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Become a Competitive Applicant

Co-Curricular Activities

High grades and MCAT, DAT, PCAT, etc. scores are not always enough for admission to health professional schools or other graduate programs.  Applicants should invest time outside of the classroom learning about patient care and the professional areas.  These activities will assist in determining whether health care is right for you, along with revealing how strong your commitment to pursuing the field is.  These activities include:   

Job Shadowing

Shadowing (i.e., observing/following a practitioner) is one of the most effectual ways to understand what professionals do on a daily basis.  You can also target different practitioners and specialties to help you solidify your own interests in practicing a health care profession.  Through shadowing you will become accustomed to:

  • Health professionals’ daily activities
  • Interactions with patients and issues they see
  • Challenges that impact their day
  • How health professionals work with other colleagues
  • Their pursuits to stay current in their field

and more.

Volunteering in Clinical Settings

Shadowing and clinical volunteering can seem very similar or overlap, but the key difference is the patient-interaction who is undergoing treatment or living with illness or injury.   This may also be obtained through a part-time job.  The point is to observe a professional in your target area at work or the chance to interact with patients who are undergoing treatment.  Be sure to research any specific requirements or guidelines in your target health area because they can vary across programs and schools.

Note:  Health professions programs wants do not want you to engage in treatment or caregiving activities in which you are not trained, certified or licensed.  It is your responsibility to make wise decisions.  Examples of clinical settings:

  • Hospice Services
  • Hospitals
  • EMTs
  • Home Health
  • Health Clinics (medical, dental, etc.)
  • Health Education
  • Assisted Living Centers
  • Make a Wish Foundation
  • Volunteer First Responders
  • Other Non-profit Health Organizations
Community Service & Volunteering

Healthcare is a “helping” field, and admissions committees value your experiences that show how you enjoy helping others.  Many applicants will say “I just want to help people,” but the best way to demonstrate this is actually be involved in “helping” organizations or activities.  It’s important to participate in meaningful volunteer and community service opportunities that reflect your personal passions and interests.

Things to consider when choosing meaningful experiences:

  • What is meaningful to me (i.e. feeding the poor, cancer research, building homes, literacy, etc.)?
  • Who is meaningful to me (i.e. children, adults, animals, cancer survivors, the underserved, etc.)?
  • How much time can I commit (i.e. a whole week, a weekend, a few hours a week over a longer period of time, etc.)?
  • Where can I donate my time (i.e., my hometown, Stephenville, United States, global, etc.)?

Keeping a journal will help you periodically pause and reflect to gain understanding and meaning from all that you experience in your classroom and co-curricular activities.  This is not a daily journal, but rather a collection of occasional entries triggered by an incident, a reading, a patient and so forth. Journaling is not only a way to record the facts that you observe and your feelings about them, but it is also an important step in becoming a reflective practitioner.  Your journal will also become a beneficial resource when you complete your applications to professional programs. 

Research & Study Abroad

You should consider participating in study abroad or research.  While these are not required for admission to a health professional school, they can be beneficial.    

Research can demonstrate you have a natural, intellectual curiosity.  Faculty and students at TSU are actively engaged in a wide range of research areas including biotechnology, ecology, genetics, physiology and systematics.  Research faculty members serve as mentors for both undergraduate and graduate students. Motivated students are encouraged to meet with faculty members to learn about available research opportunities like the Timberlake Ranch and Biological Field Station.

Summer Research Programs:

Study abroad students are viewed as having a broader understanding of cultural diversities.  Learn more about Study Abroad opportunities at Tarleton. 

Student Organizations

Alpha Epsilon Delta AED is the national honor society and service organization for health pre-professionals.  It is dedicated to the encouragement and recognition of excellence in pre-professional health studies.  The society welcomes all pre-health students, offers opportunities to meet health professionals along with professional development, and provides a forum for students with common interests.  For more information, visit the National AED  website or TexanSync page. 

Joint Admission Medical Program (JAMP)

JAMP is a partnership between 9 medical schools and four-year higher education institutions in Texas. 

Tarleton State University actively supports economically disadvantaged students go to medical school.  To learn more, please review the statewide JAMP website, see if you qualify and contact the faculty advisor for more information. 

Faculty Advisor
Dr. Max Sanderford, Ph.d.
Associate Professor
Chairman, Health Professions Advisory Committee (HPAC)