Abby Bray C'16 Attending University of Kentucky Medical School Path to Medical School with V-SURE and SHPS Experiences
Rand's story of his bridge years between Sewanee and Medical School The Path to Georgetown University School Of Medicine

Pre-Medical Course Requirements

In the past AAMC and medical schools have suggested relatively similar course requirements.  However, with the introduction of the MCAT2015 and with the changes to the medical school curriculum, many schools are updating their required and recommended courses to better match these new expectations. Some are now requiring or recommending statistics and biochemistry, while others are eliminating course requirements altogether and instead are requiring specific competencies that can be achieve through various classes (which do tend to be the standard science courses you are expected to take for MCAT). Be aware that some medical schools are still considering changes and thus requirements might change from year to year.  

To develop competencies in the sciences, the following courses are recommended for Sewanee pre-med students (individual medical school requirements may vary). 

One year of Biology with Laboratory - 
Note that BIOL 133 and BIOL 233 are non-lab courses that are prerequisites for upper-level biology lab courses that are required or highly recommended.

BIOL 133 Introductory Molecular Biology and Genetics
BIOL 233 Intermediate Cell and Molecular Biology 

Highly recommended BIOL laboratory courses that cover core competencies on MCAT:

BIOL 223 Genetics (Lab)
BIOL 243 Molecular Methods (Lab)
BIOL 314 General and Human Physiology (Lab)

Additional recommended BIOL courses that will enhance your core competencies in the biological sciences: 

  • BIOL 203 Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy (Lab)
  • BIOL 218 Principles of Animal Nutrition and Metabolism
  • BIOL 224 Genetics
  • BIOL 229 Biology of Human Reproduction
  • BIOL 232 Human Health and the Environment
  • BIOL 270 Human Anatomy (Lab)
  • BIOL 275 Histology and Microanatomy (Lab)
  • BIOL 280 Molecular Genetics (Lab)
  • BIOL 312 General and Human Physiology
  • BIOL 318 Molecular Revolutions in Medicine 
  • BIOL 319 Cancer Cell Biology (Lab/320 no Lab)
  • BIOL 322 Genes and Behavior
  • BIOL 323 Environment and Development
  • BIOL 300 Biology of Aging (Lab/325 no Lab)
  • BIOL 331 Immunology
  • BIOL 333 Developmental Biology (Lab/334 no Lab)
  • BIOL 340 Microbiology (Lab)
  • BIOL 389 Epigenetics (Lab/388 no Lab)

Two years/Four semesters of Chemistry with Laboratory - 
Note that some schools only require that you complete chemistry through organic regardless of semester hours, while others require the full two years.

Chemistry courses listed below are required by most medical schools and are highly recommended for MCAT competencies:

CHEM 120 General Chemistry (Lab) or CHEM 150 Advanced General Chemistry (Lab)
CHEM 201 Organic Chemistry I (Lab)

CHEM 202 Organic Chemistry II (Lab)

Additional inorganic chemistry courses that will satisfy the fourth semester of chemistry for most schools that require an additional course:

CHEM 210 Solution and Solid State Chemistry (Lab)
CHEM 308 Inorganic Chemistry (Lab)
CHEM 352 Thermodynamics and Kinetics (Lab)

Biochemistry Course - 
Note: This material is represented heavily on the MCAT and is becoming required or highly recommended by most medical schools.  As of now medical schools do not require a laboratory, and some will allow you to replace the fourth semester of General Chemistry with a biochemistry course.

BIOL 236 Biochemistry (Note: This course is offered during Sewanee Summer School and will count in the biology major but not the biochemistry major)
BIOL/CHEM 316 Biochemistry of Metabolism and Molecular Biology (Lab)
BIOL/CHEM 307 Mechanistic Biochemistry (Lab) (Note: This course will satisfy the requirement but will not have as much overlapping content on the MCAT as BIOL 236 or BIOL/CHEM 316)

One year of Physics with Laboratory

PHYS 101 General Physics I and PHYS 102 General Physics II
PHYS 103 Modern Mechanics and PHYS 104 Electric and Magnetic Interactions

Some medical schools also require two semesters of English and a math course at the level of Calculus and/or Statistics. 

