Our freshman chemistry course is unusual in that it focuses on organic chemistry. Organic Chemistry Concepts I and II provides a very useful background for further study in upper level biology courses. In addition, those students in fields that require only one year of chemistry will acquire excellent preparation for professional school.
Juniata's courses focus on an interdisciplinary perspective and promote critical thinking, teamwork, and research design. This approach gives our students a valuable edge in preparing for summer research opportunities. It also encourages them to problem-solve together, an indispensable asset for their roles in tomorrow's health care teams.
At Juniata the same science courses serve students in every pre-health professions program, regardless of the field. This leads to rigorous preparation for everyone and fosters an enhanced sense of camaraderie among students interested in diverse health care specialties.
Professors have an "open door policy" and are accessible and committed to helping our students succeed. In addition, we encourage a student ethos of cooperation rather than competition. In that regard, we offer a HOSA chapter on campus, rather than a pre-professional honor society. Students are urged to strive for honor society membership in their academic disciplines, but the Committee felt that an inclusive pre-health organization was most useful for enhancing the values of teamwork and cooperation that are the hallmark of good health care.
The positive experiences that students have during their years at Juniata have led to the cultivation of excellent relationships that last a lifetime, as demonstrated by the many ways that our alums reach out to current students.
Proactive, Individualized Advising
Good advising is crucial for success in gaining admission to professional school. At Juniata we demonstrate the priority we put on advising students in the health professions by:
- Providing a full-time Director of the Program, who is an active member of the National and Northeast Associations of Advisors for the Health Professions. The Director also serves as Health Professions Committee Chair and general advisor for all students in the program.
- Ensuring that students have a Health Professions Committee member to serve as one of their academic advisors in our two advisor system.
- Holding annual group advising meetings for students from each class.
- Ensuring that each health professions student is on an in-house electronic list-server for the distribution of up-to-date and comprehensive information in every health field.
- Offering a special Health Profession resource section of books, admission guides, journals, and CD-ROMs
- Providing a formal progress check for all health professions students following the first semester of their sophomore year
Admission Exam Preparation
Freshmen through junior students are given a Summer Reading Assignment to enhance their verbal reasoning and reading comprehension scores. In the fall there is a follow-up meeting that includes the administration of the verbal portion of the admission exam for which they are preparing. In addition, all students planning to take MCAT, GRE, DAT, OAT, or PCAT exams in a given year are encouraged to participate in our non-credit in-house Prep Course taught by Juniata faculty.
Training in Interview Skills and Personal Statement Writing
Students planning to apply in a given year receive interview training as a group and then are individually interviewed by two members of the Health Professions Committee. Students who need additional training are referred to the Career Services Office, where they can be videotaped and given further guidance. Juniata also holds two Personal Statement Workshops, in which students learn the "ins and outs" of writing a Personal Statement (Workshop I) and then critique each other's statements (Workshop II).
Formal Articulation Agreements with Professional Schools
Juniata offers a wide range of formal articulation agreements, some of which allow for accelerated progression to the professional degree. Students who choose not to accelerate their education still enjoy the advantages of our preferred relationship with these institutions.
Lawrence Johnson Medical Scholarship at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry
This $80,000 scholarship was established by the late Lawrence Johnson, M.D., a graduate of Juniata College and the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. One student is chosen every four years to receive $20,000 annually for the duration of their medical school education. Minimum qualifications are a science and overall GPA of 3.5 and a score of 30 or above on the MCAT.
Introduction to Integrative Medicine
Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is used extensively by patients in the United States. Integrative medicine is an emerging paradigm in health care that combines conventional treatment with CAM modalities. The National Institutes of Health includes a National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, and top medical institutions in the U.S. and Canada have formed a Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine. Naturopathic medicine, a system of health care that focuses on wellness promotion and non-toxic management of chronic conditions, employs CAM modalities exclusively. Graduates of naturopathic medical schools practice nationwide but are not yet licensed in every state.
Although the Juniata College Health Professions Committee does not advocate for a specific philosophy of health care, we encourage our students to explore and critically evaluate CAM and integrative medicine in order to understand the complexity of options in the U.S. health care system and to find the niche that best fits their interests, career goals, and personal philosophy. Toward that end, we offer two courses, ND 290 Issues in Rural Health Care and ND 295 Health Care Rotations, which introduce students to rural medicine from an integrative perspective. Practitioners of conventional and alternative medicine from the local community give presentations in the Issues course and a subset of students shadows these practitioners through the Rotations course. There is an optional field trip to Windber Medical Center, a member of the Planetree Hospital system for integrative care.
Rural Health Care Opportunities
Juniata students have exceptional opportunities to learn about rural health care. In addition to our Rural Health Care classes and our regularly offered internships at Altoona Health System, Geisinger Health System, and with Dr. Terry Eccles in Stafford Spring, Connecticut, we offer an Early Assurance Program with Temple University School of Medicine in which students attend Temple in Philadelphia for the first two years of their medical training and then complete their clinical rotations at Geisinger in rural Danville, Pennsylvania.
We also enjoy excellent working relationships with J.C. Blair Memorial Hospital in Huntingdon and the Southcentral PA AHEC (Area Health Education Center), for which Dr. Debra Kirchhof-Glazier, the Director of the Health Professions Program at Juniata, serves as a Board member.
We are committed to supporting each student in their pursuit of a health professions career, both while they are at Juniata and indefinitely beyond graduation. Placement statistics are only one measure of success. Student readiness for professional school and their ultimate satisfaction with their career choice are even better measures. Although these are difficult to quantify, we consistently receive positive feedback from our graduates that further fuels our passion for challenging and nurturing our pre-professional students.