Prehealth Parent/Guardian Information


Thanks for checking out this webpage geared towards the parents and guardians of our prehealth students! We know that you are important supporters and advisors to your kids, and we appreciate you. Below you will find some relevant topics that may come up in your conversations with your young adult, and which come up in our advising meetings with them as well. We hope this is helpful information.

What has changed in medical school expectations?

A number of our students have a relative who is a physician. This is wonderful for exposing them to the profession and even providing opportunities to network with healthcare professionals. However, it is important to recognize the changes that have occurred in medical school admissions in the past several decades.

  1. In addition to a great GPA and MCAT score, applicants are now expected to have clinical experiences, shadowing, and community service hours on their application. Research is not required but is often an activity our students engage in.
    • 2022 medical matriculants had an average of 1486 research hours and 490 community service hours on their application.
    • Matriculant stats are found on this infographic by the AAMC, but remember that our students are more than their metrics; medical schools do a holistic review of applicants.
  2. As the median matriculant age for medical and PA schools increases (age 23 for 2023), applicants have more experiences and more maturity in their reflections of those experiences, making for a very competitive field!
  3. In keeping with the national trend, in recent years many Pomona College prehealth students have elected to gain additional experience between college and medical school, physician assistant programs, or other health professional programs. For the past three years, only 14% of our applicants have applied after junior year (which is called direct entry) while the rest take 1-2+ glide years.

What is a "glide year"?

You may be more familiar with the term "gap year." Glide years encompass the time between graduation from college and starting graduate school. Keep in mind that the year before matriculation into medical or dental school is also the "application year." Activities during the year may include completing supplemental essays, taking additional exams, interviewing, and sending correspondence to programs. Thus 1 gap year = 1 glide year = the application year.

Keep in mind that students who apply for direct entry to medical schools submit their primary application a few weeks after the end of junior year. This means they will have taken 8-9 premedical courses, studied 300+ hours for and taken the MCAT, and written their medical school application, all while doing well in their courses, engaging in volunteer work, doing a sport or artistic or club activity, etc. While our students are amazing, this load can take a toll on their early college years!

If they apply right after college graduation and are successful at gaining an acceptance to medical school the following July, they will have one gap year. This is NOT the "gap year" that students may take before college. This is a "growth" year in which your student has the opportunity to:

  • immerse oneself in a clinical or research experience
  • if applying to PA school, gain the 1500 hours of healthcare work needed before applying
  • live as an adult, taking care of themselves and paying rent! (or living at home and saving for medical school)
  • take care of themselves or their families
  • have a little downtime before the next 7-10 years of higher education, residency, and fellowship (or PhD if doing an MD-PhD)

What other careers may make my child really successful AND happy?

While most of our prehealth students are focused on obtaining an MD or DO degree and practicing human medicine, others discover a different career path in healthcare to pursue. These may include becoming a physician assistant, nurse, physical therapist, dentist, or veterinarian. Some may discover previously unknown options such as anesthesiologist assistant, podiatrist, genetics counselor or pathologist assistant. Others may branch off into biomedical or clinical lab research, clinical psychology, or a STEM PhD. That’s the beauty of a liberal arts education at a school like Pomona College, where the interests of the students are expanded and nurtured.

Explore careers in healthcare

How can Pomona Prehealth Advising help?

Pomona College has a dedicated Prehealth Advising director, faculty advisor, and staff to help prepare prehealth students for their career in a health-related field. Our support begins the 1st-year on campus and continues through the professional school application process. We provide individual advising, tailored information sessions, workshops, and interview preparation.

Our expertise helps students:

  • Explore different healthcare careers
  • Tailor academic schedules to meet prerequisites of health profession schools
  • Identify research and clinical opportunities to gain insights and experience
  • Navigate professional school applications