Preparing for Health Careers
Preparing for careers in the health professions requires careful consideration of your academic and personal strengths and interests. Most professional programs require specific prerequisite courses which can vary greatly based upon the specific health field and individual school preferences. Here is a list of typical prerequisite courses by professional area.
Although the vast majority of undergraduate students who apply to health professional schools have majored in a science field, particularly biology, it is possible for students to choose other non-science majors if they carefully use their electives to take all of the necessary prerequisite courses. Remember, there is no “perfect” major that will guarantee admission. Professional schools are interested in an applicant’s overall academic preparation and ability to manage a rigorous course load. Your decision about your major should be based on an honest assessment of your interests and talents. Your undergraduate years are a time for intellectual growth and should not be seen as a period of narrowly focused training for a specific career.
In addition to establishing a sound academic record, it is also important for students to develop their personal qualifications through leadership opportunities and community service, and to gain a better understanding of their intended health career through clinical exposure.
1. Service Opportunities – Campus Ministry offers numerous weekly service programs that offer experience in health settings including: Lankenau Hospital, Inglis House (wheelchair community), Simpson House (nursing care facility for the elderly), St. Catherine Laboure Clinic (for uninsured, underserved patients in North Philadelphia), St. Luke’s Medical Center (for underserved patients in Camden), as well as soup kitchens and Project HOME for the homeless. There are also service immersion trips during summer and break periods. For more information, check out the Campus Ministry website or contact Beth Ford at email@example.com.
2. Health Related Clubs / Honor Societies –
Alpha Epsilon Delta – national pre-health honor society- SJU has a chapter – students are eligible after 3 semesters of pre-health courses and a minimum science & overall gpa of 3.3- the group sponsors various health-related activities.
MAPS (Multicultural Association of Pre-health Students)- all students are welcome to participate in the health related activities of this group – contact Kaitlan Carey, President at firstname.lastname@example.org.
3. Leadership Opportunities – there are many chances to assume leadership roles in clubs and organizations on campus, including the following:
Teaching Assistants – talk with Biology, Chemistry, and Physics chairs about becoming a TA for a basic science course that you have taken and in which you have excelled – this also allows you to reinforce your basic science skills that are tested on the MCAT, DAT, etc.
Resident Assistants – beginning in sophomore year, you may apply to Residence Life to become an RA in one of the campus dormitories, houses, or apartments.
Orientation Leader – “Red Shirts” are selected through a competitive process to lead the freshman orientation groups in the summer – apply through the Student Activities & Leadership office in Campion.
4. Clinical/Volunteer Opportunities – it is very important for you to test your interest in a health career by getting some clinical exposure to patients and health professionals who work in your intended career field. You are encouraged to shadow professionals in their practice. Ask your own health care providers or professionals in your home town if you can spend time with them in their daily practice. Members of the SJU Medical Alumni are also willing to mentor students - contact Mrs. O’Hara for the names of some volunteers. For a list of hospital programs and other volunteer opportunities, please click here.
Here is a timeline of suggested activities for each academic year.