Additional Preparation for Health Sciences Careers and Testing
The admission exams for advanced studies are not to be taken lightly. These exams cover material from most of your courses beginning your first semester. Be sure to keep all of your notes and texts for additional study and review prior to taking these exams. The earlier you being to prepare the better off you will be. All of these programs are highly competitive and you will need to both maintain a high GPA, and score well on these exams to be considered for admissions.
For careers in Medicine and Dentistry you will also want to look at the “Collaborative Programs” available to TAMIU students some of which can be applied for as early as your senior year in High School. There are also a number of study guides and programs available for students interested in these fields.
You need to be sure to register for your exam well in advance of the application period. Most students will take these exams during school year within one year of the application deadlines. Be sure to check the deadlines for individual schools or programs you intend to apply to.
Web Links for the Admission Exams for Health Sciences Programs
Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)
Dental Admission Test (DAT)
Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT)
Additional Preparation for Advanced Studies
For all students interested in the Health Sciences it is important for you to be well prepared for the challenges before you. You need to take the initiative to get to know your instructors and take advantages of research opportunities related to your field. Building relationships with your professors is important and they can assist you when you need a letter of recommendation. Be sure to research your field and potential schools that you are interested in. Be sure to note any organizations you can become involved with and opportunities for students.
You will need to demonstrate your commitment to the field by participating in pre-health organizations on your campus. At TAMIU we have the TriBeta/Biology Club, an American Medical Students Association Chapter (AMSA), and the Pre-Dental Club for you to consider. All of these organizations are very active in our community, and you will be able to meet other students with similar interests. Through these types of organizations you will establish a record of service, extracurricular involvement, potentially leadership roles, and tutoring. You will also be better able to balance your academic and personal life.
For any career in the health sciences you need to be prepared for the challenges before you. Though coursework and exam preparation is important, advanced studies in the Health Sciences are unique with difficult professional challenges which cannot be duplicated in a classroom. One of the most important steps you can take in preparing for an advanced degree in the health science is to gain experience in your chosen field. Experience can be either in the form of a paid position or a shadowing/volunteer experience.
Medicine and Dentistry
If you are interested in either medicine or dentistry speak with local practitioners about their careers and profession to gain insight into your career of choice. You may also be able to shadow these individuals. Shadowing will allow you to better understand the day-to-day activities of a medical professional and allow insight into your career of choice.
Tips for shadowing:
- Use local connections: Whether it is working with your family physician or a connection from the university, you will need to actively seek out these opportunities.
- Be flexible for time: Be conscientious of the individual’s times. You will need to work with their schedule, which may include early morning rounds or weekend rounds. Remember that they are providing you an outstanding opportunity. Given these constraints you may choose to do this over the summer so that it will not interfere with your course work.
- Bring a notebook: This will allow you to take notes during rounds for things you have questions about. Save your questions until the rounds are over, this time is about the patient’s care, you are only an observer. Also, feel free to have questions ready for students you encounter or work with during this time. They can help you understand the process of becoming a doctor/dentist.
- Respect the patient’s privacy: Do not takes notes on the specific patients, and be understanding if an individual patient does not want you in their room. These individuals have a right to their privacy. You will also need to look over and sign forms for HIPPA stating that you will respect and maintain the patient’s privacy.
- Take time for reflection: If you are shadowing over a period of time be sure to reflect on the activities of each day. You may find you have more questions which you can ask at an appropriate time. You also need to reflect as to how you are feeling about the experience.
- Be sure to follow up after shadowing: You were a guest of the physician during rounds, so it is always good to follow up with a thank you to the doctor. Professionally this is the appropriate thing to do, and in addition it may lead to a long standing relationship with the physician and future opportunities.
For those interested in a career in pharmacology you can also gain valuable experiences through both volunteer and/or work experiences. Be prepared to volunteer at a local hospital to better understand patient care. You can also gain valuable experience working at a community pharmacy. You will be able to discover first-hand the glimpse of a pharmacist in action. At times you will be able to work directly with the pharmacist in a manner similar to shadowing.
Working directly in a pharmacy, you will learn the laws governing various forms of medication, how to check if there are conflicts in medications prescribed to a particular patient, gain a better understanding of the labels associated with medications and the general activities of a pharmacist. Be sure to take the time to ask questions and take notes when working with the pharmacists. Again, you will need to respect the privacy of patients. In all health sciences, the patient’s rights must be protected at all times.
For those interested in a career in physical therapy you can gain valuable experiences through both volunteer and/or work experiences. Be prepared to volunteer at a local hospital to better understand patient care or sports therapy clinic. You will be able to discover first-hand the glimpse of a physical therapist in action. At times you will be able to work directly with the physical therapist or athletic trainer in a manner similar to shadowing. Work study in an athletic training department can also be a great learning tool for a student.
