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Premedical Program

NOTE: This page contains information from the 2012-2013 Catalog. It remains available for archival purposes only. For the most current WC Catalog content, please visit http://catalog.washcoll.edu and download this year’s edition.
Interdisciplinary Concentration


Students interested in pursuing a career in allopathic medicine (M.D.), osteopathic medicine (D.O.), podiatric medicine, veterinary medicine, dentistry, or optometry should take advantage of the College’s Premedical Program. The Premedical Program is not a major; it is a program under the guidance of the Premedical Committee designed to assist students with pre-professional planning and applications to one of the above types of professional schools. Premedical students should consult members of the Premedical Committee early in their academic careers and formally notify the Premedical Committee Chair of their interest in considering a career in medicine. Premedical Committee members include Professors Kathleen Verville (Committee Chair), Anne Marteel-Parrish, Juan Lin, George Spilich, and Matthew McCabe.

To become aware of expectations, requirements, procedures, and deadlines, premedical students should read the advising information found on the College’s premedical Web site and Blackboard site and in the college catalog and attend all premed meetings (announced through email and the Premed Blackboard site). In addition, each premedical student is strongly encouraged to frequently seek out individual advice from the Premedical Committee. Students seeking a Committee Letter from the Washington College Premedical Committee (required/recommended by the majority of medical schools) must be aware of the need to complete a file with the Premedical Committee, file requirements, and the deadline for file completion.

Students should begin to plan their program of coursework immediately upon entering the College. Although many premedical students major in one of the Natural Sciences, any major offered by the College may be chosen. Regardless of major, students are encouraged to explore courses and activities outside their major. In addition to fulfilling the requirements for the major and for graduation from Washington College, premedical students will need to take those courses required for professional school admission. These vary depending on the type of medical program (e.g. veterinary medicine vs. allopathic medicine) and, to some extent, from school to school. The required prerequisite courses most commonly include: General Biology (BIO 111, 112), General Chemistry (CHE 111, 112), Organic Chemistry (CHE 201, 202), Biochemistry (BIO 409/CHE 309), Physics (PHY 111, 112), two semesters of Math (see information below), two semesters of English (ENG 101 plus one additional English class), Social Science courses (see information below), and Humanities courses. Math requirements vary. Because PHY 111, 112 at Washington College has a calculus-based component (see catalog description), and because many medical schools expect students to take Differential Calculus, students are strongly advised to take Differential Calculus (MAT 201). Students who perform well in MAT 201 are encouraged to consider Integral Calculus (MAT 202), and Integral Calculus is required for some majors. Statistics (MAT 109) is strongly recommended. In addition to fulfilling prerequisites for admission, the content of many of these courses is included on the tests required for admission [Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), the Dental Admission Test (DAT), and the Optometry Admission Test (OAT)]. Beginning in 2015, in addition to testing verbal reasoning skills, the MCAT will test knowledge of general biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, biochemistry, physics, statistics, psychology, and sociology. Therefore, students planning to enter programs that require the MCAT (allopathic medicine, osteopathic medicine, many podiatric medicine programs) should fulfill the social science distribution requirements with General Psychology (PSY 111, 112) and Introduction to Sociology (SOC 101). Knowledge of statistics for the MCAT can also be gained from Statistics and Research Design I and II with lab (PSY 209, PSY 309). Ethics courses [e.g. Ethical Theory (PHL 225), Foundations of Morality (PHL 235), Biomedical Ethics (PSY 325)] are also encouraged. Note that many programs require or recommend additional biology courses beyond General Biology. These biology classes are also important for students who ultimately opt for programs such as Physician Assistant programs instead of medical school. Students who do not major in one of the sciences are strongly encouraged to take more than the minimum required science classes.

Given the variation in requirements from program to program, and the fact that some schools have additional requirements, students are encouraged to consult the appropriate Web sites for each area of medicine (aamc.org, aacom.org, aacpm.org, aavmc.org, adea.org, opted.org) as well as books that list professional school requirements (Medical School Admission Requirements (MSAR), Osteopathic Medical College Information Book, Veterinary Medical School Admission Requirements (VMSAR), and ADEA Official Guide to Dental Schools). These books, which are updated annually, are available in the Premedical Reading Area of the Toll Science Center.

