Admission Trends, Summer & Bridge Year Options for Pre-Health Students

Career Administrator

What GPA does my student need to achieve in order to get into _____ school?

It is often difficult to get your hands on this information because most of the time, the answer is, “It depends.”  So the pre-health advisors at UVA have gathered this information to give you and your students the best information possible to make decisions for their future.  The data in the chart below should be considered with the following in mind:

  • An average is just an average, but it helps applicants make decisions.  The range of accepted GPAs varies by profession, but includes GPAs as low as 3.2. That said, the range for those who are not accepted includes GPAs as high as 3.7.  This is one of those areas where “it depends.” It depends on the strength of the rest of the application.  How much clinical experience? What is the motivation for applying? How are the letters of recommendation? What activities are included outside of clinical experience?
  • Note the average age at which students enter each professional school program.  The majority are not going directly after graduation.  The average accepted GPA for students without bridge years is higher than the average GPA for students with bridge years.
  • Only Dentistry, Medicine, and Physician Assisting include information from all applicants who attended UVA for undergraduate.  *All other professions are national averages because UVA-specific information is not available.
Profession National Average Matriculate Age Average Accepted Cumulative GPA
Dentistry 23 - 24 3.37 Science GPA (UVA-specific data, 2015-16 applicants)
3.63 Non-Science GPA (UVA-specific data, 2015-16 applicants)
Medicine 24 - 25 3.61 (allopathic; UVA-specific data, 2015-16 applicants)
3.44  (osteopathic; UVA-specific data, 2015-16 applicants)
Optometry 23 - 24 3.42 (*OptomCAS 2015-16 Applicant Student Profile)
Physician Assistant 26 3.45  (UVA-specific data, 2015-16 applicants)
Physical Therapy 23 3.57  (*PTCAS 2014-15 Applicant Data Report)
Veterinary Medicine 24 3.56 (*AAVMC 2014-15 Annual Data Report)

How do I help my student seek health-related experiences and opportunities for the summer or a bridge year?

Undoubtedly, a substantial amount of healthcare-related experience is an essential component of any health professional program application. Schools want to be assured your student has adequately explored their career of interest. When your student applies, admissions committees also seek evidence that conveys an orientation to service, empathy, ethical responsibility, and awareness of what their career interest entails.


Whether your student identifies a formally structured internship experience or spends periodical time in a healthcare facility each week, either opportunity can be valuable! Below are possible opportunities you may help your student consider.

  • Healthcare Facilities and Community Organization Volunteering: Hospitals, Free Clinics, Nursing or Retirement Homes, Remote Area Medical Clinics, Mission of Mercy Projects, SPCA. Consider the community organizations and healthcare providers in your area and seek information from their volunteer services departments.
  • Certification Course: Certified Nursing Assistant, Emergency Medical Technician, Dental Assistant, Pharmacy Technician. Certification courses are often offered by technical education centers, local community colleges, and the Red Cross.
  • Summer Camps: Summer camps may offer the opportunity to work in a health assistant position or as a camp counselor with a participant population who may experience a particular type of health concern or mental or physical disability.
  • Hospice Volunteering. The Hospice Foundation of America can assist you with locating a facility in your area.
  • Shadowing. Help your student identify contacts to arrange a shadowing experience. Shadowing may occur once a week over a period of two months, 8 hours a day for 2 weeks, or anywhere in between based on the availability of the healthcare provider.
  • Health Professional Association or Health Professional School Summer Programs. Many health professional programs offer exploratory or experiential programs for undergraduates. These programs often range in content and duration (1 week – 10 weeks), but could offer your student helpful insight into their profession of choice as well as the preparation and application process for admission to such a school.

Bridge Year

A bridge year(s) is the time between completion of a student’s undergraduate education and the start of a health professional program. There are numerous reasons to take a bridge year or two. Some use this time to address the need to enhance their candidacy for admission (i.e. participate in healthcare experiences, strengthen GPA or entrance exam scores) or simply to take an academic break. Whatever the reason, it’s a good opportunity to leverage the time and become a more competitive applicant.

  • Certification-based employment: If your student previously completed a healthcare certification (Certified Nursing Assistant, EMT, etc.), they might use their bridge year as an opportunity to put their certification to work.
  • Bridge Year Programs: Some programs are specifically intended for a 1-2 year time period. Seek out programs and fellowships designed for the short-term. This might include organizations such as AmeriCorps, Global Brigades, Unite for Sight, Project Horseshoe Farm, National Institutes of Health Post Bac.
  • Research Programs or Research Coordinator Positions: Large hospitals associated with academic medicine often seek clinical research coordinators or offer 1-2 year research programs.
  • Scribe Companies and Private Practice Clinics: Many hospitals contract with a scribe company to recruit, hire, and train their scribes. Many private practice clinics internally hire and train individuals as clinical assistants.
  • Post Bac Academic Programs: There are a variety of program types, many of which are used to assist students with academic performance enhancement prior to applying to a health professional program.

Encourage your student to attend the Bridge Year and Your Career event on Tuesday, 3/14 when they return from spring break!

UVA Resources

We hope you will encourage your student to meet with a pre-health advisor to review their candidacy and determine the next steps in their pre-health path!