How will you prepare for your healthcare career?

Preparing for a career in health can (and in some cases should) start as early as your first year in college. Programs want to see that you have been thoughtful in your decision to pursue your health career of choice and that you have taken the appropriate steps to get there. In order to be a competitive applicant, these are some things that you should consider:


Professional health programs require courses that build content knowledge required for success in higher level coursework.

Plan for prerequisite courses


Many professional health programs require exams as part of the application process.

Learn more and create a plan for completing these exams.

Getting Experience

Clinical exposure and time spent interacting with patients and health professionals is important to demonstrate that you understand the career you are aspiring to, and that you will be good at it.

Review options for getting experience.


Self-care is important in guarding against burnout, which is common in helping professions such as healthcare.

This blog post shares 7 simple self-care tips for healthcare workers.

Stories can bring understanding, change and healing.  Visit AHECWW’s Cultural Humility page, scroll to the bottom, watch an introduction to digital storytelling and a powerful collection of eight digital stories exploring health equity. These stories share the personal experience of BIPOC health professionals living in the Pacific Northwest in their own voice.

Return to this page for Online self-paced Cultural Humility learning modules, which are coming soon!

Professional health programs like to see well-rounded individuals and compassionate citizens. This doesn’t mean signing up for every club and/or leadership opportunity on campus or in your community. Choose to be involved in things that are meaningful to you. Are you passionate about music? Or maybe you care about children and want to get involved in a community youth program? Or perhaps there is a club on campus that promotes social justice awareness that interests you? Whatever it is that you decide to be involved in, make sure there is a meaningful connection and engage with it in depth.
This may or may not be a requirement for professional health programs. You’ll have to research the individual programs to know for sure. Ultimately, it is up to you and your professional interests. If research is a passion of yours, then it will only help your application if you get some research experience. Connect with your advisors and faculty members to see what research opportunities may be available to you.
The most important thing to keep in mind when approaching people for letters of recommendation, shadowing opportunities, or even the admissions staff at the school you are applying to, is to always be professional, respectful, and grateful. People tend to be more responsive to this approach, and it speaks to your character as a future health professional.


Before you move on to the Apply phase…use this Self-Assessment Tool to determine your next steps. Apply when you are really ready for the process – it’s a lengthy one!