Biology and Physics Competencies for Pre-Health and Other Life Sciences Students

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The American Society for Cell Biology


The recent report on the Scientific Foundations for Future Physicians (SFFP) and the revised Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) reframe the preparation for medical school (and other health professional schools) in terms of competencies: what students should know and be able to do with that knowledge, with a strong emphasis on scientific inquiry and research skills. In this article, we will describe the thinking that went into the SFFP report and what it says about scientific and quantitative reasoning, focusing on biology and physics and the overlap between those fields. We then discuss how the SFFP report set the stage for the discussion of the recommendations for the revised MCAT, which will be implemented in 2015, again focusing the discussion on biology and physics. Based on that framework, we discuss the implications for undergraduate biology and physics education if students are to be prepared to demonstrate these competencies.