Choosing a Major and Planning Courses

Choice of a Major

No specific major is required to be accepted into professional or graduate training for any of the healthcare professions. However, it is essential that your course selections are in-line with the recommendations made in Appendix A: Recommended Prerequisites for Healthcare Professions. Typically, most students select majors that contain the majority of prerequisite courses required by the professional schools to which they wish to apply. For example, those interested in medical school tend to be Biology or Chemistry majors, and those interested in entering graduate school in one of the mental health professions major in Psychology. However, the college has had a number of students who have become healthcare professionals whose majors were not in the disciplines which typically lead to healthcare careers. What is most important in major selection is that you select a field regarding which you are passionate in order that you will do very well in the classes in that major. Along these same lines, taking a double major does not significantly add to your chances of admission into professional programs. This being said, if you are very interested in the courses in two majors, have the time to complete both, and believe you will do very well in both majors, then it is reasonable to seek a double major.

Course Planning

Significant attention to course planning is essential in order to maximize your chances of being accepted for professional training in health care. Therefore, reviewing the recommended prerequisites for your desired healthcare field, meeting with your regular advisor and one of the Pre-health advisors (if not one and the same) to plan your semester schedule of courses, and registering for courses as early as possible are critical steps in pre-professional preparation. As would be expected, many of the necessary courses for applying for professional healthcare education have prerequisites. Most times these are formal prerequisites (e.g., in order to take organismal biology, you have to successfully complete general biology). At other times, there are more informal prerequisites. For example, in order to take Physics 201, general physics, a student needs to have a strong mathematical preparation to be able to successfully complete the course. Therefore, it is essential that you discuss with your advisor which prerequisite courses are necessary as you prepare your course schedules.

A word about mathematics, and quantitative reasoning in general, for students interested in the health professions—you will find that mathematical proficiency is going to be very important to your chances for acceptance and success in most of the healthcare fields. Therefore, be sure to work with your advisor to select the appropriate courses to reach a level of quantitative proficiency to perform well in both the undergraduate and professional courses necessary for entering the healthcare profession.

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