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Steven H. Denison, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Biology
Pre-Health Advisor

Eckerd College
4200 54th Avenue South
St. Petersburg, FL 33711

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toll-free: (800) 456-9009
fax: (727) 864-8060



Q & A with Professor Denison

. . . In which Pre-Health Advisor, Prof. Steve Denison answers your most common questions about pre-health.

1. Question:
Now that I have made it to Eckerd, what do I need to be doing?

Congratulations on your matriculation! Now that you have begun your college career, there are a few things you should keep in mind. First, if you have a strong inclination to study a particular major, go ahead and schedule your freshman classes to get started working towards the major. If your desired major is one of the sciences, then you probably will be on track for the math you need. If you have not decided on a major, it is wise to add General Chemistry I to your first semester courses.

Below are three courses that students following a pre-health track are strongly encouraged to take either within or very close to the first semester.

  • General Chemistry I (CH 121N)
  • Calculus I (MA 131)
  • Cells and Genes (BI112N) or Ecology and Evolution (BI111N) if you potentially want to major in Biology

2. Question:
What major is best for a student interested in the health field?

The best major for you depends largely on the schools you wish to attend after Eckerd. Many students prefer to major in one of the sciences due to the large number of science courses they feel they need to perform well on admissions exams. Medical schools typically have a list of prerequisite courses, but do not specify a preferred major. In fact, medical schools value disparate experiences and viewpoints – so pick a challenging major that you will enjoy! Other types of schools may have specific requirements that will affect your choice of a major. If you need to meet with the pre-health advisor to determine which major is best for you, click here to arrange for an appointment. Instead of trying to declare the "correct" major, it is best to choose a major that suits your talents and interests – your college performance and satisfaction will reflect it.

3. Question:
Aside from a strong academic background, what else will I need to do to be a good candidate for medical/dental/veterinary/allied health schools?

Establishing a record of extracurricular activities is essential. You must gain experience in your chosen field as a volunteer, intern, or observer. Eckerd can serve as a good resource for you – especially when you get to know your fellow students. Join the Pre-Health Club to benefit from their experiences and contacts. Click here find out about the Pre-Health Club. Aside from patient-contact experience, you should also find ways to keep yourself active in the community – either on or off campus. Join teams, volunteer organizations, or other forms of employment. You will need to show that you can handle responsibility, and that you care about the world around you. Work with your supervisors for a sufficient time frame to let them know you well. The type of activity you choose is a personal decision, and it should be something genuinely important to you. Remember that schools want well rounded students with real experiences, so pick something to which you can be dedicated. The Center for Career Planning and Applied Learning can help you find positions in many circumstances.

4. Question:
What kind of timeline should I follow?

Click here to see a recommended timeline for a four-year college experience.

5. Question:
Does the pre-health committee agree to support all Eckerd students in their applications?

Answer: Yes, we do. Unlike some larger schools, we do not deny our services to any students who wish to apply to medical, dental, veterinary, or other health related fields. However, "support" does not mean unqualified praise for weak applications. Our letters to admissions committees are honest about your strengths and weaknesses, and about our genuine assessment of you as a candidate for your chosen career. If we feel that your application is not strong, we will tell you. Often we will make recommendations for ways that you can strengthen yourself as a candidate. We want you to achieve your goals, and we will work with you along the way.

Students requesting a letter of evaluation from the Pre-Health Professions Committee must meet with the Pre-Health Committee. These meetings will usually take place in the spring before the summer that the student applies. (This is usually the spring of the junior year.) Please contact Prof. Denison to arrange a meeting with the committee. Prior to the meeting, the student should send the completed Pre-Health Committee Meeting Form to Prof. Denison.

Medical School?

Whether you're thinking of allopathic medicine, veterinary medicine, osteopathic medicine or dentistry, our Pre-Health Program can help put you on your path to medical school and beyond. 63% of all qualified Eckerd students gain acceptance to US allopathic (MD) medical schools.