Many Sewanee students fulfill the English requirement with the following courses:

  • ENGL 101: Literature and Composition + ENGL XXX
  • HUMN (with GFWI) + ENGL XXX 
  • WRIT courses also are accepted by some medical schools

Recommendations for MCAT2015

The AAMC recommends the same courses that were appropriate for the old MCAT (biology, chemistry (including organic), physics) and four new courses for MCAT2015 (introductory sociology, introductory psychology, introductory biochemistry, and statistics). The courses at Sewanee that best fit these requirements are:

  • BIOLOGY: BIOL 233 Intermediate Cell and Molecular Biology, BIOL 243 Molecular Methods, and BIOL 312/314 Gen. & Human Physiology
  • PHYSICS: PHYS 101/102 General Physics I & II or PHYS 103/104 Modern Mechanics & Electric and Magnetic Interactions
  • CHEMISTRY: CHEM 120/150 General Chemistry and CHEM 201/202 Organic Chemistry
  • BIOCHEMISTRY: BIOL 236 (no lab) or BIOL/CHEM 316 Biochemistry of Metabolism and Molecular Biology
  • PSYCHOLOGY: PSYC 100 or PSYC 101
  • SOCIOLOGY: MHUM 110 Introduction to Sociology and Human Health, Anthropology courses are also good for this competency  
  • STATISTICS: STAT 204 Elementary Statistics

What is on the MCAT2015 

Please visit the AAMC which allows you to explore the various topics on the exam.

Success in Pre-Medicine: Plan of Study

The PATH to SUCCESS: The Curriculum and Beyond

There are various pathways through the Sewanee curriculum to meet the academic requirements to apply to medical school. Many students want to matriculate directly from undergraduate to graduate studies, while others choose to take a longer route (see GAP/BRIDGE YEARS). There are also many things to consider besides the curricular requirement in order to be a successful pre-medical student. Some questions to ask as you begin this journey are:

What does it take to be a successful practitioner in the health care industry? What kind of experiences do you need to be able to answer this question for yourself? How will you use these experiences to reflect on your own path to medicine?

How are you going to show the medical school selection committee that you are an excellent applicant? What programs, activities, and service work are you going to engage in? What are your academic goals? How are you going to manage your time to be successful both inside and outside the classroom?

Should you be a doctor? Can you articulate why you want to be in this field and what characteristics you have that will be beneficial? Can you show sustained interest in this profession through your activities and service to others? 

DIRECT MATRICULATION (Sewanee to Medical School)
Students intending to matriculate directly from Sewanee are strongly encouraged to start their chemistry sequence (CHEM 120 or CHEM 150, CHEM 201, and CHEM 202) as early as possible, preferably in their freshman fall semester (if they had a strong chemistry and math background in high school). Biology (BIOL 133) should be taken no later than sophomore fall semester, but ideally should be taken during the freshman year, followed by BIOL 233 and then two additional biology courses with laboratory. Please see course requirements for more information about additional required courses and details about biology course offerings suitable for medical school and MCAT competencies. 

GAP/BRIDGE YEARS (Sewanee and 1+ yrs. then Medical School)
The Association of American Medical Colleges has recommendations about making the most out of your gap/bridge year. Medical school applicants' average age at matriculation is 24 years (AMCAS), thus the trend toward students taking bridge year(s) is becoming more common. These additional years allow students to gain valuable experiences, leadership skills, and potentially improved GPAs and test scores. More information can be found here

If you are interested in bridge year(s), you may extend your required courses into your senior year and beyond, if necessary. Students at Sewanee who begin the pre-medical path by their sophomore year generally complete all required courses by their senior year. If you choose to study abroad and/or decide after your sophomore year, you may need to take coursework in the summer, take more than 16 credit hours per semester, or seek courses after graduation.

The length of time you are bridging between Sewanee and medical school will determine when you need to take the MCAT and apply to medical school. It is recommended that you apply in June the year before you intend to matriculate to medical school. 

MCAT Preparation

The MCAT exam has four test sections (learn more here):

  • Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
  • Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
  • Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior
  • Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills

The new MCAT re-designed in 2015 represents a new way of thinking in terms of standardized exams (sample exam questions). There is a greater emphasis on critical thinking skills and scenarios that represent current medical research. Students will be expected to analyze and draw conclusions from data represented in graphs and tables. Thus, a strong laboratory and research background will greatly aid pre-medical students in topics of science literacy and data analysis; along with a good understanding of basic statistics. Learn more here

Supplement content review and practice questions with readings from the biomedical literature. I recommend that students read one or two journal articles per week during their prep period to gain more insight into how medical experiments are designed, implemented and ultimately analyzed. Focus on understanding these central concepts, rather than the minutiae of the articles. -US News and World Reports, Anubodh Varshney, MD

It is strongly recommended that students plan to spend a significant portion of the semester prior to taking the MCAT doing MCAT prep (often students who have AP credits or additional coursework will under-load this semester, particularly if they are taking a formal MCAT prep course. However, the option of under-loading should be discussed fully with your major advisor as each student's academic needs are unique. The MCAT should be taken in April or May (latest June) as the Director and Chair of the Health Professions Advisory Committee strongly encourage you to submit a competitive application to AMCAS in early June. 

