It takes years to prepare for any health professional school. See the steps below to start preparing for your health professional school journey.
For a comprehensive guide on healthcare, service, leadership, research, and other experiential learning opportunities, please see our PRE-MED/PRE-HEALTH EXPERIENTIAL OPPORTUNITIES GUIDEBOOK
Most health professions require:
- One year of general biology with lab (BILD 1, 2, 3 and upper division Bio lab)
- One year of general chemistry with lab (Chem 6A, B, C and 7L)
- One year of organic chemistry with lab (Chem 40A, B, C and 43A)
- One year of physics, including labs (Physics 1A, 1AL, 1B, 1BL, 1C, 1CL or 2A, 2B, 2BL, 2C, 2CL)
- One year of college math (usually Math 10A, B, C or Math 11 or 20 A, B, C or Math 11)
Additional requirements may include:
- Foreign Language
|Revelle||HUM 1,2, 3, 4, 5|
|Marshall||DOC 1, 2, 3
|Muir||MCWP 40, 50|
|Warren||WCWP 10A, 10B|
|Eleanor Roosevelt||MMW 11,12,13,14,15
|Sixth||CAT 1, 2, 3, 125|
|Upper Division Writing Requirement||Check Marshall and ERC upper division writing
Gain Healthcare/ Clinical Experience
In order to be competitive applicants to health professional schools, it is critical you gain experience in a relevant healthcare setting. This can be volunteer work in a hospital, student-run clinic, pharmacy, dental office, or other health-related setting. Paid experience includes: scribe, certified nursing assistant (CNA), medical assistant, pharmacy technician, EMT, paramedic, etc.
Most hospitals and clinics have established and structured volunteer programs that will provide you with shadowing and clinical experience.
- Find Clinical & Hospital Experience
- For specific healthcare experience for a particular profession, visit the web page for your health profession of choice
- Search for International Health Opportunities
- Learn how to Maximize Your Experience
- ALLIED HEALTH CERTIFICATE PROGRAMS
Do Service/Volunteer Work
Many health professions expect applicants to have volunteer experience or work with underserved and disadvantaged communities. This is an absolute MUST for medical school. Overall, volunteer work and service demonstrates compassion and empathy as well as shows commitment to helping communities with limited access to healthcare and vital resources.
Preuss School: Be a tutor or mentor
International Rescue Committee: Volunteer with refugees, asylees, and other immigrants
Alternative Breaks: Service learning trips for the globally conscious citizen
HFiT (Health Frontiers in Tijuana): Developmental experiences in public health and healthcare for underserved communities
Flying Samaritans: organization that provides medical care in Ensenada, Mexico
Examples of service:
- caring for the elderly
- volunteering at food banks
- helping the homeless
- caring for people with disabilities
- tutoring in low-income high schools and communities
- providing health education to underserved communities
Take on a Leadership Role
Demonstrating leadership is essential in any health profession. Admissions' committees want to see applicants who take initiative, manage a project, or execute an innovative idea.
There are many ways to gain leadership skills, but here are a few examples:
- Develop communication and leadership skills through the Center for Student Involvement
- Become an Undergraduate Instructional Apprentice (UGIA's) for a course you did well in
- Become a Student Health Advocate
- Join a student organization and take on a leadership role
- Serve on a board or committee of student government, campus administration, or a community organization.
- Tutor or train other students
Get Research Exposure
Research is generally not a requirement for entering health professional schools, however many students participate in some form of research during their undergraduate years (particularly pre-meds). While it is not recommended to do research simply to “look good” on your application, there are many benefits:
- Exposure to a different part of science
- Understand the relationship between research and how it applies to your specific health profession
- Cultivate a strong mentorship with your P.I. (and potentially get a letter of evaluation)
- Expand your network – oftentimes research can lead to other exciting opportunities (i.e. jobs, shadowing, etc.)
Learn more about Research Opportunities:
Find Research Opportunities:
- REAL Portal (database of research, service, and other opportunities)
- Biology Faculty Research
- UC San Diego School of Medicine
- UC San Diego Health Sciences Labs
- Discover Research Opportunities on and off campus and Summer Research Programs
- Biology Research Internship Program through Academic Internship Program.
- Find a Mentor with the Faculty Mentor Program
- Also, consider the Salk Institute, the Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine, San Diego Life Science Cluster (Pfizer, Illumina, Takeda, Eli Lilly)
Develop Professional Relationships
If you are applying to any health professional schools, you will need 3-6 letters of evaluation/recommendation from professors, PI's, supervisors, etc. Because classes are large at UC San Diego, it can be challenging to get to know your professors.
Watch a quick video on getting to know your professors!
Here are some tips:
- Start by identifying mentors vs."letter writers." Approach professors with sincerity and curiosity. This will lay the foundation for an authentic professional relationship
- Try Coffee/Dine with a Prof! Every college gives each student 3 opportunities to invite a professor to coffee and/or a meal each quarter
- Attend office hours and ask questions
- Participate in class or ask questions after class
- Become a Undergraduate Instructional Apprentices (UGIA's) for a course you did well in
- Take multiple classes from the same professor
- Take smaller classes (i.e. labs, senior seminars, etc.)
For more tips, check out Letters of Recommendation Info and Resources
Make the most out of your Summers
Make the most of out of your summers and do something meaningful and productive. Summer programs offer unique experinces and the summer is an excellent time to accrue hours and gain clinical, research, service, or leadership experience.
Atlantis- Shadow doctors in Spain, Portugal, Greece, and more!
Ecela - learn Spanish in Argentina, Chile, or Peru and shadow doctors
Child Family Health International (CFHI) - learn more about global health abroad
- Wilderness and emergency medicine in Costa Rica
- hands-research experience
- two-week field course in Brazil (public health)
- six week summer opportunity for disadvantaged students
Learn more about International Opportunities such as Peace Corps, Teach for America, or Global Seminars.