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Union College Health Professions

The Health Professions Program at Union provides specialized advising and other services to students who are interested in pursuing a health profession after graduation. Our primary goal is to provide support so that students can navigate a process that can be complicated, in part because there are many different health-related career options.

Whether you’re considering a career as a doctor, pharmacist, physical therapist, advanced practice provider or allied health professional, one of your first steps should be to visit our office to learn more about the services, opportunities, and benefits available to health professions students at Union.

Advisors who help students realize their potential—and their goals

Our faculty and staff are available to assist you from day 1. We serve as mentors and coaches, available to discuss the many career options available and the opportunities—in research, volunteer service, internships, and more—here at Union. We are here to answer your questions about all aspects of the professional school application process and to help identify tools to help you Build a Portfolio for Success. For students applying to doctoral programs in medicine, preparation includes a comprehensive evaluation by our Health Professions Advisory Committee, based on the same criteria used by U.S. medical colleges

Clinical, research and leadership opportunities

As a small, top-ranked liberal arts college in an urban center, Union offers significant advantages, including easy access to:

  • Internships that match your skills and interests in unique settings, ranging from an in-home palliative care program, community and rehabilitation hospitals, programs for those with disabilities, to an equine therapy site.
  • A local teaching hospital, within walking distance, where students can attend grand rounds.
  • Research opportunities that include funded opportunities as well as those for credit through academic departments. Research can occur on campus or in the community with healthcare agencies.
  • Student groups that connect you with your peers and help develop leadership skills. Groups include the Pre-Health Society, Red Cross Club; Union College EMS; Best Buddies; subject-related clubs, such as the biology and chemistry clubs; Colleges Against Cancer and community outreach-related organizations like Project Sunshine, which coordinates visits to a local brain injury center.

Study abroad experiences that focus on healthcare

Study abroad is an excellent way to develop an understanding of other cultures and to prepare for a future of caring for an increasingly diverse patient population. Health professions students can take advantage of any term abroad, including:

  • Study abroad programs in England, Ireland, Italy and Greece that offer possibilities for classes or research opportunities for health and pre-medical studies.
  • Our National Health Systems summer term during which students travel with a faculty mentor to learn about and compare health care delivery sites in the U.S., Canada, England and the Netherlands. This program addresses primary, secondary and tertiary care, community health care and special populations. Lectures in each country cover the historical, political, cultural, economic and social factors that shape the health care system.
  • A summer mini-term in Tianjin, China, hosted by Tianjin University of Traditional Medicine, one of the oldest and most renowned schools of its kind. Up to 15 participants focus on understanding the theoretical foundations and practices of traditional Chinese medicine. The program includes classes, seminars, clinical and pharmacy visits, and travel to key sites within China.
  • A new Cuba mini-term, which includes visits to clinics and medical facilities.

Career exploration opportunities

We offer a variety of opportunities for career exploration. We take health professions students on tours of medical, dental and other health professions schools in major metropolitan centers. While there, students participate in networking events to connect current students with successful Union health professions alumni. At Union, we host workshops and other programs featuring experts on key health care topics.

Professional School Acceptance Information

Union graduates have earned places in the nation’s top health professions programs. Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Tufts University School of Medicine, University of Connecticut School of Dentistry,  Yale Physician Assistant Program, and New England College of Optometry are among the more than 80 highly respected institutions that have accepted Union graduates in recent years. 

Early acceptance programs with Albany Medical College

Union has two programs that offer early acceptance to Albany Medical College for select students. In both cases, students are not required to take the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT).

The Leadership in Medicine Program is designed for students who want to play a leadership role in 21st-century medicine. The program offers the opportunity to earn bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in eight years as follows:

  • B.S. from Union College
  • M.S. or M.B.A. from Clarkson University
  • M.D. from Albany Medical College

The Early Assurance Program provides opportunities for well-qualified students to be accepted to Albany Medical College after their second year at Union. Students must also meet the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) definition of "underrepresented in medicine." Interested students should meet with the director of undergraduate health professions no later than mid-January of sophomore year to discuss eligibility based on grades, standardized test scores, and clinical exposure. 

Rigorous academic preparation

As a health professions student at Union, you have your choice of majors. However, it’s important to take—and do well in—courses that are pre-requisites for most health professions programs. Therefore, we advise students pursuing the health professions to take the following:

  • Calculus (through MTH 102 or MTH 112 or MTH 113)
  • English (2 courses, including Preceptorial and one other such as EGL 101)
  • Introductory Psychology or Sociology of Medicine (Statistics is also recommended.)
  • Biology (BIO 110, Heredity, Evolution and Ecology; BIO 112, Physiology of Cells and Organisms; and BIO 225; Molecular Biology of the Cell)
  • Chemistry (CHEM 101 and 102, Introductory Chemistry; CHEM 231 and 232, Organic Chemistry)
  • Biochemistry (Bio 335 or CHEM 380 or CHEM 382 based on input from your academic advisor)
  • Physics (PHY110 and 111, Classical and Modern Physics for the Life Sciences I)

Additional Union courses—in microbiology, developmental psychology, and statistics—may be required if you’re interested in programs such as physical therapy, occupational therapy or nursing. Some health professions programs (ie. NP, PA, PT)also require courses in human anatomy and physiology. These are available through an arrangement between Union and neighboring schools.

Most health professions programs expect an excellent academic record, including strong science grades and above-average scores on standardized tests such as the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT), Dental Admissions Test (DAT), and Optometry Admissions Test (OAT) to name a few.

A flexible trimester system

Union uses a trimester calendar, which runs from September through mid-June. Students typically take three courses per 10-week trimester. This system provides the opportunity to take a greater variety of courses and gives students more flexibility in scheduling. That is especially important for health professions students, whose schedules often include a term abroad, internships, research, and community service—all of which will strengthen your application to professional programs.