Information on careers in Life Sciences is available from the WU Career Center in the Danforth University Center (http://www.careers.wustl.edu). Many specific resources are listed here; in addition many professional societies can provide specific career information. Consult science journals published by professional societies for addresses of the societies. Information from most of the sources listed in this handbook is available in the Natural Sciences Learning Center.
- B.A. Level Positions in Biomedical Research
- B.A. Positions in Ecology
- Opportunities in Education
- Opportunities in Health
- Genetic Counseling
- Genetic Epidemiology
- Health Administration
- Occupational Therapy
- Physical Therapy
- Public Health
- Veterinary Medicine
The most abundant employment opportunities (both locally and nationally) for an individual with an A.B. degree in the life sciences are provided by university and industrial biomedical research laboratories. Several hundred entry-level positions in such laboratories are open each year in the St. Louis area alone, and experience of Biology Department faculty members who have sought to fill such positions in recent years suggests that the demand for well-prepared research assistants frequently exceeds the supply. In addition to the many Biology Department graduates who have established long-term, satisfying, and rewarding careers as research assistants in the St. Louis area or elsewhere, there are a number each year who use such positions as a way of 'taking a breather' for a few years after college, to reassess their career goals, and to decide whether to undertake more advanced studies in graduate or professional schools.
The level of responsibility, independence and salary that one enjoys as a research technician depend strongly on one's training and experience, but they also vary with the type of laboratory. A position in a large medical research lab, or an industrial research lab, frequently will provide a significantly higher starting salary than one in a small basic research lab. But the latter may provide more opportunity for rapid advancement in responsibility and independence--let us say, from starting technician, to senior technician, to 'lab manager.' (One should not expect, however, that in any of these situations one will be free to work on projects of one's own choosing that are unrelated to the interests and goals of the director of the laboratory; but one can expect that with time and demonstrated ability there will come increasing opportunities to plan, to execute and to interpret experiments designed to achieve the director's research objectives, and perhaps to supervise the work of others within the research group.)
If you think that you might be interested in such a position in the future, probably the most important single thing that you can do now in preparation is to get some experience in a research lab - either through a part-time job during the academic year, a summer job or internship, or by enrolling in Biol 200 or 500. The first reason that this experience is important is self-assessment: does a research lab really provide the kind of environment in which you think you could be happy spending a significant portion of your life? The second reason for seeking such experience is to improve your competitiveness: few things would weigh more heavily in your favor as an applicant for an entry-level research position than a letter from a former supervisor stating that during your college years you have already demonstrated your ability to function effectively and responsibly in a research lab.
In addition, however, if you wish to keep this option a viable one, you should seriously consider selecting courses that help you to develop 'marketable' skills and knowledge. As just one example among many, the Laboratory on DNA Manipulation (Biol 437) provides practical experience with recombinant DNA techniques that many potential employers would consider extremely valuable. Among the many advanced courses that the Biology Department offers, ones that provide particularly good theoretical and/or practical background for various areas of biomedical research include (not in order of importance, but in the order listed in the catalog, and with those that provide relevant kinds of laboratory instruction underlined): Vertebrate Structure Laboratory (3110), Endocrinology (3151), Cell Biology (334), Eukaryotic Genomes (3371), Principles of the Nervous System (3411), Microbiology (349), Microbiology Laboratory (3491), Laboratory Experiments with Eukaryotic Microbes (3492), Lab. of Neurophysiology (404), Developmental Biology (4071), Immunology (424), Immunology Laboratory (Biol 4241), Research Explorations in Genomics (4342/434W), Lab. on DNA Manipulation (437), Protein Function in Model Cellular Systems (4520), Laboratory in Protein Biochemistry (4522) and General Biochemistry (451, or 4810). In addition, training in the use of computers and/or laboratory work in the Department of Chemistry beyond that required for the Biology degree would be highly regarded by many potential employers.
When ready to seek employment, you should visit Washington University’s Career Center (110 Danforth University Center) for help finding jobs in your area of interest. The Career Center’s Junior Jumpstart program is highly recommended for all students. For further information, see http://careers.wustl.edu or contact the Career Center at extension 5-5930 or email@example.com.
