has served as
the Biology Department faculty advisor for students interested in careers
in Optometry and as Physician Assistants since 1994. The following
information is intended to help students understand how the biology major
curriculum leads to careers in these professions. As a rule students
are reminded that to be competitive for pursuing these and other health
careers, they must demonstrate their intelligence, scientific curiosity,
motivation and social consciousness consistently in their studies and personal
life. Students are encouraged to read my notes on improving your
study habits at the college level (http://www.valdosta.edu/~rgoddard).
Outline of this document:
Additionally, students can find a wealth of advice and information from many
Suggested starting links:
I be a Physician Assistant Major? ...or an Optometry Major at VSU?
Students are reminded that Valdosta State University does not have either
an Optometry or Physician Assistant major. The biology major curriculum
at VSU offers enough latitude in choosing coursework that will be appropriate
for students who want to meet the admission criteria for these two programs
at other institutions. While at Valdosta State University, students
are only Biology Majors, not Physician Assistant or Optometry
majors. Legally and morally it is my job to advise students of
the appropriate courses to take that will fulfill the requirements for
the B.S. degree in Biology, that will allow students to graduate in the
shortest reasonable time frame. I will advise the student interested
in the above careers about which courses to take that will fill both biology
requirements and admission requirements for the program in which they are
interested. Students will have very little free elective credits
to choose from because of the necessity to choose the correct elective
courses in the biology curriculum that will fulfill admission credit for
the programs in which they are interested. This is why it is so important
for students to visit their advisor every semester for advice. I
offer here some specific advice on these two areas of study.
General Information about Optometry
and admission to optometry schools:
Doctors of optometry are
independent primary health care providers who examine, diagnose, treat,
and manage diseases and disorders of the human eye and visual system.
Generally, students who apply and are accepted for admission into schools
of optometry are thoroughly prepared in terms of the coursework they have
completed and in their understanding of the optometry profession and what
it means to be an optometrist. In general, students can demonstrate
these attributes by maintaining excellent grades (GPA), performing well
on the OAT, and volunteering or otherwise working with professionals in
the field. There are 16 optometry programs in the continental United
States; one in Puerto Rico; and two in Canada. Our students generally
apply to one of the following three schools and colleges in the area:
Additional information about these and other optometry
programs can be obtained from the individual institutions or from the Association
of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO).
The Optometry Admissions Test
(OAT) is comprised exclusively of multiple choice test items
presented in the English language. There are four sections that require
just over one-half day for administration. The exam includes:
I. Survey of the Natural Sciences
The earliest recommended time to take the OAT for the first time is February
of the Junior Year. If a student scores well on this administration
of the test, then the student will be able to submit a complete application
at an earlier date than other students. The majority of students
wait until October of their senior year to sit for the exam. Any
student scoring less than a 320 on the OAT should consider retaking the
B. General Chemistry
C. Organic Chemistry
III. Reading Comprehension
IV. Quantitative Reasoning
Applications and information on the administration of the Optometry
Admissions Test can be obtained from:
Optometry Admission Testing Program
211 East Chicago Avenue, Suite 1840
Chicago, Illinois 60611-2678
(800) 232-2159 or
Online Application: (Click
target link then follow link for online registration)
Note: The OAT is
administered in person at Prometric Test Centers. You must apply for your
test with the OAT Program and receive your electronic notification prior to
scheduling your testing appointment with Prometric. You should start to
schedule with Prometric 60 to 90 days before your desired testing date.
The Valdosta location for a Prometric Test Center is:
1709 River St.
Valdosta, Georgia 31602
United States Of America
This is the same location (office) as the Sylvan Learning Center (245-9111).
General Information about Physician
Assistant (PA) and PA schools
The physician assistant is a skilled professional
qualified by academic and clinical training to provide medical and health-care
services under the supervision of a licensed physician. In most settings
physician assistants obtain medical histories, perform physical examinations,
order and interpret laboratory and other diagnostic studies and assess
and manage common illnesses. Disease prevention and health-promotion activities,
counseling and patient education are other important services provided
by physician assistants. Most students at VSU are Georgia residents and
obtain preferential consideration at the Medical College of Georgia (MCG).
