Summer Plans for a Pre-Health Student

The school year is finally winding down and summer is fast-approaching! For many students, summer is the perfect time to relax, to soak up some sun, and to catch up on your favorite Netflix shows. However for pre-health students, summer can also be the perfect time to gain worthwhile experiences to boost your application.

What is the best way to spend my summer?
The truth is that the possibilities are endless. The best way to spend your summer really depends on what you want to accomplish. Is there a specific part of your application that is lacking? Do you need more volunteer hours? Do you need more clinical experiences or research? Do you need to boost your GPA? Or perhaps you have questions that you still need the answers to?

Before you start searching for experiences, I suggest that you sit down and take some time to ask yourself the questions above. What story are you trying to tell the admissions committee? Are you an individual who is passionate about working with underserved communities? Or are your passions driven by research? Or perhaps mentoring and advising? Once you start identifying who you are and what you are passionate about, then it will become much easier to navigate the internet for potential experiences. You will be able to narrow down your search and to eliminate opportunities that you don’t find interesting.

What is my story?
For me, I didn’t sit down and ask myself these questions until the end of my freshman year. Before spring quarter, I was really eager to dive into internships and to get involved, but I was overwhelmed by all the opportunities available. I didn’t know how to navigate campus resources and how to be selective about my experiences. I simply said “YES!” to the first internship that showed interest in me. This was a HUGE mistake because I was miserable in some of my first internships. I was so determined to find any internship that I forgot to stay honest with myself. So at the end spring quarter, I began to ask myself: Who are you really? What do you enjoy doing? Where do you want to be in the next few years? I realized that my passions were working with undeserved communities, children, and students. I wanted to pursue advising/tutoring and to gain clinical experience. With these desires in mind, I went to the Internship and Career Center and the Undergraduate Research Center to get help! They were able to help me narrow down my search to find experiences that accurately portrayed who I was as a person.

What types of experiences can I do?
There are countless opportunities that you can pursue, including:

Summer is the perfect time to do research. During the school year, it can be difficult and exhausting to juggle a full course load with 10-15 hours of research each week. But in the summer, you have much more time and energy to dedicate towards your lab work.
A common misconception is that laboratory research is the only kind that pre-health schools like. However, ALL research on the UC Davis campus is valuable. In addition to lab research, you can try clinical research and social science research. The most important thing is to find a project that truly interests you!
I recommend going to the Undergraduate Research Center as the first step. The URC advisors can help you to connect with professors that are doing research in a subject of your interest. They can also help you to draft a strong cover letter and resume.

Another thing you can do over the summer is internships. There are countless internship opportunities on the internet, but here are some suggestions to get you started:

  1. Health Related Internships (HRI)
    The HRI are unique to UC Davis. HRI are a wonderful first step to gaining clinical experience within a hospital setting. And the best part is that there is NO application or interview necessary! Simply sign up for a pass time and choose the position and time that works best for you. HRI span across many health-related fields including medicine, pharmacy, dentistry, nutrition, public health, and physical, occupational, and speech therapies. These internships can be a great way to learn more about what specialty you hope to pursue in the future.
  2. Medical Missions
    MEDLife and the Global Medical Brigades are two popular programs on campus that will allow you to travel while gaining hands-on clinical experience.
  3. Health-Related Internships through the Washington Program
  4. Volunteer at a Student Run Clinic
    UC Davis’ student-run clinics serve various underserved populations in the Sacramento community. Volunteering at a clinic will not only provide you with valuable clinical experience, it can also pave the way for future leadership opportunities!

Explore Your Hobbies and PassionsLastly, but most importantly, spend your summer doing something that you are passionate about. Admissions committees want to learn about who you are as an individual outside of school. Pursue your hobbies! Hang out with friends or even your dog! Read a book, go hiking, or maybe try something completely brand new. Whatever you choose to do, remember to stay true to you!

I hope you found this blog useful! Good luck with the rest of your quarter and have an amazing summer!

Victoria Nugent
4th year Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior
Class of 2017
BASC Peer Advisor

What Undergraduate Research Can Do For You

Why should you become involved in undergraduate research?

As undergraduate students, we can forget the fact that most of our professors do not spend the majority of their time teaching undergraduate classes. A large research university like UC Davis uses a huge portion of its human resources and facilities to carry out “original research”. This involves professors and their research teams battling everyday to advance knowledge in their field by carrying out research in the various labs dotted around campus.

