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The University of Texas at ArlingtonThe University of Texas at Arlington

College of Science

FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions

FAQs for PRE-HEALTH STUDENTS

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INFORMATION SESSIONS/EVENTS - READ FAQ BELOW

 

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COVID-19 UPDATES  (ALSO SEE COVID FAQ near bottom of page)

*For more information, check for COVID-19 Updates on UTA's Coronavirus FAQ Page and your specific pre-health, application services, TXHES site, and professional school's webpages*

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COMMON FAQs for ALL STUDENTS 

 

STARTING OUT

IS HEALTHCARE THE RIGHT FIELD FOR ME?

Students interested in healthcare should begin researching career options, education requirements, AND gaining experiences in the healthcare field. You can begin by asking different healthcare professionals what their typical day is like and why they chose this field along with the pros and cons. Helpful Websites: Explore Health Careers, UTA Career Center, SHPEP, Allied Health Career Options 

 

WHICH MAJOR IS THE "BEST"? HOW CAN I MAJOR IN PRE-MED, PRE-DENTAL, PRE-HEALTH, ETC.? 

Most schools do not offer a "pre-health" major. Students can major most subjects while completing the pre-requisites for the specific professional school. Common majors include Biology, Biochemistry, Biological Chemistry, Psychology, Kinesiology, and Biomedical Engineering. Students should choose a major that interests and motivates them to academically excel while considering back up career options. Keep in mind scheduling of the prerequisites may be challenging with some non-science majors and students still need to show the ability to handle difficult science courses. The most "efficient" and common major for pre-health students is the BS in Biology. Pre-PT and Pre-OT students typically major in Kinesiology. There is no "fastest" route to becoming a competitive pre-health student. The reasoning behind choosing a major is the important factor. THE REASONING SHOULD NOT BE BECAUSE YOU THINK "IT WILL LOOK GOOD". (Note: Nursing courses do NOT count for medical, dental, or PA requirements)

 

CAN I MAJOR IN NURSING AND THEN APPLY TO MEDICAL OR PA PROGRAMS?

While it may be possible to complete some prerequisites for medical or PA school while completing a nursing degree, I typically recommend 2 options for nursing students. Since nursing courses do not count towards pre-med or pre-pa requirements (only courses for science majors are accepted) and the last 2 years are nursing clinics, students interested in applying to a graduate health program should either:

  1. Complete the nursing degree and then return to take upper level (science major) classes for at least 1 year while working, building an application, and preparing for the MCAT/PA-CAT or GRE

        OR

    2.  Switch to a different major – typically science based – and plan to directly apply

Students have been successful with either route; therefore, the choice is ultimately up to the student. 

 

WHICH MINOR IS THE "BEST" AND WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE MINOR?

Like major, there is no one "best" minor that "looks good". Students can minor in more than 1 subject and should choose one (or more) based on interest and future goals. Common minors for pre-health students include biology, biochemistry/chemistry, psychology, nueroscience, or a foreign language. Most minors require 18 hours in the specific subject with 9 hours being completed at UTA and 6 hours being upper level. Requirements can vary and should be discussed with your major advisor and/or the department offering the minor. 

 

SHOULD I JOIN A PRE-HEALTH ORGANIZATION?

Yes! It is highly recommended that you join a pre-health student organization on campus. Meetings are usually conducted biweekly. You can find information on volunteering opportunities, workshops, and guest speakers. Also, it is a great opportunity to meet students who are on the same path as you! A list of our organizations can be found near the bottom of the Health Professions Website.

 

WHERE CAN I GET MORE INFORMATION ON THE JAMP PROGRAM?

Visit our JAMP Page for more information including opportunities to meet with current UTA JAMP Students! 

 

DO SCHOOLS ACCEPT INTERNATIONAL OR DACA STUDENTS?

Some schoools do! International and DACA students should check with the schools admissions website for eligibility criteria. Non-US Schools may be an option. Visit the Non-US School section on the Post-Bacc Page for more information.


WHO IS MY ADVISOR?

Degree seeking pre-health students have 2 advisors. Their main advisor will be their major advisor. The major advisor removes academic holds and helps with class registration. The health professions advisor assists with information on becoming a competitive applicant for health professional schools and course recommendations when needed.

