathematics depending on your level of achievement in high school. While not necessary during freshman year you may consider taking General Biology (BI 170-171).

Sophomore Year

You should be earning good grades in all your classes, especially the science classes. This year you may register for one or more of Organic Chemistry (CH 211-212), Physics (PS 15-16), and General Biology (BI 170-171).

The best time for students to gain valuable experience within the health care setting is usually during the summer before the junior year. Make sure that you investigate various options for clinical exposure or research with the health professions advisor during the sophomore year so that you know what you will be doing for the summer.

Junior Year

This year you may take any of the above mentioned courses which you may not have taken yet in the first two years. It is strongly recommended that you take at least one English course by this time. Most entrance exams including the MCAT have a verbal section. Scientific thinkers often do poorly on these sections. Therefore it is wise to balance your skills by taking humanities courses which will force you to do critical reading and lots of essay writing. Philosophy, Religion, English and History are good examples.

Most students (excluding pre-meds) take their pre-professional admissions exams at the end of their junior year. Since these exams test your understanding of basic Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics and Physics it is imperative that you have completed your required courses by this time. The MCAT is given several times throughout the year, but it is recommended that you take it in late spring/early summer so that your application can be complete by June.

Remember to request a letter of recommendation from the Health Professions Committee. The deadline for applications is April 1. The committee interviews each candidate, reviews their academic performance and votes whether or not to recommend that student. Students whose performance is not up to Fairfield's standards may not be recommended. If this happens, you may support your application with three letters from individual professors in lieu of a committee letter.

Summer Between Junior and Senior Years

This is a busy summer. Now is the best time to fill out applications. This is more complicated than it sounds (will take you hours!) so allow plenty of time. Nearly all health professions schools have rolling admissions so it is to your advantage to get your applications in as soon as possible. However, it is most common for pre-medical students specifically to apply after senior year.

Students who were not ready in the spring or who did poorly on spring entrance exams may elect to take them in the summer.

Senior Year

Your applications should be in and you will be watching the mail. You may have secondary applications to fill out but your real concern should be interviews. See Dr. Church for lists of commonly asked interview questions, or to schedule a mock interview to help you prepare for the BIG day!

If you have finished all core and major requirements you may take whatever classes interest you. This is a great opportunity to learn something special! Remember to keep your GPA up! As a rule, medical students should have at least a 3.5. If your GPA drops below 3.0 it is unlikely that you will be accepted into any American medical schools. Other programs have somewhat lower GPA requirements, but whatever your aspirations you should strive to stay above 3.0.

Faculty

The health sciences professions committee consists of faculty members from the sciences as well as the humanities and social sciences. The dean of the College of Arts and Sciences sits on the committee as well. The committee, chaired by the health professions advisor, assists students interested in the health professions, clarifies professional school requirements, and helps identify special programs such as internships and research opportunities. The health professions advisor is ready to offer advice to you at each step of the application process, including:

  • Registration for pre-professional exams
  • Revising personal essays
  • Preparing for the admissions interview

All members of the health sciences professions committee are active faculty members and likely to know you on a personal basis from interactions in the classroom or laboratory. They are listed with their academic departments.

Geoffrey Church, Ph.D., Biology
Anna-Marie Aksan, Ph.D., Economics
Angela Biselli, Ph.D., Physics
Margaret McClure, Ph.D., Psychology
Michael Pagano,Ph.D., Communications
Glenn Sauer, Ph.D., Biology
Christopher Staecker, Ph.D., Mathematics
Gary Weddle, Ph.D., Chemistry

Life After Fairfield

Fairfield has a long history of success in preparing students with a solid foundation for the health professions. Since 1951, more than 2,000 Fairfield alumni have earned degrees in medicine and dentistry and are practicing throughout the world. More than 500 others have opted for other specialties within the allied health professions. Fairfield students have been accepted at almost every medical school in the country including:

  • Yale
  • Harvard
  • Duke
  • Cornell
  • Johns Hopkins

Our alumni now occupy many important positions within the medical establishment

Career Options in Health

  • Medicine
  • Dentistry
  • Osteopathic Medicine
  • Veterinary Medicine
  • Physician's Assistant
  • Pharmacy
  • Optometry
  • Podiatry
  • Physical & Occupational Therapy
  • Public Health
  • Toxicology
  • Nutrition
  • and others

Learn more about how the University's Office of Career Planning can support your post-graduate goals, and how Fairfield's tight-knit alumni network can build career and mentoring opportunities that last a lifetime.

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