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Preprofessional Office

Pre-Med

The Pre-Medical Curriculum

The pre-medical curriculum is just a list of courses that are required for admission to medical school. It is NOT an academic major, a minor, or an emphasis area. The list of courses we describe here meet the course requirements for many medical schools; however, students should consult the specific medical schools to which they plan to apply for any variances.

Medical schools do not require a particular major. Although most premedical students choose a major in one of the sciences, other majors are acceptable including those in the humanities, social and behavioral sciences, or business. Students should select the major in which they feel the most comfortable and in which they would like to work if they do not enter the medical field. Students searching for a major with similar coursework to the premedical requirements might pursue a Biological Sciences BS degree or a Chemistry BS degree with an emphasis in Biochemistry. Other majors are acceptable, but it is important to fit the premedical curriculum into your course schedule alongside the academic major’s requirements. Both the major academic advisors and the pre-professional advisors can assist with course scheduling.

Some students already have a B.A. or B.S. and then decide to pursue becoming a physician. Students in this category should consult with our pre-professional office. In general, these students lack some of the science courses required by most medical schools; in some cases, the required courses may be over 10 years old, which most medical schools do not accept. It is common for these students to take the prerequisite science or non-science courses for medical school at USM as post-baccalaureate students while also working on polishing their applications and taking the MCAT. 

Some post-baccalaureate students take the prerequisite courses as a non-degree student while other students choose a second major to pursue at USM. In either case, students must go through the University Admissions Office to be admitted (or re-admitted for former students) before enrolling in courses.

 

Medical School Possibilities

To become a physician eligible for state licensing to practice medicine, a person must attend and graduate from an accredited medical school, complete a medical residency, pass all required medical board exams, and meet any other requirements of the state in which they plan to practice.

 There are two types of medical schools in the United States: M.D.-granting schools (allopathic medical schools) and D.O.-granting schools (osteopathic medical schools). M.D.’s and D.O.’s have similar training and can train and practice in every medical specialty. D.O.’s receive additional training in the use of manual manipulation methods to treat some disorders, usually musculoskeletal problems. Both M.D.’s and D.O.’s have the same eligibility to practice medicine within the United States.

Medical Schools by State

 

Requirements for Applicants

While medical school admission requirements and deadlines vary by school, most programs have relatively similar minimum requirements. It is the student’s responsibility to check requirements for their specific desired schools; however, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) has compiled admission information for most medical schools that grant an M.D. degree. Similarly, the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) has compiled admission information for osteopathic medical schools. Typical medical school minimum requirements are as follows:

  • Completion of a series of specified courses with laboratories in Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics (BCPM) and other General Education Curriculum (GEC) courses*
  • Completion of a baccalaureate degree; although consideration is given to exceptional students with a minimum of 90 credit hours, an undergraduate degree is strongly preferred
  • A competitive GPA, both overall and in the BCPM areas (Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Mathematics)
  • Competitive scores from the nationally administered Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)
  • Evidence of compassion for others as often shown through community service and/or employment
  • Multiple positive character traits, such as effective communication skills, initiative, ability to work with diverse populations, integrity, ability to manage heavy workloads, leadership ability, motivation (including motivation to enter the medical field), and a desire to learn 

 *AP credit is traditionally not accepted for required courses (and should be replaced with the course equivalent or higher). Most medical schools allow a maximum of 65 hours at an accredited community college for required courses. Online coursework is traditionally not accepted for required courses. Required courses should be taken within the last ten years (or retaken/taken at a higher level if older).

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Students from USM applying to the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s School of Medicine (UMMC) in Jackson, MS, must follow their set of requirements that call for end-point courses. Strong preference is given to applicants who are legal residents of Mississippi; in recent years, only Mississippi residents have been admitted or considered. 

End-Point Course* prerequisites at UMMC

The end-point courses cannot be taken online and must be within the past 10 years. Additional courses should be taken to reach a minimum of 90 hours of coursework, though a baccalaureate degree is strongly preferred.

