- Can an international student attend a health profession school?
Some do. However, American health profession schools (and this includes medical, dental, osteopathic, veterinary and most graduate schools in the health professions), for the most part, will not accept applications from anyone other than American citizens or permanent residents ("green cards").
The first reason is that a professional school education is very expensive. The tuition is expensive, but the tuition is actually only a fraction of what it costs to educate a doctor. There is a tremendous shortage of medical doctors in the United States right now, and a corresponding emphasis on training students who can practice within this country. If you are planning to stay in the US after your medical training, you can work on applying for citizenship first, in order to indicate your intentions. Secondly, as part of your medical education, you will need to work in hospitals. An F-1 visa specifically prohibits employment.
Also, unlike for undergraduate education, private scholarships are virtually nonexistent for professional school. American students finance their education largely through government-sponsored loans, which are only available to citizens and permanent residents. International students are often required to place in escrow a sum equivalent to two to four years' tuition and fees, which currently can run to over US $300,000.
- Do I have to major in the sciences?
- A major in the sciences is not required. However, having a strong background in the sciences will certainly help you as you pursue a health profession, as it gives you a good foundation to build upon. Most professional schools look for transcripts that indicate students have taken courses to prepare them for the demands of a health professions school.
- What do I do if I don't get in?
You can always try again. Apply to the same schools. Apply to different schools. Take more courses. Improve your grades. Gain more relevant experience. Mature.
The key, however, is to focus on the weakest part of your application and improve it. If you work hard to improve those areas where you were weakest, and possibly turn application liabilities into assets, your next application is far more likely to land you a seat in the professional school of your choice.
Planning for alternatives in advance, however, can give you more options and flexibility. For example, you can apply for competitive internships, study abroad opportunities, and non-profit experience along with professional school. If you receive multiple acceptances, you have choices. If you do not get accepted into professional school, you have an alternative in place that will make you more competitive should you decide to apply again.
- When should I take the entrance test (MCAT, PCAT, OAT, DAT, or GRE)?
- Preferably sometime in the March through June "window" of the year prior to your matriculation (i.e. May 2015 for Fall 2016). This typically occurs during the spring semester of your junior year. NOTE: Some admission timelines vary (i.e. Physician Assistant) so be sure to plan accordingly.
- What should my essay say?
You want your essay to accomplish a few things. First, it needs to touch on a couple of the significant accomplishments you've had in the discipline. Second, it needs to highlight your work ethic, drive, and dedication. Third, and most importantly, it needs to impact the readers in a way that makes them think, "We need to meet this person and chat with him/her." This will get you invited for an interview.
- How many hours do I need of shadowing/work experience (Veterinary Medicine)?
For Aubrun University, that number is 600 hours spread across both large and small animal experience. Each program is different so it is essential that you become familiar with each school that you are considering.
- Can I use AP and/or CLEP credit towards required pre-requisite courses?
- There is no uniform acceptance policy for AP and CLEP credit for health professions schools. Many will accept AP and CLEP credit as long as it appears on your college transcript. Others, however, may only accept the score as it would count at their particular undergraduate institution. Some may not even accept AP and CLEP credit at all. That being said, a solid science background is essential to do well on the entrance test (e.g. MCAT, PACT, OAT, and DAT). So, if you have AP and/or CLEP credit in the hard sciences, you may find it helpful to retake the course or take additional science courses.
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