Non-degree seeking (post bacc) pre-health students have 1 advisor, the health professions advisor.

We also have Pre-Health Peer Mentors available! Prior to booking an appointment, read the remainder of this page. 

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COURSE & DEGREE REQUIREMENTS and EXPECTATIONS

 

WHAT COURSES DO I NEED TO COMPLETE?

The courses required vary by program. Common courses include General Biology, General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Biochemistry, Statistics, Physics, Microbiology, Genetics, and Anatomy & Physiology (for science majors-not Nursing or Kinesiology). Student's should visit the admission’s website of the particular school for a complete list. Additional information regarding prerequisites can be found by visiting your specific pre-health interest page at www.uta.edu/pre-health.

WHY SHOULD I TAKE THE RECOMMENDED OR ADDITIONAL COURSES?

Most professional schools encourage a well-rounded curriculum with emphasis on upper level sciences. Completing the bare minimum course requirements will rarely portray you as a competitive applicant. Behavioral and upper level sciences such as Psychology, Sociology, Human Anatomy/Physiology, Genetics, Microbiology, Histology, Cell Physiology, Immunology, and Virology are typically highly recommended if not already required. Humanities courses such as economics, ethics, medical humanities, foreign languages, philosophy, and public speaking are also valuable. Always check with the specific professional school for the specific requirements and recommended courses.  

CAN I TAKE COURSES AT A COMMUNITY COLLEGE OR AS DUEL CREDIT? WILL THEY HURT MY CHANCES OF BEING ACCEPTED?

There are some lower level courses that are accepted. While it is understandable financially to take  courses at a Community College, it is important to consider how it can effect the future. Students that do well in both Community and University level courses will not have an issue. However, more often  students that complete a majority of their lower level or core courses at a community college struggle with University courses. University level courses are more rigorous due to pace and content level. This can make the transition to a University and course scheduling challenging. Since maintaining a competitive undergraduate GPA and having a good foundation of course content is important, it may be more beneficial to save some, if not all, lower level courses for UTA. Ultimately, it is up to the student to decide what works best for them. It is a red flag when a student takes all the "hard" prerequisite classes at a community college and does not take challenging upper level courses. 

SHOULD I COMPLETE MY ASSOCIATE'S DEGREE BEFORE COMPLETE MY BACHELOR'S?

Not necessarily. You can complete a Bachelor’s Degree without an Associate’s Degree. If your career goal requires graduate level schooling, it may save time and money to directly complete a Bachelor’s Degree. There is a misconception that obtaining your Associate’s means you only need 2 years of University level courses to obtain your Bachelor’s. This will vary depending on your career goal, major, course load, and how transfer courses are evaluated. Scholarships are available to incoming freshman and current students. Visit our Scholarship Website.

DO I HAVE TO COMPLETE A BACHELOR'S DEGREE?

This will depend on the professional school. Most admissions committees expect (if not require) students to complete a Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degree may not be required for pharmacy programs. However, most students that are accepted have completed a Bachelor's degree. 

DO SCHOOLS ACCEPT INTERNATIONAL DEGREES?

International degrees may be accepted by some Health Professional Schools but most require at least 90 credit hours including all prerequisite courses completed at an accredited US or Canadian school.

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ACADEMIC ABILITY & EXPERIENCE EXPECTATIONS

 

WHAT IS A COMPETITIVE GPA?

Most accepted students have GPAs from 3.5-3.9 with medical schools being on the higher end. It is also important to keep your Science GPA (BCMP: Biology, Chemistry, Math, and Physics) high and have a high standardized test score (MCAT, DAT, PCAT, etc.) in order to be a competitive applicant. Trend is important. If your current GPA is lower than average, 1-2 years of a positive trend in difficult science courses can help. The goal is to make sure you are academically prepared to handle graduate school. Always check with the specific professional school for additional data and information. TMDSAS Statistics

GPA Calculators: 

 

WHAT COURSES COUNT TOWARDS MY GPA?

Every undergraduate college level course you have taken will be used in the GPA calculation for most health professional schools. This includes Dual Credit courses. Even if you repeat a course or have “grade forgiveness/substitution”, ALL college course grades are typically taken into account. Several different GPA’s can be evaluated, such as but not limited to Science, Overall, Graduate, and Post Bacc. A positive trend in more recent and difficult coursework can help offset a rough freshman semester.  

