Below is information on other health career fields that you may be interested in pursuing. There are also many other health careers that are rewarding and challenging beyond the ones listed below. For more information, see: and talk with your prehealth advisor.

Dentists perform regular maintenance of teeth and oral care but can also specialize in endodontics, oral and maxillofacial surgery-radiology-pathology, orthodontics, periodontics and other specialties. You might combine your degree with a PhD, MBA or MPH. Some dentists set up private practices, others find careers in academic dentistry, dental research, dental public policy, and international health. As a dentist, one has the flexibility to include any or all of these arenas into their career. Dentists can begin to practice as soon as they receive their license, may set up flexible hours, and combine the independence of their own practice with providing important health care. It is a well-regarded and fulfilling health career.


Required courses usually include:

  • 2 semesters of biology with lab
  • 2 semesters of inorganic chemistry with lab
  • 2 semesters of organic chemistry with lab
  • 2 semesters of physics with lab (physics at Duke requires calculus I)
  • 2 semesters of English or English composition

In addition, some schools require or recommend

  • 1 semester of psychology
  • 1 semester of biochemistry
  • 1 semester of statistics
  • Additional courses in biology, microbiology, anatomy/physiology, immunology, etc

Requirements can vary among dental schools so check the dental schools in your home state and any others you might apply to. AP credit may or may not be accepted.


Dental schools will look for knowledge of the dental field, so you should shadow in different specialties (general dentistry, orthodontics, etc.) and locations (general practice, hospitals, community clinics etc). The number of hours recommended for shadowing may range from a minimum of 30 hours to 100 or 200 hours. They will also look for compassion for others, a history of community service or service to others, leadership, and research. Demonstration of activities that develop your manual dexterity will be important. 


The exam is offered most days of the year at various testing centers in the US. It lasts 5 hours and 15 minutes and consists of four parts (natural sciences, perceptual ability, reading comprehension, and quantitative reasoning).  Scores range from 1 to 30 for each section. There is no biochemistry on the exam. For more information see: Dental Admission Test (DAT) 2023 Candidate Guide

One can either request a Committee Letter, which is one letter written by the Pre-Dental Advisor or request three individual letters from Duke faculty that know you well. You will need to request these letters in the in which you apply.

The application services are ADEA AADSAS and TMDSAS. Application can be submitted around June 1 for AADSAS and on May 1 for TMDSAS. Verification of your transcript will take several weeks. You should apply early in the application cycle. The first decisions may be made on December 1.


Join the Duke Predental Society for information and advising first. As you begin to have advanced questions, you can consult with the Pre-Dental Health Professions Advisor Dr. Martha Ann Keels.


Nurses work in health care today in many ways, from basic attention to patients to management, oversight of treatment, and doctoral-level research. Educational pathways include an accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN), a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), and a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). 

  • Coursework and Experience will be determined by the type of degree you plan to pursue and the school(s) you apply to.  A great majority of nursing schools will look for nutrition, microbiology, anatomy and physiology, and human growth and development. Shadowing both nurses and physicians will be helpful in understanding how nurses can function in health care.
  • Application Service: None
  • Resources: American Association of Colleges of Nursing & Discover Nursing


Occupational Therapists are healthcare providers who work with individuals across the lifespan, as well as families, communities and populations, who are in situations that limit their access to and participation in necessary and desired occupations. The term “occupations” refers to anything that people want to do, need to do, or are expected to do. Therapists work in a wide range of settings including community and social care, medical, and education settings. Occupational therapists earn an entry level Masters or Doctorate in Occupational Therapy.

  • Coursework and Experience for OT schools vary greatly. All programs have to meet standards for accreditation but how those standards are met, and what additional opportunities are available beyond the minimum, varies from program to program. OTCAS maintains a current list of available programs and pre-requisites required for each program.
  • Application Service: OTCAS
  • Resources: American Occupational Therapy Association

Health Profession Advisor at Duke: Tomeico Faison, OTR/L

Pharmacists specialize in the use of drugs and medications. They can advise patients, dispense medications in pharmacies and hospitals, and work in research, government offices, pharmaceutical industries, and regulatory affairs. Pharmacists earn a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree.

Health Profession Advisor at Duke: Ms. Mary-Charles Horn


There are over 140 medical schools in the US that offer MD degrees and train physicians. Some offer dual degrees (MD/MBA, MD/MPH, MD/PHD etc.). There are four states (Alaska, Delaware, Montana and Wyoming) that lack a medical school. However, these states participate in a regional education program (WWAMI), where state residents from Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho can attend the University of Washington School of Medicine. The process of training as a physician is a long one. Four years of medical school are followed by residencies, which can range from as few as three years in internal medicine and pediatrics to five or more years in surgery. Medical schools are often referred to as allopathic medical schools because they are considered to use traditional, conventional ways of treating disease with drugs and therapy.


There are also 34 medical schools in the US that offer a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) degree. Osteopathic medical schools initially began with a focus on the manipulation of joints and bones (osteopathic manipulative medicine). Today, however, osteopathic schools train physicians in the same manner as allopathic schools. Physicians with DO degrees are eligible for the same residency positions as those with an MD degree, and are fully-licensed and able to practice throughout the US. Osteopathic schools may still take a broader, holistic view of medicine, focusing on wellness and disease prevention.


