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Skidmore College
Health Professions Advising
& Student Health Professions Network 

Incoming and First-Year Students

The Health Professions Advisory Committee and Student Health Professions Network are here to help you navigate the pre-health tracks including planning, course recommendations, discussing co-curricular experiences both on and off-campus (clubs, volunteering, jobs, internships, shadowing, etc.), and preparing the materials when you are ready to apply. With proper planning, you can major in whatever you want, study abroad, and pursue the health career that you want.

Information for Incoming students

If considering a career in a health profession after graduating Skidmore, please sign up for an HPAC Advisor & the Student Health Professions Network. Please also review:

Which courses should I take my first semester at Skidmore?

Given the chemistry required by those programs, you should take the Chemistry Placement Diagnostic before your summer advising session and registration for Fall classes.

Typically, students interested in programs in medicine, veterinary medicine, dentistry, pharamcy, physician assisting, genetic counseling, and podiatry are recommended to take the following:

  • Scribner Seminar - 4 credits
  • BI 107 or BI 108 (can start in either)^ - 4 credits
    • Note, while you can take BI 108 before BI 107 (and vice versa), the 200-level BI courses have BI 107 and or BI 108 as a pre-requisite.
      • BI 224, 235, 239, 242, 245, and 247 require both BI 107 and 108; BI 246 requires BI 107 with BI 108 recommended. BI 241 requires only BI 108.
      • NS 201 and 202 both have BI 107 and NS 101 as a pre-requisite.
  • CH 115 or CH 125 (depending on placement) - 4 credits
    • Note Chemistry courses are sequential (e.g., CH 125 or 126 before CH 221, CH 221 before CH 222, CH 222 before CH 341, and CH 341 before CH 342).
    • BI 242, 244, and 247 require completion of CH 125 or CH 126. CH 125 or 126 is recommended for BI 246.
  • Suggestions for a fourth course include a writing course (EN 103, EN 105, EN 105H, EN 110*, or a WI-designated course, depending on your placement), a course to fulfill a different general education requirement (e.g., humanistic inquiry, artistic inquiry, global cultural perspectives, or a language), calculus (MA 111 or MA 113 depending on placement), or a course to explore a potential major. Remember programs are looking for you to develop multiple competencies across the liberal arts.

Your first semester, we generally recommend taking only up to two laboratory courses.

^ If thinking about a Neuroscience major, you may want to substitute NS 101 for a Biology course your first semester. For HHPS, you may want to consider HP 126.

In the spring, we generally recommend:

  • BI 107 or BI 108 (depending on your fall course)^,
  • the next chemistry course (CH 126 or CH 221, depending on your fall course), and
  • For your third course, you may want to consider a writing course if you haven't completed the writing requirement yet, a calculus course (MA 111 or MA 113), a course of interest to fulfill another general education requirement, or a course to explore a potential major or minor or to expand your intellectual horizons. Discuss with your academic advisor and your HPAC advisor especially if you are considering three laboratory science courses.
  • For a fourth course, a class that interests you that fulfills a general education requirement or to explore a potential major or minor or to expand your intellectual horizons - Take advantage of the fact you are at a liberal arts institution. Remember programs are looking for you to develop multiple competencies across the liberal arts.

^ If thinking about a Neuroscience major, you may want to substitute NS 101 for a Biology course. For HHPS, you may want to consider HP 127 if you took HP 126 in the Fall. 

The recommendations are for if you want to attend the relevant health professions program the fall after you graduate Skidmore and or want to study abroad while attending Skidmore. The recommendations are more flexible if you plan to take a gap year(s) before starting your professional training especially if you don’t want to study abroad for a semester.

The exact courses will depend on the pre-health track(s) you are interested in as well as your other interests and priorities. Please read the New Student Advising & Registration Guide for Health Professions, the relevant HPAC page(s) and the pre-requisite chart to help inform you. Discuss options with your advisor. Please feel free to reach out to the chair of HPAC, Dr. Sheppard ksheppar@skidmore.edu, if you want additional advice and to discuss how your potential schedule fits your pre-health interests. 

