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Have you heard about bioethics and want to know more? It's BioEthics week from 10/15 - 10/19. Learn more about a topic of interest to you on the topic of BioEthics!

Monday, October 15th
Ways of Thinking about Health and Science, Role of Different World Views
Craig Hassel, Ph.D.
Time: 6:30pm-7:30pm
Location: Akerman 209
Host: Undergraduate Physiology Society

Tuesday, October 16th
Ethical Issues Concerning Genetic Counseling
Bonnie LeRoy, M.S., C.G.C
Time: 6:00pm-7:00pm
Location: STSS 312
Host: Biology Without Borders

Wednesday, October 17th
Ethics of Healthcare Laws and Patient Treatment
Pre-Med AMSA
Time: 6:30pm-7:30pm
Location: STSS 320
Host: Pre-Med American Medical Student Association

Thursday, October 18th
Personal Reflections on Testifying Against a Physician for War Crimes
Steven Miles, MD
Time: 5:30pm-7:00pm
Location: MCB 2-122
Host: Future Leaders Aspiring in Science and Healthcare

Friday, October 19th
Ethics Concerning Pharmaceuticals in Medicine
Steven Miles, MD
Time: 5:00pm-6:00pm
Location: STSS 312
Host: Minnesota Medical Leaders/Pre-Pharmacy Club

Advice: Do's and Don'ts for Letters of Recommendation

If you are applying to a health professional program, you will likely need letters of recommendation from people who know you well.

So what's in a letter? A lot.

An admissions committee can determine a great deal about an applicant by what other people say in a letter. Through letters of recommendation, they can determine if you are the kind of student who can handle the academic rigor of the program or the kind of student what would excel in a chosen health profession. Good letters of recommendation will add depth to your application.

Do not under-estimate the importance of the letter of recommendation (a.k.a. the "letter of evaluation"). Here are some do's and don't for this critical part of your application:


Identify relevant people to write your letters. This is your opportunity to shine. Obtain letters from people who can attest to your ability in the classroom, work ethic, level of engagement, and more. Ask only those who know you well, understand your motivations, and can speak to your abilities as a professional or as a student.

Your homework. Learn when the deadlines are for the letters to be received, whether they can be sent in through an application system (such as AMCAS when applying to medical school) or hard copy, etc. Make sure you read through ALL of the information provided regarding letters of recommendation.

Understand how letters can be sent/received and inform those who are writing your letters. Frequently, application systems will generate a link to your letter writers, so that they can submit their letters electronically. Be knowledgeable about this process. Inform your letter writers well in advance. When you sit down to do your application, it is a good practice to have the contact information for your letter writers on hand.

Send a thank you note. Even in our busy world, this is still an important element in maintaining a positive relationship. Make sure you take the time to thank the letter writer. Remember, they took a significant amount of time to do YOU a favor!


Get letters from family or friends. Admissions committees are looking for evidence of your capacity to perform well in an academic and professional setting. While family and friends can reflect on your character, they can't objectively reflect on your professional character. So stick to those letter writers who are faculty, supervisors, or other relevant professionals, unless otherwise directed in your application.

Assume that your letter writer knows your deadline. Remember, this is YOUR job to know the deadlines and manage them. Instead, inform your letter writer of the deadline...even giving them a deadline earlier than the actual deadline is a good practice, as it ideally gives you a little extra time.

Ask for a letter last minute. Would you like it if someone asked you to do a favor and then gave you a short window of time in which to do it? Think about your letter writers. They have busy lives too with many demands for their time. Respect that. Give them enough advance notice, so that they can give it the attention you would like them to. Also, remember that faculty sometimes are on leave during the school year, so if you are asking a faculty member now about a letter in the future, be sure to inform them of your time-frame.

Write your own letter of recommendation. This is a bad practice all around, even if your letter writer asks you to do it and approves it. Remember that the members of admissions committees are smart...if they don't already identify it through the writing style, they can contact the letter writer for verification.

Look here for more about letters of recommendation tips and tricks. Download the Health Careers Center's Guide for Students and Letter Writers here.

Graduate School Tests...Get Ready, Study, Get Set...Go!

Contributed by Mera Kachgal, PhD, LP and Jennifer Rosand, M.Ed. of the Health Careers Center.