There is no specific agency that serves as an outlet for positions in ecologically-related areas, so the job seeker must consider a wide variety of approaches. An A.B. in Biology, strengthened with some ability in programming, chemistry, artistic capabilities, business background, etc., does have a relatively wide range of job opportunities, which will vary seasonally and geographically. On the local level, commercial enterprises such as specialized gardening outlets, pet shops and exterminators should be investigated for beginning-level management positions. Environmental consulting firms can be a prime target for graduates with experience not only in biology, but in geology and environmental studies. Other local institutions, such as zoos, botanical gardens, museums, parks and ecological preserves, can offer opportunities leading to advancement. Research universities and industries producing products that have ecological consequences hire persons as research assistants or higher. Both federal and state agencies devoted to ecological issues (U.S. Fish & Wildlife, Environmental Protection Agency, Bureau of Land Management, Department of the Interior [National Parks], Department of Agriculture [Forestry Service], State Conservation Departments, etc.) hire trained personnel to fit their specific needs. There are internships, particularly federal, which give the appointee an opportunity to become familiar with the interaction of government with environmental issues. Many recent graduates in this area have entered the Peace Corps (http://www.peacecorps.gov).
Applicants will have to use their ingenuity to locate the positions outlined above. The local telephone directory should be consulted to obtain phone numbers and addresses of federal and state agencies located in the applicant's community. Other potential employers probably will be more dispersed, so the applicant will need to canvass his/her local possibilities through telephone directories or intimate knowledge of local organizations.
Secondary School Teaching
Teaching at the high-school level can be rewarding, both personally and financially. Washington University offers a graduate level (MAT, Master of Arts in Teaching) teacher-certification program in biology (see http://artsci.wustl.edu/%7Eeduc/ma_teaching.html). Certification essentially entails completing an undergraduate major in biology followed by 1 year of graduate study in biology and education.
Washington University's teacher preparation programs provide the professional education that qualifies a student for certification to teach in public schools. On the recommendation of the Department of Education, the Missouri State Department of Education will issue a teaching certificate to an individual who successfully completes a Washington University teaching preparation program. For other states, additional study may be required to qualify for a certificate.
Creating a program of courses that satisfies the biology major, the distribution requirements of the College of Arts and Sciences, and the undergraduate education courses necessary for graduate study in education in the fifth year is not easy. Completing a five-year program and obtaining an MAT degree (Master of Arts in Teaching) at WU simplifies this dilemma somewhat. Students interested in securing admission to the WU teacher education program should stop by McMillan Hall, Room 215, to obtain program literature, or contact Madonna Riesenmy (firstname.lastname@example.org) in the Department of Education as early as possible. A sample program is as follows:
|Math 131 (3-4 u) Calculus||Biol 2960 (4 u) Biology I|
|Chem 111 (3 u) General Chemistry I||Math 132/132L (4 u) Calculus|
|Chem 151 (2u) General Chemistry Lab||Chem 112 (3 u) General Chemistry II|
|Psych 100B (3 u) Intro. to Psychology||Chem 152 (2 u) General Chemistry Lab|
|Biol 181 (1 u) Freshman Seminar|
|Biol 2970 (4 u) Biology II||Biol 3050 (4 u) Biology III or Biol 3058 (2 u)|
|Chem 251 (3 u) Organic Chemistry||Chem 252/401(3 u) Org Chem II or Phys Chem I|
|Chem 257 (2 u) Organic Chem Lab|
|Ed 301C (3 u) American School|
May term: Biol 437 (4 u) Laboratory on DNA Manipulation
Phys 117 (4 u) General Physics I
Phys 118 (4 u) General Physics II
|Biol 3110 (3 u) Vertebrate Structure Lab||Biol 334 (3 u) Cell Biology|
|Biol 3041 (3 u) Plant Biology||Biol 349 (4 u) Microbiology|
|Biol 3501 (4 u) Evolution||Ed 408 (3 u) Exceptional Children|
|Phil 321G (3 u) Philosophy of Science|
|EPSC 201 (4 u) Earth and the Environment||Ed 4052 (4 u) Educational Psychology|
|Phil 233G (3 u) Biomedical Ethics||Biol 381 (3 u) Introduction to Ecology|
|Biol 5011 (1 u) Ethics|
Well-prepared science teachers are in demand. Teaching positions usually offer good benefits and job security, although working conditions are often far from ideal. The job usually allows one to develop an individual approach, exploring one’s own interests and initiative; many teachers derive considerable satisfaction from the success of their students. Information about teaching science at all levels is available from the National Science Teachers Association, 1840 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, VA 22201-3000 (phone 703-243-7100; http://www.nsta.org).
Primary School Teaching
It is unusual to combine a major in the sciences with preparation to teach at the elementary level, but it can be done and would allow one to make a unique contribution. Again, early planning is essential; interested students should contact the Department of Education. Students wishing to test their interest level should take one of the Foundations of Education courses (Ed 301C, Am. School) or Ed 313B, Childhood and Society, during their sophomore year.
