The allopathic (M.D.) and osteopathic (D.O.) medical professions seek individuals from a variety of educational backgrounds. Although a strong foundation in the natural sciences is essential, a major in the sciences is not. A broad, liberal arts education should enable future physicians to gather and assess data, to continually update their knowledge and skills, and to apply this new information to the medical, scientific, and ethical problems they will face.
Because much of the practice of contemporary medicine is preventative as well as curative, medical school admissions committees also look for well-developed communication skills and an ample exposure to the social sciences and humanities. They are concerned with both the breadth and quality of the undergraduate coursework. Students should strive to complete coursework beyond the minimum requirements.
Plan of Study | Requirements and Recommendations
The following courses will satisfy the minimum requirements for admission to most U.S. medical schools, and aid in preparation for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), however, students should strive to complete coursework beyond the minimum requirements. Medical schools are concerned with both the breadth and quality of the undergraduate coursework.
- Biology - Two Semesters with laboratory (BIOL 111-Biological Principles, BIOL 205-Genetics); one additional 300-level course (e.g., BIOL 303-Cell Biology; BIOL 305-Cell Physiology & Signaling; BIOL 319/328/329-Developmental Biology; BIOL 320-Neurobiology; BIOL 328-Evolutionary Development Biology; BIOL 330-Human Physiology; BIOL 339-Microbiology and Immunology). A course in anatomy (e.g., BIOL 259) is required by some schools.
- Biochemistry - (BBMB 325-Biochemistry)
- Chemistry - Two semesters of general/inorganic chemistry with laboratory (CHEM 125 & 126-General Chemistry I & Lab, CHEM 135 & 136-General Chemistry II & Lab; or CHEM140-Advanced General Chemistry I, CHEM 240*-Quantitative Analysis and Chemical Equilibrium). Two semesters of organic chemistry with two credits of laboratory (Chemistry 245 & 251-Organic Chemistry I & Lab, CHEM 246 & 252-Organic Chemistry II & Lab. *Note: If you have AP/IB credit for Chemistry 125, Chemistry 240 is not required. For those schools that require 8-semester credits in general/inorganic chemistry, or do not accept AP/IB credits, CHEM 240 or additional analytical/inorganic chemistry credit may be required.
- Physics - Two semesters of physics with laboratory (Physics 145 & 175-General Physics I & Lab, PHYS 146 & 176-General Physics II & Lab)
- Mathematics - Two semesters of college mathematics (MATH 125-Calculus I, MATH 126-Calculus II)
- Statistics - MATH 128-Elementary Statistics or MATH 247-Statistics with Applications. BIOL 228-Biostatics and PSY 210-Psychology Statistics also can fulfill the statistics requirement.
- English - Two semesters of English writing/composition (COMP 210-Writing for Diverse Purpose, COMP 310-The Theory and Practice of Tutoring Writing), or any English literature course). Note: Some schools accept Encounters as writing intensive courses for English.
- Social Sciences - Three semesters in social sciences (Psychology 110-Introduction to Psychology, Sociology 110-Social Problems or SOC 117-Principles of Sociology, and one additional course (e.g., ANTH 102-Introduction to Cultural Anthropology, ANTH 328-Medical Anthropology, PSY 230-Social Psychology, or PSY 360-Physiology of Behavior).
- Ethics - One course recommended (e.g., BIOL 405-Bioethics, PHIL 127-Ethics or PHIL 217-Bioethics)
Requirements for U.S. and Canadian allopathic medical schools are provided in the Medical School Admission Requirements (MSAR). See the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) website: www.aamc.org. Requirements for osteopathic schools are provided in the Osteopathic Medical College Information Book. See the Association of American Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) website: www.aacom.org.
Other Considerations - Developing Competencies
The American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) has identified core competencies that focus on the knowledge, skills, values, and attitudes essential for entering medical students and future physicians. Through academic excellence, and strong co-curricular and extracurricular programs, the broad liberal arts education offered at Whitman College supports students in their development of the fifteen core competencies as outlined by the AAMC.
