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Preparing for Health-Profession School

Preparing for Health-Profession School

Deciding to pursue a health profession can be a really exciting decision. The start of your journey takes one step, and that is preparation! Before applying to specific institutions, it is crucial to have enough preparation and experience to create a competitive application.

There are many, many factors that lead to what makes up a successful, competitive application, depending on whether or not the program reviews its candidates holistically or metrically.

A holistic review process is one that takes the "whole" applicant into consideration rather than basing admission on a limited amount of factors. Some questions a holistic institution would think about when selecting potential students are:

  • What factors, life experiences, or motivations make you unique compared to the other applicants? 
  • Why should their institution accept you instead of the next applicant?
  • How will you help add diversity to the health field?

In general, all health professional institutions will review metrics to some degree. These factors are the most important, with some institutions reviewing metrics alone (which is rare but can happen!)

These factors include but are not limited to:

Metrics: These are measurements of cumulative and science GPA, standardized test scores, course loads, extracurriculars, volunteering, letters of recommendation, and personal statements. All of these are considered when determining whether or not a student is prepared for and genuinely interested in the specific health profession. Keep in mind that even though some health professions have similar requirements, the weights of specific metrics are different.

  • Extracurricular Activities: With the aim of enhancing personal development, these activities are both academic and non-academic pursuits. Anything that involves leadership, community service, clinical experience, non-clinical experience, research, and even hobbies are considered extracurricular activities. Extracurricular activities are usually unpaid, but there are instances where pay is an option.
  • Standardized Tests: Tests such as the GRE, MCAT, OAT, and PA-CAT are all tests that are taken in order to apply to health-profession schools. The purpose of these is to get an assessment of how competent the student is when it comes to the topics that will be learned.
  • Personal Statements: Personal statements are a way for admission committees to get to know you on an individual level. Within these statements, you can provide the reader with a reasoning for why you want to pursue a career in health, such as personal fit, your backstory, motivation, long-term goals, and what exactly makes you different from other applicants. You also get the opportunity to speak about trends in your GPA, whether the trend is good or bad.

Provided below are resources for advisors and students to assist in the preparation for the health professions!


Post-Bacc Programs

The term "postbaccalaureate” describes programs that begin after you've completed an undergraduate degree and are designed specifically to support the transition to a professional school, such as a medical school, as well as enhance an applicant's competitiveness for admission (taken from AAMC).

What can I do if my GPA is low or I do not have the prerequisite coursework completed before I graduate?

 Post-baccalaureate programs are the ultimate tool for the non-traditional pre-health student. 

If you are unable to complete prerequisite coursework for your desired health program, a post-bacc program is a perfect opportunity to complete those courses and enhance your application. Many post bacc programs offer a clear and concise schedule of prerequisite courses, specific to a health field as well as research opportunities and/or entrance exam test prep.

Because you are taking a majority, if not all, of your required prerequisite courses in the post-baccalaureate program, it is also a great opportunity to improve your undergraduate and science GPA. A high GPA in a post-baccalaureate program will often be viewed favorably by admission committees as it shows that you have been capable of succeeding in a challenging program, despite a low undergraduate GPA. 

A post-bacc program is also an option for professionals who are interested in a career change and may have graduated a long time ago and have been working in their respective fields for a significant period.

Post-baccalaureate Programs in California

Below is a list of up-to-date post-bacc programs in California!


Additional Resources

CSUSB: Tutoring

CSUSB offers the Tutoring Center, which allows students to get assistance with their classes. Tutors are available to work with students one-on-one in order to get a better understanding of their class. Tutors, their subject of focus, and their availability may be limited, so be sure to plan ahead when it comes to requesting assistance.

Use this link in order to access their website.

CSUSB's Tutoring List: Coming For Fall 2024



CSUSB: Supplemental Instruction (SI)


CSUSB's Supplemental Instruction List: Coming for Fall 2024



CSUSB: Learning Assistant

CSUSB's Learning Assistant List: Coming for Fall 2024



There can be many challenges, but our HPAC team can assist you with making informed decisions. When looking for a resource to help coast you through the preparation process, HPAC is here for you!