As an undergraduate, it’s wise to tap into this exciting world, in order to make the most of your educational experience. Working as an undergraduate assistant in a laboratory can expand your intellectual horizons and challenge you beyond any class coursework- it is like powerlifting for the intellect. You will learn how to read and analyze peer reviewed research articles. You will learn advanced technical skills that will supplement knowledge in upper division biology classes and open up career opportunities. For example, gaining lab skills can make you a much more competitive applicant for becoming a lab technician or gaining an internship at a biotechnology company right after graduation (e.g. Genentech). Additionally clinical research can provide you with patient contact and strengthen healthcare school applications.

Above all, it can be difficult to get to know your professors at a large research university like UC Davis. Therefore, sitting at a lab bench for 3 hours every Monday morning with your graduate student advisor or professor will offer you an unparalleled opportunity to get to know them. If you develop a genuine, professional relationship with your professor, they can guide you towards incredible opportunities, grants/ scholarships and provide perspectives on careers both inside and outside of academia. They are also in an excellent position to provide you with a detailed, supportive letter of recommendation for graduate school.

Although the rewards can be great, it is worth noting that research is challenging and requires a significant time commitment of 6-12 hours per week. As with any extracurricular activity, you should periodically assess whether research is something you truly enjoy, and if the benefits outweigh the costs for your particular situation.

How to become involved in undergraduate research

Ideally, you should become involved with research at end of your freshman year or the beginning of your sophomore year. This will give you 2-3 years to learn the skills necessary to make a genuine impact in your department. However, your junior year can also be an excellent time to become involved in a lab, as some professors prefer students with certain advanced science classes under their belt.

Here are the general steps required to become an undergraduate research assistant:

  1. First, make a list of fields that you are interested in (e.g. genetics, physiology, psychology, neurology). Contact and meet with an appropriate faculty advisor for overall advice on campus research opportunities by visiting:
  2. Visit lab websites. Google search UC Davis department websites and make a list of labs/ professors to contact. Paid and unpaid research assistant opportunities will also be advertised through the bismajors listserv and on Aggie Job Link. Undergraduate assistant positions are usually unpaid, but some can be paid or eventually develop into paid positions. You may also meet professors requiring lab assistants in BIS 005, a research course required for all BIS majors.
  3. When visiting the lab website, try to assess the environment to predict what sort of learning experience you will receive. For example, in a very large lab, you may not have opportunities to talk with the PI (main professor) or learn skills beyond basic lab maintenance work. Also, if the lab uses animal models, you should consider whether you would be comfortable handling or even euthanizing the given animal. If the lab is involved with clinical research, you should consider whether you would enjoy working with patients, as well as the ethical implications.
  4. Read 1 to 3 research articles written by the professor of your lab of interest. Send a professional and succinct email to the professor expressing your interest, mention something specific about their research that interests you and ask if there are any openings for research volunteers. Your professor may request a more formal interview and your resume, to assess your suitability for the lab. You should also use interviews to assess whether the professor or graduate mentor will provide a learning environment that will be useful to you.
  5. Do not be discouraged if there is no space for you in a particular lab. You may need to apply to 10-50 labs before you receive a positive response.
  6. During your first year of working on a research project, do not expect anything but go out of your way to be as helpful as possible. Get to work on time everyday and be prepared to perform basic tasks with enthusiasm. Once you have proven your reliability and gained some technical expertise, slowly increase your involvement by offering to take on more duties. As you are assigned important work, go the extra mile to complete these tasks to the highest standards possible. Keep an eye out for undergraduate summer internships or ask your graduate mentor or professor if they know of such opportunities. Approaching your work with positivity and diligence will maximize the benefits you will receive from any research experience.
  7. UC Davis provides annual opportunities to present undergraduate research at the Undergraduate Research Conference, as well as a variety of awards, which can be read about at: The Undergraduate Research Center also provides services to undergraduates including educational programs, seminars and workshops:

Janis Kim
4th Year Biological Sciences Major
BASC Peer Adviser

UC Davis Student-Run Clinics – How do I join?

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Are you looking for a fun clinical experience? Do you want to give back to the community? Are you looking to build relationships with patients, medical students, and healthcare professionals?

If you answered YES to any of the questions above, the UC Davis Student-Run Clinics may be just for you!

For more than 35 years, the UC Davis student-run clinics have provided free health care services to the uninsured, low-income, and underserved populations within the Sacramento community. Each clinic was established by UC Davis undergraduate and medical students who sought to provide culturally sensitive care to community members who lacked access to basic healthcare. This program serves thousands of patients every year and gives medical students and undergraduates the unique opportunity to learn first-hand about the challenges and rewards of patient care and community medicine.