Students should plan to take the appropriate test (MCAT, DAT, OAT, GRE) before applying to professional school. Advice about which test is required for particular programs, when to take these tests, and how to prepare for them should be sought from the Premedical Committee. Strong test scores and GPA are essential for a successful application to these highly competitive programs. The exams should not be taken without adequate preparation, and students should plan to take the test one time only.

Students may plan to attend professional school the academic year following graduation, but are strongly encouraged to consider taking additional time. Those who wish to attend professional school immediately following graduation must plan coursework especially carefully so that courses required for admission (many of which are also necessary for successful completion of the admission tests) are completed by the end of the Junior year. This allows an application to be submitted early in the summer between the Junior and Senior years. A sample schedule for each major that allows for completion of required courses by the end of the Junior year is shown below; however, because there are many other possible course arrangements and because students differ in academic background, each student is encouraged to seek individual advice about course planning. The course schedule presented is rigorous and may not be appropriate for every student.

Regardless of the timing of the application, careful and early planning of courses required for the major, graduation, and medical school admission is important because many required courses have prerequisites, some students may need to take additional courses (e.g. Precalculus) for adequate preparation, and some course combinations are not recommended.

Students with Advanced Placement credit in required premedical courses should seek advice from the Premedical Committee, as many professional schools do not accept AP credit for required courses. Those schools typically ask students either to retake the course at a four-year college or to take additional upper level courses in the discipline(s) in which the AP credit was received. Those students planning to study abroad should seek advice about coursework planning and should take required premedical courses in the United States.

Required courses, which should not be taken Pass/Fail, have minimum grade requirements. All science classes taken should be majors level and have a lab. Students who opt to take physics at another college may choose either an algebra-based course or a calculus-based course if their major permits them to do so.

Students who do not have U.S. citizenship or permanent residency should seek out early advice about career planning and be aware that it is very difficult for non-U.S. citizens/permanent residents to gain entry into U.S. medical schools and to finance their medical education.

Sample Course Schedules

Sample course schedules for students who plan to enter medical school the academic year following graduation*

Biology Major Chemistry Major Physics Major Psychology Major Other Major
First Year
GRW 101, ENG 101 GRW 101, ENG 101 GRW 101, ENG 101 GRW 101, ENG 101 GRW 101, ENG 101
BIO 111, 112 CHE 111, 112 PHY 111, 112 PSY 111, 112 Introductory Sequence for Major
CHE 111, 112 BIO 111, 112 CHE 111, 112 BIO 111, 112 BIO 111, 112
MAT 201, Math MAT 201, 202 MAT 201, 202 MAT 201, Math MAT 201, Math
Second Year
CHE 201, 202 CHE 201, 202 MAT 203, 345 CHE 111, 112 CHE 111, 112
Advanced Biology PHY 111, 112 PHY 201, 204 PSY 209, PSY 309 Advanced Course for Major
English English CHE 201, 202 Advanced Psychology English
Distribution or Elective Distribution or Elective Distribution or Elective Distribution or Elective Distribution or Elective
Third Year
PHY 111, 112 Advanced Chemistry Bio 111, 112 CHE 201, 202 CHE 201, 202
Advanced Biology Distribution or Elective Advanced Physics PHY 111, 112 PHY 111, 112
Distribution or Elective   English Advanced Psychology Advanced Course for Major
      English Distribution or Elective
Fourth Year
Advanced Biology Advanced Chemistry Advanced Physics Advanced Psychology Advanced Major for Course
Distribution or Elective Distribution or Elective Distribution or Elective Distribution or Elective Distribution or Elective

*These sample schedules allow for medical school application in the summer between the junion and senior years, the approximate application timing for students who plan to enter medical school in the year following college graduation. As there are many course combinations that can allow this same application timing, students should seek out individual advance regarding course planning. When planning courses, students should be aware that the required courses for medical school admission need to be completed before the application is submitted and that many of the required courses are necessary for strong performance on most of the admission tests (e.g. MCAT), which students are advised to complete before the application is submitted.