Start your journey toward becoming a healthcare professional by planning your next steps. We've gathered important next steps toward helping you at each stage of your academic journey.
Make sure to check back as this resource library continues to grow.
Roadmap to Professional School
Learn about the steps you need to take at various academic levels.
High SchoolThings to keep in mind
- Select AP or Dual Credit courses carefully
- Take advantage of clubs that give you a peek into a career
- Volunteer opportunities
- Seek mentors
- Foster study skills
- Develop resilience skills
- How do you come back from burnout?
- What do you do when you fail a test?
- Enjoy your high school career – this is a long journey
- The application to medical, dental, or veterinary school begins on Day 1 of college!
- During the transition from high school to college, you'll want to learn how to learn deeply. Making good grades does not equal learning.
- Take Gen Chem as soon as possible to stay in line with the sequence of courses.
- College is about growth and development. Reflect on why you're pursuing the activities you're doing, what you're getting out of the experiences, and how this will make you a better healthcare professional.
- Build your network. Engage with professors, TAs, peers, and health professions advisors.
- Keep a record of your activities and what you take away from these experiences.
- Be patient! You're on this road for the long haul.
- Check in regularly with your pre-health advising office.
- Continue to visit with professors, advisors, and supervisors to request letters of evaluation.
- Pursue meaningful clinical experiences, volunteer opportunities, research, and leadership roles.
- How you spend your time outside the classroom will convey a great deal to the schools regarding your values and interests.
- Plan your summer. Many research, internship, or enrichment programs have deadlines in January or February so you need to prepare early.
- Complete second year pre-requisite coursework. Completing required coursework can help you perform better on admissions tests.
- If you plan to apply to begin professional school directly after college, this is when you apply.
- Begin studying for admissions tests such as the MCAT, DAT, or GRE.
- Identify professors, advisors, supervisors, and mentors with whom you've developed relationships and approach them to ask if they will write letters of evaluation.
- Continue your participation in clubs, clinical experiences, volunteer activities, research, and leadership roles.
- Identify professional schools you are interested in attending. Are they research-based or clinical-based? What are the differences between allopathic (MD) and osteopathic (DO) schools? Research each school's curriculum, competitiveness, cost, fit, etc.
- If you are prepared, take the MCAT or DAT in the spring.
- Review and complete your personal statements and other admissions essays.
- Maintain your academic success.
- Prepare for interviews.
- Wait for offers of acceptance.
- Research financial aid and scholarships.
- Write a thank you note to each of your evaluators and update them on the outcome.
- Complete any remaining pre-requisite coursework.
Non-TraditionalWhere an undergraduate pathway is relatively clear-cut, non-traditional applicants have the added challenge of forging their own path to professional school.
- Create a "coalition of support" that will assist you with your journey. This can include family members, partners, friends, health professions advisors, mentors, etc.
- Understand how holistic review works. While non-academic guidelines are provided, you need to make sure your academics are competitive.
- Formulate a narrative around your life experiences. Non-traditional students are highly sought because of their level of maturity and experience. Align your strengths and history with your academic and professional goals.
- Use available resources. Taking classes at a university? Take advantage of your access to health professions advisors, test prep support, and student organizations.
- Talk to an advisor. A health professions advisor can help you take the right steps to getting admitted and offer insights into how to make your application stand out.
- Join the Non-Traditional Applicants Facebook group!
Not quite sure where to start? We lay out a roadmap for you from the moment you step foot at a college campus to the point you graduate and prepare to matriculate to professional school.
Explore Health Careers
ExploreHealthCareers.org is a free resource that highlights the opportunities health careers offer and serves as an expert resource to help you navigate your career path.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects health care to be the fastest growing employment industry between 2014 and 2024. This projection is good news for you as it means increased job security as more and more fulfilling, lucrative positions are being created for people driven to make a difference in their communities.
With content authored by those already working in the field themselves, we’ll connect you to the knowledge you need to choose the right health career and apply and pay for school.
Join a student organization that can connect you with local pre-health events, shadowing opportunities, and volunteer experiences. Here are some organizations to keep in mind, but are not meant to be exhaustive of all the opportunities applicants have in getting involved.
The Texas Health Education Service produces the Inside Health Education podcast, APPLY Magazine, and online communities to support your efforts to help you put your best foot forward in the application.