I joined the Bayanihan Clinic back in the winter of 2014. As a young and naive freshman, I was anxious but eager to get involved on campus. I didn’t know where to get started, but then I saw a flyer for the Bayanihan Clinic’s information session posted on the Wellman Hall bulletin board. “Why not apply? What do I have to lose?” I thought. Four years later, I can easily say that joining the Bayanihan Clinic was the most rewarding experience of my undergraduate career. I learned how to accurately take vitals, to read lab results, and to present a patient case to the precepting physician. I also built strong relationships with peers and patients and received helpful advice from medical students and physicians about the medical school application process.

So, what are the clinics looking for in potential applicants?
Each clinic is unique and has certain qualities that it values most in its volunteers. However, all the clinics look for the following traits in potential applicants:
1) Interest in their specific community – There are 10 different clinics that you could potentially apply for. So, why do you prefer Clinic A over Clinic B? Do you have a genuine interest in serving this clinic’s patient population? It is important to show in your application and interview that you understand WHO the clinic serves and why you are personally invested in working with this group.
2) Desire to be a patient advocate – Our patients come first. We strive to provide culturally and linguistically sensitive care to individuals who lack access to basic healthcare. We want our patients to feel comfortable coming to us for help. In your application/interview, you want to convince the committee that you will be a passionate advocate for its patients.
3) Leadership – Every clinic wants to ensure that their doors remain open for many years. Therefore, the application/interview committee looks for applicants that they believe are capable of filling future leadership roles (i.e. coordinator, officer, etc.). In addition, the clinics are constantly growing and pushing to improve patient care by providing more specialized services to their patients. Can you lead a new program? Do you have a vision that you hope to see implemented in a clinic?
4) Teamwork – Every clinic functions as a team. Each week, you will work with a team of undergraduate and medical students, and health professionals to provide quality care to patients. Can you work efficiently as a member of this team? Are you willing to listen to your peers and mentors and accept constructive criticism? Are you willing to contribute to new projects and programs that the clinic implements?

I highly encourage all students to apply for the clinics. It doesn’t matter if you are interested in medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, nursing, etc., there is a perfect match for you! I found my home at the Bayanihan Clinic. Where will you find yours?

Here is a list of all 10 UC Davis Student-Run Clinics. Follow the links to learn more about how you can get involved!

Bayanihan Clinic
The Bayanihan Clinic serves the underserved and uninsured Filipino population in the Greater Sacramento area, specifically the Filipino WWII veterans and immigrants. They provide women’s health and dermatology services, and diabetes education through their Diabetes Empowerment Program.  Their next application cycle will open in January 2017.

Clinica Tepatí
Clinica Tepati provides primary care services to the underserved Latino community in Sacramento. Their new Diabetes Interest Group is designed to educate patients about diabetes and how best to manage their care.  Their next application cycle will open in Spring 2017.

Imani Clinic
Imani Clinic provides basic healthcare services to the underserved Oak Park community with the target population being African Americans within the community. It’s goal is to provide culturally sensitive care and to foster early and lasting relationships between students, healthcare professionals, and the community. Their next application cycle will open in Spring 2017.

Joan Viteri Memorial Clinic (JVMC)
JVMC serves the healthcare needs of uninsured IV drug users, sex workers, transsexuals and their families in the Sacramento county. JVMC acts as an intervention service, reaching out to patients before their conditions drain limited ER resources, pose a public health hazard, or become fatal to the patient. Their next application cycle will open in April 2017.

Knight’s Landing One-Health Clinic
Knight’s Landing One-Health Clinic provides linguistically competent and culturally sensitive health care services to the rural underserved, particularly women, adolescents and farmworkers. In partnership with the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, veterinary services are available at the clinic on the third Sunday of each month. Their application cycle is open now and applications are due in April 2017.

Paul Hom Asian Clinic
The Paul Hom Asian Clinic primarily serves the uninsured and immigrant Southeast Asian communities in Sacramento. This clinic provides offers free primary care services and hosts specialty clinics that include: psychiatry, dermatology, ophthalmology, cardiopulmonary, and musculoskeletal. Their next application cycle opens in Spring 2017.

VN Cares
VN CARES is a student-run clinic that promotes cancer awareness and provides free cancer screenings to the underserved Vietnamese population. The clinic’s long term goal is to reduce cancer-related disparities in the Vietnamese community. This clinic has two internship positions available to undergraduate students: (1) Clinical Internship and (2) Research and Education Internship. Their application cycle is currently closed. 

