Pre‑medical Studies at Westmont College
This is to those interested in careers in medicine, whether it be allopathic, dental, osteopathic, podiatric or veterinary. Westmont provides a good preparation for admission to medical schools. You receive a well‑rounded education, good preparation in the sciences and frequent interaction with your professors. In the past two decades, over 90% of Westmont students who followed our premedical program and applied to medical school were accepted. Our students apply to and are accepted into programs all over the country.
Many medical schools limit or exclude the use of AP, IB and CLEP credit towards completion of the pre-medical and pre-dental requirements. Be sure to find out if the school in which you are interested will allow your AP or IB credits to count for prerequisite courses.
Course Work at Westmont
The general requirement for admission for the medical schools is to take one year of mathematics (at least one semester should be calculus and one of statistics), one year of physics, one year of English (one semester must be composition), one year of general chemistry, one year of organic chemistry, and one year of biology. Most schools will be requiring biochemistry by the time you apply (you will also need this for the new MCAT), and will recommend that you also take two additional biology courses (genetics and molecular biology). We have found that students tend to be more successful on the MCAT if they have taken these courses. Since the MCAT, DAT or VCAT is typically taken in April or May of the Junior year, it is most useful to take all these classes by then. The new MCAT (2015) will have a section on the social and behavioral sciences, therefore you will also need to take a course in sociology and psychology.
Choice of Major
While this list of courses makes for a ready major in biology or chemistry, there is no requirement to major in one of these fields, or in the sciences at all. Choose a major in a field that you enjoy. Often times the medical schools will prefer someone who is good in science and is good in a very different discipline over someone who has only one strength. So choose what you like; this is to your advantage in two ways: you are more likely to do well in your field of preference, and you will have more enjoyment of your studies here.
While courses are important, it is also important to demonstrate an ongoing interest in the medical field (e.g., by assisting in a physician's office or in a hospital). Additionally, it is wise to be involved in some regular extracurricular activity. This could be a sport or club, but it should be something which involves a significant commitment on your part (e.g., captain of team; coordinator of club, etc.). Why? Medical schools typically like to see that you have outside interests, and that you can keep these commitments while maintaining good grades. It is also frequently helpful to have participated in research activities while in college, especially if you are interested in attending one of the more research‑ active medical centers.
The typical successful medical school applicant has a GPA of 3.6 and above, and MCAT scores at 10 or above (average score is 8). Working on getting good grades will be important, as will retaining your knowledge for the MCAT exam.
Westmont uses a pre‑medical committee to write a letter to the medical school about you. You choose the members of this committee, and Prof. Marten is the chair of the committee. The individuals you choose are to write an evaluation of you, which are then used to prepare a group letter summarizing these evaluations. The group letter and all of the individual letters are sent to the medical schools by the office of Career and Life Planning at Westmont.
Be sure to read the AAMC guide to medical schools (MSAR). A recent copy of this is available for student reading, in the Chemistry department office. It is very advisable to go through this book for the general information it offers, and to review the requirements for the specific medical schools you are interested in. Beginning to read this early in your college career will provide you with the information you need to be a strong medical school candidate. While Westmont provides you with all the training needed, getting into medical school is in your hands: You will be most successful if you are strong academically, demonstrate a commitment to medicine, active in service to others, demonstrate leadership skills and have an academic research experience.