The Student Doctor Network (SDN) Pre-Health Student Glossary

The SDN Pre-Health Glossary was updated October 24, 2021.

Welcome to the official SDN “Get Smart” Glossary! The SDN Glossary contains definitions of the most common terms you need to know as a pre-health student.

Organizations and Application Services:

  • AACOM: American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine
  • AACOMAS: American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service
  • AACP: American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy
  • AAMC: Association of American Medical Colleges
  • ABP: Atlantic Bridge Program, a program for students from Canada and the United States applying to medical schools in Ireland.
  • AHMA: American Holistic Medical Association
  • AMA: American Medical Association
  • AMA-MSS: Medical Student Section of the AMA
  • AMCAS: American Medical College Application Service
  • AMSA: American Medical Student Association, publishes the New Physician
  • AMWA: American Medical Women’s Association
  • AOA: Alpha Omega Alpha – National Medical School honor society
  • AOA: American Osteopathic Association
  • APhA: American Pharmacists Association
  • ASHP: American Society of Health-System Pharmacists
  • ERAS: Electronic Residency Application System for obtaining a residency position in the field of medicine in the United States.
  • HPAC: Health Professions Advisory Committee
  • MDApplicants.com: Web site that allows students applying to medical schools to share their application stats and track their progress through the application process. Students can view others profiles and leave comments.
  • NAAHP: National Association of Advisers for the Health Professions
  • NCPA: National Community Pharmacists Association
  • PharmApplicants.com: Web site that allows students applying to pharmacy schools to share their application stats and track their progress through the application process. Students can view others profiles and leave comments.
  • PharmCAS: Pharmacy College Application Service, the service a pre-pharmacy student uses to apply to most pharmacy schools in the United States.
  • TMDSAS: Texas Medical & Dental Schools Application Service

Programs and Degrees:

  • 0+6 Program: Pharmacy program accepting applicants directly after high school and are guaranteed a position in the professional phase of the program providing that certain criteria are met.
  • 2+4 Program: Program allowing students with the opportunity of entering a pharmacy program after 2 years of undergraduate coursework provided that all pre-pharmacy requirements are met.
  • 3+4 Program: Program allowing advanced students with the opportunity of entering a pharmacy program after 3 years of undergraduate coursework.
  • BA/MD: A combined program where a Bachelors of Arts and Doctor of Medicine degree are conferred over 6-8 years depending on the program.
  • BS/MD: A combined program where a Bachelors of Sciences and Doctor of Medicine degree are conferred over 6-8 years depending on the program.
  • Caribbean Med Schools: Popular alternative to those not attending school in the US
  • DO/PHD: Combined Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine and PhD. program, 6-8 years
  • MD/PHD: Combined Doctor of Medicine and PhD. program, 6-8 years
  • MSTP: Medical Scientist Training Program
  • PharmD/MBA: Combined Doctor of Pharmacy and Masters of Business Administration Program
  • PharmD/PhD: Combined Doctor of Pharmacy and Ph.D. program
  • SMDEP: Summer Medical and Dental Education Program
  • SMP: One-year masters degree programs (usually) that allow you to earn an MS in biomedical sciences or a related field. They are usually done by people who have a science background and are looking to make their application more competitive, for GPA or other reasons.
  • WICHE: Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education. WICHE provides a program for medical students from Alaska, Montana and Wyoming.
  • WWAMI: A program for medical students from Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho.

General Terminology and Medical Specialties:

  • AA: Affirmative action
  • ADCOM: Admission Committee
  • ACLS: Advanced Cardiac Life Support
  • AED: Automatic External Defibrillator
  • Affirmative Action: Programs designed to provide increased opportunities for historically under-represented minorities.
  • AO: All Others – Grade Point Average of all classes not included in BCMP
  • AP: Advanced Placement
  • AWPA: Acceptance when place available; used when a medical school or college desires to admit a student but lacks a spot to accommodate that student.
  • BCPM: Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics
  • BLS: Basic Life Support
  • Burnett’s Law: As an SDN Forums discussion grows longer, the probability of being told, “you will be a terrible doctor” or, “I feel bad for your future patients” approaches 1.
  • CAM: complementary and alternative medicine.
  • CC: Community college
  • Committee Letter: composite letter of LOR’s which is submitted by the school’s pre-professional advising committee
  • CPR: cardiopulmonary resuscitation, An emergency procedure employed after cardiac arrest and used to maintain the circulation of oxygenated blood to the brain.
  • CSS: College Scholarship Service
  • DAW: ‘Dispense As Written’, A prescription with a DAW must be dispensed precisely as it is written. No substitutions or alterations permitted.
  • Deferral: Delayed Matriculation following acceptance, usually one year
  • EC: Extra-curricular activities
  • EDP: Early Decision Program
  • ED: the Emergency Department (usually at a hospital)
  • EM: Emergency Medicine (medical specialty)
  • EMS: Emergency Medical Services
  • ENT: Otolaryngology (ear, nose and throat)
  • FAF: Financial Aid Form
  • FAFSA: Free Application for Federal Student Aid
  • Fellowship: Post residency training in specialized fields
  • FMG: Foreign Medical Graduate
  • GPA: Grade Point Average; BCPM is the science GPA; AO is the GPA for all other courses
  • Gunner: slang for an anxious premed student who will do anything to get good grades.
  • HBCU: Historically Black Colleges and Universities
  • IMG: International Medical Graduate
  • Internship: First year of medical residency training for physicians
  • IM: Internal Medicine (medical specialty)
  • IRS: Internal Revenue Service
  • IS: In-state
  • JAMA: Journal of the American Medical Association
  • Legacy: A student whose parents or grandparents have attended and/or heavily contributed to the school.
  • LM: LizzyM Score, named for a long-time SDN contributor who developed the original calculator. Calculate your score here.
  • LOE: Letters of Evaluation
  • LOI: Letter of intent/interest
  • LOR: Letter of recommendation
  • Match: The electronic process where 4th year medical or pharmacy students are fitted to residency spots based on their preference rankings and preference rankings of the residency program.
  • MS I, II, III or IV: medical student year 1,2,3 or 4
  • MSAR: Medical School Admission Requirements (published by AAMC)
  • NICU: Neonatal Intensive Care Unit
  • NonTrad: Student who is applying to a professional program 2 or more years after completing his undergraduate program, often as a career change (non-traditional student).
  • NRMP: National Resident Matching Program
  • OA: Overall – All inclusive Grade Point Average
  • OMS I, II, III or IV: osteopathic medical student year 1,2,3 or 4
  • On-Hold: Application has been reviewed without decision
  • OOS: Out-of-state
  • OP: Original Poster
  • OR: the Operating Room (usually in a hospital or ambulatory surgery center)
  • Orgo: Organic Chemistry, and a common prerequisite for medical schools
  • PA: Prior Authorization. Additional paperwork required by an insurance outlining the specifics of a patient’s medical condition to determine whether or not the medication will be paid for.
  • PGY1: intern year
  • Pharmacy Protocol: The ability to dispense medication by writing a legal prescription without the consent of a doctor. Only applicable in some states.
  • PI: principal investigator (of a lab)
  • PIC: Pharmacist In Charge
  • PICU: Pediatric Intensive Care Unit
  • PM: Private Message
  • Post-bac: Coursework taken (typically after earning a bachelor’s degree) to allow applicants to meet medical school admission requirements. May be useful for students with degrees in non-science fields; can be formal or informal; short for post-baccalaureate program.
  • Pre-Candidate School: A pharmacy school which has begun the process of becoming accredited, but has not yet done so.
  • Pre-req: Undergraduate course listed as minimum requirement for entry into medical school (e.g. general chemistry)
  • Primary Application: single initial medical school application submitted online via AMCAS (MD) or AAMCOMAS (DO) or TMDAS (Texas schools) for verification and forwarding to individual schools.
  • Primary Care: Typically the specialties of Family Practice, Pediatrics and general Internal Medicine
  • PRN: As needed
  • PS: Personal Statement
  • QFT: Quoted For Truth
  • RD: Resident Director
  • Re-Applicant: Applicant who has also applied during a previous cycle
  • Reciprocity: An agreement between states to issue practice licenses to applicants licensed in other states.
  • Residency: A period of time after completing school during which a physician or pharmacist receives intensive training in a particular healthcare specialty.
  • ROAD: Radiology, Ophthalmology, Anesthesiology, Dermatology – medical specialties considered by some to afford a good mix of income and quality of life.
  • RRC: Residency Review Committee – verifies residency programs meet minimum training requirements for a specialty
  • Secondary Application: additional follow-up application for individual schools, which is submitted directly to the school. Content, fees, and methods of selecting applicants for distribution vary widely.
  • SDN: Student Doctor Network
  • SICU: Surgical Intensive Care Unit
  • Sig Codes: Short hand abbreviations used to describe the directions of a medication therapy. Examples include, but are not limited to: BID, TID, OU, AD, PRN….
  • STAT: Immediate, said when something needs to be done immediately.
  • URM: Under-represented Minority
  • US News Rankings: Annual ranking of colleges and professional schools by U.S. News and World Report (magazine)
  • Waitlist: List of students who will be offered acceptance if seats become available at a given medical school
  • WAMC: “What Are My Chances” threads – designated posting area for all questions related an applicant’s chances for admission.

