Course of Study in Preparation for a Career in the Health Professions
Your career options in the health professions may be known when you start college,
but most students will have many possible career goals at that point in their life. Maximize
your flexibility and ability to pursue different career goals as you determine your interests and
abilities. Course planning and selection really depends on the student and their ACT/SAT
scores. Placement exams in chemistry, math, and physics should be closely adhered to,
especially for first-year students. Balance loads as much as possible taking into
consideration any proposed off-campus semester or year plans. Summer school may be
used carefully to lighten the load a bit and allow the student to further broaden their academic
base. When considering applicants, graduate programs do consider the rigor of the
academic load and courses taken by the student.
As you explore the various career options, different prerequisites will need to be taken depending on the program and the school. There is no "one way to go" in completing the undergraduate degree. Plan your program so the prerequisites are completed by the end of the junior year to allow the application to be made in the senior year. In addition to the required courses and recommended courses, your electives should include a wide variety of humanities courses, behavioral and social science courses that will give the admissions committee a well-rounded applicant. Click here for a form that will assist you in the process.
Dan Marian, an experienced advisor, gave this advice:
“I spend a lot of my time trying to convince students that college is an education, not an obstacle course on the way to a trade school, that they should enjoy learning, that they should enjoy college, have a (disciplined) social life, participate in their college and/or the off-campus community, get experiences where they can learn about themselves and their intended profession. Giving everyone a list of course I regard as giving them a loaded gun they don’t know how to use; the lucky ones will only shoot themselves in the foot, but most shoot themselves in the head or heart.”
Course selection should be as broad as possible; life is unpredictable and breadth in courses will allow maximum flexibility.
Choosing a Major
Students can usually major in any area of interest. Students should select majors and concentrations based on an honest assessment of their abilities and interests. A major should provide the academic base necessary for pursuing a variety of career options. An undergraduate course of study should not be focused exclusively on a future career but a springboard to examine a variety of health professions. If you major in a field that interests you, learning will be enjoyable, less stressful and you will most likely excel academically.
Keep your options open, plan several alternative routes as your progress through your academic program. Double majors are really not at an advantage for admission and will minimize the number of electives taken by a student. A Biomedical Studies Concentration, a Biomolecular Science Concentration, or a Neuroscience Concentration may fit the student’s needs and should be explored. Your advisor and the Center for Experiential Learning will be a valuable resource as you determine your area of study and your major.
Biomedical Studies Concentration
The Biomedical Studies Concentration discussed earlier in the manual can be combined with any major and is designed as a plan of study that will enhance a student’s preparation for a career in medicine, dentistry, therapies (such as physical or occupational) and a wide range of careers with a biomedical focus. Students need to complete a contract with Jean Porterfield, Director of Biomedical Studies, usually by the end of the sophomore year. As a component of the Biomedical Studies Concentration, students will explore at least three potential career paths. The concentration requires the completion of five courses and a capstone experience. More information may be obtained from Jean Porterfield or by utilizing the website.
- Attend Biomedical Career sessions, CEL vocational sessions and use the resources in
the Biomedical Resource area.
- Carefully consider career options with your advisor.
- Register your interest in pre-med or other health profession, by email or use the form provided on the last page so that you receive the appropriate emails/mailings/notices and are considered for scholarship.
- Initiate the sequence of courses required by the professional schools of interest; plan your course of study and possible career objectives with your advisor. Plan a broad academic selection of courses that allow maximum flexibility.
- Get to know your professors; remember some of them will be writing letters of recommendation for you.
- Plan any off-campus semester programs and internships.
- Consider an internship in a Biomedical area for interim or summer.
- Attend a pre-med, pre-dent students day at the University of Minnesota (usually in April).
- Acquaint yourself with the members of HPC.
- Decide on a major by the end of your sophomore year.
- Consider completing a Biomedical Studies Concentration. Pick-up the appropriate materials.
- Investigate summer research opportunities.
- Volunteer; participate in appropriate service projects and extracurricular activities.
- At the end of your sophomore year, review your academic progress and revisit other career options; are you meeting your goals?
- Complete all the requirements for the program of interest.
- Determine tentatively which schools you are interested in, taking into account residency, GPA, etc.
- Consider an internship during the interim.
- Determine the optimal time to take any standardized test (DAT, GRE, MCAT) required for entrance.
- Request an interview with the HPC early in the spring (see Karen Renneke) if you are going to be off-campus next fall; you must interview in the spring. Obtain the forms from Karen Renneke or find them online.
- Complete the application as early as possible and request the appropriate transcripts be sent.
- Check the deadlines! Keep track of your applications.
- Perhaps you need to wait a year and have a “gap year” as discussed later in the manual.
Fourth Year (and summer after your third year)
- Complete the application process (interviews, additional recommendation letters on schedule); confirm that the schools have a complete application.
- Begin the process of applying for financial aid and scholarships. Explore your options.
- Carefully consider other career options to maintain as many opportunities as possible. Consider a plan of action if you are not accepted your first time.
- Enjoy your senior year! Celebrate a successful undergraduate experience.
“There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1