Warren Wilson College Catalog 05-06

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Pre-Medical Studies

Advisor: Jeffrey Holmes

The Warren Wilson Pre-Medical program shapes a liberal arts curriculum specific to students' individual goals that will enhance their chances for admission to and success in medical school. Although we concentrate on preparing students for the traditional health professions (medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, optometry, chiropractic, and physician assistant), we also advise students interested in admission to alternative medicine programs. Students are encouraged not to take a "straight" pre-med program, but to identify and enhance the unique abilities and characteristics that particularly suit them for careers in health care.

ACADEMICS: The Pre-Medical program is not an academic major but a course of study that can be incorporated into any number of Warren Wilson degree-granting programs. Nearly all medical schools require a minimum of one year of biology, two years of chemistry, and one year of physics. Many require additional science or math courses. Consequently, most pre-med students opt for a degree in either biology or chemistry, but students are encouraged to consider majors (or minors) such as psychology, social work, or environmental science. It is possible to major in the other social sciences or humanities as a pre-med, and many professional schools are impressed by candidates able to juggle the demands of these majors along with the laboratory science courses.

WORK: One of the most important questions applicants to medical school have to answer is "Why do you want to be a doctor?" The work and service-learning components of the Warren Wilson Triad are well suited to discovering the answer to this question, and for this reason students are encouraged to devote as much planning to these aspects of their college experience as to their course loads. Medical schools are looking for candidates with demonstrated ability to solve problems, work under stress, deal with different personalities, work together in teams, and inspire confidence in others. The Work Program can provide ample opportunity for students to cultivate these skills in themselves, and their crew supervisors are in a unique position to assess their strengths.

SERVICE LEARNING: The service-learning project is a critical component of a student's preparation for a career in healthcare. Students may elect to volunteer with a number of different hospitals, nursing homes, and health education or advocacy groups. This could be a way to learn more about the opportunities available and about the sort of health career a student is best suited for. Alternatively, students can design extended service projects that specifically address their particular passions as a way both of learning more about it in a practical way and of making themselves stand out from the pack of medical school applicants. Many qualified applicants are rejected because they are unable to articulate a realistic understanding of medicine. The service project should be designed and executed in such a way that the student gains a realistic understanding of what it means to practice medicine.

THE CAREER RESOURCE CENTER: Applying to any medical program involves dealing with deadlines and a significant amount of paperwork. The pre-med advisor, in conjunction with the Career Resource Center, assists the student with assembling this material in a timely manner: selecting references, critiquing a personal statement, and identifying sources of financial aid. The MCAT test is a critical part of the medical school application, and an ability to excel on standardized exams is required for licensure and continued board certification. Computerized coaching and practice for the MCAT is made available through the Career Resource Center, along with interview coaching and practice interviews.