Exploring Medical Professions

Click on the Medical Professions below to see more details, including career paths, education requirements, coursework suggestions, application procedures and more.

Allopathic Medicine (MD)

Allopathic Medicine

Examine patients and obtain medical histories, and order, perform, and interpret diagnostic tests.

Counsel patients about illness, injuries, health conditions, and preventive health care. You will be licensed to practice in your trained specialty, such as:

  • Internal Medicine
  • Surgery
  • Pediatrics
  • Cardiology
  • Psychiatry

Education

Medical school is a four-year program, leading to a doctoral degree. After medical school, you must apply for—and gain acceptance to—a residency program to train in a specialty area. Depending on the specialty, residency programs may last two to five years or more.

Premedical Coursework

Most medical schools require the following courses for admission:

Course

NAU equivalent

Biology with labs 

BIO 181 and BIO 182

Physics with labs

PHY 111 and PHY 112

Chemistry with labs

CHM 151 and CHM 152

Organic Chemistry with labs

CHM 235 and CHM 238

Biochemistry

CHM 360 or CHM 461

English*     ENG 105 and ENG 205

Requirements may vary, so check individual schools for specific information. You may also consider taking PSY 101 and SOC 101 to aid in preparation for the MCAT 2015. 

*NAU requires one semester of English (ENG 105), but ENG 205 may be taken if needed. Please check with your program to see if one year/two semesters of English is required.  

The admissions committees consider the following when deciding to admit you to their program:

  • cumulative and science grade point average
  • course loads per term
  • number of advanced courses
  • score on the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), typically taken the spring or summer after the junior year
  • letters of recommendation, both from individuals and from the Premedical Professions Committee   
  • clinical experience, through volunteer or paid positions
  • community service and other extracurricular activities
  • your interview

 Application Process

Medical schools participate in the Association of American Medical Colleges application service.

More Information

Find more information with these links:

Athletic Training

Athletic Training

Certified athletic trainers are highly qualified health professionals who are trained in preventing, recognizing, managing, and rehabilitating injuries that result from physical activity. Athletic trainers can help you avoid unnecessary medical treatment and disruption of normal daily life; if you're injured, they are trained to work with your healthcare provider to get you on the mend and keep you on the move. 

As part of a complete healthcare team, the certified athletic trainer works under the direction of a physician and in cooperation with other healthcare professionals, athletics administrators, coaches and parents. The certified athletic trainer gets to know each patient/client individually and can treat injuries more effectively.

Athletic trainers work in a variety of different professional settings, including:

  • Professional & Collegiate sports
  • Secondary & Intermediate schools
  • Sports medicine clinics
  • Hospital ER & rehab clinics
  • Occupational settings
  • Performing Arts
  • Law Enforcement and Military 
  • Physician offices

Education

At Northern Arizona University Athletic training is a two year master’s program 

Pre- Athletic Training coursework

The NAU master’s program requires the following courses for admissions: 

Course

NAU equivalent

Introduction to Athletic Training

AT 200

Emergency Care and CPR

AT 229

Health Principles

HS 200

Human Anatomy with labs     

BIO 201 and BIO 202

Physics with lab

PHY 111

Psychology

PSY 101

Human Nutrition

NTS 135 or higher

Exercise Physiology with lab

BIO 338 

Kinesiology

BIO 334

Statistics   
STA 270

Requirements may vary, so check individual schools for specific information.

Application Process

To find an accredited athletic training program, search for schools that provide training for this career . You will want to research different Athletic Training programs for specific application processes. Apply to the NAU program through the graduate college .

More Information

Check out the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE). 

Chiropractic

Chiropractic

Chiropractors focus on the body’s ability to heal without drugs or surgery. 

Chiropractic care treats:

  • Backaches
  • Sciatica
  • Whiplash
  • Disc Problems
  • Functional disorders involving organs and internal glands

You will diagnose abnormalities in the musculoskeletal relationships of the vertebrae, and then manipulate or adjust all articulations of the body. This reduces or minimizes the effects of acute trauma or chronic biomechanical instability, and helps the nervous system function optimally.

Education

The Chiropractic curriculum is four years long, leading to a Doctor of Chiropractic degree (DC).

Pre-Chiropractic coursework

Common requirements for chiropractic programs are included below:

Course

NAU equivalent

Biology with labs 

BIO 181 and BIO 182

Physics with labs

PHY 111 and PHY 112

Chemistry with labs

CHM 151 and CHM 152

Organic Chemistry with labs

CHM 235 and CHM 238

English

ENG 105 and ENG 205

Humanities and Social Science (15 credits)

HUM, PSY, SOC, POS, ANT

Psychology

PSY 101

Requirements may vary, so check individual schools for specific information.