Teaching in Community and Junior Colleges
Community colleges and junior colleges are two-year institutions whose students enter from high school. The work a student does may be the final formal instruction or it may serve to allow entrance to a four-year college or university. The number of community colleges and the students enrolled has increased enormously in the last several decades.
To teach in a community college, one must meet two criteria: knowledge of the specific field and ability to teach. Sometimes specific course requirements in education must be met. Preparation in the specific field requires a Master’s degree in Biology or a specific discipline within biology. Increasingly, a Ph.D. is required and in many regions it is an absolute requirement. Someone interested in becoming a member of a community college faculty should acquire as much teaching experience as possible and still gain mastery in the subject matter. Often a faculty member in a community college will need to teach a rather wide variety of courses, and thus must have an understanding of many areas, sometimes even in related sciences. A few doctoral programs are available in science education and are designed for those whose primary objective is education, not research. Many graduates of these programs join community college faculties and schools of education. Anyone who prefers to teach in a particular region of the country should contact institutions in that region for specific information.
Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) programs mix courses in education with courses in the discipline in which the student wants to teach and in which undergraduate work has been done (see page 14). Although these programs are generally more suitable for high-school teaching than community-college teaching, some MAT graduates find employment in community colleges.
Faculty salaries at community colleges vary considerably; many are comparable with those in four-year colleges. Teaching loads are heavy by comparison with those in universities, but faculty research usually is not emphasized. Rewards in personal satisfaction can be high; many community college students are very intelligent and highly motivated, and an instructor may have enormous impact on individual students and on the community.
Informal Science Education (museums, etc.)
Most science museums and zoos maintain active education departments that present a variety of programs to the public, usually with a focus on primary-school children. Staff members that present these programs typically have an undergraduate degree in science, often biology. Course work or summer employment in education would also be appropriate preparation. These positions are not well paid and typically bring no job security (there is no tenure), so there is often significant turnover in the staff of these education departments. While not a financially inviting career, such positions can be fun. Summer positions may be available, but inquire early.
Many students enter WU with an interest in going to medical school after the BA degree. A biology major provides excellent preparation for medical school; a biology major that includes at least 2 semesters of independent research (Biology 500) provides outstanding preparation for biological and/or biomedical research in graduate and/or medical school.
|Fall - Year One||Spring - Year One||Fall - Year Two<||Spring - Year Two|
|Chem 111A (3)||Chem 112A (3)||Chem 261 (3)||Chem 262 (3)|
|Bio elective below* (optional)||Bio 2960 (4) (Chem 112A co-req).||Bio 2970 (4) (Bio 2960 and Chem 112A pre-reqs)||Bio 3058 (2), Bio 334 (3)|
|Math 132 (3)||Math 223 or 2200 (3)|
|Chem (Lab) 151 (2)||Chem (Lab) 152 (2)|
|Distribution (3) or English Comp 100 (3).||English Comp 100 (3), or Distribution (3)||2 Distribution (6)||Distribution (6)|
* Optional biology courses of interest to prospective majors are offered in fall of freshman year: Biol 112 (Introduction to Problem-Based Learning in Biology), Biol 171 (Neuroscience Futures 1), Biol 1770 (Genetics and Behavior of Dog Breeds), Biol 181 (Freshman Seminar in Biology), Biol 1810 (Freshman Seminar in Imaging Sciences), Biol 191 (Phage Hunters Laboratory), Biol 193 (Investigating Eukaryotic Genomes), Biol 2010 (The Science of Biotechnology), Biol 2431 (Missouri’s Natural Heritage), Biol 2950 (Introduction to Environmental Biology).
All students who plan to major in biology who have an interest in pre-medicine should enroll in Chemistry 111A in the fall of freshman year. In addition to providing relevant material, this course teaches helpful study skills for success in a science curriculum.
Biology 2960 and 2970 (Principles of Biology I and II) are the introductory courses required of both biology majors and premedical students. Biology 2960 is normally taken in the spring of freshman year. Chemistry 112A is a corequisite of Biol 2960. Biology 2970 is normally taken in the fall of sophomore year. Both Biol 2960 and Chem 112A are prerequisites for Biol 2970. These courses in Principles of Biology are designed to be taken consecutively and together provide a strong foundation for further study in the life sciences. Biology 3058 Physiological Control Systems covers material critical for the MCAT exam. Many students find Biol 3058 and Biol 334 Cell Biology mutually relevant and take them concurrently.
