Planning Tips and Timeline
Gain Meaningful Experience in Health Care
If you are considering a health career, we strongly recommend that you build a record of sustained involvement as a volunteer or paid employee within the health field. This time is necessary to gain a good understanding of the various roles within a health care team and the daily tasks that are involved in patient care. Some schools require particular number of patient hours or types of experiences, so make sure you are familiar with the expectations for your field.
Students have gained health care experience by:
- Medical Scribing
- Working as a Personal Care Assistant (PCA) or Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)
- Volunteering at hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes
A record of such sustained experience is now expected for application to most advanced degree programs in the health field. To find such volunteer and work experiences, please see the “Opportunities” tab to the left.
Make a Timeline
Each student’s path to professional school in the health sciences is unique, so your timeline might look slightly different than another student’s. You may want to take a year or two off before applying, while others might wish to start immediately after graduation. No matter when you plan to apply, it is important that you are as fully-prepared as possible when that time comes. Below is a guideline to help you create your own personal timeline. As you will notice, most of the application components are completed 1-2 years before you would like to start professional school.
Early College (and beyond):
- Meet with URGO for pre-health advising
- Meet with Academic Advisor to insure you will complete all pre-requisites before graduation
- Maintain a competitive GPA and get to know professors
- Get involved in extracurricular, volunteer, and leadership activities both on and off-campus (long-term involvement in these activities is important)
- Volunteer/work in the health field
- Shadow a variety of health professionals to help you understand the various roles within a given health care setting
- Seek out work/volunteer experience in a variety of health care settings
- Consider participating in on-campus research (link) or off-campus research (link)
- Consider medical scribing (link) as a part-time job (requires a 2 year commitment)
Two Years Before Starting Professional School:
- Summer/Fall: Start studying for any necessary standardized tests (MCAT, GRE, DAT, etc.). Preparing for these exams requires considerable time and focus, so be sure to reserve a few months for this task. You can take these exams as early as you’d like, but you may wish to take a prep course or particular college courses beforehand to help you reach the best score possible (if you are taking the MCAT, contact Professor Dale Pederson (Pederson@augsburg.edu) to see which Augsburg courses may be most useful to take prior to the exam). URGO also offers a GRE prep course (link) every summer at a discount rate. We strongly recommend that all Medical and Dental applicants complete their exams by June (one year prior to admission).
- Winter: Meet with URGO to start working on your Personal Statement.
- Spring: Work on your online application (most fields now have centralized application systems)
- Spring: Ask for letters of recommendation. Check with schools on who should write the letters (professors, supervisors, health professionals, etc.).
One Year Before Starting Professional School:
- Summer: SUBMIT your online application as close to the opening date as possible. Many schools begin looking at applications as soon as they start coming in, so most of their spots will be filled by the “closing date” of the application system.
- Summer: Complete any school-specific secondary applications.
- Fall: Admissions interviews.
- Fall-Spring: Accept offers!
Pre-Med Students: Planning for Medical School
The University of Minnesota has created an online module designed specifically to help students plan for medical school, including a worksheet to help you plan your own personal timeline. Follow the link below and create a guest account. This should allow you to “register” for the module.
Planning for Medical School Module
If you have trouble accessing the module, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.