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Preparing for Health Professions School

Preparing for a career in the health professions requires dedication, planning, and a high level of engagement in many areas of life. While there is no specific pathway to a career in the health professions, this section includes some information about general topics to explore and develop. We encourage you to view these suggestions as inspiration rather than a checklist that you must complete in order to gain acceptance into a program. The more you can personalize your preparation for health professions school, the more enjoyment you will have. The Health Professions Pathways Program is also available for any questions you may have about ways to build a strong candidacy for health professions school.

A General Timeline of Your Undergraduate Experience

  • Transition to life as an undergraduate student. Practice good study habits and time management skills to establish a good academic foundation. Learn how to live on your own, take care of your basic needs, and establish routines.
  • Identify and introduce yourself to relevant advisors, mentors, and resources. Learn about the pre-health clubs and organizations on campus.
  • Work with faculty and academic advisors to explore or choose a major and start developing an academic plan.
  • Start fostering relationships with faculty and other mentors; you may eventually ask some of these individuals for letters of recommendation when you apply to graduate school.
  • Explore opportunities to get involved in co-curricular activities, being careful not to overextend.
  • Begin to explore potential career options within healthcare.
 
  • Settle on a major field of study, if you have not done so already. Continue to complete coursework requirements for both your degree and future study in the health professions.
  • Gain exposure and experience within healthcare (clinical) settings, including informational interviews, shadowing or observation hours, internships, volunteer or service opportunities, research, and more.
  • Continue to build and maintain relationships with faculty and other mentors.
  • Pursue work, volunteer, and/or leadership opportunities that allow you to build skills and competencies valued by the profession.
 
  • Continue participating in meaningful clinical, volunteer, leadership, shadowing, research, and work experiences. Consider leadership roles that can help you enhance your interpersonal skills.
  • Narrow down your career interests and start researching prospective schools as well as their respective admission requirements.
  • Meet with advisors and mentors, including the Health Professions Pathways Program. Attend workshops, graduate school fairs, and other events that can help you gather more information and prepare to apply.
  • Develop a plan for studying for and taking any required entrance examinations.
  • Consider and develop a time for applying to schools. Most health professions schools start the application process more than a year in advance of your desired start date. If you intend to start school the fall after you graduate, you should start your application the summer after junior year.
  • Familiarize yourself with the application process, which often involves a common or centralized application service.
 
  • Complete your degree requirements and determine a plan for completing any additional pre-requisites for your chosen health professions program.
  • If you plan to enroll in a health professions school immediately following senior year, complete secondary or supplemental essays and participate in the interview process. Wait for admission decisions, which can include acceptance, wait list, or rejection.
  • If you plan to take a gap year(s) after graduation, plan for how you will spend that time. Apply for full-time employment or other ways to increase your life experiences and improve your candidacy for acceptance into your chosen health professions program.
  • Continue participating in meaningful clinical, volunteer, leadership, shadowing, research, and work experiences.
  • Develop a plan for studying for and taking any required entrance examinations, if you have not done so already.
  • Request letters of recommendation. If you plan to request a committee letter, attend the informational meetings about the process. If you plan to request individual letters, get verbal commitments from faculty and other mentors.
  • Continue meeting with advisors and mentors, including the Health Professions Pathways Program to develop your application timeline. Understand the services that are available to you after graduation.
 

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