At the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign pursuing a health profession is a career goal not an academic major. Health Professions Advisors at The Career Center provide pre-professional advising for students interested in allopathic and osteopathic medicine, audiology, dentistry, chiropractic, naturopathic medicine, nursing, occupational therapy, optometry, pharmacy, physical therapy, physician assistant, podiatric medicine, public health, speech language pathology, and veterinary medicine.
Learn About Your Area of Interest
The first step when thinking about a career in the health professions is to learn more about the professions that interest you. Read about your career of interest. Do an informational interview with someone in that career field. Learn about current trends in the field. Check out the Health Professions section of this wesbite to learn more about preparation for specific professions.
Choosing a Major
Pursuing a health profession is a career goal, not an academic major. It is important to choose a major that you will enjoy and that will allow you to complete the required and recommended courses while also gaining experience outside the classroom. Consider a major that will give you possible alternative career options, recognizing that many students commonly change majors and career plans multiple times as they learn about themselves and their career options. Keep in mind that there is no "best" major for pursuing a health profession.
Completing Prerequisite Courses
While there's no universal set of prerequisite coursework for any of the health professions, most health professional schools require similar courses, including biology, chemistry, organic chemistry, biochemistry, physics, behavioral sciences (like psychology and sociology), and English composition. Our Health Professions section (on the main menu at the top of this page) includes common prerequisites for medical school, dental school, and other common health professional programs. Typically, students will take one or two prerequisite courses each semester, depending upon their major requirements and other factors.
While GPA and standardized test scores are important, admission committees expect candidates to demonstrate a commitment to the profession and the competencies necessary to be a capable healthcare provider. Gaining valuable experience outside of the classroom will help you learn more about your health profession, enhance your skillset, and also stand out as a competitive candidate.
Stay Informed and Seek Assistance
The Health Careers Chronicle (HCC) includes information about upcoming events and opportunities for students interested in pursuing health professions. Your academic department or student organization may offer more opportunities.