Students applying to a health professional program at the graduate level often need to take a graduate level entrance exam as part of their application. Which test the student takes depends on the program and the school they are applying to.

To stay in line with the times, these entrance exams change from time to time as well. Following is a general guideline of recent changes for selected tests. You should still do your homework though on the test that you are planning to take, to ensure that you have the correct information for that exam!

Medical College Admission Test ® (MCAT)

Thinking of medical school? Then the MCAT is in your future. This test is defined as "a standardized, multiple-choice examination designed to assess the examinee's problem solving, critical thinking, writing skills, and knowledge of science concepts and principles prerequisite to the study of medicine."

To help this test stay in line with medical school requirements, this test is under pretty big renovation at this time, with changes starting in 2015. For the most part, the new changes will impact traditionally-aged college students who are entering college as freshmen in fall 2012 and plan to take the test as juniors in 2015, with the goal of entering medical school in fall 2016.

Many changes are happening to the MCAT exam. According to, those changes for 2015 include:
• Natural sciences section
• Social and behavioral sciences section, psychological, social and biological foundations of behavior
• Critical analysis and reasoning skills section
However, if you are taking the MCAT in 2013 or 2014, there are going to be changes in preparation for this coming change in 2015. For example, according to, changes for 2013 and 2014 include - but may not be limited to - this information:
• The Writing Sample section will not there, but a voluntary, unscored trial section will be (starting in January 2013).

Learn more about changes during the 2013-2014 time-frame at the AAMC website.

Read more about the MCAT® through its official source online:

Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT)

The PCAT "measures general academic ability and scientific knowledge necessary for the commencement of pharmaceutical education". This is the test that those who are applying to pharmacy school take as part of their application. The PCAT consists of 240 multiple-choice items and two Writing topics.

Changes effective in July 2011, include the following:
• New test offered in computer-based format at Pearson Vue testing centers
• 240 multiple-choice items and two essays
• Test is offered on specific days in three months (January, July, September) instead of four months as in the past
• 4 hours allowed

And effective for July 2012, per Pearson's website (
• Changes have been made on the subtests in Biology and Chemistry
• A single earned Writing score will be reported along with the mean writing score earned by all candidates during that testing.

Official PCAT information and registration:

Graduate Record Exam (GRE) General Test

This test is required for most PhD and MBA programs, and it is also required for several University of Minnesota health professional programs, including the Doctor of Physical Therapy, Doctor of Nursing Practice, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, and Master of Public Health concentrations.

The GRE General Test includes four subtests that measure general skills needed for graduate study. These subtests include verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, critical thinking, and analytical thinking. (Note that some academic programs also require a GRE Subject Test).

The revised version of the GRE General Test was launched in August 2011. The changes are substantial and include the following:

• No analogy or antonym questions in the Verbal Reasoning subtest. Instead, there will be more reading comprehension questions in this subtest.
• More specific scoring scale for each subtest: 130-170 compared to the previous 200-800.
• Ability to go back and review questions and revise answers within the same section of the test.
• 4 hours allowed instead of 3.5 hours.

Learn more information and register here:

Additional details can be found here.

Additional Sources:

About the Revised Tests

Careers in Aging Week Events

Thinking of a career working with the elderly? The "Careers in Aging" week will include two events. Check these out!

The first, an informal discussion on the opportunities in nursing focused on the care of older adults, will include practicing nurses, faculty, and graduate student panelists.

April 4, 2012
3 - 5 p.m.
4-180 Weaver-Densford Hall (and via videolink to the School of Nursing's Rochester campus, 419 University Square)

The second event is an interdisciplinary informational and networking event featuring a panel of professionals working in a diverse range of aging-related fields including policy, advocacy, medicine, nursing, pharmacy, housing and design, social work, and more.

April 5, 2012
5 - 6:45 p.m.
1-425 Moos Tower

Register by Mar. 30 and Apr. 2, respectively. For more information, see the Center on Aging ( .

The University of Minnesota offers a PCAT prep course taught by two current pharmacy students who did well on the PCAT. According to the pharmacy program, many students who took the prep course last year have been admitted into the program!

• Saturdays at 8:30-12:30 on July 21-August 25
• Course fee $580 includes all materials

Look here to read more:
PCAT Prep Course