Pre-Health Preparation - How to Prepare for Success

How to Prepare for Success

While each individual will "get ready" for their career by following different timelines and pathways, here is an outline of what you should be thinking about and possibly doing during each of your four years of college preparation for a health-related career or profession.  You should start preparing during your freshman year, and progress signficantly by your senior year in academics, public service, research, work in the medical profession, and personal leadership.

Freshman

  • Meet with a pre-health professions advisor to review perequisite requirements for your targeted career path in health care.
  • Begin introductory science courses if you are math-ready (have taken or are ready to take Math 113), such as General Biology (Bio 106 and lab) and General Chemistry with Lab (Chem 150)
  • Be knowledgeable of drop/add course deadlines in the event you need to change your schedule
  • Begin to examine/explore academic majors (while you must take science courses to qualify for medical school, keep in mind that you do not need to major in science)
  • Identify sources of academic support (i.e. tutors, supplemental instruction, study skills training, study groups, counselors, professors)
  • Attend study skills seminars and test-taking workshops to maximize performance in courses - right now there is nothing more important that having a high grade point average (GPA)
  • Develop a balance between your academic and personal goals
  • Develop the characteristics of a good health care provider (i.e. intellectual curiosity, respect for diversity, high moral character, compassion, integrity, honesty, humility and hard work, public service orientation)
  • Develop professional attributes (i.e. teamwork, responsibility, reliability and time management)
  • Develop and pursue interests outside of your formal education
  • Begin to research your field of health care.
  • Begin to investigate /explore opportunities for patient care experience, and/or general exposure to the healthcare field and medical profession (i.e. hospital, clinic, hospice, nursing home)
  • Consider community service activities
  • Utilize your summer wisely; volunteer or work in a medical related setting for patient care or observational experience              

Sophomore

  • Visit medical schools, tour campuses, meet with Deans, Directors, and students
  • Begin informally preparing for the MCAT by utilizing various study guides along with premedical course materials
  • Begin to identify instructors and professionals who: 1) know you well, 2) can write positive and meaningful letters of recommendation and 3) can give you their highest recommendation
  • Learn about people different from yourself to enhance appreciation for diversity
  • Continue to utilize your summers wisely.  Consider additional medical experience, summer enrichment or research programs

Junior / Senior 

  • Begin taking upper level and/or advanced level science courses:  Upper Level Biology; Physics with Lab; Genetics; Physiology; Anatomy or Comparative Anatomy; Biochemistry; Cell and Molecular Biology
  • Complete courses required for your degree and continue to complete basic premedical courses
  • To reinforce scientific knowledge, consider serving as a tutor or supplemental instruction leader
  • Continue to learn about health care issues
  • Continue volunteer work or employment in a medical related facility or organization
  • Get involved in extracurricular activities that you enjoy and add to your personal development
  • Continue involvement in community service activities
  • Get involved in activities which enable you to experience cultural differences
  • Check for MCAT  and/or GRE preparation courses and/or workshops if these exams are required for entry into your program of interest
    • Obtain MCAT practice exams from paper or online study guides
    • Develop an MCAT preparation plan
    • Register to take the the MCAT at the earliest possible date
  • To assist you in completing your application, request all of your college transcripts
  • Carefully prepare, organize and write your personal statement.  Ask someone to proof read it for you
  • Complete online or paper application if appropriate for your application timeline

Helpful Links (while these may be directed toward medical school, the information is applicable to all health professions)

How to Write a Personal Statement

Letters of Recommendation