Samford University has a long tradition of preparing students for careers in health professions. Major in any discipline and benefit from expert guidance by the health professions advisory committee. The committee will talk with you about your career goals, advise you in your academic choices and help prepare the letter of evaluation required by all professional schools.
We have an active chapter of the Alpha Epsilon Delta Premedical Honor Society, sponsoring service projects, visits to local professional schools, speakers and social events.
To help you pass the MCAT, we offer a preparation course and practice exam every spring, with sessions led by science faculty mentors.
To help you communicate effectively, we offer general instruction in both written and oral communication as well as practice interviews with feedback.
To help you demonstrate a dedication to a life of service, we offer many volunteer opportunities through campus organizations and ministries.
To help you investigate and understand what it means to be a health professional, we offer BIOL 361, a January-term internship through local hospitals that will allow you to shadow physicians and medical students for three weeks (one week in three departments.)
Professional schools are looking for five characteristics in their candidates:
Professional schools in the health sciences want students who can survive the rigors of their programs. The evidence for this is a solid GPA (3.5+), both overall and BCPM (Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Math). With a high undergraduate GPA in a rigorous curriculum, professional schools will feel confident that the candidate is capable of continuing to fare well academically.
Samford University offers rigorous programs in math and science designed to prepare students for a variety of professional graduate programs and provide a solid foundation to a liberal education.
Professional schools want to know that you will be capable of passing the requisite licensure exams post graduation. Entrance exam test scores provide admission committees with evidence that you are capable of performing well on standardized exams.
The Alpha Epsilon Delta chapter for Samford University organizes a low cost ($50 + $25/exam) MCAT prep course every spring. Our predental students report that our MCAT prep course serves them well for DAT preparation. The study sessions are taught by full-time faculty who volunteer their time to support our students.
GPA and exam score will typically secure an interview for medical school. The interview will largely determine who does and does not get into medical school. In the interview, admission committees will be looking for evidence of the following:
Health professionals must communicate well with a wide variety of people: patients, nurses, staff, colleagues and administrators. Therefore, it is imperative that potential health professionals demonstrate excellent written and oral communication skills. Your personal statement in your application, your essay score from the entrance exam and all other written communication (including emails) will be used as evidence of your writing skills. Your oral communication skills will be on display during your interview.
Samford University offers excellent instruction in both written and oral communication for all students in University Core Communication Arts: UCCA 101 and 102. The prehealth professions advising committee conducts interviews with juniors and seniors to help prepare them for professional school interviews. The Career Development Center tapes mock interviews and advises students regarding professional dress and behavior. These services would cost thousands of dollars through private companies such as Kaplan and Princeton Review; they are provided free of charge to all Samford students.
It is important that prospective students seriously investigate their potential careers. There is no magic formula that a student should shadow X physicians for Y hours. Each candidate needs to make efforts to shadow and/or work in several health care settings so that they can adequately answer questions like:
Samford University offers a January-term internship through local hospitals (BIOL 361). Our students shadow physicians and medical students for three weeks. The students spend one week in three different departments. The best place to start shadowing is through your family physician.
When asked, “why do you want to be a doctor?” most candidates will answer “because I want to help people.” The best way to demonstrate that you want to help people is to help people right now. The professional schools will expect you to demonstrate a dedication to a life of service through volunteer efforts. Those efforts do not necessarily need to be medically related.
Samford University offers myriad volunteer opportunities through campus organizations and ministries. Student organizations all participate in service projects: Greek organizations all have philanthropies; AED volunteers with MPower, a local clinic; Samford University has funded and helped build a number of homes through Habitat for Humanity; service trips are organized every spring over spring break. Through student organizations and service learning in our classes, you will be hard pressed to avoid the volunteer spirit infused throughout our campus.
All professional schools require applicants to have competitive GPA's (generally 3.4 or better), a high score on the entrance test, demonstrated care for others, and experience in the profession (through internships, shadowing, work, or volunteer service).
Though many students major in Biology, Sports Medicine, and Chemistry, there is no single best major to be competitive for professional school. Students should find a major they love and do well in it.
Other courses may be required by specific schools; check their web sites for additional prerequisites. Recommended courses are Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology, Anatomy, Physiology, Genetics, Histology, Embryology, and Microbiology.
Additionally, courses in other departments on campus (Psychology, Sociology, English) may not offer specific information that will aid in preparation for the MCAT or other admissions test, but do offer additional perspectives that will not only help you grow academically, but allow you to become more attractive to professional schools. Students are encouraged to read as much as they can – in all disciplines – to increase their competitiveness for professional school.
Medical Colleges Admissions Testing (MCAT)
The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is a standardized, multiple-choice examination designed to assess problem solving, critical thinking, and writing skills in addition to the examinee's knowledge of science concepts and principles prerequisite to the study of medicine.
Scores are reported in each of the following areas: Verbal Reasoning, Physical Sciences, and Biological Sciences. Fifteen points are possible in each category. A writing sample is also obtained during the test and is scored on a letter scale.