* EN 110 is for students interested in majoring or minoring in English. Everyone else should take EN 105 or a WI course to fulfill the writing requirement.

Please refer to the Health Professions Pre-requisite Chart to see what is typically required by various programs in the health professions. 

If you are interested in nursing, physical therapy (PT), or occupational therapy (OT), but NOT medicine or physician assistant, we recommend the following:

  • Scribner Seminar - 4 credits
  • One or Two of the following options, depending on interests (4 to 8 credits):
    • BI 107 (nursing or PT) or BI 108 (PT) - 4 credits
    • CH 115 or CH 125 (nursing or PT; depending on placement) - 4 credits
    • HP 126 (nursing, PT, or OT) - 4 credits
    • PS 101 (nursing, PT, or OT) - 4 credits
    • MA 111 (PT or OT) or MA 113 (PT, depending on placement) - 4 credits
    • A statistics course (Nursing, PT, or OT) - 4 credits;Note - For non-STEM majors, MS 104 is the suggested course. If thinking Health & Human Physiological Sciences as a major, MS 204 is the statistics course to take as it is required for the major. MS 204 is the statistics course suggested for STEM majors if they don't have a statistics course impedded into the major. If considering majoring in Biology, the major requires BI 235 that will likely fulfill the pre-requisite for the programs programs, so you may want to hold off taking a statistics course. In a similar fashion, you may want to hold off statistics if you are considering majoring in Psychology or Neuroscience as PS 202 will likely fulfill the pre-requisite for the professional programs and is required by both majors.
  • For the other one to two courses, an expository writing course (e.g., EN105 or EN 110 if planning to major or minor in English), or a course to explore an interest to fulfill another general eduction requirement (humanistic inquiry, artistic inquiry, global cultural perspectives, or language), or to explore a potential major or minor.

If pre-nursing or pre-PT, you should take the Chemistry Placement Diagnostic before your summer advising and registration for Fall classes.

There is flexibility. The exact courses will depend on the pre-health track(s) you are interested in as well as your other interests and priorities. Please read the New Student Advising & Registration Guide for Health Professions, the relevant HPAC page(s) and the pre-requisite chart to also help inform you as well as your summer advisor. Please feel free to reach out to the chair of HPAC, Dr. Sheppard ksheppar@skidmore.edu, if you want additional advice and to discuss how your potential schedule fits your pre-health interests. 

Please contact the chair of HPAC, Dr. K. Sheppard if you have questions or need advice regarding which courses to register for your first semester based on interests in pre-health.


Information for First-Year Students

Why do you want to pursue a career in the health professions?

    • Is it definitely a goal of yours, specifically, or someone else’s goal for you?
    • Why a health professions career relative to another profession (e.g., if you want to “help people,” there are many other professions where you can help people – so, why do you want to do so in the context of a health profession)?
    • What experiences have you had in your life that have shaped those interests and/or have helped you to be uniquely equipped for a career in the health professions?
    • For those that apply to medical, dental, optometry, or veterinary medicine schools, the first two questions in your HPAC interview will be, 1) Why do you want to be (profession of interest)? 2) What makes you a good candidate for (professional school of interest)? Interviews with the programs will also ask. You want to provide authentic, clear, and concise answers that are substantive.

Which health profession(s) are you interested in pursuing, and why ?