Sewanee has partnered with Kaplan to bring a certified Kaplan instructor to Sewanee. This MCAT instructor will teach Kaplan’s MCAT Prep – In Person PLUS course on Sewanee’s campus throughout the academic year. This program provides both classroom instruction and individual coaching. It includes 516 instructional and practice hours; 12 practice tests; 3 hours of individual sessions with your MCAT Coach; personalized coaching aimed at time management and the development of your optimal study plan; The MCAT Channel; 130 Science Review interactive videos; insight into the medical school admissions process; and two online courses (valued at $499 each) covering the foundations of psychology, sociology, and biochemistry.

Information about how to register for the Sewanee Kaplan course:

Please register here and submit payment here. Registration is $1800 for Sewanee students and is due Oct. 1st. You will receive online access and your study books in October to begin to prepare for the MCAT. Classes will meet mid-October to early March. You will have “homework” in between classes online and will be expected to keep up and attend ALL classes. You will continue to have access to practice MCAT exams and Kaplan web content until you take your exam in April/May (recommended for 2019 applicants).

Please know that Sewanee students are getting up to a $1500 discount for this program. There are also limited scholarships for financial aid for qualified pre-medical students that display a commitment to the pre-medical program and who demonstrate significant financial need.  To apply for a scholarship please fill out the registration form (link above as well) by Sept. 15th. The scholarship will pay $1000 of the $1800 fee; thus the scholarship recipient is still responsible for $800 of the course fee.  We also have one full fee ($1800) scholarship available.  Payment is due for scholarship students October 1st. (News about awards will be sent by Sept. 20th).

Please note this course is recommended for students intending to take the MCAT exam in April/May 2018. You can sign up for the MCAT here (NOTE: the 2019 testing dates might not be up yet). Typically these would be junior and senior Sewanee students. Scores are generally accepted for 3 years. If you are applying for the 2019 cycle, you will want to complete your MCAT in April/May and apply by June 1st (AMCAS application cycle for 2019 will open in early May).   

Look for questions on the screens outside the Office of Medical and Health Programs, or sign up to receive a link to the daily question. Each correct response earns you an entry into a weekly drawing for a Stirling’s gift card. On weekends you can earn up to 5 entries by answering the Super Question, a passage-based question set. 

Register to receive emails about MCAT preparation.

Good MCAT prep resources include:



Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO)

Licensed physicians in the United States are either Doctors of Medicine (MDs) or Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine (DOs). While the majority of physicians are MDs, the number of DOs is growing. Students preparing to apply to these programs follow the same undergraduate pathway. You will take the same courses, prepare for and take the MCAT, and earn your bachelor’s degree. Both sets of students will attend medical school for four years followed by a residency. MDs and DOs can both choose any specialty. The difference between the two degrees lies in the approach to medicine. The approach of osteopathic medicine is focused on the whole person and involves training in osteopathic manipulative medicine in addition to training in typical areas. To learn more about osteopathic medicine, visit the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine’s website.  

Many Sewanee students have attended VCOM (the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine) and LMU-DCOM (Lincoln Memorial University-DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine), among other osteopathic schools. Cortney Booth, C’12 and current LMU-DCOM student, describes her decision to attend a DO program on the OMHP blog.

Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM)

Podiatrists treat the lower extremity, meaning the foot and ankle. All podiatrists are trained in surgery, although the degree to which they practice surgery varies. The terms podiatrist, podiatric surgeon, and podiatric physician all refer to individuals who have earned Doctors of Podiatric Medicine (DPMs). Podiatrists can choose to become board certified in specialties like orthopedics and surgery, and many podiatrists practice in subspecialty areas such as diabetic foot care, pediatric podiatry, and sports medicine. Like MDs and DOs, podiatrists attend medical school for four years followed by a residency program.