At TAMIU the Head Athletic Trainer is Ernst Feisner who covers all of TAMIU’s sports and student-athletes during season and off-season. The department is vital to student-athletes in respect to injury prevention and rehabilitation of injuries. To contact Ernst Feisner about work study or volunteering you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call his office at 956-326-2905.
It is imperative for students to create a resume for not only schools applying to but also in applying for positions in the career workforce. There are many different formats and designs for resumes but they all should have the basic categories listed in them including:
1. Contact section: Who are you and how can you be reached?
2. Objective statement: What do you want to do?
3. Education section: What have you learned?
4. Experience/Employment section: What can you do? What have you done?
5. Professional activities and accomplishments: How have you been recognized?
6. Miscellaneous: What else do they want to know about you?
1. Contact Information
Begin your resume with your name by capitalizing or using bold type. Include street address, city, state, and zip code. Include phone number(s) where you can be reached weekdays, 9am-5pm. Designate your home phone with an "H," and work number with "W," or a "Messages" number.
2. Career/Job Objective
The purpose of the objective statement is to inform the reader of your career goals and qualifications. The statement should be written specifically enough to let the reader know that you have a focus to your job search.
3. Educational Highlights
This section is most effective when you have experiences from your education that are impressive and/or directly relate to your objective. Adding this section is useful when you have developed skills and specific knowledge through your education rather than work experience. This section can be used to highlight coursework, research, or special knowledge that complements your objective.
An alternative to highlighting courses is to list the skills and knowledge acquired through important courses and research.
Summary information about your undergraduate and graduate education should be included in your resume. List the name and location of the school, time period or date of degree, the degree received, and academic honors, e.g. Phi Beta Kappa, significant scholarships or fellowships.
Start with your most recent degree or the program in which you are currently enrolled. List other degrees or relevant education in reverse chronological order.
Highlight your degree by using bold type, capital letters or underlining.
If the degree is relevant to your job objective, begin with degree and emphasis, followed by university, location of university, and date of graduation or anticipated date of graduation. Example: M.P.A., Masters of Public Administration, George Washington University, Washington, DC, May 1995.
If you are an entry level candidate or recent graduate and have a high GPA, include it on your resume. You may want to highlight your GPA on a new line, or in an educational highlights section.
4. Employment and/or Experience Summary
A brief summary of qualifications can condense an extensive background by emphasizing experiences and accomplishments in brief phrases. The qualifications summary is accomplishment-oriented and provides an overview of your work experience.
In general, you should list, in successive order for each position you have held, your employer, position title, dates (year to year), a brief description of your position, and accomplishments.
Begin with your current/most recent position and work backward, chronologically. Devote more space to recent employment.
Follow job title and organizational information with the organization's city and state.
Use the first and last month and year to describe dates of employment.
Within each listed position, stress the major accomplishments and responsibilities that demonstrate your competency. It is not necessary to include all responsibilities, as they will be assumed by employers.
One-page resumes are preferred for entry-level positions.
Two-Three page resumes are preferred for experienced persons.
Include research positions held, including the professor who was your supervisor, project title, and duration.
Include internships, location, responsibilities, supervisor name and duration.
5. Professional Activities and Accomplishments
This part of your resume offers you the opportunity to provide insight into your career development. You should be selective and complete, listing such items as:
Memberships in professional associations and/or clubs within the university. Be sure to list the offices held.
- Honors received
- Major articles or publications you have written.
- Volunteer activities
- Shadowing experiences
For more information see: http://www.govtjob.net/ResumePrepTip.htm
Asking for Letters of Recommendation
When asking for a letter of recommendation you want to be sure that you know the professor you are requesting the letter from, and to ask if they are willing to write you a positive letter of recommendation. Most professors will let you know if they do not feel they can do this. There are a few tips for helping them write you the strongest letter possible:
- Ask professors you have worked with directly (in laboratory courses, small classes, research mentors, or whom you feel you have a connection from extracurricular activities).
- Give them at least 2 weeks’ notice; this will give them time to fit it into their schedule without rushing it.
- Give them all the information they need.
- Name, address and due date for the letter
- Purpose for the letter (internship, graduate program, scholarship etc.)
- Any forms they need to fill out (TMDSAS has a specific form for recommenders)
- Notice if they will be receiving an email to fill out an electronic form for you
- Copy of your resume
- Follow-up before the letter is due. Do not be a pest about this, but an email reminder would not be a bad idea.