Natural Sciences


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For degree, see Academic Preparation, below.


The Pre-Medicine track is designed for students who have demonstrated an interest in health-related fields. Students declaring an interest in this track will be designated as Pre-Professional, and will be tracked for progress throughout their academic career at the Mount. We prepare students for several Pre-Professional tracks, including Dentistry, Medicine, Physical Therapy, Physician Assistant, Podiatry, and Veterinary.

Academic Preparation

Choice of major. No medical school requires a specific major of its applicants. They do, however, recognize the importance of a strong foundation in the natural sciences which includes biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics. The current Pre-Med curriculum offered at the College follows the course requirements recommended by the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) and is similar to that offered by virtually all schools in the US.

It includes:

  • A year of Freshman Chemistry with laboratory
  • A year of Organic Chemistry with laboratory
  • A year of Biology with laboratory
  • A year of Physics with laboratory
  • A year of English
  • A year of Calculus or other advanced math classes, including Statistics

Although these course requirements can be met while pursuing any area of study at the college, they are embedded in the Biology major. Faculty members in the Division of Natural Science are of the opinion that completion of requirements for a BA in Biology best prepares the students for further studies in areas of their choosing. This is supported by a recent report "Scientific Foundations for Future Physicians" from the AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges) and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), which recommended that medical and premedical education evolve from a static listing of courses to a dynamic set of competencies.

The competencies defined as the knowledge, skill, or attitude that enables an individual to learn and perform in medical practice include the ability to:

  • Apply quantitative reasoning and appropriate mathematics to describe or explain phenomena in the natural world.
  • Demonstrate understanding of the process of scientific inquiry, and explain how scientific knowledge is discovered and validated.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of basic physical principles and their applications to the understanding of living systems.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of basic principles of chemistry and some of their applications to the understanding of living systems.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of how biomolecules contribute to structure and function.
  • Apply an understanding of the principles of how molecular and cell assemblies, organs, and organisms develop structure and carry out function.
  • Explain how organisms sense and control their internal environment and how they respond to external change.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of how the organizing principle of evolution by natural selection explains the diversity of life on earth.

All the competencies defined above are addressed in the Biology curriculum.

Development of Personal Attributes 

Academic and scientific accomplishments, while important, are not sufficient for entry into professional programs. A critical aspect is the development of physician–patient relationship. It is expected that the incoming students be altruistic and dutiful. Students are expected to be aware of community and public health issues and understand that there are several complex, non–biological causes that can result in poor health. While a commitment to making evidence-based decisions is required, it is also expected that the future professionals will make ethical decisions, based on compassion, respect, and integrity.

Pre-Medical at the Mount

There are many advantages to being a Pre-Medical student at the Mount.

Pre-Professional advisor. A Pre-Medical advisor is available for consultation about your progress towards acceptance to medical school. Regular meetings of Pre-Medical students, reminders about deadlines, formation of a Pre-Professional committee for recommendations, and one-on-one personal attention from our full-time faculty advisor are what you can expect as a Pre-Med student at the Mount.

A strong peer group. Biology majors quickly become a part of the science community at the Mount. Students who have majors within the Division of Natural Science take their math and science classes together and quickly form study groups, supporting each other in their courses. This peer support is a great way to make new friends with goals and attitudes similar to your own.

Peer tutoring. Science majors work together toward a successful college career as upper-classmen serve as peer tutors (as one-on-one or drop-in tutors, or as recitation leaders) and all students have the opportunity to get help to support their learning efforts. Not only will tutoring provide you with income, but it will also help you to build your resume and strengthen your knowledge base.

Research. All full-time faculty members have PhD degrees in a variety of different fields and can offer you the opportunity to develop a research project which will help you to apply your coursework to real problems. A research project not only will enhance your knowledge and ability to integrate your learning, but it will impress graduate schools and future employers, giving you an edge when you move on from your studies at the Mount.

Learning science as a process. Many of our laboratory courses use inquiry-based collaborative learning to introduce students to the process of science and give you an idea of what scientific research is all about.

Mentoring. All science students are assigned a full-time faculty advisor to help you explore career options, plan your course schedule and follow your academic progress. New freshmen are assigned a “science sibling” before coming to campus so that they have the opportunity to ask questions of an upperclassmen, student to student.

Opportunities outside of the classroom. You could be a student representative at division meetings, an officer in the Biology and Chemistry honor societies, or participate with the American Chemical Society student chapter on campus. Students organize speakers, museum tours, hiking trips, campus activities like element bingo and faculty vs. student quiz bowl, and science night for elementary school students. All of these things let you get involved in things you enjoy, while providing you more opportunities to meet new people, interact with the faculty, and develop your leadership skills.

Program Requirements

Students declaring an interest in this concentration will be designated as Pre-Med / Pre-Professional and will be tracked for progress throughout their academic career. The advisory committee will write a joint recommendation letter in support of a student’s candidacy only if student has met the criteria listed below.

