Health Professions Specific Disciplines

Dental Medicine | Osteopathic, Podiatric, Chiropractic, Naturopathic, & East Asian Medicine
Physician Assistant/Nurse Pracitioner | Veterinary Medicine

Dental Medicine

Academic preparation for dental school includes the same courses as those required for medicine, with the addition (at some schools) of psychology and/or comparative anatomy.  The American Dental Education Association (ADEA) publishes an annual Official Guide to Dental Schools that provides a thorough overview of the options for dental education, admission requirements, and various career paths.  The ADEA also has a comprehensive website with links to individual dental schools in the US and Canada, special interest groups within the profession, and practice options.  The American Dental Association Web site has information about AADSAS (Associated American Dental Schools Application Service) and the DAT (Dental School Admission Test), which is required for admission to dental schools.  The DAT includes sections on biology, chemistry, reading and mathematics, and a section that assesses spatial perception.  Spatial perceptual abilities are highly valued by most dental school admissions committee in considering a candidate's aptitude for dentistry.

Osteopathic, Podiatric, Chiropractic, Naturopathic, and East Asian Medicine

What is commonly referred to as "medical school" is actually one of several medical training options available in the US. Though osteopathic physicians (D.O.s) receive virtually the same training as M.D.'s, their education emphasizes prevention to a greater degree, and they are trained to perform osteopathic manipulation, a technique in which physicians use their hands to aid in the diagnosis and treatment of some illnesses. Doctors of Podiatry specialize in treating problems with feet and often pursue careers in sports medicine or work with the elderly. There is information available in the Career Center library that describes these options in detail.  The following websites are very useful in developing a clear understanding of the differences between various kinds of medical schools and practice models. They will also provide you with links to related resources, such as application services, associations of professional schools, and student associations.

Physician Assistant (PA)/Nurse Practitioner (NP)

While the scope of practice for physician assistants and nurse practitioners is similar, they are based in different philosophical traditions and trained within different curricular models. Physician assistants are trained primarily within the medical model for understanding health and illness and nurse practitioner education focuses on the developing and utilizing a skill set explicitly linking individuals, their environment, and health in a holistic framework that emphasizes prevention and systems theory. Most PA programs are affiliated with a medical school and NP programs are associated with a nursing school.

To enter a PA or an NP program, a BA or BS degree is expected and, often, significant experience in health care settings, including sometimes a documented, required number of hours. Specific pre-requisite courses vary widely, but introductory biology and chemistry with labs and college English and math are standard. Depending on the school and the program, organic chemistry, anatomy and physiology, microbiology, psychology, sociology or anthropology, or statistics may also be required for admission. Both PA and NP programs require the GRE (Graduate Record Examination).

Physician assistant educational programs are often very clinically focused after initial work in the basic sciences and pharmacology and most PA students rotate through clerkships as medical students do in the third year of medical school. Physician assistant training is based on the premise (historically) that their work “extends” that of physicians and most physician assistants become generalists, with some specialization (e.g., surgery, cardiology, internal or emergency medicine) depending on practice setting and experience. Nurse practitioner training involves “advanced practice nursing” core components in physiology, pathology, pharmacology and physical assessment, in addition to study of the health care system, ethics, diversity and social issues, health promotion and research. NPs often  specialize in fields such as pediatrics, psychiatry, women’s health, school health, midwifery (CNM), or oncology.  PAs most commonly are in practice with physicians in office and hospital settings, with some specialty options. Nurse practitioners also collaborate with physicians, but they are licensed in many states to practice entirely independently as primary care providers.

To learn more about both of these health professions, go to the following Web sites:

Persons with a BA should look for “direct entry” graduate level nurse practitioner (MSN) and nurse-midwifery programs. These programs do not require a bachelor’s degree in nursing in order to train as a nurse practitioner or nurse midwife. A list of nurse practitioner programs may be found at here.

A list of direct entry nurse/midwife programs can be found at:

There are also doctoral programs for advanced practice nurses, including the relatively new Dr. of Nursing Practice. The Web site for the American Association of Colleges of Nursing has links to individual member schools and to the wide variety of graduate programs in nursing.

Veterinary Medicine

Requirements for admission to schools of veterinary medicine vary from school to school, and may include courses not offered at Wesleyan. Successful applicants may have to plan their studies to include summer courses such as "Feeds and Feeding" and "Animal Husbandry." Consult available resources in the CRC library and the American Veterinary Medical Association's Web site. You may also find the American Veterinary Medical Association's website a useful resource.

You should attempt to make an appointment to talk with an admissions officer or dean at the veterinary school in your region about your interest in veterinary medicine; most schools encourage pre-admission counseling. Veterinary schools usually require GRE scores.

The candidate's state of residence may play a significant part in the admissions process at colleges of veterinary medicine. Contracts between states in support of resident applicants, the concept of regional veterinary schools with specifically defined territories, and quotas based upon legal residence influence the composition of veterinary school classes and are described in detail in their literature.