    • Even if you think you know which health profession you want to pursue, it is worth exploring the similarities and differences between different health professions – you may find that there is another health profession that better matches your interests, goals, and skills than the one you originally intended to pursue.
    • Factors that may influence the health profession you choose:
      • Amount of post-undergraduate training (e.g., approximately 2 years to become a Registered Nurse vs. 11 years for neurosurgery)
      • Financial considerations
      • Lifestyle (e.g., typical hours, call schedules, work week, etc.)
      • Approach to patient care (e.g., the patient-centered model vs. the disease-centered model; nursing model vs. the medical model)
      • Level of authority for patient care (e.g., in about half of the states, NP’s can open their own practice without being under the supervision of a physician; RN’s are supervised by physicians)
      • Scope of responsibility would you like to have (e.g., ability to prescribe medications)
      • A particular population you are interested in serving (e.g., geriatric)
      • A particular skill set required within a given profession (e.g., surgical skill)

Review the Exploring Health Professions page to help you explore which career interests you.

Also, read over the articulation agreements Skidmore has for nursing, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and medicine.

You know yourself better than anyone. By reflecting on who you are as a student, your HPAC advisor will be able to help you plan your curriculum to put you in the best possible position for success. Thinking about your answers to the following questions ahead of your meeting will help you and your advisor make some strategic decisions regarding your curricular path (e.g., how many lab-based classes to take in a given semester, the timing and sequencing of specific classes, etc.).

  • What are your strengths as a student and what academic skills are you still developing (e.g., writing skills, time management, stress management, etc.)?
  • What are resources that you might need to support your academic success in college (e.g., tutors, peer academic coaching, one-on-one academic support, accessibility services, English-language support)?

Your Curricular Goals

  • What is your anticipated major?
  • Other curricular interests (e.g., minor)?
  • Are you interested in studying abroad? During a semester or over a summer? Any ideas where you would like to go?
  • Is taking summer classes an option for you? Are you open to the possibility of taking summer classes?
  • Do you have an interest in getting involved in a faculty member’s research?
  • Are you planning to take some time after graduating from Skidmore before matriculating in a professional program for a health career (e.g., medical school, dental school, etc.)?

Your Extracurricular Goals

  • Are you interested in pursuing one of Skidmore’s on-campus opportunities for health-related experience (e.g., Peer Health Education, SCEMS)?
  • Do you participate in a sport (practices/games can influence curricular planning)?
  • Do you have a job or plan to get one?
  • Are you interested in any Skidmore clubs or student government?
  • Do you plan to get involved in off-campus volunteer or service opportunities?

First, remind yourself college is an adjustment. Each of you is unique and arrived to Skidmore with a different set of lived experiences. Accordingly, your adjustment to college is not going to look the same as another person's. Programs know that. Accordingly, they are most forgiving of grades earned during your first-year of college, especially your first semester. "Perfect" grades are not the expectation. The goal is to learn and develop. Where you end is more important than where you start. Remember there isn't one set path. Your path is going to be unique.

The next part of that journey is focussing on using your experience during the first semester (or year) to learn and grow. To do that:

After reflecting, you need to execute and continue to assess, reflect, and refine as needed. You may need to adjust your plans to accomodate. You should discuss that with your HPAC Advisor. Remember, it is perfectly normal to take a gap year or two or more between gradauting Skidmore and starting a health professions program.

Beyond talking about the degrees you want to pursue and why, how you are doing in courses, and what courses to take in the Spring, you will want to start talking with your HPAC Advisor about:

  • volunteer opportunties
  • shadowing opportunities
  • clubs, sports, and leadership opportunities
  • what to do over Winter Break and then over the Summer.
    • The deadline for summer collaborative research on campus with a faculty member is in the first week or two of the Spring semester. Many external summer programs will also have deadlines January-March.

Use the Career Development Center to explore what opportunities are available.

The general recommendation is to continue taking Chemistry courses for the track(s) you are interested in. The Chemistry classes are sequential and build on one-another.

Pre-med, pre-vet, pre-dental, pre-PA, pre-optometry, pre-genetic counseling, or pre-pharmacy students who are taking CH 125 in the Fall are encouraged to take CH 221 Organic Chemistry I in the Spring. Students who take CH 221 the semester directly after CH 125 tend to do better than those that wait to take it. Also, remember programs are most forgiving of grades in your first year. If you wait to take CH 221, you may need to review CH 125 material before taking CH 221.

