Information about professional healthcare programs - applications, testing, requirements, etc. - continues to evolve due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Links to some of the latest resources and updates can be found here:
Please check individual program websites as well.
If you have additional questions, contact Michele Darnell, Pre-health advisor, at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can schedule an appointment with Michele through your Handshake account here or calling our office at 309-556-3095. Please visit
here or more information on summer opportunities, resume/
Pre-Health Advising at Illinois Wesleyan provides support for students who are considering a career in healthcare.
Many of our students, in a variety of majors, are interested in pursuing professional programs—medicine, dentistry, physician assistant, occupational/physical therapy and more--after graduating from IWU. In addition to the academic advising the students receive from our faculty, we have a dedicated pre-health advisor who can offer guidance and resources so students can learn about a range of career paths and are knowledgeable about creating a competitive application. Students planning to apply to professional school after graduation seek ways to build profiles of meaningful experiences that will enhance their chances of admission by volunteering, job shadowing and conducting internships.
This is your journey and you should take time to consider what’s important to you. Planning for a career in healthcare will require you to make a plan and seek advice. Think about experiences you want to pursue in college. Do you want to research or study abroad while you are in college? Have you considered how and when you will find the time to secure the necessary experience to be a competitive applicant? We are here to help. Make an appointment with your academic and pre-health advisors to discuss your plans.
There are many reasons one may wish to pursue a career in healthcare. For one, healthcare occupations are projected to add more jobs than any of the other occupational groups. This projected growth is mainly due to an aging population, leading to greater demand for healthcare services. But at the heart of most every decision is a strong desire to help others. Students often begin by volunteering at one of our local hospitals or at a community clinic or organization and are encouraged to work with different populations and age groups to learn about themselves and to confirm that they want to dedicate their professional lives to assisting others in this way.
A student’s resume, then, must show that the student has made an effort to experience and to learn about their future profession. Our students are encouraged to build strong resumes that reflect an attitude and aspiration for serving others.
Resources for healthcare careers:
Pre-med (pre-dental, pre-OT, etc) is not a major but rather a track of courses to best prepare you for the professional school of your choice. While some majors require courses that better align with prerequisite courses for professional schools, there is no specific major required for a career in healthcare.
Select a major that represents your interests because you are more likely to excel in courses that interest you and your GPA will matter when you apply for professional programs.
How well you do in your coursework is more important than your choice of major. Pre-health professional programs are built on a strong foundation in the sciences and mathematics. Admissions committees will strongly consider the rigor of your course selections in addition to how well you perform in these classes. The more science and/or upper division courses, the more competitive you will be.
Different programs may have different pre-requisites. Check out “Pre-requisites & Program Guides” to see what classes will best prepare you for the professional program that interests you.
Be a leader--in healthcare activities and otherwise. Professional schools are looking for individuals who are active and engaged as well as those who assume leadership roles. They want students who are committed to their studies but are also involved outside of the classroom and lab. Learning to successfully manage your time and balance a number of activities and commitments as an undergraduate will prepare you for all the “busyness” of professional school. There are many opportunities at IWU to get involved—you may choose to join science or healthcare clubs as well as continue with athletics, music or even try something new. Build a collection of experiences that you enjoy in addition to acquiring leadership roles.
Pre-Health Club (new in the fall of 2019)
Tri-Beta : Biological Honor Society
IWU Autism Social Support Group
IWU strives to provide various opportunities to expose students to a range of healthcare careers and practitioners. Our pre-health advisor is a staff member of the Hart Career Center where great efforts are made to coordinate events--panels and luncheons--and professional school practice interviews. Students gain valuable insight by interacting with healthcare providers. Students can benefit by conducting informational interviews and shadowing to see firsthand what a future in healthcare looks like.
Giving back to the community and making a difference to the people around you shows that you care and have concern for others.
And, perhaps it provides an opportunity to develop new skills or build on existing experience and knowledge. Professional schools want to see sustained involvement in a variety of volunteer activities (in and out of healthcare); this commitment demonstrates that you are engaged locally, nationally and/or globally. Students interested in pursuing a career in healthcare can secure volunteer experiences by reaching out to local hospitals, and other community organizations. IWU has excellent relationships with Advocate BroMenn and OSF St. Joseph Medical Centers as well as numerous other community organizations.
Examples of Bloomington-Normal community organizations; more can be found on Handshake:
Shadowing healthcare professionals is a great way to determine if a particular path might be right for you. It provides meaningful insight and allows you to observe daily routines (and different specialties and healthcare settings) and give you good experiences to talk about in your applications and interviews for professional school.
Many shadowing opportunities often come from your personal contacts in the healthcare industry. Start by reaching out to your own physician(s) or contact hospitals/clinics through the volunteer office. Our pre-health advisor can assist you in navigating the search process to obtain a shadowing or internship opportunity or help to connect you with practitioners. See Job Shadowing guide for tips and Code of Conduct agreement if you are seeking opportunities through the pre-health advisor or the Hart Career Center.
Summer Health Professions Education Program
Some professional schools require a certain number of patient care or contact hours in order to apply. Positions like CNA, EMT, medical assistant, phlebotomist, scribe, rehabilitation aide can help you acquire those experiences and hours but may involve prior certification so plan ahead.
Research can be a valuable component when applying to professional school but it’s not a requirement. Research is directly connected with critical and independent thinking, creativity and most importantly, discovery and you should pursue research opportunities if interested but not merely to “check a box” for applications. There are research opportunities on campus during the academic year as well as during the summer. And, many options across the country ( SURF , REU , Summer Undergraduate Research Programs ).
Studying abroad demonstrates that you have interests beyond the sciences and you are actively pursuing those interests. It is increasingly important to improve your ability to listen and understand those dissimilar to us.
This concept is especially crucial in the field of healthcare where practitioners help people from all walks of life, and are likely to be working alongside team members from a variety of backgrounds. There are a number of options for study abroad , but some of the more popular IWU experiences with healthcare and/or research focus are Freeman Asia and Global Medical/Dental Brigades .
The Pre-health Club , started in the Fall of 2019, is an IWU registered student organization (RSO) for students who have an interest in healthcare. Students who join this group will learn about a variety of healthcare fields through presentations from a range of career paths. They will also interact with alums (some currently in professional programs and others who are experienced practitioners) who are excited to serve as mentors for students exploring careers in healthcare. Valuable components of this organization will be peer mentoring and discussions centered around preparing for, and building, experiences to be a successful applicant for professional school.
Schedule an appointment with the Pre-Health Advisor on Handshake
We'd love to have you join us!