Service Orientation: Demonstrates a desire to help others and sensitivity to others' needs and feelings; demonstrates a desire to alleviate others' distress; recognizes and acts on his/her responsibilities to society; locally, nationally, and globally.
Social Skills: Demonstrates an awareness of others' needs, goals, feelings, and the ways that social and behavioral cues affect peoples' interactions and behaviors; adjusts behaviors appropriately in response to these cues; treats others with respect.
Cultural Competence: Demonstrates knowledge of socio-cultural factors that affect interactions and behaviors; shows an appreciation and respect for multiple dimensions of diversity; recognizes and acts on the obligation to inform one's own judgment; engages diverse and competing perspectives as a resource for learning, citizenship, and work; recognizes and appropriately addresses bias in themselves and others; interacts effectively with people from diverse backgrounds.
Teamwork: Works collaboratively with others to achieve shared goals; shares information and knowledge with others and provides feedback; puts team goals ahead of individual goals.
Oral Communication: Effectively conveys information to others using spoken words and sentences; listens effectively; recognizes potential communication barriers and adjusts approach or clarifies information as needed.
Ethical Responsibility to Self and Others: Behaves in an honest and ethical manner; cultivates personal and academic integrity; adheres to ethical principles and follows rules and procedures; resists peer pressure to engage in unethical behavior and encourages others to behave in honest and ethical ways; develops and demonstrates ethical and moral reasoning.
Reliability and Dependability: Consistently fulfills obligations in a timely and satisfactory manner; takes responsibility for personal actions and performance.
Resilience and Adaptability: Demonstrates tolerance of stressful or changing environments or situations and adapts effectively to them; is persistent, even under difficult situations; recovers from setbacks.
Capacity for Improvement: Sets goals for continuous improvement and for learning new concepts and skills; engages in reflective practice for improvement; solicits and responds appropriately to feedback.
Thinking and Reasoning Competencies
Critical Thinking: Uses logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
Quantitative Reasoning: Applies quantitative reasoning and appropriate mathematics to describe or explain phenomena in the natural world.
Scientific Inquiry: Applies knowledge of the scientific process to integrate and synthesize information, solve problems and formulate research questions and hypotheses; is facile in the language of the sciences and uses it to participate in the discourse of science and explain how scientific knowledge is discovered and validated.
Written Communication: Effectively conveys information to others using written words and sentences.
Living Systems: Applies knowledge and skill in the natural sciences to solve problems related to molecular and macro systems including biomolecules, molecules, cells, and organs.
Human Behavior: Applies knowledge of the self, others, and social systems to solve problems related to the psychological, socio-cultural, and biological factors that influence health and well-being.
What are some programs attended by recent alums?
Oregon Health & Sciences University
U. of California - San Francisco
U. of California - Davis
Keck - USC
U. New Mexico
University of Virginia
George Washington University
How do I apply?
For most allopathic medical schools (MD), you complete the AMCAS application, sponsored by the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC).
For osteopathic medical schools (DO), you complete the AACOMAS application, sponsored by the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM)
Whitman College Health Professions Advisory Committee
The Whitman College Health Professions Advisory Committee (HPAC) helps facilitate your application to MD and DO medical schools by offering the following services: an interview, a comprehensive Committee letter of evaluation, collection of individual evaluations, and submission of your letter of evaluation packet.
The HPAC will be conducting interviews and evaluations for applicants from February-April 2019 for the following students:
- Whitman graduates from 2018 or earlier and planning to apply in Summer 2019.
- Seniors graduating and leaving campus in May 2019 (even if you are NOT planning to apply in Summer 2019 you are eligible to participate in the interview process).
- Juniors (May 2020 graduates) planning to apply in Summer 2019.
Register to participate by Friday, January 11, 2019. Upon registering, the HPAC instructions and materials packet will be sent via email. Participants will be contacted in late January / early February to establish an interview date & time.
For more information contact:
Director of Health Professions Advising
Hall of Science 164