  1. Maintain an overall GPA of 3.4 the first year and then an average of 3.4 or better in science classes taken at the College, with a minimum grade of B- in each of the required science courses.
  2. Be an active participant in the “Pre-Professional Club.” This would require an active participation in activities that demonstrate a commitment to leadership, altruism, and dutifulness in the community. Students would be required to:
    • Develop, organize and implement community activities such as volunteering, talks and presentations
    • Volunteer in both clinical and non-clinical settings
    • Be a mentor
    • Attend a minimum of four club meetings per year
  3. Maintain a portfolio that documents both academic and non-academic activities. Students will be responsible for updating it annually.
  4. Set up an advisory committee in their junior year.
  5. Meet with their academic advisor every semester to have a continued dialog about meeting goals and expectations.
  6. Attend an orientation seminar during their first year at the College.
  7. Undertake an independent project / research here at the College or at other institutions (optional but highly recommended).
  8. Take the appropriate graduate entrance exam, MCAT, DAT, GRE, in the spring of their junior year.
  9. Complete the appropriate application to the graduate school of choice in the summer of their junior year.
  10. Initiate an interview with the Pre-Professional Advisory Committee to discuss the application progress in the fall of their senior year. 
  11. Inform the Pre-Professional Advisory Committee of the application outcome.

Where Mount Students Have Interned

  • Wadsworth Center, state health laboratory at Albany
  • The Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Minority Student Summer Research Opportunity
  • SUNY College of Optometry Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program
  • University of Tennessee, Memphis Immunology Laboratory
  • University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Microbiology Laboratory

Career Options

Medical Profession. The medical profession comprises primary health providers who are typically Allopathic Practitioners, Medical Doctors (MD) or Osteopathic practitioners, Doctors of Osteopathy (DO). The primary difference between the two is that osteopathy relates to healing through the manipulation of the musculoskeletal system and soft tissues, emphasizing the relationship of the body’s nerves, muscles, bones, and organs. Allopathic medical practice makes use of all remedies proven to be of value in the treatment of disease including medication and surgery.

The medical practitioner or physician is primarily responsible for the diagnosis and treatment of disease and management of patient care. The Federal Government and the American Medical Association recognize MDs and DOs as equal and each category of physician can be licensed to provide comprehensive medical care in all 50 states. MDs and DOs enter one of the medical specialties that comprise the medical profession, including family practice, internal medicine, general surgery, urology, pediatrics, and obstetrics/gynecology. Homeopathic medicine is the practice of using a microdosage of substances of animal, vegetable, or mineral origin that can cure symptoms in a ill person. The practice can include acupuncture, nutrition, and chelation therapy.

Chiropractic Profession. Chiropractic is a profession comprised of primary health care providers who practice a science concerned with the relationship between structure, usually the spine, and function, essentially the nervous system. The science is based on natural healing methods and does not involve surgical procedures or the use of drugs. The Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) attempts to restore and preserve health by manipulating the neuromusculoskeletal system. Chiropractic science is based on the fact that the nervous system controls every aspect of body function and that the spine can influence body functions far removed from it because of direct and indirect effects on the nervous system. Dysfunction, subluxation of a vertebral joint, not only affects the joint of the skeletal system but there are also changes in nerve, muscle, and blood flow associated with the joint. Changes in function of these elements cause them to become irritated and painful. Muscles in the affected area fatigue, tighten, and go into spasm. Changes in blood flow contribute to the continued deterioration and cause conditions most commonly treated by the chiropractic physician: strains/sprains, bursitis, headaches, disc problems, leg pain (sciatica), and arthritis. Similar explanations are used and address more subtle conditions affecting distant tissues and organs. There are three levels of care that comprise the chiropractic health care system. Relief care attempts to reduce and relieve pain by an adjustment specific to a particular joint subluxation determined by a skillful and thorough physical examination that may include x-ray. Rehabilitation/stabilization care continues the healing process after the immediate symptoms are relieved. Preventative care involves periodic evaluation and treatment similar to periodic dental exams.

Optometric Profession. “Doctors of )ptometry (OD) are independent primary health care providers who specialize in the examination, diagnosis, treatment, and management of disease and disorders of the visual system, the eye and associated structures as well as the diagnosis of related systemic conditions” (American Optometric Association 1992). Diseases or conditions typically treated by doctors of optometry are abrasions, ulcers, infections of the cornea, glaucoma, visual skills problems related to reading or driving, problems in vision-body coordination as in sports or special judgments, and clarity problems as in near or far sightedness. Doctors of Optometry are also concerned with the diagnosis and management of systemic diseases that are first detected in the eye such as hypertension and diabetes. They are also concerned with preventative measures in the visual development of infants and children as related to school and hobby related tasks. Doctors of Optometry may choose to specialize in a variety of areas including pediatrics, learning disabilities, geriatrics, occupational vision, and sports vision, to name a few.

Podiatric Profession. Podiatry is a health care profession that involves a variety of activities related to patient care. The Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) performs surgical procedures that include removal of heel spurs and soft tissue masses as well as bunion and hammer toe corrections. Primary podiatric care usually involves corns, calluses, and ingrown toenail problems. However, the podiatrist also performs physical exams, cultures, and blood testing, and urinalysis. There are a number of specialty areas related to different clinical problems.

Podiatric medicine relates to treatment of infections and skin conditions of the foot, sprains, and arthritis, early diagnosis of diabetes, and other systemic conditions. Podiatry or Orthopedics is concerned with deformities of bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Biomechanical problems can result in specialty areas of sports medicine if related to athletes and pediatrics if related to infants through adolescence. The podiatrist also utilizes radiological analysis to study the structural condition of the foot.

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