Application Process 

Chiropractic programs participate in the Chiropractic College Application Service

More Information

Look at the Association of Chiropractic Colleges for more detailed information on chiropractic programs.

Dentistry

Dentistry

Dentists treat people—not just teeth and mouths.

You’ll interact with people of all ages, cultures, and personalities. You might even be the first health care professional to recognize and identify a wide variety of diseases, ranging from hypertension to cancer. You will also:

  • diagnose and treat problems affecting the teeth, gingival tissue, tongue, lips and jaws
  • improve patients' appearance by using a wide variety of cosmetic dental procedures
  • perform trauma surgery, implants, tissue grafts, and laser surgery
  • teach good habits for good health by educating patients, as well as the general public, on oral health and disease prevention

Education

The length of educational training beyond high school is generally 8 years, including (a) a bachelor's degree, and (b) four years of dental school. Some dental schools consider individuals without a bachelor's degree, if they have completed a minimum of two years of full-time college study. However, preference is given to candidates who have a college degree by the time they enter dental school.

Pre-Dental Coursework

Most dental schools require the following courses for admission: 

Course

NAU equivalent

Biology with labs 

BIO 181 and BIO 182

Physics with labs

PHY 111 and PHY 112

Chemistry with labs

CHM 151 and CHM 152

Organic Chemistry with labs

CHM 235 and CHM 238

EnglishENG 105 and ENG 205

Any courses that help develop dexterity of the hand are recommended. An example would be sculpture (ART 181). Check with individual schools for specific information.

Requirements may vary, so check individual schools for specific information.

Application Process

Most dental schools participate in the centralized application service through the Associated American Dental School Application Service.

More Information

For more information, visit the American Dental Association.

Naturopathic Medicine

Naturopathic Medicine

Naturopathic medicine is the art, science, and practice of diagnosing and treating people and preventing disease naturally. 

You will combine modern science with ancient healing wisdom to benefit each individual patient. You will identify diseases, with the understanding that it is dynamic.  

The scope of a naturopathic practice varies from state to state, depending on current law. A naturopath may diagnose and treat patients for both acute and chronic conditions.

Treatment may include, but is not limited to:

  • Nutrition
  • Botanical medicine
  • Naturopathic Manipulative Therapy (NMT)
  • Acupuncture
  • Homeopathy
  • Mind-body
  • Natural childbirth
  • Minor surgery
  • Natural and synthetic prescriptions

Education

You will study the basic sciences, similar to conventional medical school. This includes:

  • laboratory diagnosis
  • psychological assessment and counseling
  • clinical and physical diagnosis
  • natural and pharmacological therapies

Even if you do little or no prescribing, it is crucial to have knowledge of pharmacology and pharmaceuticals, because you will see many patients who use them.

Pre-Naturopathic Coursework

Most naturopathic medical schools require the following courses for admission: 

Course

NAU equivalent

Biology with labs 

BIO 181 and BIO 182

Physics with labs

PHY 111 and PHY 112

Chemistry with labs

CHM 151 and CHM 152

Organic Chemistry with labs

CHM 235 and CHM 238

Math

MAT 125

Psychology

PSY 101

English     ENG 105 and ENG 205

Requirements may vary, so check individual schools for specific information.

Application Process

Most naturopathic medical programs participate in the Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine Centralized Application Service.

More Information

Read more information on naturopathic medicine:

Occupational Therapy

Occupational Therapy

Help patients with mental, physical, developmental, or emotional disabilities to develop or re-learn functional, day-to-day activities so they can be independent at home, school, work, or in the community. 

You’ll evaluate your patient's performance in self-care, work, and leisure activities, and help your patient adapt or adjust.

Treatment may include:

  • personal self-care
  • thinking skills
  • equipment training
  • hand therapy

Education

Occupational therapy programs may be:

  • a four-year bachelor’s degree
  • a two-year master’s degree or certification

Pre- Occupational Therapy Coursework

Prerequisite courses for these programs may include: 

Course

NAU equivalent

Biology with labs 

BIO 181 and BIO 182

Human Anatomy with labs

BIO 201 and BIO 202

Physics with labs

PHY 111 and PHY 112

Chemistry with labs

CHM 151 and CHM 152

Humanities

any two HUM courses

English

ENG 105 and ENG 205

Psychology

PSY 101, PSY 240, and PSY 415

 Requirements may vary, so check individual schools for specific information.

Applying to Occupational Therapy Programs

Apply through the centralized application service for occupational therapy.

More Information

For more information, visit the American Occupational Therapy Association

Optometry

Optometry

As the major providers of primary vision care, you’ll examine your patients’ eyes and prescribe:

  • glasses
  • contact lenses
  • vision therapy
  • aids for low vision
  • therapeutic drugs for specific diseases

Education

Typically, a Doctor of Optometry consists of a four-year undergraduate degree, followed by four years of study at one of the 17 optometry schools in the United States.

