For students seeking careers that have a direct and tangible impact on patients’ individual health or influence communities’ access to health and well-being.

At Colby “pre-health” students are exploring careers in clinical practice, public health, and biomedical research. Eager to improve the health and well-being of others, these students go on to find diverse roles within the healthcare industry that allow them to provide medical care to individuals or a community. Colby alumni are creating and contributing to solutions in animal, human, or environmental health through a myriad of careers, such as basic or clinical research, bioinformatics, dentistry, genetic counseling, emergency management, epidemiology, medicine, mental health counseling, nursing, nutrition, pharmacy, physical therapy, physician assistant careers, public health, veterinary medicine, and more.

Preparation

Academic

Pre-health students who meet regularly with both faculty and pre-health advisors are better able to ensure their curricular plans reflect their choices of major, educational preparation, curricular interests, and career ambitions. There are many ways to demonstrate a commitment to intellectual exploration, scientific knowledge, and commitment to caring for others, and each student’s pathway to a health profession may prove unique. For example, students should not feel pressure to pursue a major in a STEM field or spend gap years pursuing basic science research unless they are intrinsically motivated to do so. Rather, health professions programs want to see coursework and research choices that reflect a student’s scholarly interests, clear documentation of their ability to succeed in a graduate science program, experiences that reflect a commitment to helping others, and evidence that they are capable of following academic passions and taking intellectual risks.

Basic Pre-Requisite Guidelines for Various Health Professions Schools

MEDICINE (MD/DO)
Biology (2 w/lab)
General Chemistry (2 w/lab), Organic Chemistry (1-2 w/lab), Biochemistry (1-2, no lab required)
Physics (2 w/lab)
Psychology/Sociology
College Math (calculus recommended for Colby Physics courses)
Statistics
English (W1 + another writing-intensive course)
Others by school

PHYSICIAN ASSISTANT/ASSOCIATE
General Biology (2 w/lab), Microbiology, Genetics
General Chemistry (2 w/lab), Organic Chemistry (1 w/lab), Biochemistry (no lab req.)
Anatomy & Physiology (w/lab), Medical Terminology (all available via course exchange with KVCC)
English/Writing, Psychology, Statistics
Others by school

DENTISTRY
Biology (2 w/lab)
General Chemistry (2 w/lab), Organic Chemistry (2 w/lab), Biochemistry (1, no lab req.)
Physics (2 w/lab)
Others by school, such as Microbiology

VETERINARY MEDICINE
Biology/Zoology (2 w/lab)
General Chemistry (2 w/lab), Organic Chemistry (1-2 w/lab), Biochemistry (1-2, no lab required)
Physics (2 w/lab)
College Math (calculus recommended for Colby Physics courses)
Statistics
English
Humanities/Social Science
Others by school such as Animal Nutrition, Public Speaking

PHYSICAL THERAPY
Biology (2 w/lab)
General Chemistry (2 w/lab)
Physics (2 w/lab)
Anatomy & Physiology (w/lab),  (available via course exchange with KVCC)
Psychology
Statistics
Others by school

Clinical

Pursuing clinical experiences is essential to preparing for health professions. Shadowing a healthcare professional in the field gives students the opportunity to learn what daily responsibilities and opportunities correspond with the profession, to explore the diverse contexts and environments in which professionals serve, and to observe the unique nature of the profession’s roles and relationships in the clinic. Directly volunteering or working with patients allows pre-health students to assess whether or not they are motivated to work with patients in a clinical treatment setting, to build their bedside manner (e.g.  interpersonal skills), and to explore the ecosystem of the healthcare system. Some health professions programs (such as veterinary medicine, dentistry, and PA) have specific healthcare experience requirements which applicants must meet, so students should meet with the pre-health advisor to discuss their goals.

Service

By becoming a health professional, students are aspiring to hold a meaningful role not only in a profession but also in their broader community. Pre-health students should endeavor to spend time and energy outside of the campus “bubble,” making meaningful connections through community-focused learning and service. Contributing to Waterville’s welfare through civic engagement and service encourages students to build diverse social and relationship skills, challenges them to develop greater intrapersonal and structural competencies, and prepares them to respond to the needs of their community in responsible ways.

Leadership

Preparing for a health profession means preparing for taking responsibility for oneself, others, and one’s environment. Pre-health students should seek to put themselves in the position to influence, motivate, and guide others. Whether mentoring peers on campus, serving as residential hall staff, or participating on student advisory councils, student leaders develop conflict resolution, time management, service orientation, and communication skills. Overall, leadership opportunities provide students ample context to develop core competencies, such as those outlined by the AAMC, that health professions programs wish to see from strong applicants and future clinicians.

Research

Pre-health students should seek out at least one research experience that helps them build 21st-century skills, such as critical thinking, collaboration, knowledge construction, problem solving, resilience, hypothesis, and information and digital literacy. While many students are drawn to hypothesis-driven basic science research, this is only one of many research settings that can build these competencies. Some students may prefer to explore clinical, ethnographic, public health, psychological, or epidemiological research.

 

Post-Colby Pre-Health Experiences and Fellowships

Colby students very often take one or more years between college and beginning their post-graduate health professions training to pursue fellowships, work experience, or other forms of personal and professional development. There is no one right way for all pre-health students to spend this period of time. However, consideration should be given to whether graduates have weaknesses in their candidacy they need to address directly or unfulfilled educational goals that will only grow harder to complete during health professions training. Some graduates may need this time to address financial or personal barriers to successfully beginning their application process. Regardless of whether Colby pre-health applicants are current students or alumni, they have full access to pre-health advising through DavisConnects.

Recent Colby applicants have spent their time between Colby and beginning health professions training in the following roles:

  • Clinical research coordinators at research hospitals such as Memorial Sloan Kettering, Boston Children’s, Mass General, Hospital of Special Surgery, or Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
  • Research assistants at research institutions such as Dana Farber, Rockefeller University, or Beth Israel Deaconess.
  • Community residence counselors, mental health specialists, or post-bac clinical fellows at McLean Hospital and other psychiatric and therapeutic treatment centers.
  • Medical assistants at small private practices in specialties such as dermatology, vascular care, family medicine, and ophthalmology.
  • Emergency medical technicians at hospital EM departments.
  • Dental assistants or clerks at private dental or orthodontic practices.
  • Medical scribes in hospitals, clinics, and urgent care centers.
  • Fellows with AmeriCorps, Peace Corps, National Health Corps, MedServ, the NIH IRTA Program, and more.
  • Post-baccalaureate and graduate students at institutions nationwide.

Recruiting timelines for clinical and healthcare roles vary; learn more about recruiting timelines on our job search page.

Application Cycles

DavisConnects’ Health Professions Advisor provides guidance for students and alumni applying for a wide variety of post-graduate health professions programs. Assistance is available in assessing readiness, understanding the timeline and steps of the application process, and, if appropriate for their applications, in collecting and submitting a reference letter packet. All students and alumni planning to apply to health professions schools at any time are invited to contact the Health Professions Advisor to gain access to personalized advising on preparation and application in their area of interest.

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