Hmong Lifting Underserved Barriers (HLUB)
The HLUB Clinic aims to provide free culturally and linguistically appropriate health care services to the Hmong community. They provide chronic disease management and screenings for cancer: breast, cervical, colon and prostate cancer, in addition to Hepatitis B. Their next application cycle will open in Summer 2017.

Shifa Clinic
Shifa Clinic strives to understand, serve, and promote the health and wellness needs of a multilingual, ethnically diverse community. It primarily serve patients from the South Asian and Muslim communities. It provides interpretive services and hosts specialty clinics such as dermatology, cardiology, women’s health and pediatrics. Their next application cycle will open in Spring 2017.

The Willow Clinic
The Willow Clinic primarily serves the homeless population in Sacramento. Willow Clinic has a well-established dental and pharmacy program. In addition, they host Wellness Nights on Fridays where students can make crafts, do yoga, or sing karaoke with patients. Their next application cycle will open in Spring 2017.

Victoria Nugent
4th year, Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior Major
Sociology Minor
BASC Peer Advisor






Resources for Pre-Health Students

Are you interested in medicine but do not want to take the long path and 663go through medical school to reach your dreams? Have no fear, the medical field is extremely broad and you can still have a career within the health field without having to go to medical school. Pretty exciting right? Without further ado, let us talk about some of the resources UC Davis offers if you are considering a health profession.

One of the resources you should visit would be Health Professions Advising (HPA). Joanne Snapp, the Director of Health Professions Advising, has many resources about different health professions. Some of these professions may include Dentistry, Nursing, Physicians Assistant, Occupational Therapy, Veterinary Medicine, Clinical Lab Specialist, Genetic Counseling, and many more. Joanne Snapp also has many workshops that are geared towards specific professions as well as general workshops for anyone interested in health professions. She also lists out required and recommended courses, success stories, process of applying/interviewing, and information about different schools. All this information is accessible on the HPA website where a student is also able to schedule an appointment.

Another helpful resource that is available to you is the Internship and Career Center (ICC). If you are interestedcommunity_outreach in health professions, the best way to “try out” the career is through an internship. This way you would be able to experience the daily life of that profession and see if that is something you would enjoy doing for the rest of your life. Speaking from experience, internships were the key elements that guided me to my current career path. I have participated in multiple internships where I was able to gain hands-on-experience that I would have never learned from a textbook.

In October, UC Davis co-sponsors The Annual UC Davis Pre-Medical and Pre-Health Professions National Conference, which is a great resource to gain knowledge on different health professions. This is the largest pre-medical and pre-health conference in the nation and it is a completely student run organization. This year around 2,000 speakers will be attending from various schools and programs such as Pharmacy, Nursing, Public Health, Podiatric Medicine, and many more. The conference offers more than 350 workshops where you are able to gain insight and engage with speakers on a more personal level. I would highly recommend attending this conference, as it will expand your knowledge and allow you to get a wider understanding of the various health professions available.

The UC Davis Study Abroad is another useful resource because they have medical-internglobal health internships. Their internships are across the global and some of the locations may include: Bolivia, South Africa, India, Peru, and many more. This is great opportunity because you are able to travel as well as gain hands-on-experience in diverse locations, which is great because when the student comes back to the United States they have a new health perspective as well as increased cultural-sensitivity.

The last valuable resource is health professions student organizations. UC Davis offers hundreds of different student organizations and these organizations help you get involved. By getting involved, you surround yourself with other students who have similar career goals and they are able to give you tips and encouragement along this career journey.

As you can see, UC Davis highly values pre-health students and wants to offer many ways for students to find their own success as a health professional. Most of these resources are free of charge so make sure you take advantage of these wonderful opportunities while you still have the chance!

Rufa Pazyuk
BASC Peer Adviser
Second Year, Biological Sciences Major

Career Spotlight: Anatomist

Do you enjoy studying the form and structure of animal bodies?  Are you interested in performing systematic observations and dissections of muscles, tissues, and organs? Where you fascinated with the make up of the human body when you took CHA 101/EXB 106? If so, a career as an Anatomist may be a great fit!

What is an Anatomist?

According to, an Anatomist is someone who specializes in the body structure of organisms, and has played an important role in the research and discovery of organisms and their function for centuries. A career as an Anatomist can be very rewarding, because it allows you to explore what is normally hidden from view and discover how structure relates to function. There are a variety of different systems Anatomists can specialize in depending on their interests. Some examples of these include the endocrine system, lymphatic system, cardiovascular system, and skeletal system.

Anatomists also specialize in different species other than the human body depending on their field of work. Because the structures of most mammalian bodies have many similarities, Anatomists will typically draw inferences from existing knowledge to discover new purposes for the existing structure of species and their organs.