VSU students generally apply to one of the following schools with Physician Assistant
Additional PA programs
Physician Assistants in the state of Georgia practice under the provisions
of the Physician Assistant Act, the Rules of the Composite State Board
of Medical Examiners and an approved job description. Successful completion
of the National Certifying Examination for Physician Assistants is required. Practice options for the certified physician assistant are as varied
as the many disciplines within the field of medicine. Students should look
for institutions that offer a comprehensive (generalist) education which
allows graduates to become employed in many specialty areas. Further,
prospective students should be sure that any program they enter will prepare
them to pass the necessary National Certifying Exam.
Further information about PA's, the career, and other opportunities
can be obtained through various organizations such as the
Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA). Additional information
about other programs available in the United States can be found at this
Students should check with each institution in which they are interested
to learn the specific requirements of each of these programs. The
following links lead to documents I created as an aid to students for planning
their curriculum at VSU. In general, the courses fill requirements
of the Georgia State System and therefore are more closely directed at
the specific requirements defined by the Medical College of Georgia PA
program. Courses suggested should fill most if not all of the requirements
of other programs.
Course Scheduling Advice:
As mentioned, it is very important to complete some critical course
work early to realize your plans of entering a P.A. school, optometry program,
or even for general biology. In many cases, courses for which you
need to register are filled and the University's registration software
prevents you from registering for a needed course. For understanding this problem and I will use CHEM 1211 as an example.
Please understand that CHEM 1211 is a freshmen level service course.
Any student of any major can take this course with no prerequisite (The
course fills an Area D requirement in the Core Curriculum of the University
System). Our Chemistry department consists of a limited number of faculty
members whose responsibilities extend far beyond teaching enough sections of this
one class to accommodate all students who desire to take the course. It is impossible for the Chemistry Department, or any
other department with high-demand service courses, to provide for all students
who must have a particular course right now. Is there anything
you can do? Follow these hints to increase your chances of enrolling
in a particular course schedule:
Do not settle for any schedule. You will have to work hard to acquire
the schedule you need. This "game" does not seem fair and officials
at the University are aware of these problems and are trying to make the
classes you need more accessible. Until the time these problems go
away, however, follow the steps above to increase your chances of getting
into the classes you need.
Register at the earliest possible time for a course. This should
be done during the early registration period in the semester preceding
the semester when the course is offered. Read the online "Schedule of Classes"
available through the
office Web page or at "Banner Web"
for current information.
Course registration works on a first come, first served basis with freshmen
students registering last. If you found a course filled during early
registration do not give up. Early registration is usually open for
2 -3 weeks. During this time students may register for classes and
then drop, add, or otherwise shuffle their schedule. Students who
found a course filled at one time may log onto the registration software
(BANNER) later to find that there is now an open slot because another student
has dropped the class. You are now free to add the course to your
schedule. The more you check back, the greater your chances of finding
an open slot due to another students withdrawal from the course.
As a last resort, you may talk to the instructor of the course. If
s/he decides there is room for you in the class, s/he may authorize a registration
override to over-enroll you into the class. Do not argue with, beg,
or bully this instructor. It is not their fault if there are more
students in the course than they can teach. The instructor most often
is not responsible for the scheduling of classes.
After early registration there is a fee payment deadline. If you
have not paid your tuition bill by this time, the registration software
will purge all students with unpaid bills from their selected courses.
If you were lucky enough to get enrolled in a high-demand course, be sure
to pay your bill on time. If not, now is another opportunity to enroll
again. As soon as the registration software opens for student use
(again, check the information available through the
office Web page),
see if there is an opening in that course you had to have (opened due to
students purged from the class). You may be able to add now.
Finally, a lot of reshuffling of classes occurs during the first couple
of days of class designated as the drop/add period. Try to acquire
a position in a class vacated by someone else who has dropped it.
Invest in a little time by attending the needed class on the first day.
Introducing yourself and explaining your problem to the instructor at this
time may improve your chances of being admitted to the class (be sure to
wait until after the class period to try to talk to the instructor!).
At the very least you would demonstrate your commitment to the education
process to the instructor and s/he may look favorably upon you. Besides,
you don't want to miss any course content if you did get into the course
if you expect to maintain the high academic record needed to become the
professional you want to be.
Consider joining the Honor's program
if your academic record warrants eligibility. Honors students are the
first to register and never have difficulty getting in to their selected courses
if they register at their earliest possible time.
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4 October 2011