Pre-Optometry Coursework

Admission requirements vary depending on the school, so you should carefully review school catalogues. Requirements may include: 

Course

NAU equivalent

Biology with labs 

BIO 181 and BIO 182

Human Anatomy with labs 

BIO 201 and BIO 202

Physics with lab

PHY 111 

Chemistry with labs

CHM 151 and CHM 152 

Organic Chemistry with lab

CHM 235 

English

ENG 105 and ENG 205

Microbiology

BIO 205

Statistics

STA 270 or PSY 230

Math

MAT 136

Biochemistry

CHM 360 or CHM 461

Psychology     PSY 101

 Requirements may vary, so check individual schools for specific information.  

Application Process

Most Optometry programs participate in the Optometry Centralized Application Service.

More Information

Take a look at these other sources for more details:

Osteopathic Medicine (DO)

Osteopathic Medicine (DO)

Osteopathic programs are comparable to allopathic programs, but there is an emphasis on a whole-body approach. You’ll choose specialties that complement this philosophy, including:

  • family medicine
  • internal medicine
  • Pediatrics
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology

Education

Medical school is a four-year program, leading to a doctoral degree. After medical school, you must apply for—and gain acceptance to—a residency program to train in a specialty area. Residency programs last from two to five years or more.

Premedical Coursework

Most Osteopathic medical schools require the following courses for admission: 

Course

NAU equivalent

Biology with labs 

BIO 181 and BIO 182

Physics with labs

PHY 111 and PHY 112

Chemistry with labs

CHM 151 and CHM 152

Organic Chemistry with labs

CHM 235 and CHM 238

Biochemistry

CHM 360 or CHM 461

EnglishENG 105 and ENG 205

Requirements may vary, so check individual schools for specific information. You may also consider taking PSY 101 and SOC 101 to aid in preparation for the MCAT 2015. 

*NAU requires one semester of English (ENG 105); however, ENG 205 may be taken if needed. Please check with your program to see if one year/two semesters of English is required and plan accordingly.  

The admissions committees consider the following when deciding to admit you to their program:

  • cumulative and science grade point average
  • overall trends
  • course loads per term
  • number of advanced courses 
  • score on the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), typically taken the spring or summer after the junior year
  • letters of recommendation, both from individuals and from the Premedical Professions Committee
  • clinical experience through volunteer or paid positions
  • community service and other extracurricular activities
  • your interview 

Applying to Osteopathic Programs

Osteopathic schools participate in the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) online application.

More Information

For more details on this field, visit the American Osteopathic Association

Pharmacy

Pharmacy

Provide patients and health care professionals with crucial medication information.

Your responsibilities include:

  • dispensing medications
  • monitoring patient health and progress
  • educating consumers on the use of prescriptions and over-the-counter medications
  • advising physicians, nurses, and other health professionals on drug decisions
  • providing expertise about the composition of drugs to ensure their purity and strength

Pre-pharmacy coursework

Most pharmacy schools require the following courses for admission:

Course

NAU equivalent

Biology with labs 

BIO 181 and BIO 182

Human Anatomy with labs 

BIO 201 and BIO 202

Physics with labs

PHY 161 and PHY 262

Chemistry with labs

CHM 151 and CHM 152 

Organic Chemistry with labs

CHM 235 and CHM 238

English

ENG 105 and ENG 205

Microbiology with lab

BIO 205 and 205L

Math

MAT 136

Economics

ECO 284 or ECO 285

Public SpeakingCST 111
PsychologyPSY 101

Requirements may vary, so check individual schools for specific information.

Applying for Pharmacy Programs

Most pharmacy schools participate in PharmCas.

More Information

For more information about this field, visit the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy.

Physical Therapy

Physical Therapy

Physical therapists examine, treat, and instruct patients affected by physical disability, movement dysfunction, bodily malfunction, and pain from injury or disease. 

The American Physical Therapy Association certifies these specialties as:

  • Pediatrics
  • Sports Physical Therapy
  • Orthopedics
  • Cardiopulmonary
  • Clinical Electrophysiology
  • Neurology
  • Geriatrics

Education

All accredited physical therapy schools offer degrees at the master's level and above, in accordance with the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education. Check individual schools for specific pre-requisites and other application requirements.

Most physical therapy programs require the following courses for admission: 

Course

NAU equivalent

Human Anatomy with labs 

BIO 201 and BIO 202

Physics with labs

PHY 111 and PHY 112

Chemistry with labs

CHM 151 and CHM 152

Psychology 

PSY 101

Statistics

STA 270 or PSY 230

Abnormal or Developmental Psychology

PSY 415 or PSY 240

 Requirements may vary, so check individual schools for specific information.