Mathematics 131-132 is required for all biology majors and satisfies medical-school requirements for one year of college calculus. Mathematics 233 and 2200/3200 are useful for students with interests in basic research. Physics 117A-118A (or 197-198) is generally taken in the junior year by biology majors or pre-med students majoring in an area outside the sciences. Premedical students considering either a chemistry, a physics, and/or an engineering major should follow the recommendations of the appropriate department concerning the timing of Physics 117A-118A.
MCATs (Medical College Admission Tests) are usually taken in April of the junior year. MCATs are also offered in August just prior to the senior year; scores from the August MCATs arrive at medical schools after some admissions decisions have been completed, however. All of the above required courses: (1) should be completed for the MCATs; (2) are needed if the student will attend medical school; and (3) are needed by all biology majors. Biology 181 (or Bio 1810), a
1-unit credit/no credit course is highly recommended (but not required) for students with interests in biological and/or biomedical research. The freshman seminar Bio 112 is a good choice for those with interests in biology and/or medicine who want an additional biology course in the fall of freshman year.
There are 9-11 distribution courses outside of the natural and physical sciences that are required for the B.A. in the College. It is useful for the student to take 4-5 of these courses by the end of the second year to allow flexibility in course planning and scheduling in the junior and senior years, especially if the student chooses to take Independent Research. A research experience can be critical if the student wishes to be competitive for admission to (1) Ph.D., (2) M.D., or (3) joint M.D./Ph.D. programs at research-oriented schools. The joint M.D./Ph.D. program is quite attractive for students with an interest in academic medicine and basic research; some of these programs cover the costs of tuition and pay a yearly stipend for all years spent in medical and graduate training. See http://www.nigms.nih.gov/Training/InstPredoc/PredocInst-MSTP.htm for a list of medical schools with M.D./Ph.D. programs. An excellent time to take independent research (Biology 500) is in the junior and senior years. Large open blocks of time in those years are very important since much of the independent research requires long hours not interrupted by classes; in addition, many students conduct their research at our Medical School and transportation time between the Medical School and the Main Campus is a factor in schedule planning during these semesters. Completing half of the distribution requirements outside of the sciences by the end of the second year can be very helpful to students who enroll in independent research.
Many medical schools require a course in English Composition such as EComp 100 as well as an additional course in English, English Literature, or English Composition; see the requirements of specific medical schools for details. Courses in social sciences are increasingly required by medical schools; Psychology 100B is a good choice in this area. Many medical schools expect students to have a course in biochemistry (Biol 451or Bio 4810-4820) and sometimes one in microbiology (Bio 349) prior to matriculation.
All students with interests in medicine should demonstrate their abilities to assist others by serving as a volunteer. Important volunteer experiences can be obtained in a variety of ways, e.g., at a hospital, at a nursing home, in a camp or school for individuals in need of help, serving as a tutor, etc. The Campus Y is an excellent resource to assist students in placement for volunteer experiences. Vicki May, Outreach Coordinator, (x5-6846; email@example.com) is also an excellent person to contact about placement. Students who would like academic credit for a volunteer "Experience in the Life Sciences" should consider enrollment in Biology 265.
For further information about medical schools and the medical school application process, contact Dean Carolyn Herman (x5-6897) in the College of Arts and Sciences Office. For questions about these guidelines in medicine, contact Professor Paul Stein (x5-6824; firstname.lastname@example.org) in the Biology Department. For further information on medical schools see The American Medical College Application Service at http://www.aamc.org/start.htm and the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) at https://www.aamc.org/students/applying/mcat.
The field of Dentistry covers a broad spectrum of opportunities. The General Dentist or Family Dentist is an individual involved in the routine maintenance and clinical diagnosis of the oral cavity. This individual is trained in minor surgical procedures, oral prosthetic work, and some cosmetic Dentistry. The General Dentist is usually associated with a number of specialists. Typically, an individual spends four years in Dental School (undergraduate dental degree) and one or two years in a family-practice residency program before joining a dental group or starting a practice. There are also opportunities in the military and in such cases the US government will subsidize the cost of dental education. Other areas of dentistry generally require advanced training in postgraduate Master's or specialty programs. Such areas include orthodontics, periodontics, prosthedontics, pediatric dentistry, oral maxillofacial surgery, oral pathology, and forensic dentistry. There is also opportunity for dental research careers with a combined DDS-Ph.D. training program. Typically, such individuals are employed as faculty of Dental Schools or by pharmaceutical companies.
For information on these advanced programs it is recommended that individuals contact the Greater St. Louis Dental Society (13667 Manchester Road, St. Louis, MO, PH: 965-5960) or the American Dental Association (ADA), (211 E. Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611-2678, PH: 1-800-621-8099).
