Choosing a Health Career

When choosing a career within the field of health care, or deciding whether a health career is appropriate for you, consider asking yourself the following questions:

  • How much do I wish to deal with people (patients and colleagues)? 
  • Do I enjoy studying science?
  • Am I prepared to enter a career where I will have to spend time and effort keeping up with developments in my field?
  • Do I like being in a health care setting?
  • Do I like working as part of a team of professionals, or do I prefer to work on my own, taking responsibility for my own work?
  • What lifestyle do I envision?
  • Does this career choice align with my values?
  • What other career options might I consider if I'm unable to gain admission to a health professions program?

Before committing yourself to a health career, take the time to get a clear picture of the realities of your chosen profession and of your own abilities, needs and aspirations.  For personal assistance with determining if a health care career is for you, visit the Career Development Center.  You can also research various health care careers online, at

Applying to a Professional School          

Timetable for Doctoral Programs

Timetables vary. The following timeline applies to those students who plan to matriculate into health professions schools directly after earning the bachelor’s degree.

Freshman,  Sophomore, Junior Year (Fall semester)

  • Speak with a health professions advisor.
  • Take the required courses for admission to a health professions school at a reasonable pace.
  • Develop an alternative or "parallel career plan" in recognition of the fact that admission to a health professions program is never a guarantee
  • Complete the free U of MN Online Workshops
  • Job shadow a health care professional in order to observe and learn more about a specific career
  • Get some experience related to your anticipated career. Many schools now want to see evidence that you have had some clinical exposure; some schools require a minimum number of supervised hours. See Volunteer/Healthcare Career Exploration Opportunities
  • Consider special summer science programs or research opportunities. See Student Resources
  • Research availability of fee assistance programs (FAPs) which subsidize the cost of standardized exams and applications.
  • Complete Pre-Health Applicant Readiness Checklist

Junior Year (Spring semester)

  • Take the standardized admission test (re-take if necessary to improve scores).
  • Speak with a health professions advisor to interpret test scores and GPA.
  • Consider schools to which you want to apply.
  • If applying to medical school, arrange for committee interview and letter.
  • Select those from whom you wish to obtain letters of recommendation.
  • Work on drafts of personal statement.
  • Obtain the online application for your chosen health care program.
  • Obtain a transcript at the end of the year for your own use in preparation of the application.
  • Request that official transcripts be mailed to the individual schools or the application service.

Early summer after Junior Year

  • Revise and polish personal statement.
  • Complete your application and submit at earliest allowed date.
  • If you are applying through an Early Decision Program, check to see that your letters of evaluation have been submitted and prepare for interviews.
  • Check deadlines for submission, as they vary for different application services.

Senior Year

  • Complete supplemental (secondary) applications, if you have not already done so. Secondary applications may also be completed during the summer because interviews are generally not granted until this portion of your application is complete and all fees are paid.  Some schools begin arranging interviews in August, thus having this part complete is as important as completing the primary application. Make sure you know the timeline for the professional schools to which you are applying.
  • Be patient! Offers to interview will come.
  • January:  Fill out FAFSA form for financial aid. Send updated transcripts if requested by schools.
  • March:  If on Hold or Wait-Listed, remain calm. You will be notified of any change in status.
  • April - August:  If an Alternate, acceptance letters are sent throughout this period. Make sure medical schools can reach you or a family member by telephone at all times.