The following is a list of typical tasks an Anatomist regularly performs:

  • Examine large organs and organ systems through dissection
  • Examine smaller structures such as tissues and cells using a microscope
  • Compare structures across different species
  • Utilize knowledge on the structural form of organisms to solve medical problems

What type of education do Anatomists have?

An Anatomist will typically have a Bachelor’s degree in Biology, Chemistry, or any related field to biological, physical, or behavioral science. A masters degree in Anatomy is required to then work in a laboratory or for a private company. Most Anatomists also go on to earn a Doctoral degree to get a research or teaching position at a university or medical school.

Where do Anatomists work?

There are many different areas Anatomists can work. Most Anatomists either teach or do research in universities or medical centers where they help train scientists or various health care workers such as physicians, nurses, dentists, and pharmacists. Others may be employed by private companies, governmental agencies, or scientific publishing firms. Anatomists therefore spend most of their time in laboratories or class rooms, and must be flexible with working alone or as part of a team.


Salary depends on the education of the Anatomist, and according to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics the average pay is $75,160, and there is an expected 13% increase in employment.

Additional Resources:

There are various Graduate Programs in Anatomy across the country. You can explore these options to choose a program that best fits your interests and career goals. Here is a summary of the resources used in this blog to help you gather more information on becoming an Anatomist:

Hopefully this spotlight on becoming an Anatomist has peaked your interest or helped you identify some of your career goals. Good luck!

Zoe Lim
BASC Peer Adviser
Biological Sciences Major


Health Professions Advising (HPA): Resource Highlight

HPA LogoWelcome back fellow students! I hope you all had a wonderful Spring break and are ready to tackle this new quarter. Now that the bulk of the school year is behind us and you are more or less settled into your academic groove, it is a perfect time to start thinking about the possibility of a professional health career! Some of you may already be decided on a health career and some of you may just be curious about the various options available. Fortunately for you, UC Davis has a wonderful resource for all students considering a health profession!

Joanne Snapp, M.S. E.d.

Health Professions Advising (HPA) is a great resource to turn to if you are interested in a health career. In order to help you better understand this campus resource, I interviewed Joanne Snapp, the Director of Health Professions Advising. Joanne was kind enough to answer the following questions:

  1. What is the mission and what are the core values of Health Professions Advising?

The Office of Health Professions Advising serves all UC Davis undergraduates, graduate students, and alumni pursuing any health profession or allied health field.  Advisers use a holistic approach while providing support and feedback during academic and application preparation. We encourage students to be proactive and reflective during their career decision-making. Our goal is for students to become successful applicants who demonstrate compassion, leadership and a commitment to academic success throughout their journey toward a health professions career.

  1. What do you hope that students get out of utilizing Health Professions Advising?

I hope that pre-health students will feel supported when pursuing whatever health field they choose. I hope they trust the office as a reliable resource for accurate information and honest feedback. My goal is for each student to reach their career goal, but also to be realistic and reflective when making those decisions.

  1. What types of students should seek Health Professions Advising?

Health Professions Advising is for any student seeking a career in a health or allied health field, including veterinary medicine.

  1. When during their undergraduate careers do you recommend that students look into Health Professions Advising?

Students should begin attending HPA events as soon as they realize they may be interested in a health field. At the beginning of each quarter, I offer first year and second year class meetings. The sooner a student begins attending their class meeting, the better. I will cover all of the basics and more about being successful on this journey. Each meeting builds upon the next. I try to offer a presentation every day so that students have plenty of opportunities to come ask questions.

5. Is there a website or a Facebook page that students can visit to access all of the different Health Professions Advising resources?

Students should visit and/or


Sciences Lab Building

As you can see, HPA provides a wealth of both information and support in order to help students gain the tools necessary to succeed in reaching their career goals.

If you like what you hear so far, you may schedule an appointment via email:

If you have any questions you may call: 754-9256.

Additionally, the HPA office is located in 1011 Sciences Lab Building.

Also, keep your eyes peeled for upcoming events hosted by HPA throughout the quarter. Each quarter is filled with events such as meet and greets, small group advising, webinars, seminars that focus on different majors or professions, and many more! As Joanne mentioned, these are available for all undergraduate students, including transfer students, as well as graduate students, and alumni. You can keep yourself updated on these upcoming events through the Facebook page mentioned above.

Take care.

