By Ryan Baron
Medicine is a highly diverse field, made up of professionals trained to perform exceptionally in their own specific areas.
Starting at KU in the fall 2016, a new Allied Health pre-professional track in the biology major will be offered to better serve the needs of students who aspire to go into healthcare, but not go to medical school to become a physician.
The Allied Health pre-professional track is set up to better suit the needs of students who aspire to be a nurse, physician’s assistant, physical therapist or dentist, among many other careers in the field.
Currently, there are only three pre-professional tracks in the biology major, pre-medicine, micro/molecular/cell biology and organismal biology/ecology. Of these three, none are tailored for students wanting to apply to nursing, physician’s assistant, physical therapy, dental or any other allied health professional school.
Dan Aruscavage, a microbiology professor and co-chair of the Premedical Committee, saw the lack of focus for aspiring allied health professionals and began moving forward to implement this program with the help of the biology department.
“The Allied Health pre-professional track is similar to the pre-medicine track in many regards, but differs in key areas. The Allied Health pre-professional track will require students take anatomy and physiology I & II, a psychology course and only organic chemistry I,” said Aruscavage.
In the current pre-medicine track, students are required to take two semesters of organic chemistry (organic chemistry I & II), which is required for most medical schools. As many allied health professional schools do not require two semesters, the new track will also not require two semesters.
Other major changes form the pre-Medicine track is the requirement of anatomy and physiology I & II and the requirement of a psychology class. Most medical schools do not require an anatomy and physiology course or psychology course as prerequisites, but allied health professional schools do and this new track will meet those needs for students looking to apply.
According to Chris Ferris, secretary of the biology department, there are currently 146 students enrolled on the pre-medicine track at KU. Aruscavage believes that this program will also help boost enrollment at the school, but said that this was not the purpose of starting the program.
“This program wasn’t started to boost enrollment, but I think it will help. It was started to meet the needs of current students seeking admission into allied health programs [schools].”
The biology department currently has no projections of how many students are anticipated to transfer from the pre-medicine track to the allied health track.
Brian Robbins, a junior pre-medicine biology major, said that he wishes this pre-professional track were available when he was a freshman.
“Because I want to be a physical therapist, this track would have helped me a lot. I wouldn’t have had to go take organic II and I wouldn’t have to worry about trying to squeeze anatomy and physiology into my already busy schedule now that I’m going into my senior year,” said Robbins.
Justin Tindull, a freshman pre-medicine biology major at KU, also expressed his support for the new Allied Health track.
“As a freshman, this is great for me because I have yet to get into my serious pre-medicine course requirements. I want to be a physician’s assistant, and the allied health program is much better suited to prepare me to go to physician’s assistant school,” said Tindull.
Current students will be able to transfer into the track at the start of the fall 2016 semester, while applying students can start the track immediately once enrolling at KU.