Developing Your Health Professions Profile

As you navigate your college experience you are developing a profile of who your are and how you will be perceived. Below are some thoughts to help you get started. Remember, becoming a well round and qualified applicant is not simply checking things off a list. Be fully engaged in your academics and take advantage of the many opportunities that are part of the college experience.

1. Do well in all of your courses, both the cumulative GPA and the science GPA are considered in applications to health professional programs.Be sure to use the "help" centers on campus including CFAR, The Mac Center, and the Connor's Writing Center. In addition, many departments/professors offer help sessions for their courses as well as keep lists of student tutors. Utilize professors' office hours to ask questions.

2. Get to know your professors. When you apply to professional schools, you will need in depth letters of recommendation from UNH faculty, both in your major and in the sciences. (During your junior year, you will develop a file in the HP Advising Office and at that time you will ask professors for letters.) Try to make yourself known to your professors by asking questions in class, seeing them during their office hours, becoming a teaching assistant, and by getting involved in on-campus research.

3. Demonstrate professionalism in your face-to-face and email interactions. Be sure to manage your online presence.

4. Well-rounded applicants are more interesting to Health profession programs than those that are narrowly focused. Take a wide variety of courses.  Challenge yourself to learn more about other people and cultures. Stay informed by reading and listening to news about world events, issues in heath, health policy, and social problems. Courses that will develop your reading comprehension and both written and verbal communication skills are especially helpful. READ at every opportunity.*

*To score well on the MCAT, DAT, OAT, or GRE exams, you will need to possess strong reading comprehension skills, and to perform well in an interview and on application essays, you will need to write and communicate effectively. Take a speed reading test. Your verbal SAT scores may be an indicator of your success with the above exams. Go to the MCAT web site and take a timed verbal reasoning practice test. (Freshman year is not too early to do this).

5. Get involved in your community. Become comfortable working with people from diverse backgrounds. Health care professionals work with people from around the world, from all socio-economic backgrounds and with a wide variety of belief systems.  

6. Keep a journal of your experiences and your reactions. The experience may be paid, volunteer, sports, clubs, student organizations, the list is up to you. Jot down your role, responsibilites, what you liked/disliked, memorable moments and interactions, events that stood out. Were there experiences that helped reinforce/develop your strengths or made you realize you were uncomfortable and need to become better in those settings? Include supervisor names and dates of involvement. When you need to develop your resume and personal essay,the information will be in your journal.

7. Research and determine which health professions you are interested in. Research the possibilities at ExploreHealthCareers.org, Sloane Career Cornerstone and Life Works. Start exploring your interests as early as possible.

8. Start getting experience in a health professional setting and be sure that some of your experience involves direct patient contact. Experiences can be gained in a variety of ways, including volunteering at a local hospital, clinic, or nursing home; or becoming a Nursing Assistant or certified as an EMT through UNH and working for an ambulance corps. Other non-health-related community service experiences are also beneficial, but they cannot substitute for direct patient contact. You may also want to shadow physicians, PAs, or PTs in order to gain a first-hand perspective on the profession.

9. Investigate different programs to see where you would like to apply. Once you have determined your field of interest, have begun your sciences and gained experience to confirm your interest - start to look at progams. This is especially important if you are thinking about Physician Assistant or Physical Therapy programs since each individual program has its own pre-requisites.  The most current information is usually available at the organization and school web sites.

10. Behave responsibly.  Health professions programs will ask if you have ever been arrested or sanctioned by a university judicial conduct board.