This semester McMurry has taken preparation for the health professions to a whole new level with a new Pre-Professions (PREP) seminar course. This elective course taught by Dr. Larry Sharp (see BIMS faculty or BIMS contact information for more on Dr. Sharp) is open to any student, and our hope is all those who plan on pursuing acceptance into a health professions program (medical, dental, physical therapy, pharmacy, etc.) will take the four semester sequence of seminars.
So, what’s been going on in the FIRST semester? PREP students have been busy with group projects outlining the different disciplines of interest. Sixteen (16) groups presented PowerPoint lectures illustrating each discipline’s answers to the following questions:
- What (Texas) schools offer your degree specialization?
- What prerequisites are required? (Common and school specific)
- What entrance exam is required? What are the minimums required for scores/GPA?
- What would be a typical “Day in the Life..” for a practitioner?
- What courses would be taken while in the professional school?
- Are internships required prior to application?
- Are there additional courses/fellowships required?
- What is the ratio of applicants versus offered seats?
Students in the PREP seminar class have also started working on their individual personal statements (not an easy task!). Our experience shows statements that express well one’s motivation and convey the strengths and personalities of the applicant often take months and months of drafts and re-writes. A separate blog on the way that has been approached is available at the SNCS website (http://blogs.mcm.edu/sncs/, “PREP Class Working on Personal Statements”).
The PREP seminar also features a full slate of guest speakers during its hour-long weekly meetings. So far this semester, students have heard from the following people:
- McMurry Faculty, Dr Joel Brant – Graduate School opportunities
- McMurry Faculty, Dr. Timothy Renfro – Medical Physics
- US Army Staff Sergeant, Sean Sullivan – Health Professional opportunities/scholarships
- Ross University, Associate Director of Admissions, Tiffany Ciolek
The slate of speakers will continue throughout the spring, as admissions advisors from Texas medical and dental and pharmacy schools come to Abilene to share their processes and expectations with future applicants.
In all these ways, McMurry is pro-actively preparing its students for that moment of truth when all their college experiences are distilled down into readiness for professional school application and matriculation. Preparing the next generation of health professionals is a meticulous and deliberate process improved by the attention of knowledgeable and caring faculty.
Yesterday (Friday the 24th) concluded our third Summer Orientation And Registration (SOAR) session. We had another hundred or so students and their families on campus to learn more about how McMurry works and to set their course schedules for the fall. I got to peak in on registration numbers along the way and noted that we continued to add more students into our first BIMS courses. We are finding about one in ten incoming McMurry freshmen has an interest in BIMS. That makes BIMS one of the most popular and fastest growing majors here.
Some interesting observations so far:
- The number of students in freshman-level science courses overall is high. We have 198 registered for first year and general education Biology/BIMS courses, 51 in CS, 88 in Chemistry, 28 in Geosciences, 254 in Math and 51 in Physics. As these are mostly four-hour lab courses, this represents a significant chunk of the tuition dollars coming from science sources.
- There appear to be about three new BIMS majors for every Biology major, based on the numbers of freshmen in freshman-level courses for these majors. BIMS courses are running around 90% freshmen, while the other biology courses for majors are running about 50% freshmen.
- Enrollment in BIMS 1300 is 50% higher than it was last year. Again, it looks like the Biomedical Science major is catching on!
- There are 31 enrolled in the PREP 1105 seminar. This Pre-Professional preparation seminar helps those early-decision health professions students to get themselves ready for application and entry into professional schools like dentistry, physical therapy, medicine, and pharmacy.
So, it has been a successful summer for enrolling BIMS majors and science students overall. There is still time and space for others to join us, and we expect that our numbers will grow before the first greetings are spoken by Dr. Benoit on August 24th. We are pleased with what we’ve seen so far!
The first of three Summer Orientation And Registration (SOAR) sessions is coming up this week. Over 120 incoming freshmen will come to campus Thursday for two days of introduction to McMurry’s freshman culture, meeting with faculty associated with their chosen majors, and signing up for courses. About 10% of those students will be Biology Department majors. For them, the decisions on course selection will be among three typical freshman sequences: Anatomy & Physiology I for Nursing and Life Science majors; Botany (and possibly Unicellular Organisms) for Biology majors, and Introduction to Scientific Research (and possibly Unicellular Organisms) for BIMS majors.
Those with an interest in a pre-professional field (medicine, dentistry, physical therapy, pharmacy, etc.) will sign up for a new pre-health professions seminar to introduce them to the expectations of professional schools and give them practical experience in doing those things that make a student competitive for the admissions process. Our incoming BIMS students will take Introduction to Scientific Research (ISR) to hone their critical thinking skills as they learn to look at the world, ask important questions, and design experiments to find answers. It is a new world for those whose high school science courses were pretty much “same old, same old” approaches to science. As I’ve explained in earlier posts, BIMS is a refreshingly new approach to teaching science that whets the appetite and engages the mind to learn how life works in new and lasting ways.
More on SOAR in the weeks to come.