There are nine accredited podiatric medical colleges in the United States. Students preparing to apply to DPM schools will follow a similar pathway to those applying to MD and DO programs and will be required to sit for the MCAT. Applicants should be sure to check the prerequisites for the schools to which they are applying. While in many cases the required courses will be identical to those of MD and DO programs, nearly half of podiatry schools also recommend histology, anatomy, and physiology. Some schools recommend additional courses such as immunology, medical terminology, or an extra laboratory course in biology. DPM applicants should be sure that they demonstrate preparation for a career in podiatry. To learn more about careers in podiatry, explore websites of the American Podiatric Medical Association and the  American Association of Colleges of Podiatric Medicine.

Gap Year Opportunities

The Association of American Medical Colleges has recommendations about making the most out of your gap year. Medical school applicants' average age at matriculation is 24 years (AMCAS), thus the trend toward students taking bridge year(s) is becoming more common. These additional years allow students to gain valuable experiences, leadership skills, and potentially improved GPAs and test scores. More information can be found here. There is a myriad of options for your gap year; below are a few opportunities from individuals who are especially interested in Sewanee applicants.

Church Health Scholars Program
The Church Health Scholars Program is a service learning program for young professionals who are interested in serving the underserved in medical and public health fields. The program aims to promote learning through pairing service-based experiences with academic theory, theology, and personal reflection. If you are interested, apply here. The priority application deadline is February 10, 2020.

Research Technologist at St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital
Dr. Charles Roberts, the Director of the St. Jude Comprehensive Cancer Center, is looking for strong candidates who are intellectually engaged and excited about the molecular and cellular biology of cancer. Research in the Roberts lab centers on chromatin-modifying proteins with a major focus on the SWI/SNF (BAF) chromatin remodeling/tumor suppressor complex and its relationship to cancers. Recent studies have revealed that genes encoding subunits of the SWI/SNF complex are mutated in over 20% of all cancers, a rate approaching that of p53, making this the most frequently mutated chromatin regulator in human malignancies.

We aim to discover the mechanism by which SWI/SNF complex contributes to the regulation of gene expression and lineage specification, and the mechanisms by which mutation of the tumor suppressor subunits drive cancer formation.  We also seek to identify specific vulnerabilities that are conferred by SWI/SNF mutation with the goal of identifying and pursuing novel therapeutic opportunities.

We are seeking a highly motivated individual with an interest in biomedical research. The ideal applicant will utilize state-of-the-art techniques in genetics, molecular biology, and cell biology to characterize in vitro and in vivo models of human diseases with a particular focus upon chromatin biology and its relationship to aggressive cancers. 

Apply on Handshake. Note: This position requires a two-year commitment. Kendall Wills, C'19 is currently employed in the lab.

Allergy and Immunology Clinic
Dr. Joe LaRussa
 would like to hire one graduating senior who is doing a gap year or two before graduate school - those considering medicine, nursing, or PA are ideal for this experience. He runs a pediatric allergy and immunology clinic. You will be doing triage, patient education, mixing allergy formulas, conducting skin tests, and administering shots. He is one of the few doctors in the south who treats children with peanut and food allergies by exposing them to small doses of the substances to create long term tolerance; you will assist with this part of his practice as well.

The job is for one year, beginning in June (dates flexible). Currently Natalie Javadi, C'19 is working for Dr. LaRussa.

Apply by March 12th if you wish to be considered. 


Succeeding in the pre-health curriculum
The pre-health curriculum consists of a diverse array of coursework, much in the STEM fields. These courses are often extremely rigorous in order to provide students with the background skills and knowledge they need to succeed in health care fields. The Office of Medical and Health Programs (OMHP), partnering with the Sewanee Health Professions Society (SHPS), provides both leadership development opportunities for students interested in tutoring and one-on-one peer tutoring for students seeking tutoring. All peer tutors have not only succeeded in the courses in which they tutor, but they have also been shown to be good teachers and mentors.

For the academic year 2018-2019 the student leader of this program is Gil Horner.  If you have questions please refer them to Gil or Assistant Director Cynthia Gray.  

Those applying to be tutors need to fill out forms with Human Resources after being given approval from the Office of Medical and Health Programs. Time sheets also need turned in at a timely manner.

Those who have a tutor may be asked to evaluate their experience so we may provide the best mentorship and tutoring program for students. 

Apply to be a tutor.

Request a tutor.