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Pre-medical Program


Pre-medical students at PSU are those who wish to become allopathic physicians (MDs) or osteopathic physicians (DOs). Allopathic (MD) and osteopathic (DO) physicians have the same rights and responsibilities in all 50 states and their training is very similar. Allopathic medicine is rooted in the practice of using treatment and remedies (e.g. medication, surgery) to reverse the effects of illness and disease. However, today’s allopathic physicians also typically use a preventive approach to medicine, emphasizing health promotion and disease prevention. Osteopathic medicine is rooted in a holistic philosophy with an emphasis on viewing the patient as a whole (mind, body, spirit) and understanding the way that structure influences function in the body. Like allopathic physicians, osteopathic physicians utilize remedies such as medication and surgery to reverse the effects of illness and disease; however, they are also trained in Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine (OMM) -- manual manipulation of the musculoskeletal system.

There are two medical schools in Oregon – Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine in Portland (allopathic) and Western University of Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific Northwest in Lebanon (osteopathic). It is common for pre-medical students to apply to these schools and others across the nation. See the "Student Success" section for more information and check out this recent success story!

Portland State offers a strong pre-medical program wherein students complete their prerequisite coursework, earn a baccalaureate degree, and obtain extensive assistance with the medical school preparation, selection, and application process. The PSU Pre-Medical Program is not a major or certificate. In addition to completing prerequisites for medical school, pre-med students must complete requirements for the major of their choice as well as general education (University Studies or University Honors) and other graduation requirements.

In addition to the prerequisite coursework for medical school, PSU offers elective courses that are specific to medicine such as Introduction to Pre-Medical Studies (CH 199), The Art of Being a Physician (ASC 399), Introduction to Osteopathic Medicine (ASC 399), Biomedical Ethics (PHL 481-483), Philosophy of Medicine (PHL 318U), and more.

Academic Advising & Choosing a Major:

How Advising Works: Pre-medical students at PSU have two advisers – their pre-medical adviser in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences (CLAS) Advising Center (503-725-3822), and a major adviser in their major department.  Pre-medical students are expected to meet with their pre-medical adviser in the CLAS Advising Center regularly and they are expected to meet with their major adviser as needed or as required by their major department. If a pre-medical student selects an Interdisciplinary Major such as Science, he/she will have just one adviser, as pre-medical advisers are also advisers for Interdisciplinary majors.

Choosing a Major: Pre-medical students can select any major from those available at PSU (majors and minors are listed in the “Programs of Study” section of the PSU Bulletin/Catalog). Medical schools do not prefer one major over another; they simply look for broadly educated individuals who perform well in the sciences. Pre-medical students at PSU represent a wide variety of majors, ranging from Biology to Psychology to Science to English to Health Studies: Health Sciences and more.

Undecided About Your Major? Pre-medical students who have not yet selected a major will simply have one adviser (their pre-medical adviser in the CLAS Advising Center) until they select a major, at which point they will have two advisers (the pre-medical adviser and the major adviser). Selection of the major is a topic that pre-medical advisers are happy to discuss with students.

Scheduling an Advising Appointment: To schedule an appointment with a pre-medical adviser, call the CLAS Advising Center at 503-725-3822. Call a few weeks in advance of when you would like to have your appointment so that you are more likely to get the day and time that you desire. Once you meet with a pre-medical adviser, continue to schedule your appointments with that same adviser for relationship development as well as continuity and efficiency.

Drop-in Advising: Drop-in advising hours are available for quick questions, urgent needs, introductions, and short-term planning. See the Drop-in Advising Schedule for pre-medical drop-in advising hours (look for hours for Melissa Yates, Kimberly Felipe, or Liz Shatzer).

What Do Pre-Medical Advisers Do?

Advisers work with you in one-on-one and group settings to facilitate the following:

  • Strategic course planning
  • Informed, proactive preparation
  • Integration of personal, academic, & career goals
  • Ability to evaluate options & make decisions
  • Awareness of available resources

Advisers can help you develop academic plans, understand what makes a competitive medical school candidate, and evaluate your progress in these areas. They can share ideas about where you might want to volunteer or how you can learn more about organizations you might get involved in at PSU and locally. They can serve as a sounding board when you have tough decisions to make or stressful situations at hand and can help you determine how to proceed when you are experiencing academic difficulty. They are also there to encourage you and celebrate your successes with you.

In addition to drop-in advising and advising appointments, pre-medical advisers facilitate group seminars and workshops on topics such as Preparing for Admission to Medical School, the Health Sciences Advising Letter Service, and the Medical School Application. Pre-medical students are also required to attend a Self-Evaluation Workshop as they near their application year in order to identify their strengths and areas for growth and develop a plan of action for the future.