Biomedical Studies Concentration Requirements

About the concentration: With such a variety of careers in healthcare today, it can be difficult for undergraduate students interested in human health and medicine to find the path that fits them best. The Biomedical Studies Concentration was designed and implemented in 2000 in order to provide students with an academic experience that helps them not only research but also prepare for careers in healthcare. This concentration includes courses, practical, and experiential requirements which together help the student explore many aspects of potential health careers. Biomedical Studies is a multidisciplinary program offering a contract concentration that can be earned in conjunction with any academic major. The concentration is intended as a plan of study that will enhance the preparation of students entering careers in the biomedical arena ranging from medicine to sports science to hospital administration. Students develop a Biomedical Studies Concentration by implementing a plan of study to match their individual needs.

Intended Learning Outcomes: Students will demonstrate…

1) breadth and depth of knowledge about healthcare careers.
2) knowledge of the academic, personal, and ethical aspects of healthcare, and of relationships among them.
3) critical evaluation of their own fit with specific healthcare fields based on values, interests, skills, and abilities.
4) practical preparation for pursuing employment or graduate education in specific healthcare fields.
5) dissemination of their work in the concentration with a senior capstone requirement.

How to get started and stay on track:

1) Meet with Biomedical Studies Director Mary Walczak to discuss your particular goals and sign a contract for your Biomedical Studies Concentration plan.
2) Declare the concentration at the Registrar’s Office (no faculty signature is required to add a concentration).
3) Work independently, with Mary, with members of the Piper Center for Vocation and Career, and with other mentors to fulfill the requirements of your Biomedical Studies contract as detailed below.
4) By May 1 of your senior year, have your required materials completed and assembled as a portfolio for Mary to approve in order to certify you to graduate with the Biomedical Studies Concentration.

Required Materials: Download the Checklist!

A) CONCENTRATION INITIATION. After meeting with a Peer Advisor or staff member in the Piper Center, you need to complete the Contract Initiation Form. You will write a paragraph explaining your particular goals for the concentration and meet with Biomedical Studies Director Mary Walczak to initiate your contract. After Mary has signed your contract initiation form, then you need to declare the concentration at the Registrar’s Office.

B) COURSE PLAN. The Biomedical Studies Concentration consists of four courses (plus an experiential component, and a senior capstone experience, both described below). All students must take a foundation course in human biology (Biology 123 or 243, depending on their course of study). In addition, students are required to choose one course from opportunities in each of three core components: 1) practical application outside the major; 2) ethical consideration, can also be your EIN course; 3) Level II or III elective outside the major. You must propose a course plan at the time of your contract initiation by completing the Course Planning Form. For your portfolio, you must include a short explanation of how each of the three core courses chosen contributes to your learning in the Biomedical Studies Concentration.

C) EXPERIENTIAL COMPONENT. You must participate in at least one significant experience that immerses you in the field(s) that you are considering. This requirement may be met by an approved course, an academic internship for credit, or an experience (paid or unpaid) that is not for credit. You must include a summary of the experience (including logistics like hours spent) and what you learned from it, to include in your portfolio.

D) CAREER RESEARCH. This part of the Biomedical Studies Concentration provides you with a context for learning about different careers that might suit your talents, interests, and motivations. Completion of the requirements will involve utilizing the excellent resources of the Piper Center, and there are many other places to go for information. For example, is a very useful general resource, and the Biomedical Studies web page contains a resources page. You must complete a Career Exploration Worksheet for each of three different potential careers for your portfolio.

E) INFORMATIONAL INTERVIEWS. This requirement encourages you to find out more about these careers than you can from web research alone. Talk with Piper Center staff about identifying professionals to interview, and/or work from any contacts you may already have. Consult the Piper Center’s Informational Interviews page, then conduct informational interviews with at least two professionals from different careers. Write up a summary of your interview for your portfolio.

F) PARTICIPATE IN CAREER-RELATED EVENTS. Attend at least four career-related events that are pertinent to your potential career choices. You can attend any event that helps you learn about a career of interest to you, or about an issue important to a career of interest to you. For at least four events attended, record the event title and date, and include a paragraph describing what you gained from attending that event. Please do attend more than four events! However, you only need to write up four events for your portfolio.

G) RESUME or CURRICULUM VITAE. Completion of a resume or curriculum vitae (CV) is crucial for any college student, and you should complete this requirement as soon as possible, updating your document as you gain more experience. In order to assist you in creating a resume/CV that best represents you, we require that you first work with a Piper Center peer advisor, then with a Piper Center staff member. Your completed resume or CV must be included in your portfolio, with the signatures of the Piper Center peer advisor(s) and staff member(s) who approved it.

H) SENIOR CAPSTONE. You must write a one-page review of how your work in your Biomedical Studies Concentration has helped you formulate next steps for after graduation from St. Olaf College. This review must include your future plans (however tentative or firm they are), and be accompanied by a document(s) that support those next steps. For example, if you plan to attend graduate or professional school, then your supporting document could be the personal statement that you needed to write for those applications. As another example, if you are planning to take a job, then your supporting document could be the cover letter that you needed for job applications. The review and supporting document(s) must be included in your portfolio.

I) DISTINCTION IN BIOMEDICAL STUDIES. Because this year (2015-2016) is the final year of the concentration, applications for Distinction in this concentration are not encouraged. Please do consider applying for Distinction in your major field if you are eligible (each department has its own guidelines).

When you have the items above complete and ready for submission, please submit them to Mary Walczak <>.

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