Daiana Bucio

BASC Peer Adviser

3rd year Genetics and Genomics major


Career Spotlight: Dentist

Do you see yourself to be a highly respectable healthcare provider for your community in the future? Would you like to treat pain with the latest instruments and diagnose symptoms with computer software? Do you like working with people in a team effort? Are you interested in pursuing a career that offers a good balance between your professional life and private life? Would a profession that allows you to practice both art and science be enjoyable for you? If so, you may want to consider pursuing dentistry as a career.

According to University of California, San Francisco School of Dentistry, “Dentistry is the art and science of maintaining the health of the teeth and surrounding oral structures.” It involves physical evaluation of patients, prevention of oral and dental diseases, disease diagnosis, and therapy. Furthermore, it is a dynamic health profession that is continuing to grow due to an increasing realization that oral health can have a serious impact on systemic health. If the eyes are the windows to our souls, then our oral cavities are the windows to our health, often serving as a means to detect the early signs and symptoms of systemic disease. For example, systemic conditions such as AIDS or diabetes usually first become apparent as mouth lesions or other oral problems. In fact, according to the Academy of General Dentistry, more than 90 percent of all systemic diseases produce oral signs and symptoms.

Dentistry is a very versatile profession. For example, according to, general dentists may do the following (in addition to many other procedures):

  • Use the latest techniques and equipment to examine the head and neck and oral cavity to identify and diagnose oral conditions that may manifest into systemic disease and determine the oral health of the patient.
  • Use the latest radiographic, computer-generated imaging, and other specialized diagnostic techniques to identify diseases of the teeth, supporting bone and gingival tissues, and other tissues in the oral cavity and head and neck.
  • Restore and replace teeth damaged by decay, lost from trauma or disease, with newly developed dental materials, implants, and crown and bridge techniques.
  • Perform corrective surgery on gums and supporting bones to treat gum disease.
  • Extract teeth when necessary using the most up-to-date anesthetic techniques.
  • Eliminate pain arising from oral diseases, conditions and trauma, making use of prescriptive medicines to reduce pain and discomfort.
  • Correct mal-positioned teeth to improve chewing, speech, digestion of food and appearance.
  • Oversee the administration and business of private practice and frequently employ and supervise a large number of staff and allied dental personnel to help treat their family of patients.
  • Evaluate the overall health of their patients including taking and evaluating comprehensive medical histories.
  • Provide instruction and advice on oral health care and preventive measures to maintain healthy oral tissues and prevent oral disease.
  • Provide instruction and advice on oral health care, including individualized diet analysis, brushing and flossing techniques, the use of fluoridated products and other specialized preventive measures to maintain healthy oral tissues and prevent oral disease.

The same source also estimates that full-time dentists who work in private practice allocate approximately 36 hours per week, of which 33 hours/week is spent treating patients. Many have great flexibility in determining the number of hours per week they choose to work, the procedures that they want to work on, the materials that they want to use, as well as the assistants that they want to work with.

To apply to dental schools, most applicants have at least a Bachelors degree.  Furthermore, preparation for dental school requires that certain prerequisite courses be completed and that applicants take the Dental Admission Test (DAT). A competitive DAT score is around a 20-22. More information about the DAT may be found at the American Dental Association website.

Below is a general summary of those prerequisites that will differ slightly depending on the school of interest:

  • Inorganic Chemistry: 1 year with lab (CHE 2ABC)
  • Organic Chemistry: 1 year with lab (CHE 118ABC; CHE 128ABC+129ABC also acceptable, and other combinations of organic chemistry may be acceptable for some schools)
  • Physics: 1 year with lab (PHY 7ABC; PHY 9ABC also acceptable)
  • Biology: 1 year with laboratory (BIS 2ABC + 1 additional lab, such as EXB 106+106L or NPB 101+101L or BIS 101+MCB 160L or MIC 101, because BIS 2A does not include a lab)
  • English: 1 year (any 3 courses in ENL, COM or UWP; 2 quarters of composition highly recommended;ESL, English 57 and communication not acceptable by most schools); check individual schools for exceptions (e.g. UOP) and restrictions (e.g. UCSF)

Besides the didactic prerequisites, admission committees highly suggest that the applicant have a solid idea of what the profession is about. Students are encouraged find a shadowing position or internship position that would give them adequate exposure to the field of dentistry. In addition, the admission committees will look at the applicant’s work experience, research experience, volunteer experience, and extracurriculars. To get started, joining the Pre-Dental Society at UC Davis to meet other pre-dental students.

