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Advising Handbook

Health Professions Advising


Please see the health professions website for additional details regarding health professions advising.

Most of the pre-requisite courses necessary for admission to medical, dental, veterinary, nursing, physician assistant, pharmacy, allied health, public health and a wide variety of other graduate and professional programs are regularly offered here at the University of Rochester. While there is no “pre-medical” or “pre-health” major/minor/cluster or track, students are able to fulfill pre-requisites while simultaneously fulfilling the U of R curriculum requirements. Students do not need to be a Biology major in order to fulfill pre-medical or pre-health requirements, and one’s chances of acceptance to programs do not increase as the result of being a Biology major. Students are best set up for success when they consider their interests and skills as part of their major declaration, as well as keeping parallel career plans in mind.

For students looking to complete pre-requisite coursework for graduate or professional schools, it is important to be aware that while many of them have similar foundational requirements, individual programs do vary. As a result, it is important for students to investigate the requirements of their particular programs of interests and speak with a health professions advisor to determine the best way to complete requirements. Students can meet most pre-professional requirements by taking any one of the sequences shown for each subject listed on our pre-requisite page. Students should consult a departmental advisor or an academic advisor in order to choose the most appropriate sequence for a student's ability and intended major. Please also refer to the provided sample schedules.


Health professions advisors are available in the Office of Health Professions Advising, located in 203 Lattimore Hall. Advisors provide students with specialized academic and career information related to health professions fields and graduate/professional programs. General questions can be sent to: In addition to individual appointments and Drop-In hours, regular advising seminars discussing required courses, career exploration and experiential learning, and the health professions application process are offered. For more information regarding services and for a calendar of events, please visit:


There is a wide variety of on-campus clubs and organizations students can join related to health professions. As an example, the Charles Drew Pre-Health Society (C.Drew) is a large and active organization, and hosts numerous events related to the health professions throughout the year. There are many others including, GlobeMed, the Minority Association of Pre-Medical Students (M.A.P.S.), Active Minds, Colleges Against Cancer, Emergency, bLifeUR, Journal of Undergraduate Research, Peers for Animal Wellness and Safety (PAWS), River Campus Medical Emergency Response Team (R/C MERT), Society of Undergraduate Biology Students (SUBS) and the STEM Initiative, among many others. Please visit the Campus Club Connections website for more information:


For students who are interested in research, both the River Campus and the Medical Center offer a wealth of opportunities, and many students have been able to engage in research on a volunteer basis, for academic credit or as paid employees. Stipends are also available from a variety of University and outside sources. There are several ways students can get involved in research. Speaking with a faculty member directly can be the best way to identify research opportunities, but on campus the Office of Undergraduate Research, Gwen M. Greene Career and Internship Center and the Office of Health Professions Advising can all support students’ efforts in obtaining research experience.

Clinical Opportunities

It is essential that students interested in the health professions acquire hands-on experience before making a firm commitment to their desired field. First, students need knowledge for themselves about the profession and whether or not it is a good fit for them. Second, when students apply to health professions programs, they will need to show evidence that they have gained a realistic understanding of the field, and the knowledge and skills to be successful in their desired pathway. There is no better way for students to articulate their motivations and the reasons behind them than to obtain relevant career experience (i.e. shadowing, volunteering, patient-care, etc.).
Where can students begin? Strong Memorial Hospital and other area hospitals provide ample opportunity for volunteering. Students can also consider working at area nursing homes, halfway houses, hospices and other centers where care is provided. Many UR students interested in medicine train as EMTs and volunteer with MERT and/or local volunteer ambulance services. If volunteering during the academic year is not an option, students can make the most of their summer breaks, either here in Rochester or in their hometown. The great advantage of working as a volunteer is that you set your own schedule. You may earn money at a full-time summer job and devote some number of evening or weekend hours to your volunteer work. Health-related volunteer opportunities of all kinds are available and students can work with advisors in the Office of Health Professions Advising, Gwen M. Greene Career and Internship Center, and the Rochester Center for Community Leadership to identify potential opportunities.

General Program Planning Guidelines

It is important that students intending to apply to health professions schools make an early start on science courses. There is no “one size fits all” schedule (especially since so many entering freshmen have AP and/or transfer credit), but here are some key points to keep in mind:

1. Students should consider from the beginning that they may be better, more mature, more competitive applicants if they wait until their senior year or later to apply. There is no preferred time-table to prepare for medical, dental or other health professions schools, and spreading out pre-requisite coursework over four years of study allows for greater flexibility in course selection, and most often, improved performance. The average age of first-year medical school students in 2013 was 24.5.

2. Any student considering a biology or biological sciences major should take biology in the freshman year. Students majoring in a social science (e.g., public health, psychology) or humanities (English, etc.) may be better suited to consider an alternate course sequence. The biology department strongly recommends that a student enrolling in BIO 110 or BIO 112 also enroll in CHM 131. Because of the challenges associated with transitioning to college, it is recommended to limit the number of science/math courses to two in the first year.

3. Students need only two semesters of mathematics for most health professions schools.

4. Many Rochester students who apply to health professions schools complete general chemistry in the freshman year, organic chemistry in the sophomore year, and physics in the junior year. This “timetable” may be altered to fit individual needs. What is most important to remember is that admission tests for health professions schools must be taken no later than a year before expected matriculation, and all required science courses must be completed prior to taking these exams.

5. Most health professions schools do not treat repeated courses as the College does. Both grades are included in the cumulative average, so even an “A” in a second attempt does not raise the average that much. It is recommended that students take more advanced coursework rather than repeating a course.

6. Health professions schools are not troubled by one or two grades of “W” in an otherwise strong record, and they will certainly “forgive” course withdrawals resulting from circumstances beyond a student’s control (e.g., illness, family emergency). Students should keep in mind that a grade of “W” indicates that an effort was made to complete a course. When a course is dropped (deleted) from a 16-credit program, the student appears to have carried an “underload” for the entire semester. This is usually more detrimental than a grade of “W.”

7. Students should investigate how health professions schools treat AP credit, as most will expect additional coursework in a subject if a student uses AP credit to satisfy a pre-professional requirement. Some schools will not accept AP credit at all.

Post-baccalaureate Pre-health Program

The Post-baccalaureate Pre-health Program is designed for individuals who have completed a bachelor’s degree, who recently discovered an interest in medicine, dentistry or veterinary science, and who lack the science classes required for medical school admission. This program is not intended for students who have already completed the necessary pre-requisites for medical school and who wish to improve their academic record. Students seeking information on record-enhancer programs should consult the Post-baccalaureate Pre-health Programs search engine through the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).

Students with further questions about the UR Post-baccalaureate Program should be referred to the Post-baccalaureate advisor. For additional details on the program, please visit