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Health Professions Recommended Preparation and Course Work

Things to know if you are thinking about a career in the health professions field.

Admission to any health-related program requires excellent grades (overall and in the sciences), top scores on standardized tests, and a true understanding of the profession. Iona College professors work closely with pre-professional health program students and provide the support, guidance and attention they need to successfully get into and graduate from post-graduate health professional programs.

Successful applicants are able to demonstrate the following:

  1. Completion of Required and Recommended Courses

    All professional schools require courses in Biology, Chemistry, Math, and Physics, while some may require Psychology, English, and Sociology. Many look for high performance in upper-level science courses above the minimum requirements. There is no specific major that is required by most schools, however, Iona College students who have been most successful getting into medical, dental, and other health professions programs majored in Biology, Biochemistry, or Chemistry. All three majors are good options for student success, but it is advisable to speak with the pre-health advisor as to which major would be the best fit for you.

    It is recommended that entering students take Biology 101 and Chemistry 109 in the fall semester of their freshman year. Professional advisors will help incoming students develop a schedule that fits their course of study across all the health professions.

    Coursework Checklists:


  2. High GPA

    This includes the cumulative GPA and a separate science GPA. Because of the extremely competitive nature of some programs, such as medical, dental, and veterinary programs, a minimum GPA of 3.6 is highly recommended.

  3. Good Performance on Standardized Exams

    Given that a high GPA alone is not enough for admission, the standardized exams allow admissions committees to compare your aptitude with that of students from other institutions.

    Standardized Tests:

    • Medical School: MCAT
    • Dental School: DAT
    • Veterinary School: (usually) GRE
    • Podiatry: (usually) MCAT
    • Optometry: OAT
    • Pharmacy: PCAT
    • Physician Assistant: none or TOEFL
    • Physical Therapy: usually none


  4. Field Experience

    Some professional schools often require hours of direct patient contact, while others may recommend shadowing experiences or that students perform scientific research. In certain circumstances (PA and PT programs), college credits can be earned for these experiences.

  5. Excellent Recommendations

    Medical and dental schools usually require, if possible, a committee recommendation letter instead of individual letters, as PA and PT programs do. At Iona, the committee letter is a composite generated by the Health Professions Recommendations Committee comprised of various science faculty. The pre-health advisor and chair of the committee, Dr. Kang, is responsible for writing the letter, which is a combined evaluation of the student’s potential for success. This “recommendation” is confidential.

  6. Timely Submission of Applications

    It is very important that all deadlines are met. Many medical programs have what are known as “rolling admissions,” which means that your chances of getting in are better the earlier you apply. It is crucial that a student meet with the pre-health advisor well in advance of applying to professional schools so that there will be timely submission of applications and any required committee letters.

Students should be sure to work with pre-health advisor, Dr. Yourha Kang ( throughout their time at Iona to ensure proper advisement of the health professions.