Suggested courses for a student who is considering a career in dentistry would include Biology 3110, 3151, 334, 3411, 349 and 4580. Art 107-108 would be helpful since excellent eye-hand coordination is required for the profession. Many dental schools request that students applying to dental school take the standardized dental aptitude test before consideration for admission. Finding summer work in a dental office is recommended to get first-hand experience of the profession.
The first year of Dental School is similar or identical to Medical School in the basic science courses required. These usually include: Human Gross Anatomy, Physiology, Histology, Cell Biology, Biochemistry, and Immunology/Microbiology. There are also preclinical courses to prepare students to interact with patients and staff and, in general, learn the basic operation of the Dental Clinics. The sophomore year includes courses such as oral pathology, radiology, and other preclinical courses to understand the clinical problems confronting dental clinicians. Usually it is not until the second semester of the sophomore year and that summer when students begin to experience interactions with patients. This period can best be described as a team apprentice-approach at most US Dental Schools. In the sophomore year, the student is required to take and pass Part I of a National Dental Board Exam. In the junior and senior years the student continues to take a variety of courses to understand and to treat oral diseases. A majority of time is involved in fulfilling certain clinical objectives. If all requirements are fulfilled, the individual must take Part II of a Dental National Board exam in order to receive his or her dental degree. Some states require additional testing. See http://www.gradschools.com/listings/menus/dental_menu.html for further information.
A genetic counselor helps individuals or families afflicted with genetic disease. As genetic knowledge has increased, the definition of genetic disease has been broadened from the classic Mendelian diseases and chromosomal abnormalities to include common diseases (such as coronary artery disease, hypertension, Alzheimer’s disease, etc.) that have a strong genetic component. The duties of a genetic counselor vary, but can include helping to diagnose the disease, counseling individuals about the nature of the disease and its genetic basis, informing individuals and their relatives about the risk of carrying the disease or being affected by it, requesting and/or performing genetic tests either to assess risk or to evaluate the genetic state of the individual, and working with patients and physicians in choosing treatment options.
There are two principal career paths for entering the field of genetic counseling. The first is to obtain an M.D. Medical doctors with an interest in genetic counseling have traditionally specialized in pediatrics because the bulk of classic Mendelian diseases and chromosomal abnormalities first become apparent in infants (about a third of all pediatric inpatients in U.S. hospitals are afflicted with a genetic or chromosomal disease). However, this situation is beginning to change as genetics is increasingly being used to assess risk and effective treatment of diseases affecting older individuals. Those individuals choosing the medical path to genetic counseling are usually involved primarily in diagnosis and treatment of the diseases. The other path to genetic counseling is to pursue graduate work in human genetics, either at the Master’s or doctoral levels. There are now several Master’s degree programs in genetic counseling that lead to accreditation as a genetic counselor by the American Board of Medical Genetics. Individuals pursuing this path often emphasize risk assessment and prediction, family counseling, and the performance of genetic testing.
For either career path, biology majors interested in genetic counseling should take additional courses in genetics, such as Biol 3371 (Eukaryotic Genomes), Biol 4181 (Population Genetics and Microevolution), Bio 4183 (Molecular Evolution), Biol 4342/434W (Research Explorations in Genomics) and Biol 437 (Laboratory on DNA Manipulation). Because genetic counseling involves risk prediction and the manipulation of probabilities, students also should take Math 2200 or 3200 (Elementary Probability and Statistics). For those students wishing to work with the common diseases that affect older individuals and have a strong genetic component, additional courses in mathematics and statistics are strongly recommended, such as Math 439 (Linear Statistical Models), Math 493 (Probability), and Math 494 (Mathematical Statistics).
Additional information can be obtained from the National Society of Genetic Counselors, Executive Office, 233 Canterbury Drive, Wallingford, PA 19086 (phone: 215/872-7608) or the American Board of Genetic Counseling http://www.faseb.org/genetics/abgc/abgcmenu.htm
Genetic epidemiology is the scientific study of familial distributions of human traits to understand how genetic and environmental factors interact to produce various diseases. Genetic epidemiology utilizes data from the Human Genome Project and computational methodology to conduct statistical analyses on large samples of subjects from relevant populations. Population dynamics affect the frequencies and distributions of both genetic and environmental factors, and thus, their net effect on the phenotype of interest. Knowledge of populational histories is exploited for use in gene discovery and mapping.