Dental Admissions Test (DAT)
The Dental Admission Test (DAT) is conducted by the American Dental Association (ADA) and has been in operation on a national basis since 1950. The Dental Admission Test is administered on computer on almost any day of the year. The testing program is designed to measure general academic ability, comprehension of scientific information, and perceptual ability. The test consists of four sections: a survey of natural sciences (90 minutes), perceptual ability (60 minutes), reading comprehension (60 minutes), and quantitative reasoning (45 minutes). Scores used in the testing program range from 1 to 30. There are no passing or failing scores; the standard score of 17 typically signifies average performance on a national basis.
Optometry Admission Test (OAT)
The Optometry Admission Test (OAT) is a standardized examination designed to measure general academic ability and comprehension of scientific information. The OAT consists of four tests: Survey of the Natural Sciences (Biology, General Chemistry, and Organic Chemistry), Reading Comprehension, Physics and Quantitative Reasoning. Scores range from 200 to 400 with 300 the national average.
The GRE General Test measures verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, critical thinking, and analytical writing skills that have been acquired over a long period of time and that are not related to any specific field of study. Three scores are reported on the General Test: a verbal reasoning score reported on a 200-800 score scale, in 10-point increments, a quantitative reasoning score reported on a 200-800 score scale, in 10-point increments, and an analytical writing score reported on a 0-6 score scale, in half-point increments.
The GRE Subject Tests gauge undergraduate achievement in eight specific fields of study and can help forecast a candidate's potential for success in graduate school. Each Subject Test is intended for students who have majored in or have extensive background in that specific area. One total score is reported on a 200-990 score scale, in 10-point increments, although the score range for any particular Subject Test is usually smaller. Subscores are reported for the Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology; Biology; and Psychology Tests on a 20-99 score scale, in 1-point increments, although the range for any particular Subject Test subscore is usually smaller.
The General Test is the more commonly accepted test for veterinary schools.
It is important to stay well rounded in spite of your difficult load of classes. Become involved in organizations on-campus and in the community. Students should especially volunteer for service activities through campus and church organizations and keep records of activities (dates, number of hours, responsibilities, etc.).
Professional schools also require clinical and/or research experiences. Below are a few opportunities at and around Samford.
Research Opportunities: Samford Undergraduate Research
Volunteer clinical programs at local Birmingham hospitals:
Alpha Epsilon Delta is a prehealth honor society. Its mission is to provide a friendly environment in which prehealth students at Samford can learn valuable information about their fields, interact with peers, enhance their leadership skills, serve their community, and have a positive impact on Samford University. They fulfill this mission by presenting professional speakers from various fields, service events around Birmingham, providing information from students in the same field, and hosting social events for interaction with other students in the same field. Fellow students help others with their undergraduate studies in areas including test prep, tutoring, volunteering, class and teacher recommendations. Students on a prehealth path are encouraged to attend a meeting and experience the interaction for themselves.
Alpha Epsilon Delta was founded on April 28, 1926 at the University of Alabama. Fifteen premedical students met with Dr. Jack Montgomery, a professor of organic chemistry and the premedical advisor, to further organize the AED honorary fraternity for premedical students. Within a couple of years, other schools began petitioning for a chapter of their own. Today, there are over 185 chapters and over 144,000 members, and still growing.
Shortly after joining the faculty of Howard College as Professor of Biology in the fall semester of 1926, Dr. J. B. Brake called together the premedical students and advised them as to the formation of a scientific club to foster scientific ideals. Within the 1926-27 school year the "Pre-medical Scientific Club" was organized and began to work. Only those students who had a B average and who had completed at least 45 semester hours were eligible for membership.
In 1928, the club petitioned Alpha Epsilon Delta for a charter. The charter was granted by the Grand Council on May 5, 1928, making the Alabama Beta Chapter at Howard College the second oldest chapter in the nation. The chapter was very active and was growing well until World War II. The chapter became almost inactive until it was revived in 1947. Today, the Alabama Beta Chapter at Samford University continues to grow and to help many prehealth students reach their full potential.
Gain at least 15 points, 12 of which must be through AED events and service. Students must have signed proof from the event where they served. Point totals may be achieved through:
I am a senior Sports Medicine [Premed] major with a minor in both Chemistry and Biology. I was able to get involved with Alpha Epsilon Delta the second semester of my freshman year and it has been instrumental in connecting me with resources and peers that have helped shape my college experience. AED has assisted me discover which classes would be beneficial to me as well as provide me information and an environment that has helped fuel my passion for the health field. Outside of school, I am involved with the Children’s of Alabama, MPower Health Center, Big Brother Program, competed as a varsity athlete for Samford, Omicron Delta Kappa Vice President, and served as a Connections Leader at Samford. In my free time I love to go mountain biking and road cycling, do mechanical work on my bikes, attempt another DIY project, or simply spend time with friends.
