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Preparation for Medical, Dental & Veterinary School

If you are eyeing medical schools, dental schools or veterinary schools, McDaniel offers the mentoring and ideal environment to prepare you for success. You will be learning about a genetic disease in a classroom of 18 students, not a lecture hall of 200 students. When you raise your hand, your professor can actually see you. When you hand in a piece of work, your professor (not a graduate student) will provide 100% of the critique. When you need advice about what class to take next, your professor will know you well enough to construct a plan specific to you. And importantly, your recommendation letter for graduate school will be written by a professor who has become your personal mentor, creating a strong impression on postgraduate admissions committees.

Professor with students in research lab.

Preparing for a Competitive Application Process

The McDaniel Commitment guarantees experiential learning as a core component of every student’s education. This bodes very well for our pre-med, pre-dental and pre-vet students, because student-faculty collaborative research and medically oriented internships — two forms of experiential learning — are also what is most sought after in a candidate by the postgraduate admissions committees.

McDaniel is a member of the 40 Colleges that Change Lives, a select group of liberal arts colleges that boast not just superior classroom experiences, but also exceptional guidance provided by a team of professors, deans, advisors, librarians, staff and volunteer students. Medical school is one of the most competitive career tracks available to you. It will be challenging, regardless of the undergraduate institution you choose. At McDaniel, expect not just a challenge, but our proactive support.

Brandon Rozanski '19 majored in Biology

Meet Our Students Class of 2019: Brandon Rozanski The View From the Top of the Hill

Biology major Brandon Rozanski was named the #6 ROTC cadet in the nation during his senior year and his academic excellence earned him a spot in medical school at the Uniformed Service University of Health Sciences.

Succeed & Thrive

McDaniel College is committed to helping you pursue a health career in three key ways: confirming if your career goals are the right choice for you, crafting a competitive application and gaining the skills to succeed in a rigorous graduate school experience.

Academic & Real-World Exposure to Health Fields in a Non-Competitive Environment

McDaniel is close to regional and national medical facilities, including some right here in Westminster, providing you the opportunity to develop hands-on experiences that complement your classroom learning. Moreover, McDaniel’s 150-year history has built a large network of alumni and associates, including working physicians, dentists and other health professionals, who frequently offer lectures, events and classes at the college. In recent years, alumni who have returned to campus include:

  • Doug Barnes ‘79, professor and chair of the Department of General Dentistry and director of the Advanced Education in General Dentistry Program at the University of Maryland Dental School.
  • Ann Hackman ‘80, associate professor, associate residency training director, senior psychiatrist for RA1SE (Recovery After 1st Psychotic Episode) and director of community psychiatry training at University of Maryland. Over the past several years, her work has focused on young people with newly diagnosed psychosis and schizophrenia.
  • Sandra Geiman Ruby ‘99, a neurologist with the Carroll Health Group in Westminster and the stroke medical director at Carroll Hospital Center, where she provides both inpatient and outpatient consultations and acute stroke care.

Additionally, McDaniel's Undergraduate Research Program provides students an opportunity to conduct research alongside a faculty member, in many cases publishing their work or presenting it at conferences. These experiences distinguish McDaniel applicants in the application process.

Lastly, McDaniel College is a collaborative community. We don't believe that there is a limit to how many students can go on to successful careers in medicine. That's why our faculty don't subscribe to the "weeding out" philosophy and instead find opportunities that help you thrive in our rigorous curriculum.

Crafting a Competitive Application

We support you in building your academic record, preparing for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), the Dental Admission Tes (DAT) or the GRE, and assembling your application materials to get you accepted to your graduate school of choice. Graduate school admissions in health and medicine are primarily concerned with applicants’ test scores, GPA and letters of recommendation. At McDaniel, you will not take a fixed curriculum and can pursue your academic interests and strengths, allowing you to maximize their GPA. To aid in test preparation, McDaniel provides advising, workshops and practice testing to help students maximize their scores. McDaniel’s small liberal arts environment prioritizes close relationships between faculty and students, meaning our professors are able to write highly effective, personalized letters. Finally, our pre-med/health advisors provide individual counseling and group workshops on the application process, and are happy to assist students in selecting prospective graduate schools and to provide feedback on personal statements and other application essays.

Graduate Ready to Succeed

We ensure that you leave McDaniel with the academic skills needed to succeed in graduate school. Medical schools consistently report that the best preparation for med school is a broad liberal arts education that focuses on developing skills in critical thinking, logical reasoning, verbal and oral communication, as well as exposure to the natural sciences that ensure content understanding. The McDaniel Plan ensures students this exposure while ensuring a strong foundation in the natural sciences.

Achieving Success Alumni Making a Health Impact Paging Dr. McDaniel

Dr. Dani Guiffre

Helping people is Dr. Dani Guiffre’s childhood fairytale come true

Guiffre credits her advisor, Biology professor Ralene Mitschler, with helping her find a research opportunity in a biology lab at the University of Pennsylvania as well as a job “scribing” at the local emergency room.

McDaniel College alumna Nicki Pesik '86 at CDC

Featured Alumni Dr. Nicki Pesik '86

When officials worried in 2014 about a global Ebola pandemic, CDC global health security advisor Dr. Nicki Pesik advocated against border closures and extreme responses, knowing CDC was well positioned to put screening, education and follow-up systems in place to protect communities.

