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Allied Health Professions

Welcome to Willamette University’s health care professions website. This site is for students (and alumni) with an interest in or currently performing paramedical care, nursing, podiatry, occupational and physical therapy, physician assistant training, athletic training, or other sport- and/or health-related professions. Students interested in medicine, dentistry, optometry, or veterinary medicine, should primarily consult Willamette's pre-medicine site.

The Department of Exercise and Health Science has a reciprocal, coordinated, and integrated relationship with all other academic departments and the Office of Career Services in order to provide objective, appropriate, and up-to-date information. Students and alumni should explore all available websites because there is a congruency of academic requirements for all pre-health concentrations.

Within the health care professions site, you can find the help you need in preparing for a future in a health care profession. Check the related links for additional resources for current and future health care professionals. We recommend you start with the American Medical Association listing of health professions as well as the website established and maintained by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs. In addition, we have provided a few important websites to assist you with learning more about different health professions.

Physical Therapy programs (DPT degree)

The American Physical Therapy Association website has a listing of all accredited programs by state.

You may also consider this clearinghouse of information.  For information regarding the day-to-day aspects of physical therapy, check out the link; what do physical therapists do? View information on PT salaries (by state). Finally, if you know physical therapy school is for you, use the following link to help navigate physical therapy schools by tuition cost, student population, and school type!  

Occupational Therapy Graduate programs (DOT degree)

Nurse Practitioner (NP degree)

Nursing (BSN degree)

Physician's Assistance programs (PA degree)

Public Health programs (MPH degree)

Athletic Training - Sports Medicine programs (ATC certification)

Frequently-asked Questions

Here are some of the most common questions regarding careers in health care professions programs.

Q: What are some occupations within the health care field?

A: This is but a shortlist of possibilities for a professional career in the health care field:

  • Athletic Trainer
  • Chiropractor
  • Dentist
  • Epidemiologist
  • Exercise Physiologist
  • Health for Consumers
  • Laboratory Technician
  • Medical Administrator
  • Nurse
  • Nutritionist
  • Occupational Therapist
  • Optometrist
  • Orthopedic Technologist
  • Pharmacologist
  • Physical Therapist
  • Physician Assistant
  • Podiatrist
  • Radiologist

Q: Must I choose Exercise and Health Science as a major for a future career in health care?

A: Although you may select any major, health care professional programs and graduate schools require specific courses that are prerequisites for admission. The EXSCI curriculum encompasses the majority of these prerequisite courses. Thus you will fulfill most of the admission standards for health care professions while simultaneously completing the requirements for the major. Keep in mind that the requirements for graduation from Willamette are different than requirements for admission into a graduate or professional program, so you may need to take additional courses to satisfy these admission requirements.

Q: What additional courses outside the Exercise and Health Science major should I take?

A: Many health care professions require:

  • at least a year of chemistry (CHEM 115 and Chem 116) and some require an organic chemistry course,
  • a year of physics or at least one semester of introductory physics,
  • upper-division psychology (for those interested in physical therapy)
  • microbiology
  • statistics and research design courses
Several programs also require evidence of writing and other communication skills. This requirement is satisfied through our Writing Center program.

Q: Is there a particular sequence that I should follow when I take these courses?

A: There is no required sequence, although several courses have prerequisites. Thus we have prepared the following recommendations:

  • Take the introductory EXSCI course (EXSCI 135) during your first or second semester. It will prepare you for the major; help develop your analytical skills, writing skills, presentation skills; and, determine your attributes for a future health care profession.
  • An entry-level biology course is highly recommended during your first two semesters as it prepares you for human anatomy and physiology.
  • Take human anatomy (BIOL 246) between your second and fourth semesters.
  • Take human physiology (BIOl 260) immediately or within one semester after human anatomy (BIOL 246).
  • Take exercise physiology (EXSCI 360) as close to human physiology (BIOL 260) as possible.
  • Take your chemistry series within your first four semesters.
  • Take physics (PHYS 225) prior to biomechanics (EXSCI 346) (if you are taking physics).
  • Take statistics (MATH 138 ore equivalent) just prior to research design (EXSCI 356W).
  • You need to successfully complete EXSCI 135 prior to enrolling in EXSCI 356W.
  • You need to successfully complete EXSCI 356W prior to enrolling in the Senior Seminal course (EXSCI 496).

Q: I am a pre-med student. Should I consider taking Human Anatomy and Human Physiology courses, even though medical schools do not require these courses?

A: We recommend that you do so because several medical and dental programs are now requiring human anatomy and physiology. These courses will also benefit you during your preparation for the M-CAT exam. In addition, previous exposure to, and experience with human anatomy and physiology will make your anatomy and physiology classes at medical school significantly less stressful. Finally, if you decide to pursue a health-related career other than as a physician, these classes are usually required and certainly beneficial.

Q: I have decided to become a registered nurse, but Willamette does not offer a four-year nursing program. Should I transfer to another institution?

A: It depends upon the coursework you have already completed at Willamette. You also need to consider that there are many accelerated nursing programs. Accelerated nursing programs are an excellent alternative to transferring and maybe a better solution. You should consult an Exercise and Health Science advisor to discuss your options.

Recommended Curriculum Timeline

The suggested program below is a recommended process; you should consult with a health care professions advisor no later than the beginning of your Junior Year.

Freshman Year

Enroll in liberal arts requirements; concentrate on Chemistry, Mathematics, and entry-level Biology and/or Exercise and Health Science courses.

Sophomore Year

Continue with liberal arts requirements, but include human anatomy and physiology. Also, consider continuing chemistry and begin taking physics courses. Students should enroll in EXSCI 135 either as freshmen or by the beginning of the sophomore year. This course will provide students with the numerous opportunities available within the Exercise and Health Science discipline as well as prepare them for successful completion of this discipline.

Junior Year

Students must declare a major during their junior year. After four semesters, students should have decided whether to pursue a pre-medical or pre-health care profession. Those who pursue the latter should continue with the ExSci core and select appropriate electives from the ExSci curriculum. Students must consult a pre-health care professional advisor and investigate the various health care professional options, concentrating on that profession’s graduate school requirements for application.

Senior Year

All pre-health care professions students will present a senior research paper or project as well as do volunteer work or internship within the chosen profession. Complete Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and prepare graduate applications.

Willamette University

Exercise and Health Science

Willamette University
900 State Street
Salem Oregon 97301 U.S.A.
503-370-6894 voice
503-370-6773 fax