The latest, most powerful, and amazing discoveries of biology are applied in the many related health profession fields. Students graduating with a Blackburn College Biology Major can enter professional graduate programs leading to many health career fields working at different levels of support ranging from surgery to nursing to physical and occupational therapy. Our many graduates who enter these medical fields find great need, opportunity, and excellent pay and benefits. But perhaps most importantly, our health profession graduates have the chance to make a tremendous impact on the quality of the life of the communities in which they serve.
Many of our students practice their health professions in underserved regions around where they grew up.
At Blackburn College all science majors will learn in state-of-the-art facilities, taught by dedicated and passionate faculty, and earn an educational foundation leading to successful science careers. Small class sizes and tight-knit student and faculty relationships mean that all biology majors at Blackburn College are provided the tools to thrive during their time at Blackburn College and beyond.
Points of Distinction
Biology is the largest major at Blackburn College and most of our biology majors express interests in working in the health professions. The Pre-Med and Other Health Professions track in the Biology Major helps our students understand the general class requirements needed to enter health professions programs after graduating from Blackburn College. Variations of this coursework are required for different health professions. Science faculty meet regularly with our students to select the appropriate courses and gain the necessary experiences to successfully apply to particular programs after graduation.
In the past 10 years, biology graduates have entered more than a dozen health professions.
Blackburn Biology graduates who have followed the advice of our trained health professions advisors/science professors have all successfully applied, entered, and graduated from programs in:
– human medicine (MD or DO),
– veterinary medicine,
– nurse practitioner (after completing a nursing BA),
– physician’s assistant,
– physical therapy,
– chiropractic medicine,
– medical laboratory sciences, and
– health administration.
Why this Major?
Careers in the health professions are very popular. They are often difficult and demanding jobs but with great rewards. The ability to make significant differences in the health of others is often a driving motivation of our students. A wide range of salaries and benefits are typically sufficient to provide for a comfortable lifestyle. However, most graduate programs are highly competitive, requiring hard work and excellent faculty advising at the undergraduate level. We are very proud of our students who have followed our advice, worked very long hours in demanding courses, and successfully applied and entered the health professions of their choice.
The Biology minor requires 24 hours of biology coursework. Course selection to meet the 24 hours is flexible and can be tailored to the student’s specific interests. Depending upon the particular health profession, students may major in another field as long as the required prerequisite coursework is completed. Our specially trained health professions faculty can help students navigate the prerequisite coursework and experiences.
All science faculty teach the laboratories and lectures associated with their courses. Students have the opportunity to directly apply the knowledge they gain through experimental and practical applications in the laboratory or in the field. Students with interests in the health professions have many opportunities to dissect vertebrate organisms in three Blackburn College biology courses, beginning in the freshman year. Our graduates are often leaders of student groups in anatomy laboratories in health professions programs.
Activities & Events
All biology majors have the opportunity to participate in specific course related field trips, campus science projects promoting plants and their pollinators and sustainability, and research experiences with mentoring professors.
Clubs & Organizations
All biology majors have the opportunity to participate in the Pre-Healthcare Professions Society and the Sustainability Club.
We encourage and assist our biology majors who seek summer internships or professional shadowing prior to graduating from Blackburn College. Local physicians, optometrists, physical and occupational therapists, veterinarians, and dentists welcome our students to shadow their professions within a few miles of campus. The Biology Department has several ongoing opportunities for internships including the Medical Center at the University of Missouri Kansas City, Macoupin Watershed Project, Bayer (formerly Monsanto), Pollinator Project, and McCully Heritage Project.
Work Program Opportunities
Students interested in the health professions are encouraged to apply to work as Biology Faculty Assistants (TAs). In these positions, TAs explain science to other students of different backgrounds and levels of understanding. Such experiences are routinely part of any health profession. Therefore, holding TA positions is excellent preparation for applying to and entering a health profession program.
Work program positions in biology may also include opportunities to conduct research with science faculty or engage in other projects with faculty. Learning to practice science, as part of a work program position, is of great benefit to students entering a health profession.
Hot Job Outlooks
The career outlook for most health professions is strong and growing. As our human populations increase, efforts to live longer and healthier lives requires more health professionals. There are especially high demands for physicians, nurses and nurse practitioners, physical and occupational therapists, physicians assistants, and large animal veterinarians.
3 Blackburn alumni are members of the National Academy of Sciences.
We have many Blackburn College Biology alumni practicing in the many health professions noted above.
Our graduates who have followed our advice have all entered the graduate program or professional school in the field of their choice. These have included programs leading to a doctoral degree in human medicine, veterinary medicine, podiatry, physical therapy, optometry, dentistry, pharmacy or a Ph.D. in molecular biology, virology, neurobiology, developmental biology, and botany.
Other graduates have entered nursing programs (some later graduating from nurse practitioner programs), graduate programs to become a physicians assistant, or programs leading to a career as a medical laboratory scientist.
Our graduates initially interested in health professions and with at least two years of chemistry have been hired by many science and tech industries large and small. These have included positions at Bayer/Monsanto, Millipore/Sigma, Anheuser Busch, and Boeing.
The healthcare and the biotech industries are rapidly expanding as the population ages and technology improves. The job outlooks for students with either a biology, biochemistry, molecular biology, or chemistry degree are very promising. About 20% of the students at Blackburn College are majoring in Biology.
The Marvin and Ingrid Mahan Science Laboratory Wing is a state-of-the-art, 28,000 square foot facility with nine dedicated teaching laboratories for biology, chemistry, and physics. Off the spacious lobby are science faculty offices with a large outer office area for those students who need tutoring and assistance or may be working on projects. The Mahan Wing is one of the first LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rated buildings in central Illinois.
Alumni Hall and the Olin Science Building offer several research laboratories, two lecture rooms, a vivarium, three greenhouses, a herbarium, a math and science teaching laboratory, and a science library.
Biology faculty who advise students interested in the health professions receive regular training and updates on health profession advising. Our faculty regularly attend national health profession advising meetings where they visit with the admissions staff and administrators of different types of health professions programs from across the United States, gaining special insights into the most successful strategies needed to successfully
apply to these very selective graduate programs.
Our students therefore receive the latest tips and advice for success from advisors who have first hand relationships with representatives of these very competitive health profession programs.
Students interested in the health professions can visit with our specially trained science faculty whenever they wish, to learn more about particular health professions and the requirements to enter each of these fields.
Three of the current biology faculty have each received the Outstanding Teaching and Leadership Award from Blackburn College.
Dr. Edward Zalisko was named the Illinois Professor of the Year 2000 by the Carnegie Foundation for Education/CASE. He was also a finalist for the United States Professor of the Year 2000.
All biology faculty have terminal degrees (Ph.D.) in their chosen and related field of study.
The biology department has not used an adjunct instructor for majors courses in more than 30 years. Instead, all biology faculty teach all of their own laboratories and lectures and are available for advice, career counseling, and general discussion for many hours throughout each week.
All biology freshmen have a biology faculty instructor five days a week (every weekday) of their freshman year. Biology faculty are deliberately available every weekday to assist freshmen students with coursework or for general advice and counsel.
We understand that many of our students require regular advice throughout the freshman year as they adjust to the unique circumstances of the college experience.