If you are taking CH 115, you are encouraged to take CH 126 Principles of Chemistry in the Spring. Students who go directly from CH 115 to CH 126 tend to do better than those that delay. If you wait to take CH 126 (or CH 125 in the Fall), you may need to review CH 115 ahead of taking CH 126 (or 125).

However, these are general recommendations, especially if you want to keep the door open to going abroad or going to the professional program (e.g., medical school) directly after graduating Skidmore. Please discuss with your HPAC Advisor, your Scribner Advisor, and your Chemistry professor as you need to balance your pre-health pursuits with your other interests to decide on the best path for you. You will need to prioritize based on what you want to do and pursue. Dr. Sheppard as HPAC chair is also available to discuss (ksheppar@skidmore.edu). 

 

Typically, students interested in programs in medicine, vetrinary medicine, dentistry, pharamcy, physician assisting, genetic counseling, and podiatry are recommended to take the following courses in the Spring:

  • BI 107 or BI 108 (depending on your fall course)^,
  • the next chemistry course (CH 126 or CH 221, depending on your fall course), and
  • calculus (MA 111 or MA 113) or a writing course (EN 105,  EN 110*, or WI course) if not already taken. The latter two options can be substituted by other courses depending on your interests . If already completed, a course of interest to fulfill a general education requirement or to explore a potential major or minor or to expand your intellectual horizons.
  • For a fourth course, a class that interests you that fulfills a general education requirement or to explore a potential major or minor or to expand your intellectual horizons - Take advantage of the fact you are at a liberal arts institution.
  • You may want to consider adding 1 or 2 credits of research with a faculty member depending on your interest and the rest of your schedule.

You should take the Chemistry Placement Diagnostic if you haven't already. If you place into CH 125, contact the chair of Chemistry (Dr. Ball, kball@skidmore.edu) to see if it is possible to take CH 126 in the Spring. Seats are reserved for students who take CH 115 in the Fall or were in London for the Fall. If there seats available after they enroll, you may be able to enroll.

The recommendations are for if you want to attend the relevant health professions program the fall after you graduate Skidmore and or want to study abroad while attending Skidmore. The recommendations are more flexible if you plan to take a gap year(s) before starting your professional training especially if you don’t want to study abroad for a semester.

The exact courses will depend on the pre-health track(s) you are interested in as well as your other interests and priorities.Please read the New Student Advising & Registration Guide for Health Professions, the relevant HPAC page(s)and the pre-requisite chart to help inform you. Please discuss with your HPAC Advisor and your Scribner Advisor. Also, please feel free to reach out to the chair of HPAC, Dr. Sheppard ksheppar@skidmore.edu, if you want additional advice and to discuss how your potential schedule fits your pre-health interests. 

* EN 110 is for students interested in majoring or minoring in English. Everyone else should take EN 105 or a WI course to fulfill the writing requirement.

Please refer to the Health Professions Pre-requisite Chart to see what is typically required by various programs in the health professions.

If you are interested in nursing, physical therapy (PT), or occupational therapy (OT), but NOT medicine or physician assistant, we recommend the following:

  • One or Two of the following options, depending on interests (4 to 8 credits):
    • BI 107 (nursing or PT) or BI 108 (PT) - 4 credits
    • CH 126 (nursing or PT; if you took CH 115 in the Fall or were in London in Fall and placed into CH 125) - 4 credits
    • HP 127 (nursing, PT, or OT; if you took HP 126 in the Fall) - 4 credits
    • PS 101 (nursing, PT, or OT) - 4 credits
    • MA 111 (PT or OT) or MA 113 (PT, depending on placement) - 4 credits
    • A statistics course (Nursing, PT, or OT) - 4 credits;
      • Note - For non-STEM majors, MS 104 is the suggested course. If thinking Health & Human Physiological Sciences as a major, MS 204 is the statistics course to take as it is required for the major. MS 204 is the statistics course suggested for STEM majors if they don't have a statistics course impedded into the major. If considering majoring in Biology, the major requires BI 235 that will likely fulfill the pre-requisite for the programs programs, so you may want to hold off taking a statistics course. In a similar fashion, you may want to hold off statistics if you are considering majoring in Psychology or Neuroscience as PS 202 will likely fulfill the pre-requisite for the professional programs and is required by both majors.
  • Your other two to three courses - An expository writing course (e.g., EN105 or EN 110 if planning to major or minor in English) if not already taken, or a course to explore an interest to fulfill another general eduction requirement (humanistic inquiry, artistic inquiry, or global cultural inquiry), or to explore a potential major or minor.

If pre-nursing or pre-PT, you should take the Chemistry Placement Diagnostic if you haven't already. If you place into CH 125, contact the chair of Chemistry (Dr. Ball, kball@skidmore.edu) to see if it is possible to take CH 126 in the Spring. Seats are reserved for students who take CH 115 in the Fall or were in London for the Fall. If there seats available after they enroll, you may be able to enroll. CH 115 is only offered in the Fall.

There is flexibility. The exact courses will depend on the pre-health track(s) you are interested in as well as your other interests and priorities.Please read the New Student Advising & Registration Guide for Health Professions, the relevant HPAC page(s)and the pre-requisite chart to also help inform you as well as your HPAC Advisor and your Scribner Advisor. Also, please feel free to reach out to the chair of HPAC, Dr. Sheppard ksheppar@skidmore.edu, if you want additional advice and to discuss how your potential schedule fits your pre-health interests. 

  • If you want to apply to medical school in hopes of attending right after graduating from Skidmore, all your pre-health requirements must be completed by the end of your junior year. (You would also take your MCAT exam that spring and you would interview with HPAC right at the end of your junior year. The application cycle would begin June 1st of that year.)
  • Regarding Chemistry:
    • All students must take the Chemistry diagnostic before enrolling in a Chemistry class at Skidmore: https://www.skidmore.edu/apps/chm/index.php.Students will place into either CH 115 or CH 125 (students who place into CH 125 may not enroll in CH 115).
    • CH 115 is not considered a general chemistry course – it is a preparatory course for General Chemistry. Schools that require two or more semesters of Chemistry generally do NOT accept CH 115 as one of the chemistry courses. CH115 is only offered in the fall semester.
    • CH 125 covers topics typically found in a traditional two-semester General Chemistry curriculum. Some schools may require a letter from the Chair of Chemistry indicating that this course covers the content found in two General Chemistry courses (we have such a letter on file). The letter is included as part of the HPAC Committee Letter packet. CH 125 is only offered in the fall semester.
    • CH 126 has the same content as CH 125, but it has CH 115 as a prerequisite. Students who complete CH 115 can take CH 126 in the Spring. First-semester London students, students who take a W in CH 125 in the fall, students who fail CH125 in the fall, and students who are on medical leave in the fall may get special permission to enroll in CH126. If there is still space in CH 126 after all those students enroll, other students placed into CH125 may enroll in CH 126 by special permission of the Chair.
    • CH 221 Organic Chemistry I, CH 222 Organic Chemistry II, and CH 341 Biochemistry Macromolecular Structure & Function are offered both in the Fall and the Spring with more seats in CH 221 and CH 341 in the Spring than the Fall.
    • Because many health professions programs require 4-6 Chemistry courses, it is ideal to get those completed in the first two years.
  • Most students tend to take the Biology and Chemistry classes in the first two years, and Physics and Calculus in the third and/or fourth years.
  • The order for some classes does not matter (e.g., you do not have to take BI07 [Molecular and Cellular Foundations of Life] before BI108 [Organismal Biology]. The order for other classes, however, does matter (e.g., you must take CH221 [Organic Chemistry I] before CH222 [Organic Chemistry II] and HP 126 [Human Anatomy & Physiology I] before HP 127 [Human Anatomy & Physiology II].
  • Skidmore’s Physics classes are calculus-based. Thus, even though a given health profession program may not require math classes, if that program requires physics, and you have not placed out of calculus, you will need to complete calculus to take the Skidmore physics classes. You can either take the calculus classes prior to the physics or you can take them at the same time (e.g., you can take Calc I and PY 130 [Introductory Physics I] in the same semester).
  • Some pre-requisite courses may have “hidden” requirements. For example, Developmental Psychology [PS 206] is a pre-requisite for nursing programs. Note, however, that Introduction to Psychological Science [PS 101] is a pre-requisite for the Developmental course.