I HAVE A LOW GPA. HOW CAN I IMPOVE MY GPA?

While a competitive GPA and test score strengthen chances of acceptance, most schools use a holistic approach in evaluating students. Trend in grades is important. If you had a rough early semester but learned from it and have been doing well in more difficult classes, then you have shown a positive trend. In regards to statistics, Admissions committees simply want to know "Has this applicant proven they can be SUCCESSFUL in this rigorous program?" If your GPA trend has not proven this, additional classes or alternative academic enhancing should be considered. 

WILL IT LOOK BAD IF I DROP A COURSE? 

One to two drops are not going to significantly impact the overall view of a student as long as the student has shown they are academically capable of handling the rigors of a health professional graduate school. (Trend, Science GPA, course load, etc.) A student should also have a good reason for dropping a course. However, a pattern of dropping courses is considered a red flag.

 

ARE THE OTHER ASPECTS OF THE APPLICATION REALLY MORE IMPORTANT THAN GPA/MCAT, DAT, etc.? 

Admissions Committees have determined grades and tests are not the only factors that indicate a successful applicant, which is why holistic review is used. These experience help shape a person and offer learning opportunities. They provide evidence of goals and personal characteristics through action instead of just words. 

Shadowing/Healthcare Exp - This provides insight and knowledge in the field and the Healthcare System. Exposes the pros and cons of the field and builds communication skills while interacting with diverse groups of people. Watch the VIDEO- HOW and WHY to SHADOW

Volunteering - All pre-health students want to "help people". Prove it by WANTING to give your time to benefit someone or something else that means something to you. Gain an understanding of the needs and issues in the world. Volunteering DOES NOT have to only be clinical based! Explore opportunities in the community, clinics and at UTA. 

Leadership - Pre-health students, especially Pre-Med's, claim they want to be the decision maker or leader of the healthcare team. But how many have actually experienced being leader and making decisions that effected others? Effective leadership is a skill that requires experience and practice. Being a SUCCESSFUL officer (not just an officer) of an organization is a good way to start but there are other ways to develop this skill. It can include supervisory roles at a job, church, or volunteer setting. 

 

HOW CAN I GAIN CLINICAL EXPERIENCE OR FIND SHADOWING OPPORTUNITIES?

Most professional schools highly recommend (if not expect) healthcare experiences. This is because you can't be sure of what you want to do until you actually experience it! Shadowing working professionals in the field is highly recommended. The easiest way to start this is to contact local clinics and see if shadowing is allowed. Start with your own local physician/healthcare professional! Join a Pre-Health Organization! Networking is important.

Experiences must be post-high school (exception pre-vet students). Visit the recommended experiences section of specific pre-health pages and our Special Programs, Volunteering, Research, and Helpful Resources Page for more information.

Clinical Experience Examples: emergency medical technician (EMT), paramedic, nurse, scribe, medical assistant, certified nursing assistant (CNA), emergency room technician (ER tech), physical therapist assistant, phlebotomist, pharmacy technician, dental assisting, and clinical research assistant. Most require certification through a program, therefore getting an early start is essential!

HOW MANY HOURS OF EXPERINCES OR VOLUNTEERING WILL I NEED?

There is typically no set quantity, however, the average accepted student does have upwards of hundreds of hours in different areas. Before stressing out, consider that it is more about the quality and not the quantity of the hours. It is not a checkbox! One student that has 500 hours in shadowing may not be a better applicant than one that has 40. Each student is different and should focus on building an application that portrays a picture of who they are as a person. Consistancy is more valuable then quantity. Over a period of time, hours easily add up. Pre-Vet students are required to have at least 100 hours under a licensed Veteranarian. 

 

AM I REQUIRED TO HAVE RESEARCH EXPERIENCE?

Research experience is not required to apply for programs, however, having research experience can benefit your overall application and is a valuable learning experience. It is significant to learn about the process of being in a research lab, conducting a project, and presenting scientific data. There are several undergraduate research opportunities at UTA. If your school of interest is research heavy or you are interested in PhD Dual Degree programs, then you are expected to have research experience. Research experience does not necessarily mean spending hundreds of hours in a lab under a PI. It can be through your own presentation or class project. 