Once a student is in a DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery) or DMD (Doctor of Dental Medicine) program (both degrees are the same according to the American Dental Association), all U.S. licensing jurisdictions require evidence that a candidate for licensure has passed Parts I and II of the written National Board Dental Examinations. Each examination is composed exclusively of multiple-choice test items. Part I is a comprehensive examination covering the basic biomedical sciences, dental anatomy and ethics testlets. Part II is a comprehensive examination covering clinical dental subjects, including patient management.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for dentists was $149,310 in May 2012. Employment of dentists is projected to grow 16 percent from 2012 to 2022, faster than the average for all occupations. Lately, the profession has enjoyed favorable recognition in lists of the “best jobs” according to many sources, including U.S. News and CNBC

Hopefully you found this to be a good introduction into the profession. You can also find information about the preparation for dental school by checking out the guidelines provided by the Student Academic Success Center.


Wilson Ng
BASC Peer Adviser 2014-2015



Career Spotlight: Physician Assistant

Are you interested in the field of medicine but are not entirely interested in becoming a physician? Becoming a Physician Assistant (PA) can be a great alternative. A licensed PA works alongside a Physician, gets one on one interaction with patients, can prescribe medication in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia, and many other responsibilities are plausible; such as diagnosing illness and disease, performing or assisting in surgeries, or instructing and counseling patients.

Physician Assistant examining a patient. Source:

Schooling to become a PA varies from 2-6 years. A master’s degree from an accredited educational program is needed, which usually takes two years as a full-time student to complete. Before applying to a program most students have prior experience as Registered Nurses or Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) and Paramedics (to satisfy the 1,000 hour requirement of clinical experience). Students must also take prerequisite courses in order to be accepted into the Master’s program. The prerequisite courses for UC Davis, taken from the School of Nursing website, are as follows:

  • One course in human anatomy with lab
  • One course in human physiology with lab
  • Or human anatomy and physiology series: Part I and Part II with lab
  • One course in general chemistry with lab
  • One course in microbiology or bacteriology with lab
  • One course in algebra, calculus or statistics (basic or advanced)
  • One course in English composition
  • Two courses in social sciences.

Prerequisite courses may vary for each institution, so it is a good idea to be familiar with the prerequisites for the school(s) of your choice.

To become licensed, one must take the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE). Certification must be maintained by continuing education every two years. For more information on the certification process you can refer to Certification Process below.

Employment in this field is expected to grow 38% from 2012 to 2022, according to the Occupational Outlook Handbook for PA. This is due to the increase in the aging population, largely contributed by the baby boom generation. The increase in several chronic diseases is also playing a role in higher demand for Physician Assistants.

If you are interested in learning more about this career, take a look at the Career and Professional Association Resources listed below. You can also find information about graduate programs offered for Physician Assistants at UC Davis here: UC Davis Graduate Programs-Physician Assistant.


Entry-Level Education:

  • Master’s degree for entry-level positions
  • PhD is not necessary

UC Davis majors which may be of interest but are not required:

  • Biological Sciences
  • Genetics
  • Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology
  • Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior
  • Microbiology

UC Davis minors which may be of interest but are not required:

  • Biological Sciences
  • Exercise Biology
  • Human Development
  • Human Physiology
  • Neuroscience

Median Pay (as of 2012):

According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook for PA:

$90,930 per year
$43.72 per hour

Job outlook (The projected percent change in employment from 2012 to 2022. The average growth rate for all occupations is 11 percent.):

According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook for PA: 38%

Career and Professional Association Resources:– Occupational Outlook Handbook for Physician Assistants
UC Davis Internship and Career Center
Certification Process
Master of Health Sciences -The Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing

Student Academic Success Center (Resource Highlight)

Fall quarter at UC Davis is now working through its 6th week! This seems pretty crazy because I know my brain is still relaxing on those warm beaches of summer. If your brain is still in summer mode, and/or if you need some extra help with courses, a great campus resource to utilize is the Student Academic Success Center (SASC)! This resource offers tutoring, study skills workshops, and pre-graduate advising. SASC is divided into two buildings, Dutton Hall and South Hall. All of the resources offered are free for UC Davis students. Let us highlight the main resources of the Student Academic Success Center.

South Hall


Dutton Hall


1. Drop in tutoring: SASC offers tutoring for many subjects, such as, writing, math, chemistry, physics, statistics, and biology.

