Do some self-reflection

Taking additional time in between graduating from college and matriculating to professional school can allow you the space needed to “find yourself”, further discover your interests and passions, and better be able to articulate those in a health professions application.

Not only do you need to show that you’ve had significant clinical and service experience to date, you’ll need to be able to explain, both on paper and aloud, how those experiences have impacted you, what you’ve learned from them, and how you want to apply that learning in the future. Engaging in regular reflection can be a helpful way to determine whether or not you are ready to answer questions you’d encounter on your applications.

Our office has designed the application process for a letter packet—provided by our office to prospective medical and dental applicants—to mirror the kinds of questions applicants will encounter on their primary and secondary applications, and interviews.

If you believe you might want to apply but are unsure, starting a Health Professions Applicant Portfolio can be a good way to gauge if you feel like you're ready. The questions challenge you to think deeply about your readiness and experiences. If you have difficulty answering the questions, perhaps that’s an indication that you could benefit from additional time to bolster your activities and gain some new perspective.

Taking additional time can also offer you the opportunity to try other things outside of the health professions. While most people who plan to become a medical practitioner, dentist, or any other health career are certain of their choice and have been focused on that goal for some time, that doesn’t mean one can’t deviate from their path briefly to indulge in other careers, hobbies, or interests. Admissions committees appreciate those applicants who have taken time to explore all of their other areas of interest, and are certain that their chosen health career is what will fulfill them long-term.

Caroline Liu

“Participate in activities you enjoy and explore areas outside of healthcare that you are interested in before going into your respective health school. You do not have to rush to get into graduate school.” –Caroline Liu, c/o 2018, University of California Davis School of Medicine

Shivali Gupta

“There is a LOT of advice out there—advice from others often comes from their own experiences, and no one's experience is going to be the same. Definitely take tips from people who have been through it before, but also trust your own path and do what feels right for you.” –Shivali Gupta, c/o 2017, Albany Medical College