  • Biochemistry: one semester (either CHE 420 or 421 would be accepted by UMMC)
  • Physics: second semester – PHY 112/L or PHY 202/L
  • Life Sciences: two courses of any combination of the following:
    • Anatomy – BSC 361/L
    • Biology of Cancer
    • Cellular Biology – BSC 360
    • Embryology – BSC 465/L or BSC 466/L
    • Genetics – BSC 370
    • Histology – BSC 461/L
    • Immunology and Serology – BSC 486/L
    • Immunology
    • Infectious Diseases – BSC 403
    • Microbiology – BSC 282/L
    • Molecular Biology – BSC 476
    • Molecular Genetics
    • Neuroanatomy
    • Neuroscience – BSC 457
    • Pharmacology – BSC 460 or CHE 460
    • Physiology – BSC 450 or 451 or 452 (only one physiology course will be counted by
    • UMMC)
    • Virology – BSC 484/L or BSC 485/L
  • Additionally Recommended Courses
    • College Algebra - MAT 101
    • Statistics - PSY 360
    • General Psychology - PSY 110
    • Introduction to Sociology - SOC 101

*Each end-point course has its own prerequisites that must be passed before enrolling in the end-point course. Consult the course description of each course in the university’s undergraduate bulletin or course catalog to determine what the prerequisites are for the end-point courses you plan to take.

The following list of Required Courses meets only the minimum requirements for admission to the William Carey University College of Osteopathic Medicine (COM) in Hattiesburg, MS.

  • Two semesters of General Chemistry (CHE 106/L & 107/L)
  • Two semesters of Organic Chemistry (CHE 255/L & 256/L)
  • Two semesters of Physics (PHY 111/L & 112/L or PHY 201/L & 202/L)
  • Two semesters of General Biology (BSC 110/L & 111/L)
  • One to two semesters of Advanced Biology (BSC 300+, with Lab)
  • Two semesters of English Composition and/or Literature (ENG 101 & 102, ENG 203)

Required courses cannot be taken online or by advanced placement credit.

These meet the course requirements of most medical schools and provide content preparation for the MCAT exam.

  • BSC 110/L & BSC 111/L (Principles of Biological Science)
  • CHE 106/L & CHE 107/L (General Chemistry)
  • CHE 255/L & CHE 256/L (Organic Chemistry)
  • CHE 420 or CHE 421 (Biochemistry)
  • PHY 111/L & PHY 112/L or PHY 201/L & PHY 202/L (Physics)
  • ENG 101 & ENG 102 (English Composition)
  • MAT 103 (Trigonometry), or MAT 114 or MAT 167 (Calculus)
  • PSY 110 (Psychology)
  • SOC 101 (Sociology)
  • PSY 360 or CSS 211 or MAT 320 (Statistics)
  • Choose at least two life science courses from the following list:
    • Anatomy – BSC 361/L
    • Cellular Biology – BSC 360
    • Embryology – BSC 465/L or BSC 466/L
    • Genetics – BSC 370
    • Histology – BSC 461/L
    • Immunology and Serology – BSC 486/L
    • Infectious Diseases – BSC 403
    • Microbiology – BSC 282/L
    • Molecular Biology – BSC 476
    • Neuroscience – BSC 457
    • Pharmacology – BSC 460 or CHE 460
    • Physiology – BSC 450 or 451 or 452 (only one physiology course will be counted by UMMC)
    • Virology – BSC 484/L or BSC 485/L
 

Suggested Course Sequence

The suggested course sequence below is merely a guideline for timely completion of UMMC required courses. Courses to fulfill the major must be worked into the student’s schedule; it is recommended that students work with their primary academic advisor to develop a detailed course schedule.

It is important to begin the Chemistry sequence as soon as possible, as the five-semester sequence must be completed prior to taking the MCAT. The introductory Biology courses should also be taken early, as they serve as prerequisites for most upper-level science courses.

Fall

  • BSC 110+L or BSC 111+L a (4h)
  • CHE 106+L (4h)
  • MAT 101 b (3h)
  • ENG 101 (3h)
  • One other course c (3h)

Spring

  • BSC 110+L or BSC 111+L a (4h)
  • CHE 107+L (4h)
  • MAT 103 b (3h)
  • ENG 102 (3h)
  • One other course c (3h)

a    The order in which students take the introductory Biological Sciences (BSC) courses does not matter. BSC 110/L covers molecular and cellular topics, whereas BSC 111/L covers ecology and organisms.

b   Placement in mathematics (MAT) courses depends on ACT subtest scores. Consult the prerequisites for the course you plan to take. Calculus is required for some majors in the USM College of Arts and Sciences but is not required by most medical schools.

c    “Other” courses include those in the General Education Curriculum and in the major and/or minor, as well as courses needed to develop competencies that will be tested on the MCAT (such as introductory Sociology and Psychology). See more about MCAT below.