Genetic epidemiologic studies investigate complex disorders such as coronary heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, cancer, and allergies, and neurological disorders. An understanding of the genetic underpinnings of such diseases promises to revolutionize medicine in the 21st century, enabling better preventive measures, diagnosis, prognosis, and treatments. Courses of particular relevance to genetic epidemiology include Eukaryotic Genomes (Biol 3371), Population Genetics and Microevolution (Bio 4181), and Molecular Evolution (Bio 4183). Courses in computer science (CSE 131, CSE132, CSE241) and statistics (Math 2200 or 3200, Math 322) are particularly useful for students interested in genetic epidemiology. See the information on graduate study at https://biostatistics.wustl.edu/training/msibs/prospectivestudents/Pages/GraduateEducationinGeneticEpidemiology.aspx.
Students who are considering a career in health care, but who think that they might be more interested in management and administration rather than in patient care, should consider a career in health administration. Because of changes in our health-care system, there are now many diverse career options for those trained in health administration. For example, health-care executives typically have management positions in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, ambulatory care facilities, health maintenance organizations (HMOs), health-related associations, consulting firms, public health organizations and other government agencies. By working in these positions, health-care administrators have the opportunity to make significant contributions to improving health care in the communities served by these institutions and organizations.
Qualifications for an entry-level position in health administration include a Master's degree, usually in health-care management from an accredited school, and an internship, fellowship or previous work experience in a health-care organization or other business setting. There are many accredited colleges and universities in the USA and Canada (including Washington University) that offer suitable graduate programs. In general, earning a Master's degree from these graduate programs takes two years. The programs include course work in health-care policy and law, marketing, health-care financing, human resources and other topics relevant to health-care management. Many programs include supervised internships, residencies or fellowships in a clinic, hospital or health-care agency.
As an example of the requirements for admission into a Master's degree program in health administration, the requirements for admission to Washington University Medical School's Master in Health Administration Program are a bachelor's degree and completion of the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) or the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). No specific undergraduate major field of study is required for admission to the program. However, an introductory course in accounting is required. Previous experience working in health care is recommended. A double major in biology and economics would provide strong preparation.
The Natural Sciences Learning Center has a pamphlet containing additional information on careers in Health Administration and a list of accredited graduate programs. For further information contact Marilyn Hummert, Administrative Coordinator at the Washington University Health Administration Program (362-3274) or the American College of Healthcare Executives, One North Franklin St.; Suite 1700; Chicago, IL 60606-3491 (phone: 312-424-2800; http://www.ACHE.org).
Occupational therapists are dedicated to helping people to develop skills and to adapt to disabilities so that their lives become more productive and meaningful. As an applied social and biological science, occupational therapy benefits persons of all ages whose ability to engage in life's tasks is impaired by physical or mental disease, injury, birth defect or aging. Occupational therapists help individuals develop, regain or retain the skills they need to learn, to play, to earn a living and to tend to their personal needs.
At the present time this is a highly marketable career with salaries (for Master's degree) ranging from $32,000 (starting) to $80,000 per year. Students interested in a Master's degree program in occupational therapy need specific prerequisite courses; most of these courses are part of the Washington University B.A. in Biology (an upper-level course in biology such as Bio 3110; Chem 111A-112A and Chem 151-152, Physics 117A; and English Composition). However, several concern specific areas in biology, psychology, and sociology/anthropology. Courses most often required include a course in human physiology (such as Bio 328, Principles in Human Physiology); a course in abnormal psychology (such as Psych 354); a course in developmental psychology (such as Psych 321); a course in sociology/anthropology (such as Anth 301B, Individual, Family, and Community); a course in political science or economics (such as Econ 103B, Microeconomics or Econ 352, Health Economics); a course in statistics (such as Psych 300 or Math 1011 or 320); and a course in ethics or logic (such as Phil 100G, Introduction to Logic and Critical Analysis, or Phil 233F, Biomedical Ethics). Competence in medical terminology is often required and can be gained through Classics 325D or through guided study. However, entrance requirements vary among schools; one should consult the catalogues or application brochures for the schools of interest.
Typically, a professional Master's Degree in occupational therapy takes approximately 2.5 complete years. This time includes a 6-month internship (non-paid) which is arranged by the degree-awarding institution. A final certification exam is required.
Courses in a Master's degree program typically include "Functional Assessment," "Applied Anatomy," "Therapeutic Intervention," and "Administration" as examples. A complete description of course work and prerequisites for the Washington University Program in Occupational Therapy, and a description of occupational therapy careers are present in the Natural Sciences Learning Center. Also, the Occupational Therapy Program at Washington University can be reached at 314-286-1600. Career advisors are willing to discuss occupational therapy as a career with anyone interested. Further information is available at http://www.otjoblink.org.
