BECOMING A COMPETITIVE APPLICANT
To be a competitive applicant for programs in any of the health professions, completing the prerequisite courses and earning good grades in them is a given. But you not only have earn to good grades and perform well on the appropriate standardized test, you must also demonstrate a knowledge of and experience in the field. And, as you will see, you must be able to explain why you have selected your chosen health profession as a potential career.
The GPA and test scores which are judged to be competitive vary by program, as do the requirements for experience and prerequisite courses. Generalized lists of prerequisite courses for each type of health professions program are listed in this handbook. But as you approach your final year, be sure to check the web sites of the programs to which you plan to apply. Some schools will have additional prerequisites.
Many schools will report the average GPA and test scores of their admitted applicants, so that you can evaluate your competitiveness in that respect. What if your GPA and test scores suggest that you are not competitive for admission to the program of your choice? You have many options. There a number of post-baccalaureate programs designed specifically to help students pursue a career in the health professions after they have completed the bachelor’s degree. These one-year programs offer students the opportunity to take required courses they may be lacking, and provide an opportunity to improve their GPA. For more information on post-baccalaureate programs, visit https://services.aamc.org/postbac/. Additional guidance on post-bac programs can also be obtained from the Graduate School Advisor, Dr. Cecilia Solano.
It is also possible to enter a master’s program in a relevant field. MS programs are two or more years, and generally have research and thesis components. MA degrees often do not require a thesis.
Another option is to work in a healthcare setting such as a hospital or clinic. Face-to-face patient time is an asset in an application to any healthcare program. There are many opportunities, but some common choices are to train as an EMT (emergency medical technician) or LPN (licensed practical nurse), or work as a medical scribe. The necessary short training courses are generally available at most community colleges. How do you find relevant clinical opportunities? See the section on internships below.
Finally, service is an important component of any health care career. One to two years of service in organizations such as Americorps, Teach for America, or the Peace Corps, can make an applicant more attractive.
What is a competitive applicant? What makes one competitive for a health profession program is so much more than grade point average and test scores, but these are critical parts of the equation.