Strategies for Success

  • Students should visit the pre-professional office for advisement and/or to answer any pertinent questions.
  • Students should study for long-term retention of knowledge in preparation for their MCAT exam and for use in medical school. 
  • Students should strive to grasp the connections between their courses. The early classes provide foundational knowledge to be built upon in later science courses and in medical school.
  • Students should take note of MCAT topics they should be learning.  These are described by the AAMC under “What’s on the MCAT exam?".
  • Students should become involved with extracurricular activities, including meaningful community service and leadership positions that will demonstrate effective interactions with diverse people and effective time management skills. Students should maintain a record of the dates and total hours spent performing such activities. The record should include meaningful encounters and the contact information for supervisors. This will be needed when it comes time to apply to medical school.
  • Students should gain hands-on exposure to medicine (sights, sounds, smells, feel). It is important to maintain a record of these experiences, which generally relate to shadowing physicians in practice. Successful medical school applicants typically have an average of six different medical-related experiences as an undergraduate. However, the duration of medical exposures in combination with other responsibilities is considered.
  • Students are strongly encouraged to complete the prerequisites for the Hatten Externship (BSC 392) during the first year. The focus of the course is shadowing physicians in practice. The externship is offered in the Fall semester, so students must fulfill the prerequisites for enrolling in the course by the end of the preceding Summer semester. Students may participate in the externship twice. Since students typically apply to medical school at the end of the Junior year, participation in the Externship as Sophomores and Juniors is recommended. Externship prerequisites include ENG 101 and 102; BSC 110/L and 111/L; CHE 106/L and 107/L; and MAT 103 or one calculus course. The GPA prerequisite is a 3.2 for both overall and BCPM (biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics) GPAs.
  • Southern Miss has a chapter of AMSA (American Medical Student Association), which students may join at any time.
  • Students may join AED (Alpha Epsilon Delta), the National Health Pre-Professional Honor Society, as associate members at any time even if they do not fulfill the requirements for full membership. Full members are inducted during the Spring semester. Applications and instructions for membership are available at the pre-professional office.

Fall

  • CHE 255+L (4h)
  • PHY 111+L or PHY 201+L (4-5h)
  • Two to three additional courses d, e (7-9h)

Spring

  • CHE 256+L (4h)
  • PHY 112+L or PHY 202+L (4-5h)
  • Two to three additional courses d (7-9h)

d    This could be a time to start taking some of the end-point life sciences courses required for medical school, such as cell biology (BSC 360) or microbiology (BSC 380/L). Other courses include those in the General Education Curriculum and in the major and/or minor, as well as courses needed to develop competencies that will be tested on the MCAT (such as introductory Sociology and Psychology).

 e    Students are strongly encouraged to take the Hatten Externship course (BSC 392) in the Fall semester of the second year. The course can be repeated for credit in the Fall of the third year. Prerequisites are ENG 101, 102; BSC 110/L, 111/L; CHE 106/L, 107/L; MAT 103 or one Calculus course. Students must have a 3.2 or higher for USM GPA, degree GPA, and BCPM GPA.  

Strategies for Success

  • Students should continue to follow strategies from Year 1.
  • Students are strongly encouraged to participate in the Hatten Externship (BSC 392), which is offered each Fall. Students may participate in the Externship twice. Since students typically apply to medical school at the end of the Junior year, participation in the Externship as Sophomores and Juniors is recommended.
  • Students are typically inducted into AED, the National Health Pre-Professional Honor Society, in the Spring semester of the Sophomore year, but may be inducted in the Junior or Senior year.
  • Students should visit the pre-professional office for advisement and/or to answer any pertinent questions.

Fall

  • Biochemistry f (3-4h)
  • Advanced science elective g (3-4h)
  • Other courses (8-10h)

Spring

  • Advanced science elective g (3-4h)
  • Other courses h (8-10h)

   Biochemistry questions feature heavily in the MCAT. CHE 420 (Principles of Biochemistry) is suggested for students seeking only a single semester of Biochemistry. Otherwise, students may take the courses in the series intended for majors: CHE 421 (Biochemistry I), CHE 422 (Biochemistry II), and CHE 424 (Biochemistry III). Biochemistry labs are optional, unless required for a specific major. 

  Recommended advanced science electives that meet the life science end-point elective requirements of UMMC include Cellular Biology (BSC 360), Comparative Anatomy (BSC 361/L), Genetics (BSC 370), Microbiology (BSC 282/L), Infectious Disease (BSC 403), Physiology [BSC 451 (Human Physiology), BSC 450 (Comparative Animal Physiology), BSC 452 (Environmental Physiology)], Neuroscience or Neurobiology (BSC 457), Pharmacology (BSC 460 or CHE 460), Histology (BSC 461/L), Embryology (BSC 465/L or BSC 466/L), Molecular Biology (BSC 476), Virology (BSC 484/L or BSC 485/L), and Immunology and Serology (BSC 486/L). 

h   Students may take BSC 399 (MCAT Preparation) during the Spring semester of the Junior year if they would like to review Biochemistry, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Psychology, and Sociology in a formal class. Otherwise, students need to prepare on their own before attempting the MCAT. BSC 399 is offered in the Spring semester. Prerequisites include ENG 101, 102; BSC 110/L, 111/L; CHE 106/L, 107/L, 255/L, 256/L; PHY 111/L, 112/L; [MAT 103 or one Calculus course] and one upper-level BSC or CHE course. The prerequisite BCPM and overall GPA is a 3.4 or above.

