Frequently Asked Questions

You have good questions, and we’re here to help!

What does pre-med or pre-health mean at Iowa State?

Pre-med and pre-health are designations of your future goals. You will still choose an academic major in an area that interests you.

What’s the best major for getting into medical or professional school?

All majors are potential paths to professional school. With good planning, you can complete the prerequisites for professional school with any major. Students with majors in the arts, humanities and sciences are admitted to professional schools at similar rates. Choose a major that ignites your passion, so that you are motivated to work toward academic success. Plus, if your long-term goals ever change, you will already have a major that excites you.

What type of GPA will I need for professional school?

You should strive for a 3.5 GPA to be considered a strong applicant.

Should I do undergraduate research to be accepted to professional school?

Many Iowa State students enjoy our strong undergraduate research culture and the opportunity to go beyond the classroom. Research is not required for professional school admittance, but it strengthens your application. Whether you’re interested in cancer, neuroscience or nutrition, you’ll gain an understanding of the research process, sharpen your scientific skills and engage with exceptional faculty.

How do I find letters of recommendation?

Get to know your professors. Form relationships with faculty members by attending office hours, becoming a TA, conducting research or tutoring. Students often begin gathering letters of recommendation in early spring of their junior year. Plan to have those conversations early in case a faculty member is away for a semester or unable to assist for another reason.

How do I create a strong personal statement?

As you gain experiences in research, shadowing, volunteering and leadership, track each one. You can do this through a spreadsheet, a notebook or other system. Note what you did and your hours, reflect on what you gained and consider what you’ll do next after each experience. When you’re ready to write your personal statement, these reflections will be invaluable as you think about your motivations, strengths and future goals.

Your pre-professional health adviser can give you additional guidance and resources on preparing a good personal statement.

How do I find a shadowing experience?

Our students often shadow providers in their home communities during academic breaks and in the summer. Iowa State University is within easy driving distance of Des Moines and many major medical providers and specialists. Additionally, Cyclones are everywhere! Our alumni often visit campus and can provide a great network of opportunities.

Most programs do not have a set number of shadowing hours that are required for admission. You should have multiple shadowing experiences to challenge yourself and gain a well-rounded perspective in your desired profession.

How can I get patient care hours?

We encourage many students to complete their CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant). You will gain experience caring for patients, and it provides a good return on your investment. Some students also become EMTs (Emergency Medical Technician), although many EMT positions are volunteer positions.

Can you help me with my professional school interview?

LAS Career Services can help you practice mock interviews for medical or professional school. Current students can set up an appointment to meet with their staff and learn how they can assist you.

Can I become a nurse at Iowa State?

Iowa State’s bachelor of science degree in nursing (BSN) completion program helps nurses further their education in health promotion, disease prevention and the overall culture of health. This is a program available only to registered nurses who have already completed a pre-licensure program.