Choosing a Health Career

When trying to decide whether a healthcare career is right for you, consider the following questions:

  • Do I have the desire to improve the health and well being of others? 
  • Do I enjoy studying science?
  • Does this career choice align with my values and academic strengths?
  • Do I enjoy being in a healthcare 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 does a typical competitive applicant to a health professions graduate program look like?
  • If I'm not performing to the level necessary to be a competitive applicant, what is required to improve? Am I willing/able to make the necessary adjustments?
  • What are other career options I could consider if I'm not on track to gain admission to a health professions program/school?

Before committing to a healthcare career, take the time to reflect on these questions and make sure you understand the realities of your particular career aspiration.  For assistance with determining if a healthcare career is a good fit for you, visit the Career Development Center.  A recommended online resource for learning more about various healthcare careers can be found 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.

  • Speak with a health professions advisor.
  • Take the required courses for admission to a health professions school at a reasonable pace.
  • Avoid becoming too linear in your thinking about your career. Stay open to alternative paths and even consider developing a "parallel career plan" in recognition of the competitive nature of admission in to health professions programs.
  • Job shadow health care professionals 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/Health Care Career Exploration Opportunities
  • Consider special enrichment and summer science programs and research opportunities.
  • Research availability of fee assistance programs (FAPs) which subsidize the cost of standardized exams and applications.


  • Register for and take the appropriate standardized admission test (re-take if necessary to improve scores).
  • Speak with a health professions advisor to interpret test score and GPA.
  • Consider schools to which you want to apply.
  • If applying to medical school, arrange for committee interview and letter.
  • Approach those from whom you wish to obtain letters of recommendation.
  • Work on drafts of your personal statement.
  • Obtain the appropriate application for your chosen healthcare program.
  • Obtain an official transcript at the end of the year for your own use in preparation of your application.
  • Request official transcripts be mailed to individual schools, or where applicable, to the centralized application service.
  • Revise and polish your personal statement.
  • Complete your application and submit at the 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.
  • Complete supplemental (secondary) applications. 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!
  • 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 schools can reach you or a family member by telephone at all times.