Pharmacists distribute drugs prescribed by physicians and inform patients about medications and their use. They advise health practitioners on the selection, dosages, interactions, and side effects of medications. Pharmacists also monitor the health of patients during drug therapy to ensure that treatments are safe and effective. Pharmacists must understand the uses, clinical effects, and chemical compositions of drugs and their chemical, biological, and physical properties.
Careers in pharmacy cover a wide range of occupations including academic pharmacy, public health, community pharmacy, consultant and long-term care pharmacy, hospital and institutional practice, managed-care pharmacy, and pharmaceutical industry. See the Pfizer Guide to Careers in Pharmacy for information on these diverse pharmaceutical careers. Colleges of Pharmacy include both undergraduate and graduate institutions. The American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy provides detailed information on these academic programs and admissions procedures
Physical Therapy is a health profession that applies scientific principles to prevent and to remedy problems in human movement. Physical therapists evaluate patients to diagnose problems with movement that impair normal function. Treatment for these conditions is directed to optimize a patient's ability to move and function in everyday life. Treatment is performed to improve strength, endurance, coordination, flexibility, and range of joint motion, and to provide training for mobility at home and in the community.
Traditionally physical therapists have worked in many settings including hospitals, private offices, out-patient clinics, nursing homes, schools, home-care agencies, and rehabilitation centers. Physical therapists are trained to work with adult, pediatric and geriatric patients with musculoskeletal, neurological, cardiopulmonary or medical problems. Today's trends in health care are leading to increased demands for therapists to aid in preventing as well as treating musculoskeletal problems, work with patients with increasingly acute conditions, and focus on care needed by a population represented by a large, and growing, number of older individuals.
Physical therapy programs now offer baccalaureate, master's or doctoral degrees at the professional entry-level. Programs are now offered in all of the United States (except Hawaii, Alaska, Nevada, and Wyoming), the District of Columbia, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. The length of time for the prerequisite and professional components of education vary from program to program, and the total time required to prepare graduates ranges from four to seven years of college. Licensure is required after graduation before a physical therapist can practice.
Individuals entering the Master of Science Degree Program at Washington University are required to have:
- completed a Bachelor's degree (any baccalaureate major is acceptable; most students enter with degrees in Biology or Psychology, but almost every possible major has been represented);
- taken and passed the prerequisite courses;
- taken the GRE (Graduate Record Exam). Over 50% of Master's programs require the GRE.
|Generally Required Courses||Washington University Courses|
|1 year of Physics with labs||Physics 117A, 118A|
|1 year of Chemistry with labs||Chemistry 111A, 112A, 151-152|
|Introductory Biology||Biology 2960, 2970, 3050|
|Trigonometry or Calculus||Math 131|
|Statistics||Psychology 300, Math 1011 or Math 320|
|1 year of English to include EComp||EComp 100 and an English elective|
|1 year of Psychology to include Abnormal Psych||Psychology 100B, 354|
|At least 1 other course in the Social Sciences||Social Science elective|
|Medical Terminology competence||Classics 225D *|
*Classics 225D is optional. Students may contact the Physical Therapy program regarding a self-paced programmed text as an alternative to taking this course.
Additional courses recommended for students interested in entering the Master of Science Degree Program in Physical Therapy are 3411 (Principles of the Nervous System) and Biol 4501 or 451 (General Biochemistry).
For general information about programs in Physical Therapy students should write to the American Physical Therapy Association, 1111 North Fairfax Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 or call 703- 684-2782, or use the web (http://www.Apta.org). Additional information about the Washington University Program may be obtained by calling 314-286-1400.
Another helpful site is How To Become A Physical Therapist
Psychology is the study of mind and behavior. Biology and psychology intersect mainly in studies of neuroscience and ethology. Neuroscience encompasses anatomical, biochemical and physiological studies of the nervous system, whereas ethology is the study of animal behavior, usually in an ecological or evolutionary context. Students interested in the interface of these disciplines may choose a double major in biology and psychology, or may choose either single major and supplement it with courses from the other discipline.
There are several career paths for students of psychology. Psychiatry is a medical profession devoted to the diagnosis and treatment of emotional, mental and behavioral disorders of patients by psychoanalytical and pharmacological means. Standard medical training (M.D. degree) with a residency in psychiatry is required. Clinical psychology also involves the study and treatment of disturbed or maladaptive behaviors, but substitutes completion of a Ph.D. or equivalent degree in psychology for medical training. Both psychiatrists and clinical psychologists may operate private practices, or may be employed by medical institutions, public school systems, juvenile correction centers, and rehabilitation centers. A third career path in psychology involves academic research and teaching. This path also requires a Ph.D. in psychology, but the emphasis is on experimental study of behavior and neurobiology rather than treatment of patients. These psychologists often are employed at universities as professors of psychology.
