Preparing for a Doctoral Program in Dentistry, Medicine, Optometry or Pharmacy


Post-Graduate Schedule

Semester Summer Fall Spring Summer Fall Spring Summer Fall Spring
  1 2   3 4   5 6
Chemistry 4/review 1A 1B   24 25/124   161  
Courses (other) Bio 1 Bio 2 Phys 5A Phys 5B Math 26A Math 26B
  Elective(s) Stats 1 Elective(s) Elective(s)
Volunteer service Start ASAP                
Standardized test         Prepare Prepare Take    
Recommendations   Request    
Application Begin personal statement         Submit Secondaries Interviews

The Excel version of the table above is useful for organizing your specific schedule.

Schedule: The schedule above is designed to create a consistent level of work each semester and to prioritize Chemistry. Depending on your outside obligations, you may want to take more courses earlier in your preparation and enroll as a full time student (something professional schools view favorably). For example, you might move the math and physics requirements back two semesters. Professional schools often prefer that your preparatory course work be taken at a University. If you decide to take courses at a Community College, Non science coursework (e.g., Math and Statistics) may be less of a red flag. Open University students have lowest registration priority; consider enrolling as a Postbac or Second Bachelors student to increase chances of getting in to courses. Recommended electives

Courses: It is most important to begin and continue your sequence of chemistry courses. Chemistry is the longest series and Chem 1A is required before Bio 2 (see prerequisites), which, in turn, is required for most upper division Bio courses. Approximately 50% of Chem 1A students earn a D or F. If you did not recently excel in high school chemistry, use the summer prior to entering the University to review chemistry, or take Chem 4 during the summer (a preparatory course). If you are not ready for Chem 1A. Seek relevant electives, such as Systemic Physiology (Bio 131), Psychology, Eng 1C, Bioethics, Psych Aspects of Death and Dying, Contemporary Moral Issues, Health Care Delivery. See GE recommendations. Professional schools prefer that University students not (return to) take science and math courses at Community Colleges (CC).

Volunteer service: This is an opportunity to do something that is meaningful to you. Professional schools are looking for evidence of commitment, not token effort. It is better to begin early and work one or two days per month over several semesters. You will only get busier as you approach the application period because of standardized test (i.e., DAT MCAT or OAT) and application preparation. Arrange for Bio 195 in spring of second year. Make arrangements, both, to volunteer during the summer and to get credit for Bio 195 in the Fall. Programs: Many professional schools offer formal summer programs, through which they become familiar with prospective applicants. Alternatively, you might contact medical researchers associated with the UCD Medical Center to participate in medical research.

Standardized test: You want the scores to be available the application service/Universities by the date they begin reviewing applicants. This is important because schools begin accepting applicants immediately.

Recommendation letters: You should get a letter from someone who supervised you in your volunteer service as well from teachers, etc. Identify three letter writers in spring, prior to applying. In Medicine, they are not required until you receive secondary application requests, but the writer may need several weeks notice. Offer to provide letter writers with a copy of your application so that they can address any concerns they see. If you want to make a good impression when it counts, be organized when soliciting letters, and provide your writers with everything they need (e.g., envelopes: addressed, stamped, and pre-stuffed with evaluation forms; written instructions, your contact information, etc.).

Application: The most important part of preparing the application is your personal statement. Reflect on why you have made the decision to become a Doctor. Self reflection, clarity, appropriate grammar and spelling are expected. Start working on your personal statement ASAP, and return to it periodically. The writing process will help you understand your motivations, make appropriate decisions, and produce a much stronger application. See your specific health profession links to help with the application process. At least one other person with strong writing skills should proof-read your application.

Alternatives: What if your application is marginal? Consider applying to a Postbac program (e.g., at UC Davis) to strengthen your qualifications, or to a less competitive health field, e.g., Osteopathic Medicine, Podiatry, Professional Assistant, or Technician within the same profession (there are many varieties).