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students studying in biotech lab at JCC

Health Profession Preparation

The Jamestown Community College biotechnology curriculum is really the first two years of a biology or biochemistry degree at a four-year school. Thus, it is good preparation for application to health profession colleges, including:

  • Medical school
  • Dental school
  • Veterinary school
  • Pharmacy school

In fact, the biotechnology program can be an economical alternative to help you save money for medical training. Dr. Crisman would be happy to advise you for any of these programs.

The MCAT

If you are planning on attending schools of medicine or veterinary medicine, the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) is in your future. The exam is 45 points total split equally between biological sciences, physical sciences, verbal reasoning, and writing skills.

Generally speaking, a score of 28-30 is considered to be a good score on the MCAT, which is 62%-66%. As you can see, it's a tough exam. You need to prepare for its content. And typically, good performance on the MCAT is a gate-keeper for acceptance to these programs. If you get a good score on the MCAT and you have good references, grades, and volunteer experience, no matter where you go to school for undergrad, you are a good candidate for application to these programs.

Pharmacy School and Biotechnology

Students interested in pharmacy school need to realize that 93% of students who apply don't get in, regardless of where they attend college. It is extremely competitive. You will need to take the PCAT and do very well. Alternatively, before coming to JCC, you should explore the JCC pre-pharmacy program for the LECOM Pharmacy Program. It has a very limited number of slots and only accepts freshmen (and not transfer students).

Drug Research

If you are interested in a doctorate in pharmaceutical sciences for a career in pharmaceutical research, why do the pharmacy doctorate at all? Doctorates in pharmacy cost YOU money. Doctorates in any of the biological or chemical sciences DO NOT. And as a graduate student in these programs, you receive a stipend (room and board) and your tuition is covered by your program or principle investigator. In exchange, you work as a teaching assistant while performing your doctoral research. You can do drug research in a pharmaceutical company or in an academic setting with any of these degrees.

Student at work in the JCC Science CenterFinally, if you don't get into a pharmacy school, biotechnology training is a great back-up plan. Some students attend graduate school to get a Master's degree and apply again.

Volunteer Work and Practical Experience

All schools for the health professions require you to do volunteer work and to have some practical experience in your health profession of choice. The volunteer work should be community-based, like local food bank work. And, if you want to be a pharmacist, physician, or veterinarian the school will expect you to have volunteer or work experience in your chosen career area (i.e. pharmacy for a future pharmaceutical career, clinic/hospital experience for a future physician or veterinary clinic/zoo experience for a future veterinarian). They want to know that you are serious and level-headed about your career choice. To be successful, you need to have at least one health professional in your field of interest write you a STRONG letter of recommendation for your application. For example, if you want to attend pharmacy school, a pharmacist must write you a recommendation.

Applying to a Health Profession College

Most people begin the application process in their junior year if they're looking to begin grad school the year after their senior year. If you apply to medical school or veterinary school, you will need to seek an institutional letter of recommendation from the Health Professions Advisory Committee at your four-year school. This committee is generally comprised of representatives from across the college/university, not just the sciences. They will ask for letters of recommendation from multiple people (usually at least 3) and there is a strong expectation that many of these recommendations will be from faculty (including science faculty) and health professionals. Some of these letters can also come from community college faculty. It is critical that you get to know faculty from each institution you attend (especially the science faculty) to get these letters. You want strong recommendations! The Health Professions Advisory Committee will use these letters to draft their institutional letter of recommendation, in some cases using direct quotes.

Additionally, you will be expected to write a personal statement and may be interviewed by members of the committee. These are used to assess your motivation and determination to obtain a career in the health professions, as well as to assess your communication skills.

The prehealth professions committee will write you an institutional letter of recommendation, which is required for application to medical school or veterinary school. They do have the option to decline to support your application. However, if you have been out of college for a few years, you may find that the institutional letter is not needed in many cases.

Thinking About Medical School in the Caribbean?

You need to realize that the quality of medical school will impact your access to good residencies after medical school. And these training experiences are gate keepers for good jobs later. Keep that in mind before choosing a medical school.

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