The study of psychology also can lead to careers that do not require doctoral-level training. Careers in social work and rehabilitation counseling usually require Master's degrees in these disciplines, but entry-level jobs are often available for people having only baccalaureate degrees with an emphasis on psychology. Study of psychology also provides a good background for careers in education, public relations, advertising, sales, personnel and many areas of business. Graduates with training in biology and psychology may find work as technicians in research laboratories in medical schools, universities and governmental institutions. Detailed information on career options in psychology is available through the Career Center (157 Karl Umrath Hall).
Students interested in the interface between biology and psychology may choose the standard biology major and include advanced courses in the neurosciences (Biol 3411, Biol 404) among their electives. At least one course in statistics is recommended for students with interests in psychology (Math 320 and Psych 300 are appropriate introductory courses). Also recommended is a minor (minimum 15 units in psychology) or major (minimum 24 units in psychology) in the Department of Psychology (see requirements of the Department of Psychology for specifics, (http://psychweb.wustl.edu)
The mission of public health is to "fulfill society's interest in assuring conditions in which people can be healthy" (Institute of Medicine, Committee for the Study of the Future of Public Health, Division of Health Care Services. 1988. The Future of Public Health. National Academy Press, Washington, DC). Public health serves this mission through organized interdisciplinary efforts that address the physical, mental and environmental health concerns of communities and populations at risk for disease and injury. Health promotion and disease prevention technologies encompass a broad array of functions and expertise, including three core public health functions: (1) assessing and monitoring the health of communities and populations at risk to identify health problems and priorities; (2) formulating public policies, in collaboration with community and government leaders, designed to solve identified local and national health problems and priorities; (3) assuring that all populations have access to appropriate and cost-effective care, including health promotion and disease prevention services, and evaluation of the effectiveness of that care. For detailed information on public-health professions and schools offering graduate degrees in public health, see the website of the Association of Schools of Public Health (ASPH).
Veterinarians treat and prevent animal disease. Because of the great diversity of species treated, there is great variety in the work of veterinarians. Most veterinarians work in private practice, either on their own or as partners in a group practice. Many private practices specialize in the treatment of small animals, primarily dogs and cats. Increasingly such practices also treat birds and a variety of exotic animals. Mixed animal practices may also work with a variety of farm animals, as well as some nondomestic animals. A minority of veterinary practices specialize in large animals, usually with an emphasis on horses and cattle. There are many opportunities for veterinary work in areas other than private practice. For example, in private industry veterinarians may conduct research on nutrition or drug effects for pharmaceutical companies or safeguard the health of laboratory animal colonies. Veterinarians also work for zoos and aquariums, and may act as consultants to wildlife preservation groups. A variety of government agencies employ veterinarians in the areas of meat inspection, animal quarantine, and the care of wildlife in our parks. Academic institutions in the biomedical fields employ veterinarians as clinicians, researchers, and teachers.
Licensing to practice general veterinary medicine requires graduation with a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree from an accredited college of veterinary medicine. Licensing requires satisfactory performance on the national board examination, as well as other requirements controlled by the states. After graduation, many veterinarians choose to specialize, either in a clinical specialty or in work with a particular species. Specialization involves a one-year internship followed by two or three years of residency training.
Students interested in a veterinary career should obtain experience working in a veterinary practice, as such experience is required for admission to most or all veterinary schools. Course requirements vary with the institution, but always include a solid basis of chemistry (both inorganic and organic), physics, and biology. Generally, courses in biochemistry, genetics, microbiology, and nutrition are also specified. Biology majors interested in veterinary medicine should take our upper-level Vertebrate Structure Laboratory (Biol 3110) and Endocrinology (Biol 3151).
Additional information can be obtained from the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, 1101 Vermont Avenue NW, Suite 710, Washington DC 20005-3521 (phone 202-371-9195; http://aavmc.org), or the American Veterinary Medical Association, 1931 North Meacham Road, Suite 100, Schaumburg, IL 60173-4360 (phone: 1-800-248-AVMA; http://www.avma.org). Excellent books entitled "Veterinary Medical school Admission Requirements in the United States and Canada" and "The Preveterinary Planning Guide" are available from the Betz Publishing Co., P.O. Box 1745, Rockville MD 20849-9947 (phone: 1-800-634-4365)