HOW CAN I GAIN RESERACH EXPERIENCE?

One way is to simply contact professors! Many of UTA's professors participate in ongoing research. It is important to network and get to know your professors. Keep in mind research is important and you should not participate in research just "to be competitive".  Admissions committees will notice if you used research as a valuable experience or only to “look good” for your application. It is recommended to have some understanding of the professor's research before asking to join their lab. Research experience DOES NOT have to be clinically based! You can also visit our Special Programs, Volunteering, Research and Helpful Resources Research Page for more opportunities.

 

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APPLICATION PROCESS

 

WHEN DO I APPLY TO MEDICAL, DENTAL, OR OTHER HEALTH PROFESSIONAL PROGRAMS? 

Commonly, students apply near the end of their junior year or the year prior to expected admission. For some, this can be senior year or after. Students should not apply until they are a competitive applicant and should become familiar early with the application services available. 

 

HOW DO I APPLY TO A GRADUATE HEALTH PROFESSIONAL PROGRAM?

You will need to apply thorugh the application service(s) of your specific pre-health interest and program:

  • MEDICAL SCHOOLS APPLICATION SERVICES
    • TMDSAS - Texas Public Medical (MD & DO) Schools 
    • AMCAS - US Allopathic Medical Schools (MD) (including Baylor & TCU)           
    • AACOMAS - US Osteopathic Schools (DO) (including UIW) 
    • AACPMAS - US Podiatric Medicine Schools (DPM) 
    • AANMC - US Naturopathic Schools of Medicine (DNM) - apply to each school seperatly                         
  • DENTAL SCHOOLS APPLICATION SERVICES
    • TMDSAS - Texas Dental Schools
    • AADSAS - US Dental Schools (excluding Texas)                                             

 

  • PHYSICIAN ASSISTANT PROGRAMS APPLICATION SERVICE
    • CASPA - All PA Programs (PA, PA-C) 

 

  • PHARMACY PROGRAMS APPLICATION SERVICE
    • PharmCAS - All Pharmacy Programs (PharmD)     

 

  • OPTOMETRY PROGRAMS APPLICATION SERVICE  
    • OptomCAS - All Optometry Programs (OD)           
        
  • VETERINARY PROGRAMS APPLICATION SERVICES
    • TMDSAS - Texas Veterinary Schools (Texas Tech &Texas A&M)
    • VMCAS - US Veterinary Schools                                                                 

 

  • ADDITIONAL APPLICATION SERVICES
    • PTCAS - Physical Therapy Schools     
    • OTCAS & OTACAS - Occupational Therapy & OT Assistant Schools   
    • OPCAS - Orthotics & Prosthetics                                                               
    • SOPHAS - Public Health Schools 
    • CSDCAS - Speech Pathology, Audiology/Communication Science & Disorders Programs   

 

AM I A COMPETITIVE CANDIDATE?

Consider and prepare for all the following areas: 

  • Academic Ability: Overall GPA, Science GPA, evidence of upward trend in last 30-60 hours especially in upper level sciences
  • Life Experiences: Clinical and Non-Clinical Experiences, Volunteering, Leadership, and Research
  • Test Prep plan - MCAT DAT, PCAT, GRE, etc
  • Review Application Service(s) Handbooks & Guides
  • Letters of Recommendations
  • Personal Statements, Essays
  • Applying to HPAC - Committee Letter
  • CASPer Test (needed for certain programs)
  • Taking Admissions Test & evaluating score
  • OVERALL ASK YOURSELF: Am I academically and mentally prepared to handle 22+ credit hours per semester of rigourous graduate courses? Is this career the I am motivated to pursue? Can I back this statement up with evidence?

SHOULD I TAKE A GAP/GROWTH YEAR?

If you need to work on improving an area of weakness, a gap or growth year should be considered. A growth year can be a good thing as long as there is mature thought and reasoning put into it. Many students choose to take additional classes, complete a Master’s Program, continue gaining healthcare experiences/volunteering, and/or dedicate more time to study for their admission exam. Just have a plan! HELPFUL VIDEO: Gap Year Before Medical Schoo: How to Decide if its Right for You 

                                                             

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ADMISSIONS TEST  

          

WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO PREPARE FOR THE MCAT, PCAT, DAT, GRE, OAT, etc.?

