DavisConnects - DavisConnects - Preparing Colby Students For Lifelong Success

Pre-Health

Pre-Health
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 and scientific knowledge, 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, and evidence that they are capable of following academic passions and taking intellectual risks. 

Common Pre-Health Course Prerequisites Offered at Colby

  • Introductory Biology with Lab, 8 credits (Bi163 + Bi164; or Bi 201)
  • Physiology with Lab, 4 credits (Bi275; or available via course exchange program with KVCC)
  • Anatomy with Lab, 4 credits (available via course exchange program with KVCC)
  • Microbiology, 4 credits (Bi248)
  • General Chemistry with Lab, 8 credits (Ch141 + Ch142; or Ch147)
  • Organic Chemistry with Lab, 4-8 credits (Ch241; or Ch241 + Ch242)
  • Biochemistry, 4 credits (Bc362; or Bc367 + Bc368; or Bi367 + Bi368)]
  • Physics with Lab, 8 credits (Ph141 + Ph145; or Ph143 + Ph145)
  • Calculus, 4 credits (Ma119 + Ma120; or Ma125; or MA130; or Ma135; or Ma 160)
  • Introductory Statistics, 4 credits (varies)
  • English, 8 credits (varies)
  • Psychology or Sociology, 4 credits (varies)


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 help people who are ill, to build their bedside manner (e.g.  interpersonal skills), and to explore the ecosystem of the healthcare system. Some health professions programs 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.

Gap Year Careers and Fellowships

Colby students often take one or more gap years between college and 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 in graduate school. 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 access to pre-health advising through DavisConnects. 

Recent Colby applicants have spent their gap years 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 guides students and recent alumni in applying for post-graduate health professions programs and manages Colby College’s committee letter process. Colby students and alumni applying to medical, dental, podiatric, or optometry schools are strongly encouraged to request a committee letter from Colby’s pre-health advisor. Regardless of their eligibility for a committee letter, all applicants have access to Colby’s virtual Pre-Health Applicant Seminar, from January to July of the year they intend to apply.

Grossman Hall
(207) 859-4140
[email protected]

Office Hours
Monday – Thursday:
8 a.m. – midnight
Friday: 8 a.m – 6 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday:
9 a.m. – midnight