  • Writing: Dutton Hall, second floor, is the place you want to head if you need help with grammar, thesis sentences, or anything writing. They have drop in tutors on MW 8:30am to 4:00pm, TR 8:30am to 3:00 pm, and F 8:30 to 12:00 pm. I have used these tutors many times. They are great for an extra pair of eyes to catch grammar errors or look for clarity in your paper. SASC offers writing specialists that are available by appointment or same day appointments (If you get there early enough to sign up). SASC also offers writing workshops. These workshops focus on helpful topics, such as, “In Class Writing”. For dates and descriptions on workshops please visit: For more information on drop in tutoring visit:
  • Chemistry, Math, Statistics, and Physics: Drop in tutoring for math, chemistry, statistics, and physics hours typically range from 9 am to 5 pm, but for a more detailed schedule check out: There are also workshops offered for general chemistry, organic chemistry, all of the math series( 16, 17, 21), and physics. I love these workshops! They go hand-in-hand with the instructor’s lectures. The specialists who instruct these workshops slow down the lessons and answer a lot of questions.
  • Biology: Drop in tutoring is also available for BIS 2A- 2C. They also recently added tutoring for the upper division biology courses, such as, BIS 101, 102, 103 in SLB 1079 for Fall Quarter.

2. Another portion of SASC are the multiple programs that SASC houses. Some of these include: Guardian Scholars Program (GSP), Educational Opportunity Program(EOP), or TRIOs Scholars Program. All of these programs are geared towards supporting under represented students advance in higher education. For information on each of these programs visit:

3. The SASC offers study skills workshops. These workshops are free to UC Davis students! They are offered multiple times over the quarter and are held in 114 South Hall. Some of the workshops include topics such as Time Management Basics or Success Strategies. For a more detailed list of the workshops offered and times visit:

4. Pre-Grad/Professional advising: These advising centers are located in South hall and offer advising for pre- grad school, pre-health, and or pre-law. The center offers advisers who are specialized in helping students become ready to apply for these programs. For more information visit:

5. Transfer Reentry Veterans Center (TRV): The center is located in 1210 Dutton hall. They strive to help students who are transfer, reentry, or veteran students. You can visit to the TRV any time Monday-Friday between 9 a.m. – 4 p.m  to utilize their many resources such as academic advising or support resources. Some of the support resources they offer include a Graduate School Information or Financial Aid: Renewing the FAFSA workshops. They also offer a range of social activities. For more information please visit

SASC is a great resource on campus to take advantage of. It offers a diversity of resources for all of the students on campus. Please drop in to South Hall or Dutton Hall to get more information or drop in to BASC, so a peer advisor can point you in the right direction!

Brenda Garibay

3rd year Biological Sciences Major

Biology Academic Success Center Peer Advisor

Why Major in NPB?

Human neuroanatomy diagram

What is NPB?

While some might think that NPB means “no peanut butter,” “no paper bills,” or “no problem, Bob,” ask any NPB student and they will tell you its true meaning – Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior.

With a yearly average of over 966 students, NPB is the third largest major in the College of Biological Sciences1. So why is this elaborately named major so popular?

N = Neurobiology

This aspect of the major focuses on the lovely gray matter in your skull and how this singular organ coordinates perception, sensory and motor function, cognition, learning, memory, and basic reflex pathways. Did you know that about 50% of your brain is dedicated to vision? Do you ever wonder how a pain in your toe – the furthest body part away from your brain – can almost instantaneously transmit sensory information up into your nervous system? This occurs through various neural circuits that integrate information in the brain from environmental signals at different parts of the body. You will learn more about this circuitry in NPB 100 (Neurobiology), which is a required course for the major.

P = Physiology

This aspect of the major focuses on the physiological mechanisms that regulate basic functions, such as growth, reproduction, movement, response to stimuli, and the maintenance of homeostasis. These functional mechanisms occur at the level of the cell, organ system, and whole organism and are common to all animals. There is also an emphasis on human physiology and the systematic functions of major organ systems. The amount of interconnection within the human body may surprise you! For example, nerve impulses to and from the brain can travel as fast as 170 miles per hour and the human body is estimated to have up to 60,000 miles of blood vessels! This intricate and extensive circuitry is essential for overall physiological function. You will learn more about the human body in NPB101 (Systemic Physiology), which is a required course for the major.

Human body systems diagram

B = Behavior

This aspect of the major focuses on how the nervous system (neurobiology) and the endocrine system (physiology) integrate to determine behavior and the interaction between organisms and their environments – both physical and social. Wouldn’t you be curious to find out how nerve impulses can release specific hormones that can influence your mood or behavior? For example, do you ever wonder why you might feel pain from a sports injury hours after you’ve stopped exercising? This is due to a “runner’s high” which is a secretion of endorphins that may inhibit pain during physical activity..

N + P + B = NPB

As a whole, the NPB major provides a multifaceted approach to how organisms regulate basic and complex functions, the mechanisms underlying these functions, and how neural and physiological information is integrated to influence behavior. Continue reading “Why Major in NPB?”