This will depend on your learning style. It is always beneficial to start early (yes, freshman year) and spread the preparation over several months/years. Do NOT “CRAM”.Some resources used by our students are listed on the specific pre-health pages of the Health Professions Website. (You can also use the menu tabs on the right of this page) Do your research to choose the best option for you.  I encourage students to begin preparing in their General Biology and Chemistry courses.  "Intense Prep" should include taking and reviewing 8-10 practice tests. 

WHEN SHOULD I TAKE THE MCAT, PCAT, DAT, GRE, OAT, etc.?

You must take into account the year you plan on entering the professional school, application deadlines, dates the test is offered, and, most important, your level of preparedness. For example, pre-med students are recommended take the MCAT by April or May of the year they are applying to medical school. (1 year prior to entry year) Pre-Dental students should take the DAT by mid-July if not earlier of their application year. It is highly recommended to have all courses that are topics on the test completed. Most students start intense preparation at least 3-6 months in advance. Contact your health professions advisor if you are unsure when you should schedule your test.

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ESSAYS, LETTERS, and INTERVIEWING

 

HOW CAN I WRITE A STRONG PERSONAL STATEMENT/ESSAY?

The personal statement and other required essays are the opportunity to convey the motivation for a field while providing a personal background story. The key is to genuinely reflect on YOUR experiences instead of writing what you think the admissions committees want to read. Additional resources can be found on our LORs, Personal Statement's and Interviewing Page

 

HOW AND WHO DO I ASK FOR LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATIONS?

Please visit our LORs, Personal Statement's and Interviewing Page

 

WHAT IS THE HEALTH PROFESSIONS ADVISORY COMMITTEE (HPAC)? 

HPAC is a committee of staff and faculty throughout UTA that provides the opportunity to receive a "committee" letter of recommendation. Most graduate health schools highly recommend (if not require) students to apply to HPAC if their school provides it. Currently, HPAC is available to pre-med and pre-dental students. The HPAC process is meant to help prepare students for their medical or dental school application. If accepted, a letter of recommendation from an HPAC Member is provided. Visit the HPAC Page for additional information.

 

WHERE CAN I GET INTERVIEW PRACTICE?

Please visit our LORs, Personal Statement's and Interviewing Page. There are also resources for virtual interviews! 

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POST-BACC FAQs

 

I already have a baccalaureate degree. Am I required to obtain another degree to be accepted into a professional school?

No. If you have graduated from an accredited US or Canadian School, prerequisites can be completed as a non-degree seeking student, sometimes also referred to as a transient/transfer student. You also have the option of obtaining a second degree. The best choice will depend on your unique situation. Students should visit our Post Bacc Page for helpful information.

As a post-bacc student, how do I complete the prereqs as fast as possible?

Time is certainly a factor that should be considered, especially for post bacc students, but building an overall competitive application is not a process that can be rushed. Each students timeline will be different and depend on previous classes taken, year the classes were taken, undergrad GPA, current clinical experiences, volunteering, and other experiences. Expect this process to take 1.5-2 years. Setting yourself up for success is the goal. Please review this entire FAQ PAGE on becoming a competitive candidate.  

What classes are required for this program? Are they offered online?

UTA's program is an unstructured program where classes will be based on each students needs. Post-Bacc Students take the same classes as degree seeking students. Classes are not offered online and are usually during the day. However, several of our lower level science classes offer at least 1 evening section.Visit our Post-Bacc Page for more information

 

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WHERE CAN I GET MORE INFORMATION OR CONTACT THE HEALTH PROFFESSIONS ADVISOR?

More information can be found on the pre-health pages below. Students should visit these pages before booking an appointment.

