Health Science Programs

Pre-Health Professional Programs at Shippensburg University

Biology students considering the health professions track have a variety of health professional educational programs and careers available to you. Here you will find information to help you gain a better understanding of these opportunities available to you as a pre-health professional student at Shippensburg University. The majority of students who pursue health professional programs are biology majors; however, some students choose chemistry, psychology, exercise science, or other majors and, with proper advising and course work, can also pursue professional programs in the health sciences.

With the growing population—in particular the large and aging “baby boomer” population—all areas of health care promise strong employment opportunities. People are living longer and are more active in older age than ever before, further adding to the health care needs which must be addressed by a range of health professionals.

You should follow your strengths and interests when choosing a health career. Some health careers are in medical research, others are clinical laboratory positions with minimal patient contact. There are occupations that involve short-duration interaction with patients, whereas other careers provide opportunities for long-term / life-long care of patients. Certain careers require only one year of professional training, and others consist of four-year professional programs followed by several years of residency. Set realistic goals for yourself, but without limiting your opportunities to learn and develop new interests. Determination, perseverance, and diligence are equally important to, if not more important than, intelligence as you work towards your educational and career goals.

Curriculum sheets help advisors guide students through their four-year biology program. Health professions track or clinical sciences track sheets are available for you to review. The left side of the sheet indicates the general education requirements at Ship, and the right side of the sheet indicates the requirements for the Biology/Health Professions track or Biology/Clinical Sciences track. Blank lines on these curriculum sheets should be used for elective courses, which are determined by working with your advisor. 120 credits are required for the BS in Biology degree which averages 15 credits per semester when divided over eight semesters.

Dr. David R. Long serves at the Director of Health Sciences and oversees advisement for the health professional programs. He also advises all the medical technology students and students in the 2+2 programs affiliated with Thomas Jefferson University. Additional faculty with specialties in health science-oriented disciplines such as physiology, immunology, microbiology, cell biology, and genetics also serve as advisors for students who are in the health professions track.

The Health Professions Committee, comprised of faculty from the biology and chemistry departments, provides interviews for students who are in the Biology (or Chemistry) Health Professions track and who are applying to medical, dental, podiatric, optometry, and veterinary programs. These particular professional programs prefer a committee letter of recommendation in lieu of individual letters. The Health Professions Committee interview provides students with interview experience and provides the committee with information that is used to compose the committee letter of reference.

The Biology Department offers a wide assortment of courses in health science-related disciplines and in other areas of biology that help provide students with a good breadth of understanding of the biological sciences while at the same time allowing them to select electives that help prepare them for success in their chosen professional program.

In each of the last several years, approximately 30-35 students matriculated to health professional programs in disciplines such as medicine, veterinary medicine, optometry, dentistry, physical therapy, occupational therapy, respiratory therapy, radiologic sciences, nursing, chiropractic, medical technology, nuclear medicine technology, pathologists' assistant, physician assistant, pharmacy, and others. (See placement record for recent years.) Students who are successful in their course work as biology majors at Shippensburg find they are very well prepared for success in their professional studies.

At Shippensburg University small class sizes foster close faculty to student interaction. Laboratories rarely exceed 18 students and upper-division course lectures typically enroll no more than 20 students. Our faculty take time to know their students, and we encouraged our students to get to know faculty. Students have the opportunity to engage in undergraduate research projects that often are awarded funding through various sources such as the SU Undergraduate Research Fund and the Miklausen-Likar Research Fund. Students in the health professional programs obtain first-hand exposure to health careers by shadowing local care practitioners.  Many of our students have gained volunteer experiences at local hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and other health care sites. Student research and internships may be taken for academic credit, but it is the hands-on experience that provides the greatest reward in academic growth and accomplishment.