Medical professionals provide health care services to humans and include a wide variety of specialties: dentists, doctors, optometrists, podiatrists, genetic counselors, physical therapists, occupational therapists, physician assistants, and more. They develop skills in microbiology, pathology, physiology, pharmacology, genetics, and surgery. Many medical professionals practice medicine in a clinical setting, but training in this area can also open up careers in animal research, public health, food safety, regulatory medicine, and education. Many students and parents ask, "what's the best major if I'm pre-med (or interested in pre-health professions)?" Here's some information from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) about selecting a major if you are interested in human medicine/health professions. Biology is an excellent major for students interested in health professions!
Becoming a medical professional usually requires specialized training and licensure, or post-graduate education. There are many medical schools and other allied health programs in the United States, and each has somewhat different admissions requirements. We recommend students investigate various paths in human medicine with their advisor and with the Pre-Health academic advising team in Catt Hall. Students should identify programs to apply for as early as possible in order to determine exactly what preparation is required and tailor a program of study accordingly.
The core courses of the Biology Program and appropriate advanced courses provide very good preparation for pre-medical students. Students should closely examine the admissions requirements for their chosen school and prioritize those classes when selecting advanced biology coursework.
We recommend taking at least 9 credits from the list below, especially anatomy and physiology coursework (lab courses are denoted by • ):
|Course #||Course Name||Credits|
|BIOL 322||Introduction to Bioinformatics and Computational Biology||3|
|BIOL 328||Molecular and Cellular Biology of Human Disease||3|
|BIOL 335 & L •||Human and Other Animal Physiology & Lab||4|
|BIOL 336||Ecological and Evolutionary Animal Physiology||3|
|BIOL 344||Human Reproduction||3|
|BIOL 349||The Genome Perspective in Biology||3|
|BIOL 350 •||Comprehensive Human Anatomy||4|
|BIOL 351 •||Comparative Chordate Anatomy||5|
|BIOL 352 •||Vertebrate Histology||4|
|BIOL 353||Introductory Parasitology||3|
|BIOL 354 & L •||Animal Behavior & Lab||4|
|BIOL 365 •||Vertebrate Biology||4|
|BIOL 402||Introduction to Pathology||3|
|BIOL 421X||Biology of Aging||3|
|BIOL 423||Developmental Biology & Lab||4|
|BIOL 459 & L •||Mammalogy & Lab||3|
|ANTHR 307 •||Biological Anthropology||3|
|ANTHR 319 •||Skeletal Biology||3|
|ANTHR 424||Forensic Anthropology||3|
|BBMB 405||Biochemistry II||3|
|BBMB 411 •||Techniques in Biochemical Research||4|
|BBMB 420||Mammalian Biochemistry||3|
|BBMB 440•||Laboratory in Microbial Physiology, Diversity, and Genetics||4|
|B M S 448 •||Principles of Human Gross Anatomy||4|
|ENT 374 & L •||
Insects and our Health & Lab
|FS HN 360||Advanced Human Nutrition and Metabolism||3|
|FS HN 361 •||Nutrition and Health Assessment||2|
|FS HN 364||Nutrition and Prevention of Chronic Disease||3|
|FS HN 367||Medical Terminology||1|
|GEN 340||Human Genetics||3|
|GEN 409||Molecular Genetics||3|
|GEN 410||Analytical Genetics||3|
|KIN 363||Basic Electrocardiography||2|
|KIN 472||Neural Basis of Human Movement||3|
|MICRO 302 & L •||Biology of Microorganisms & Lab||4|
|MICRO 310 & L •||Medical Microbiology & Lab||4|
|MICRO 320||Molecular and Cellular Bacteriology||4|
|MICRO 402||Microbial Genetics||3|
|MICRO 475 & L •||Immunology & Lab||4|
|PSYCH 310||Brain and Behavior||3|
|PSYCH 315||Drugs and Behavior||3|
We strongly recommend students incorporate teaching experiences, job shadows, internships, and research in their program of study to create a competitive portfolio for applications. Breadth of study and foreign language skills are often considered positive features in applicants for medical programs as well.
Suggested Supporting Science Courses
These requirements vary depending on the type of program, but in general students should expect to take a full year of general chemistry, a full year of organic chemistry, and strongly consider taking more advanced biochemistry courses. Many programs also require a full year of physics. Some professional schools in human medicine require one semester of calculus, and occasionally two. Social sciences, such as introductory psychology and introductory sociology, are also recommended, especially for students planning to take the MCAT.
Opportunities at ISU
Biological Sciences Club (BSC)
The departmental club for Biology majors and anyone else interested in life science, the Biological Sciences Club features regular faculty speakers on a diverse range of life science topics.
Undergraduate Research Experience
Students in the Biology Program can engage in life science research and earn academic credit for the experience. Students will learn how to seek out these opportunities during orientation and they are also welcome to discuss this with their academic advisor.
The Pre-Dental Club aids ISU students pursuing a dentistry career with any questions they may have regarding dental school.
ISU Pre-Medical Club is a organization that works to better prepare Pre-Medical students for acceptance into the medical field and to answer any questions about the path to and beyond medical school.
The Pre-Pharmacy Club hosts a variety of activities to help prepare members for the pharmacy school application process.
Pre-Physical Therapy Club
The goal of the Pre-Physical Therapy Club is to promote networking, individual growth, and preparation for future physical therapy professionals.
Pre-Physician Assistant Club
The purpose of the Pre-Physician Assistant Club is to educate students about the physician assistant profession and help students with the application process so they are adequately prepared when meeting with a potential employer or school.