For health profession programs with a Statistics requirement, some programs specifically require a Math/Statistics course and some specifically require a Biostatistics course, while others are willing to accept a statistics course from a variety of different disciplines (be sure to check the specific requirements for the schools to which you wish to apply). You as the applicant are responsible for making sure you fulfill the requirements of the schools you are applying to.

Students who are taking CH 115 in the Fall are able to directly enroll in CH 126 in the Spring. The course was designed so you can complete Principles of Chemistry in your first year. CH 126 is equivalent to CH 125 and fulfills the same requirements.

If you were in London in the Fall and placed into CH 125, you can enroll in CH 126 in the Spring. Please contact the chair of Chemistry, Dr. Ball (kball@skidmore.edu) to grant you permission before registration.

If you started CH 125 in the Fall but had to withdraw or go on leave, please contact the chair of Chemistry, Dr. Ball (kball@skidmore.edu) to grant you permission to enroll.

If you placed into CH 125 but didn't take it in the Fall, you may be able to take CH 126. If there are seats available after the CH 115 and students in London register for classes, then you will be able to enroll. Please contact the chair of Chemistry, Dr. Ball (kball@skidmore.edu) to grant you special permission to enroll.

When in doubt, contact the chair of Chemistry, Dr. Ball (kball@skidmore.edu). You can also talk with the chair of HPAC, Dr. Sheppard (ksheppar@skidmore.edu).
  • If you haven’t already, sign-up for an HPAC Advisor & the Student Health Professions Network.
  • Review again the following pages (in addition to the answers to the questions above):
  • Meet with your HPAC advisor early in the Fall semester, during the Fall advising period, during the Spring advising period, and additional times when in need of advice or to discuss options. Start developing a plan based on your interests and goals with your HPAC advisor. If you are keeping the doors open to starting a health profession graduate program the Fall right after you graduate Skidmore, please review the HPAC Interview Timeline Excel Spreadsheet
  • Take relevant courses for the pre-health tracks you are interested in and discuss with your HPAC advisor.
  • Do the best you can in classes without overwhelming yourself. Please do realize programs know there is an adjustment to college based on individual experiences. They also take into account improvement. Focus on learning and developing your skills.
  • Remember to take care of yourself and find healthy stress relievers. 
  • Keep up with your e-mail to learn about relevant opportunities, activities, and opportunities.
  • Explore opportunities on campus and join a relevant club or organization as desired.
  • Explore research opportunities on campus.
  • Explore different careers in the health professions.
  • Look into research experiences on campus for Spring of your first year, the summer, and or the Fall of your second year.  Talk with faculty members and keep an eye out for research open houses (e.g., Chemistry, Neuroscience, and Psychology).
  • Talk with your HPAC advisor and the Career Development Center about opportunities during the summer.
  • Start keeping track of your academic, volunteer, clinical, shadowing, work, and other relevant experiences. See the Competencies and Experiences worksheet for how to start organizing and what to keep track of.
  • Develop professional relationships with faculty members and other professionals. These relationships serve as the foundation for letters of recommendation.
  • Look at the articulation agreements Skidmore has health professional programs and discuss as relevant with your HPAC advisor.