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.
Your personal exploration could take shape in a variety of ways. SJU has access to many resources to support you. See below for a couple to get you started:
- The Career Development Center website. This is a valuable resource where you can take an assessment, connect with alumni who share your interests and find out more about the careers you are considering. Please click on the links to access specific pages, or consult with the Health Professions Advisor for more tailored suggestions. See the main page to schedule an appointment.
- Road Trip Nation Science and Medical Leaders. Road Trip Nation has been traveling the country in a green RV to talk to people who love their jobs for the past 20 years. They share the career information of almost 4,ooo people they have learned about their day-to-day lives, their educational paths, and hurdles that they overcame along the way. Choose to watch over 1,000 videos and multiple documentaries to learn how people like YOU found work that they love.
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), 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 Weekly Service website at https://clubs.sju.edu/weeklyservice/or contact Beth Ford McNamee at firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Health-Related Clubs / Honor Societies -
- Alpha Epsilon Delta – National Preprofessional Health Honor Society- SJU has a chapter established in 1968. 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. See link in above Menu for additional information.
- Delta Delta Sigma - Pre-dental society - contact student president Kara Sardella at email@example.com
- Pre PA Club - connect with students who have the common goal of attending graduate school to become a Physician Assistant. Contact Club President Crystal Pineiros 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 the 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 hometown if you can spend time with them in their daily practice. Members of the SJU Medical Alumni are also often willing to mentor students, you will need to make some initial contacts through the SJU Connects platform or do some exploration and research on LinkedIn. Schedule an appointment with Lisa Hansinger for additional support.
Here is a timeline of suggested activities for each academic year.