Medical School Admissions Requirements (MSAR) - listing and information of all allopathic medical schools in the US (some information is free; other information requires a year's subscription at $28/year or $36 for 2 years).

Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) - website with a variety of information on allopathic medical schools.

American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) - website with a variety of information on osteopathic medical schools.

AACOM's Choose DO Explorer - listing and information of all osteopathic medical schools in the US.

Wikipedia also has a list of all allopathic and osteopathic medical schools, and medical schools being developed.


International students have the ability to apply to medical schools in the U.S., but there are challenges. Only some medical schools in the U.S. will accept international applicants. These schools are usually open to applicants from any state in the U.S., so the number of applicants is very large and the competition is keen. International students are also not eligible for federal financial aid and will need to find their own funding. (Note: international students refer to those here on a visa; students who hold a green card are considered in the same category as a U.S. citizen and are eligible for government loans). Clark University maintains a list of medical schools that accept international students. 

International students can complete their degree at Duke and then apply to medical schools outside of the U.S. These schools include the Medical School for International Health at Ben-Gurion University in Israel (affiliated with Columbia), Oxford and Cambridge in England, Poznan in Poland, St. George's in London, Atlantic Bridge in Ireland, in Australia, and at Duke NUS in Singapore. For Canadian citizens, application to Canadian medical schools is possible, but difficult, and the timeline and assessment of candidacy are different. If you are from Canada, we recommend you talk with prehealth advisor Brittany Morhac as an upperclassmen. 

Physician Assistants/Physician Associates are health care providers who work under a licensed physician, but often will diagnose and treat patients with great autonomy and responsibility. They can work in primary care, medical specialties, and in hospitals, clinics and rural areas. Physician Assistants complete a Masters Degree.

  • Coursework and Experience varies by program. Although you will most likely need courses in general chemistry, biology (including microbiology), anatomy, physiology and psychology. PA Programs will also expect you to have high number of hours of direct patient care (on average around 1500 hours) and some schools will not allow scribing to count toward those hours. Due to the variability in PA programs we encourage you make a foundational appointment with the PA advisor to plan your coursework and experiences.
  • Application Service: CASPA
  • Resources

Health Profession Advisor at Duke: Robert Jones

Physical Therapists are healthcare providers who diagnose and treat patients who have pain, mobility issues, or need physical rehabilitation. Physical Therapists earn a Doctorate of Physical Therapy (DTP) and practice in hospitals, clinics, schools, sports and fitness facilities and nursing homes. They often form close working relationships with patients over a period of weeks or months.

Health Profession Advisor at Duke: Dr. Rosie Canizares

Veterinarians, those receiving the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree, care for the health and well-being of animals, from dogs and cats to farm animals and exotic animals in zoos. They work in private practice, academic veterinary medicine, research, public policy, and government, and in businesses that provide animal related products. Once receiving the DVM you need to pass a national certification exams. Some programs offer dual training in DVM and PhD, MBA, MPH and others.


Required courses usually include (AP credits may be acceptable depending on the veterinary school):

  • 2 semesters of biology with lab
  • 2 semesters of inorganic chemistry with lab
  • 2 semesters of organic chemistry with lab
  • 1 semester of biochemistry
  • 2 semesters of physics with lab (physics at Duke requires calculus I)
  • 2 semesters of English or English composition (AP Credits not acceptable)
  • 1 semester of statistics and/or 1 semester of calculus

In addition, some schools require:

  • 1 semester of psychology
  • 1 semester of microbiology (with lab)
  • 1 semester of physiology (lab not required)
  • 1 semester of Public Speaking
  • Additional courses in animal nutrition, humanities and social sciences and others; note that animal nutrition courses are offered on-line or correspondence through NC State University, Purdue University and Oklahoma State University.

Requirements can vary among veterinary schools so check the school in your home state and any others you might apply to. AP credit may or may not be accepted. AAVMC maintains a comprehensive list of prerequisite courses for each school that can be found here.


Admissions committees will look for a broad knowledge of veterinary medicine, so shadow and volunteer in several areas (try to get 3 different species) (e.g., general, small animal, large/food animal, equine, aquatic/marine mammals, wildlife, zoo animals) and settings (e.g., private practices, shelters, farms, and zoos). Some schools require a minimum of 200 hours of clinical/medical/research experience as well as direct animal experience. Note that the UC Davis Veterinary Medicine Program, for example, states that admitted applicants have an average of 1500 hours of veterinary experience (Most Duke students have over 800 veterinary hours, which often includes research). NC State requires a minimum of 400 veterinary hours which can include research and 100 animal hours (does not include pet ownership). University of Wisconsin requires 300 clinical veterinary hours and research is extra.


All applications are submitted through the Veterinary Medical College Application Service (VMCAS). Applications are accepted in May with a deadline of mid-September to October. Your transcript must be verified, which is followed by a secondary application and possibly an interview (not all schools do interviews). Some schools (Colorado State, Michigan State, Oregon State, Texas A&M, U California Davis and Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine) use the Multiple Mini Interview. Most schools will expect three letters of recommendation (Cornell often wants more), with at least one from a veterinarian. Others may come from PhD scientist or MD with whom you have worked along with other mentors. Acceptances are sent out in November through March. For more information, see the VMCAS Application Information website.

The GRE (verbal and quantitative exams) is required by most schools.