Applying to Physical Therapy programs

 Most physical therapy programs participate in the Physical Therapist Centralized Application Service.

More Information

For more information about this field, visit the American Physical Therapy Association.

The Doctoral Degree in Physical Therapy (DPT) offered at Northern Arizona University is a 33-month program.  

Physician Asistant (PA)

 

Physician Assistant (PA)

 

As a Physician Assistant, you’ll practice medicine under a supervising physician. 

Your duties will vary based on training, experience, and state law, and corresponds to the supervising physician’s practice.   

In general, you’ll see many of the same types of patients as the physician, but the more complicated or non-routine cases are referred to the physician. Physician assistants most commonly work in primary care.

Education

The typical physician assistant program is at least two years long, and no residency is required afterward. 

Pre-Physician Assistant Coursework

Most programs require the following prerequisite courses:  

   Course       NAU Equivalent   
General Biology with labsBIO 181 and BIO 182
General Chemistry with labsCHM 151 and CHM 152
Organic Chemistry CHM 235 + 235L and 
CHM 238
Anatomy and Physiology 
with labs
BIO 201 and BIO 202
BiochemistryCHM 360
Microbiology with labBIO 205
EnglishENG 105 and ENG 205
StatisticsSTA 270
PsychologyPSY 101

Social Science      

2-4 courses from PSY, SOC, 
HUM, ANT, ECO, PHI, 
HIS, ES, POS disciplines

 The NAU PA program is a 24 month long program minimum. Additional requirements include 500 hours of health care experience, with no more than 20 hours of shadowing experience are counted toward the 500 hours. Both volunteer and paid experiences are acceptable.

Note: Again, prerequisites for PA programs vary greatly from school to school. It is very important that applicants research each program to find specific application requirements.

Applying to a Physician Assistant Program

Most programs participate in the Central Application Service for Physician Assistants.

More Information

For more information about this field, visit the American Academy of Physician Assistants.

Podiatry

Podiatry

Specialize in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of conditions affecting the human foot, ankle, and related structures. 

As a Podiatrist, you will also:

  • make independent judgments
  • utilize x-rays and laboratory tests for diagnostic purposes
  • prescribe medications
  • order physical therapy
  • set fractures
  • perform surgeries

The work hours of most podiatric physicians are significantly more flexible than those of other medical professions. Use ExploreHealthCareers.org to learn more about the job outlook for podiatrists.

Certified podiatric specialties include:

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics
  • Biomechanics
  • Primary medicine
  • Sports Medicine
  • Pediatrics
  • Dermatology
  • Radiology
  • Geriatrics
  • Diabetic foot care 

Education

There are seven podiatry schools in the United States. Most require at least three years—or 90 credits—of undergraduate coursework.

Pre-Podiatry coursework

Most podiatry programs require the following courses for admission: 

Course

NAU equivalent

Biology with labs 

BIO 181 and BIO 182

Physics with labs

PHY 111 and PHY 112

Chemistry with labs

CHM 151 and CHM 152

Organic Chemistry with labs

CHM 235 and CHM 238

English

ENG 105 and ENG 205

 Requirements may vary, so check individual schools for specific information.

Applying to a Podiatry Program

Check with individual schools for admission requirements or look at the American Association of Colleges of Podiatric Medicine.

More Information

For more information about this field, visit the American Podiatric Medical Association.

Veterinary Medicine

Veterinary Medicine

Make a career out of your love for animals. 

Veterinarians treat ill and injured animals, from family pets to zoo inhabitants, and from the agricultural setting to the wildlife realm.

While most operate in private practice, there is a growing need for veterinarians who have completed specialized training in areas such as:

  • molecular biology
  • laboratory animal medicine
  • toxicology
  • immunology
  • diagnostic pathology
  • environmental medicine

Education

The Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree is awarded after four years of study. Most students admitted to veterinary programs hold an undergraduate degree from a four-year institution. Hands-on experience working with animals is highly recommended.

The prerequisite courses for veterinary school admission vary slightly from school to school, so check with each school for exact requirements.

Pre-Veterinary Coursework

Most Veterinary schools require the following prerequisite coursework: 

Course

NAU equivalent

Biology with labs 

BIO 181 and BIO 182

Chemistry with labs

CHM 151 and CHM 152

Organic Chemistry with labs

CHM 235 and CHM 238

BiochemistryCHM 360 or CHM 461
PhysicsPHY 111 and PHY 112
EnglishENG 105 and ENG 205
Math and StatsMAT 125, MAT 136, 
or STA 270

Requirements may vary, so check individual schools for specific information.

Applying to Veterinary Programs

The Veterinary Medical College Application Service is the central distribution, collection, and processing service for applications to the veterinary medical colleges.

More Information

For more information about this field, visit the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges.

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