I am a senior double major in Chemistry and Biochemistry with a double minor in Biology and Bioinformatics. AED has provided me with many opportunities to meet and network with other prehealth students while supplying me with essential MCAT studying materials and application advice. Currently, I am applying to MD/PhD programs and am pursuing a career as a physician scientist. I have conducted research at Samford University, the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), Emory University, and Washington University in St. Louis. Through Samford University, I am also involved in ODK, Howard College Ambassadors, and SMACS (Student Members of the American Chemistry Society). Apart from academia, I enjoy outdoor adventures, lacrosse, and good books!
I am a Junior Biology major with a Psychology minor. I had the opportunity to get involved with AED during my freshman year and it has been a great help. I have already learned about the medical schools in the state of Alabama, and some in the surrounding states, as well as the Dentistry Schools. I also have been given knowledge and skills on how to navigate studying for the MCAT, applying for schools, application dates, internships, even the foundations of a quality application for medical school. The professors with AED connected me with a 3 week internship at Trinity Medical Center in Birmingham, Alabama; this was a chance to shadow a variety of medical professionals each of the three weeks. I also am a member of Beta Beta Beta Biological Honors Society, a Connections Leader, and heavily involved in the Samford Recruitment Team.
I am a senior Biology major with a Spanish minor. AED has really helped me in preparing for medical school, whether it has been learning about medical school prerequisites or listening to current medical students talk about their experiences and application process. On campus, I am the president of Silver Wings, vice president of the Beta Beta Beta biological honors society, member of the Alpha Delta Pi sorority, and a Resident Assistant. I also volunteer at Wolfson Children's Hospital in Jacksonville, FL. In my free time, I enjoy horseback riding, training for a half-marathon, and going to the beach.
I am a senior biochemistry major, pre-med, and music minor. AED has been a wonderful resource. I joined two years ago and have learned so much about medical school, the MCAT, and the application process. It is a great way to not only receive valuable information, but also connect with peers that have the same goals. I am still learning about the application process as I go through it right now, and I look forward to sharing what I have learned. On campus, I am also involved in University Fellow, SMACS (student members of the American Chemical Society), SAC (Student Activities Council), Academic Success Center (chemistry tutor), and A Cappella Choir. I have a passion for music, hiking, reading, and coffee!
James B. Angel has experienced a lot of changes since coming to Samford University in 1984 to chair the kinesiology department, which was then known as the physical education and recreation department. "I was teaching at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., in the exercise science department when I received a call from Dr. Jim Sharman (former chair of Samford's kinesiology department and the department chair at UAB where Angel completed his degree), I decided to apply because Samford University is a Christian school where I could share my faith," he said. He is proud he has had the opportunity to positively influence students' lives for Jesus Christ while helping prepare them for their careers. Even more rewarding is the time when Angel's personal and professional life have overlapped. "I have taught my wife, both daughters, both sons-in-law and now one of my granddaughters," he said.
David Garza grew up in New Orleans, La. He tutored his peers in high school and college, and from 1992 to 1994 served as a high school math and science teacher for the Peace Corps in the Grenadines and St. Vincent. He says that while many of his colleagues in graduate school resented their teaching assistant duties as a requirement for their degree, he loved the time he spent with students. Garza joined Samford's faculty in 1998. His passion for teaching chemistry here relates to to the asking of questions and eventually finding the questions no one has yet answered. He also is thrilled to see chemistry students learn to predict based on knowledge and test knowledge in the lab. “Chemistry bridges the gap between the abstract ideal of theories and practical use,” Garza says.Garza currently teaches General, Organic and Biological Chemistry, Foundations of Chemistry, Fundamentals of Organic Chemistry, Quantitative Chemical Analysis, Inorganic Chemistry, Senior Seminar, all chemistry lab courses, and Scientific Inquiry.Outside of teaching chemistry, Garza is an active outdoorsman with a love of camping, hiking, backpacking and canoeing.
Since coming to Samford in 1993, Dr. Keller has been involved in instituting new methods of teaching science. A leader in the university's problem-based learning initiative, he often uses case studies to help students learn more actively. Following another of his interests, he helped Samford establish a center for the study of science and religion. In the Lab, Dr. Keller has been part of a research group to determine the effects of plant steroids on mitosis in onion root tips.Dr. Keller teaches a variety of courses in the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences and in allied areas, including pharmacy and nursing. These courses encompass the areas of microbiology, immunology, cell biology, general biology, and scientific methods.In addition, Dr. Keller is Assistant Dean of the Howard College of Arts & Sciences. In that capacity, he directs the Samford Undergraduate Research Program, which funds summer research projects that team an undergraduate with faculty researchers. He is also Director of the Alabama Governor's School, a summer enrichment program for rising high school seniors from across the state. And he serves on the Health Professions Advisory Committee, helping Samford's pre-professional students prepare for and apply to medical, dental, veterinary, and optometry schools.Dr. Keller is active in his church choir and has served as a deacon, an elder, and on numerous committees. He has also taught Wednesday night classes in Science and Religion and in Sacred Music. He enjoys sports, reading, traveling, and spending time with his wife, Cindy, and son, George.