Longwood adds pre-med concentration

Published 5:34 pm Wednesday, April 28, 2021

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Longwood students planning to attend medical, dental or veterinary school or pursue other health-related careers that require an advanced degree will have the option to declare a pre-med concentration beginning this fall.

The pre-med concentration requires 120 credit hours and is aimed at better preparing biology majors who are planning to continue their education in a professional health or medical field.

Dr. Mark Fink, chair of the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences and associate professor of biology, said the concentration was designed to help give students an advantage when applying to programs. For example, some of the requirements are specifically tailored to provide what medical schools are now looking for, such as psychology courses.

“This concentration will provide a clear pathway for students to develop the skills and knowledge they need to be competitive for admission to medical school, dental school, veterinary school or other professional programs,” Fink said.

Fink stressed that the concentration is not limited only to students who plan to pursue admission to medical, dental or veterinary school, but that it would be a good fit for students who want to continue their education in other health-related advanced degree programs. This includes students who want to become physical therapists, occupational therapists, genetic counselors, physician assistants, surgical assistants, nurse anesthesiologists or nurses (accelerated BS to BSN).

“These students will complete the core curriculum of biology courses,” Fink said. “Then, in their upper-level specializations, they can take concentration courses that are going to be very valuable for pre-professional schools.”

Dr. Bjoern Ludwar, associate professor of biology, will oversee the pre-med concentration as pre-professional health program director. Students must maintain a 3.2 GPA to remain in the concentration after their first year.

“Pre-med concentration students will study topics like genetics, human anatomy, biochemistry, toxicology, immunology and neuroscience,” Ludwar said. “At the same time, they will receive the broad biological training necessary to meet all prerequisites for admission to advanced career programs at medical, dental, veterinary or medical professional schools.”

Another important component of the pre-med concentration is that students can take up to five credit hours of internship or research that will count toward their major. Fink said faculty members are strongly encouraging students to maximize those types of hands-on learning experiences.

“Experiential learning is critical for building resumes and getting into professional schools,” he said.

“This pre-med concentration is yet another tool—along with our state-of-the-art labs and extensive research opportunities for undergraduates—that will give Longwood students a competitive advantage when applying for professional schools,” Dr. Roger Byrne, dean of the Cook-Cole College of Arts and Sciences, said. “We will also be able to better serve our students who are pursuing professional medical careers in terms of information and advising because they will be more clearly identified.”