Strategies for Success 

  • Students should continue to apply strategies from Years 1 and 2. It is important to make an effort to understand the relationship between core courses to try to form a deeper understanding of critical material - especially MCAT material.
  • Students are strongly encouraged to participate again in the Hatten Externship, which is offered each Fall. Students may participate in the Externship twice. Since students typically apply to medical school at the end of the Junior year, participation in the Externship as Sophomores and Juniors is recommended.
  • Students should visit the pre-professional office for advisement and/or to answer any pertinent questions.
  • Students typically apply to medical school in the summer shortly after the junior year.

Fall

  • Classes to fulfill the major and/or minor (15-19h)

Spring

  • Classes to fulfill the major and/or minor (15-19h)

Strategies for Success

  • Students should continue the application process and strategies for success from previous years.
  • UMMC interviews begin in September. Students should sign up in the summer for mock interviews through Career Services or talk to the pre-professional advisors, Jeffrey Evans and Destiny DeLancey, about setting up mock interviews.
  • Students should visit the pre-professional office for advisement and/or to answer any pertinent questions.
 

The Application Process

There are two centralized application services (CAS systems) for medical school: AMCAS for allopathic medical schools, and AACOMAS for osteopathic medical schools. The following timeline should be followed in the year leading up to application regardless of CAS system used.

  • Fall and Spring:  Prepare for the MCAT by reviewing content and taking practice tests online. Register for a date to take the exam in October.
  • Spring or Early Summer:  Take the MCAT. Do not take the official exam as a practice attempt. 
  • Spring:  Request official transcripts from all colleges attended and letters of evaluation from faculty. Work on personal statements for the application and begin the formal AMCAS and/or AACOMAS application in May when the application sites open.
  • June 1:  This is the earliest receipt date for complete medical school applications by AMCAS and AACOMAS. Application early in the season is encouraged, as many medical schools have rolling admissions processes and may not have seats available by their application deadline. Deadlines vary by school, and students should be sure to contact their schools of interest for more information.
  • Summer:  Repeat the MCAT, if needed, after additional study and practice. 

Students should begin MCAT preparation when they decide to begin their pre-medical path. The courses necessary for entry into medical school generally reflect the material presented on the MCAT, which comes in four sections:

  • Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
  • Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
  • Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior
  • Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills

The official MCAT should not be taken as a practice test. The following are suggestions how to be prepared.

  • Focus your attention on core prerequisites, specifically biology, chemistry, physics, and social science courses. Keep study materials such as lectures, lecture notes, and textbooks for regular review.
  • Visit the official site of the MCAT to determine what specific content areas are tested on the MCAT. 
  • Apply for fee assistance before registering for the MCAT.
  • Consider purchasing the official guide to the MCAT or another similar guide. It is important to take practice tests frequently along the way to identify strengths and weaknesses. AAMC provides practice exams and study materials at their official site. Khan Academy offers free MCAT video tutorials and practice questions. Other materials can be found online, either through a Google search or at the following sites; please note that the pre-professional office does not endorse any specific brand or guide.
  • Make use of USM’s MCAT Preparation course, BSC 399. This is typically taken the spring of a student’s junior year.
  • Many students choose to develop a specific MCAT study pattern. It is best to study daily for the MCAT for up to a year before testing, and in the weeks before the exam it is critical to set aside additional time to complete final preparations.

The mean national score for the MCAT is 500, with scores ranging from 472 to 528. This means that a score of 500 is approximately in the 50th percentile. The 90th percentile mark is approximately 514, while scores of 485 are at the 10th percentile. The mean score for individual sections is 125.

Students are advised to practice their interview skills BEFORE attending their first interview. The UMMC School of Medicine currently utilizes the Multiple Mini-Interviews (MMI) method.

For interview preparation at USM you may use the online Perfect InterviewTM resource. You can also sign up for mock interviews through Career Services or the pre-professional office (contact information below).

 

Pre-Professional Office Contact Information 

Dr. Jennifer Regan

Destiny DeLancey

 

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Liberal Arts Building 210
118 College Dr. #5004 Hattiesburg, MS 39406

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