Assessments and Accreditation:

  • Accredited School (Pharm): A school which has passed ACPE accreditation assuring and advancing the quality of pharmacy education.
  • ACGME: Accreditation Council on Graduate Medical Education, accredits residency programs
  • Boards Bootcamp: Test preparation and review for COMLEX and USMLE
  • BOP: Board of Pharmacy
  • CASPer: A Situational Judgement Test (SJT) administered by Altius Assessments that is used by some health professional schools to assess non-academic or “people skills”. Administered exclusively online and may be taken once per application cycle. Students are not provided a score, only a quartile (i.e., 25-50th percent).
  • COMLEX: Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination (the Osteopathic equivalent of the USMLE), a 3-step medical licensing test all DO’s must take. Step I is taken after the 2nd year of medical school and is a major determining factor in residency placement, Step II is taken prior to graduation and Step III is taken following your first year of residency.
  • CPJE: California Practice Standards and Jurisprudence Examination for Pharmacists
  • Dr. Collins: PCAT review course
  • ECFMG: Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates
  • EK: ExamKrackers, test preparation course materials
  • GMAT: Graduated Management Admission Test
  • Gold Standard: Test preparation review course materials (The MCAT Store)
  • GRE: Graduate Record Examination
  • Joint Commission: accredits and certifies more than 18,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States (formerly JCAHO)
  • Kaplan: Test preparation review materials and service
  • LCME: Liaison Committee on Medical Education, accredits medical schools
  • MCAT: Medical College Admissions Test, a computer based standardized test used to assess a medical school applicant’s aptitude in a variety of fields. Subject matter includes Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems, Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems, Critical Analysis and Reasoning, Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior. Each section is scored on a bell curve from 1 to 15 (total possible points 60). As of 2015, the MCAT 2015 is being utilized.
  • MPJE: Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Examination
  • NABP: National Association of Boards of Pharmacy
  • NAPLEX: North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination
  • NBME: National Board of Medical Examiners, administers the USMLE
  • NBOME: National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners
  • PCAT: Pharmacy College Application Test; a standardized test used to assess a pharmacy school applicant’s aptitude in a variety of fields. The test is broken into 7 parts: 2 Writing Topics, Verbal Ability, Biology, Chemistry, Reading Comprehension, and Quantitative Ability. The writing scores range from 0-5. All other section scores are a percentile from 0-99.
  • PTCB: Pharmacy Technician Certification Board
  • SJT: Situational Judgement Test. Tests that attempt to quantify “soft skills” such as empathy and moral judgement, usually by requiring test takers to describe how they would respond to ethically ambiguous scenarios. CASPer is an example.
  • TBR: The Berkeley Review, test preparation review materials and service
  • TOEFL: Test of English as a Foreign Language
  • TPR: The Princeton Review, test preparation review materials and service
  • USMLE: United States Medical Licensing Examination, a 3-step medical licensing test all MD’s must take. Step I is taken after the 2nd year of medical school and is a major determining factor in residency placement, Step II is taken prior to graduation and Step III is taken following your first year of residency. In the future, a combined Step I and Step II exam in the third year will likely be used.

Healthcare Positions:

  • AA: Anesthesiology assistant
  • Attending: A physician who has completed residency and practices in a clinic, hospital, or private practice, in the specialty learned during residency and can supervise fellow residents and medical students.
  • BCNP: Board Certified Nuclear Pharmacist
  • BCNSP: Board Certified Nutrition Support Pharmacist
  • BCOP: Board Certified Oncology Pharmacist
  • BCPP: Board Certified Psychiatric Pharmacist
  • BCPS: Board Certified Pharmacotherapy Specialist
  • Certified Pharmacy Technician: A technician who has passed the certification test provided by the PTCB
  • Chief Resident: a senior-level resident who has been assigned administrative and training responsibilities within the residency training program.
  • CNA: Certified nurse assistant
  • CNM: Certified Nurse-Midwife
  • CRNA: Certified registered nurse anesthetist
  • DDS: Doctor of Dental Surgery
  • DMD: Doctor of Dental Medicine
  • DNP: Doctor of Nursing Practice
  • DO: Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine
  • DOP: Director of Pharmacy
  • DPM: Doctor of Podiatric Medicine
  • DPT: Doctor of Physical Therapy
  • DVM: Doctor of Veterinary Medicine
  • EMT: Emergency Medical Technician
  • EMT-B: Emergency Medical Technician-Basic
  • EMT-I: Emergency Medical Technician-Intermediate
  • EMT-P: Emergency Medical Technician-Paramedic
  • Hospitalist: a physician who specializes in treating hospitalized patients; a specialist in inpatient medicine.
  • HCP: Health Care Provider
  • House Staff: The physicians and surgeons in specialty training at a hospital who care for patients under the direction and responsibility of attending staff.
  • LCSW: Licensed Clinical Social Worker
  • Licensed Pharmacy Technician: A technician who possess a state specific license to work in a pharmacy
  • LPN: Licensed Practical Nurse
  • MBA: Master of Business Administration, given in many disciplines.
  • MBChB or MBBS:UK model – Bachelor of Medicine and surgery, commonly observed in other countries including India, Pakistan, etc.
  • MD: Doctor of (allopathic) Medicine
  • MHA: Masters of Healthcare Administration
  • MPH: Master of Public Health
  • NP: Nurse Practitioner
  • OEC-T: Outdoor Emergency Care Technician
  • OTD: Doctor of Occupational Therapy
  • PA: Physician Assistant / Associate
  • PCT: patient care technician
  • PharmD: Doctor of Pharmacy (6 years – 2+4 or direct entry), aka a pharmacist.
  • PhD: Doctor of Philosophy
  • PsyD: Doctor of psychology
  • RN: Registered Nurse

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