Information for booking appointments can be found on the Advising Page. Questions can also be emailed to the Health Professions Advisor, Sandy Hobart, at sandy.hobart@uta.edu

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COVID-19 FAQS 

*For more information, check for COVID-19 Updates on UTA's Coronavirus FAQ Page and your specific pre-health, application services, TXHES site, and professional school's webpages*

 

  • APPLICATION CYCLE UPDATES***: 

    • CASPA -   4/30/2020 - Deadlines vary per school
    • TMDSAS - 5/1/2020 - 10/30/2020 (TRANSMISSIONS START - 6/1/2020) (2021 TIMELINE)
    • AMCAS 5/4/2020 -Deadlines vary per school (TRANSMISSIONS START- 7/10/2020)
    • AACOMAS - 5/5/2020 - Deadlines vary per school (TRANSMISSIONS START- 6/15/2020)
    • AADSAS - 5/12/2020 - Deadlines vary per school (SUBMISSIONS START: Start 6/16/2020; Decisions by schools start 12/15/2020)
    • PHARMCAS - 7/14/2020 - Deadlines vary per school

***VISIT THE APPLYING AND APPLICATION SERVICE SECTION OF YOUR SPECIFIC PRE-HEALTH PAGE FOR APPLICATION GUIDES and INFORMATION***

 

Will schools and/or special programs such as JAMP be making exceptions for the required courses this cycle?

No. Most classes have not been cancelled but have moved online. JAMP will be accepting P/F for the Spring and Summer terms. Please visit the main JAMP website and UTA's JAMP Page for more information. 

Will Health Professional Schools be accepting P/F grading and online courses for required courses?

Since most Universities have moved online temporarily, most schools will be accepting online courses 2020. Most will also accept P/F grades (for Spring 2020 only) but would prefer a letter grade if there is an option. This will vary per school, therefore, students should continually be keeping up with updates from the schools. Some PA schools are not accepting P/F for prerequisites. 

 

 

 

My extracurriculars have been cancelled due to the pandemic. Will admissions committees be understanding of the "gap" in my experiences ?

Admissions committees understand COVID-19 has greatly impacted many students circumstances and time. Applications are looked at holistically. One semester will not make or break an application! Only you know what you need to prioritize at this time. However, while most "traditional" experiences are not available, admissions committees will be looking at the non-traditional experiences an applicant WAS doing during this time. Life has not stopped! There are still people (and animals for pre-vet students) in need and learning experiences available, even if in your own home. You are the future essential workers. Now's the time to distinguish the true pre-health students from the application checkboxers. Thinking outside the box is key. Having to work more hours to support family, taking on more family responsibility like teaching siblings or caring for a family member may be the reality for now and its ok! These are still experiences.

Below are some suggestions from admissions committees, health profession advisors, and organizations.

  • Research schools/programs in depth and attend online webinars. Upcoming events/webinars can be found on the Health Professions Page
  • For community service, how about taking that night job at HEB restocking shelves, or delivering groceries in a program that serves those who cannot get out. I predict our committee will be very enthusiastic when we see all of the creative things the applicants are coming up with. - Long SOM
  • Write letters via e-mail of support, well-wishes, prayers, poems, positive vibes, etc. to persons at retirement homes or in hospice as a community service project. Become a pen-pal. 

  • Take or make calls from/to residents at a local retirement or hospice community 

  • Check to see if Meals on Wheels needs more volunteers in your community. Inquire whether other local organizations focused on supporting the elderly need volunteers
  • VIRTUAL VOLUNTEERING: 
    • Operation Warm has a list of 25 ways to volunteer virtually
    • Paper-airplanes.org invites volunteers to provide online tutoring to “bridge gaps in language, higher education, and professional skills training for conflict-affected individuals”
    • Dosomething.org’s nine places to volunteer online and make a real impact
    • If you’ve received crisis hotline training, check to see if your community’s crisis hotline could use additional phone or chat volunteers. Many crisis hotlines are overloaded right now.
    • Work with underserved and under-resourced youth - online tutoring, mentoring, etc. 
  • Research a disease and/or clinical aspect of disease 
  • If shadowing was discontinued, how about spending the time you would have been shadowing with You Tube to learn about taking a cardiac history and doing a heart exam? (Pick an organ system!)
  • Journal and reflect on clinical and non-clincal experiences 

 

Which pre-health services are still available?

All the pre-health services are available including peer mentoring! Please don't hesitate to email or book an appointment with any member of the Health Professions Office. Students interested in JAMP can make an appointment with a JAMP Ambassador. We all want to assist you!