How can I prepare for a career in health care while still in high school?
Be sure to take a full academic course load all four years you are in high school. This includes four years of math, science, humanities, and social science courses. Challenge yourself in your coursework. Take honors courses, and advanced placement courses where available and driven by your interests. But be sure that you are also balancing your life to include time for extracurricular interests. Knowing how to manage your time while achieving balance is a critical skill that you can begin developing in high school.
Look for opportunities to begin to explore your interests in health care. Speak with your health care providers about why they chose their professions, and about the rewards and challenges. Check for opportunities to volunteer in health care settings. There may be hospitals, clinics, or health service organizations in your area that take volunteers. You can look beyond health care as well. Health professionals are people who feel a need to improve the quality of other people’s lives. Experiences need not be health related to help you explore whether making other people’s lives better is a central piece of what you want to do in life. Are there service opportunities in your community that interest you? You can also look for summer enrichment programs by going to the Association of American Medical College’s website, and selecting for “high school.”
What should I major in when I get to Villanova?
Health professions schools do not have a preference in candidates’ undergraduate majors. No major will give you an “edge,” and no major will make you less “desirable.” You should choose a major that you enjoy and in which you excel. Because of the quantity of science courses required for most health professions programs, many students choose science majors. Some of the most popular majors at Villanova are Biology, Biochemistry, Comprehensive Science, and Psychology. Another popular major is Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience, within the psychology department. Please note that students are admitted to Villanova as declared CBN majors, so students interested in this major should select the program on their applications.
A complete list of undergraduate majors may be found here.
How else does Villanova help prepare students for health professions careers?
Health professions graduate programs no longer focus exclusively on grades and exam scores in making admissions decisions. Candidates must present portfolios of experiences demonstrating that they have examined themselves and examined the professions to make sure they have found a good fit. They will need to show they have developed the characteristics it takes to be a skilled health professional: an understanding of ethics, an appreciation and respect for diversity, a drive to help others, resilience in the face of challenge, an ability to function as part of a team, among other skills. At Villanova, students are fortunate to have the opportunity to develop many of these skills on campus: through coursework in Ethics, Peace and Justice, intergroup relations, as well as through the service-learning classes that integrate theory with experience. The undergraduate core requirement is made up largely of courses in the humanities and social sciences, requiring a large amount of critical thinking and writing. This will be helpful as students approach the new MCAT, with its expanded critical analysis and reasoning section.
What about advising?
As a health professions student, you will have at least two advisors to guide you through your years here. You will have an academic advisor who will help you with your core requirements and your major, and you will have a health professions advisor, who will coach you as you work towards your professional goal. We will help you with course planning and provide advice in such areas as extracurricular activities, the timing of your professional exam (MCAT, DAT, PCAT, etc.), and all aspects of your application. Our office keeps a store of information on enrichment opportunities on and off campus. You may work with a health professions advisor from the moment you arrive on campus, through the application process to your professional schools. Our services are available to all enrolled Villanova students. We do not screen or select students for services.
How do I find out about health professions events on campus?
There are many events throughout the year, some sponsored by the Health Professions Advising Office, some sponsored by one of the many student clubs (Pre-Medical Club, Pre-PA Club, Pre-Optometry Club, Pre-Dental Club, and more), and some sponsored by groups with overlapping interest, like the Science Friday career networking events sponsored by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. These events are advertised in a listserv for prehealth students. Many are also advertised on “The Wire,” a campus newsletter, or on monitors in buildings throughout campus. All told, there is a full calendar of prehealth related events every semester.