Application Timeline

Please remember that admissions requirements will vary by track (medical school, dental school or veterinary school), and also by different institutions within a track. The suggestions and order of items listed below are for general guidance only. Completion of these items does not guarantee that the student will meet the admissions requirement for a particular graduate program.

First Year

  • At McDaniel Local, talk with your advisor to schedule your first semester classes. Be sure to mention your interest in medical/dental/veterinary school.
  • Close to the end of the first semester, discuss with your First Year Seminar advisor the track of your choice. Using recommended courses above as a guide, select your second semester classes in consultation with your First Year Seminar advisor. You must have completed at least one, but preferably two or more, Biology, Chemistry, Physics or Math (BCPM) courses by the end of your first year.
  • Once you have garnered support from your First Year Seminar advisor for your track of choice, reach out to one of the health professional advisors to obtain further information and requirements for your track.
  • Think about potential majors and minors.
  • Maintain an excellent GPA.
  • Participate in clubs and extracurricular activities; find a way to firmly root yourself socially at McDaniel.
  • Consider obtaining relevant certifications (depending on career interest) such as CPR/AED, First Aid or EMT.
  • Plan and then pursue a relevant summer opportunity (for example, working for a veterinary office).

Sophomore Year

  • Declare a major, if you haven’t already.
  • Maintain excellent GPA; if your BCPM GPA is lower than 3.5, you may need to initiate conversations considering other career tracks of interest.
  • Meet with one of the health professions advisors to discuss your track of choice and research potential graduate programs to identify specific prerequisite courses and requirements. Use this information to inform your choice of classes for the rest of your college career. By the end of your sophomore year, you must have completed at least 3, but preferably 5 or more, BCPM courses.
  • Apply for honors society memberships (such as Beta Beta Beta).
  • Consider some relevant work or internship opportunities during the semesters.
  • A high-impact summer experience at the end of your sophomore year is highly recommended (such as student-faculty collaborative research).

Junior Year

  • Maintain excellent GPA; if your BCPM GPA is lower than 3.4, you may need to initiate conversations considering other career tracks of interest.
  • Meet with one of the health professions advisors to review your plan and progress and discuss how to study for the admission test (see above) of your track.
  • As you study for the admission test, identify your weak areas and use that to inform your choice of courses for your 6th semester. By the end of your junior year, you must have completed at least 7, but preferably 10 or more, BCPM courses.
  • Consider leadership positions in extracurricular clubs or honor societies.
  • Take your respective admission test.
  • Once you have your admission test score report, formally apply to one of the health professions advisors for a decision on the endorsement of your graduate program application.
  • Apply to graduate programs of your choice over the summer.

Senior Year

  • Apply to graduate programs of your choice, if you haven’t already.
  • Maintain excellent GPA.
  • Once you have received interview invitations, make an appointment with one of the health professions advisors to receive advice regarding interviews.
  • In the meantime, apply for transitional jobs that are related to the track of your choice as a backup plan.
  • Continue to develop a philosophy for your career choice and use that to refine the personal statement of your application package.
Sculpture outside of Hoover Library with students in background.

Your Mentor and Advisor Dr. Susan Parrish

You are strongly encouraged to meet with our Pre-Med & Health Professions advisor, Dr. Susan Parrish as soon as you decide to pursue a career in the medical, dental or veterinary professions. In addition to your academic advisor in your major, you should also meet annually with your health professional advisor to ensure that the necessary prerequisite coursework, admissions tests, and appropriate health care experience is obtained to build a strong application. These regular advising meetings will also allow the health professions advisor to write a thorough letter of recommendation for you.

Compelling Major/Minor Combinations

McDaniel's breadth of academic opportunities provides you the chance to craft compelling and highly distinctive major/minor combinations that support compelling applications for medical, dental or veterinary school. Our major/minor in American Sign Language provides you the skills to work with deaf patients. Our Psychology major and minor gives you the chance to learn about neuroscience and conduct research in our on-campus animal labs. Social Work helps you understand the real-world implications and consequences of health policy. Many McDaniel students double or triple major, giving you breadth and depth in your academic studies and a more competitive application for your next step.

"Students unanimously report that their teachers are accessible, creative, encouraging, patient and dedicated... The college is alive with the spirit of collaboration... Professors dream up courses together, and team up to help a student get into grad school or score a competitive internship."

from Colleges That Change Lives, by Loren Pope
Student walking across campus.

Scholarship winner takes time out for cancer research before medical school

Kristen Upton ’18 is taking a gap year before using her most recent honor, the Maryland Association of College Directors of Athletics (MACDA) scholarship, towards medical school — if, that is, doing cancer research at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) can be considered a gap year.

Direct patient-care experience is essential for admission to health professional schools. McDaniel College offers a January Term internship course (BIO3395) in which students work at the University of Maryland Medical Center. Other healthcare experiences could include volunteering in a health care/hospice facility, shadowing a physician or serving as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), Certified Nursing Assistant (CAN) or medical scribe.

Students are encouraged to complete an independent laboratory research project with a faculty member. In addition, teaching experiences, participation in athletics, extracurricular activities, service, and study-abroad opportunities can enhance your application.

McDaniel’s Center for Experience and Opportunity (CEO) and our health professions advisors help students identify these types of experiences.