Pre-Health Advising Services 

Applying to a professional program in healthcare can be a daunting task. The many components that go into preparing and applying can be overwhelming. Pre-Health advising offers many services for students and alumni at UTC to aid in the task. Utilize the resources below, to aid in developing and fine tuning your preparation and application to healthcare programs.

Personal Statement  

It goes by many names, personal statement, letter of intent, admission essay, etc. whatever we call it, this document can be one of the most challenging things you will ever write. It asks you to showcase who you are, why you are interested in the field you are applying to, and what makes you a good applicant. While it can seem easy enough to answer these questions, when you sit down to write it out it can be quite a challenge. Here are a few tips and resources to help you. 

For most graduate programs it is common practice to ask students to provide a short, 1-2 page, document that revels something about themselves to the admission committees. It is a chance for applicants to share experiences that have shaped their lives and lead them to apply to a certain field. It is also a chance for admissions committees to get to know applicants over and above the facts provided on an application. Above all else it is a chance for applicants to showcase who they are as a person, not just a GPA and a test score.

A personal statement should be free of errors and fairly concise. It should not be more than 5300 characters. A personal statement is not an autobiography, it can seem challenging to cut out parts of your life but remember this is not a large document. While you are writing what could be an emotion heavy document and embracing emotion allows committees to get to know you better, be mindful this is a professional document, you do not want to over share.

A few tips on getting started with your personal statement:

  • Gather as much information as you feel you need. Once you start to feel new information is redundant, you are ready to write
  • Think about what you want to say and how you will say it
    • Take notes
    • Keep a journal
  • Answer these questions:
    • Who are the most influential people in your life? What have they done for you?
    • What have been pivotal moments in your life? Did these moments change you? How so?
    • Do you feel passionate about your field of interest? What is the source of that passion?
    • What challenges have you overcome? How did you tackle them? What was the outcome?

While there is no “right” way to write a personal statement, there are topics that are vital to address:

  1. Your motivation for a career in your chosen field
  2. The influence of your family and/or early experiences in your life
  3. Extracurricular, work/volunteer and other activities completed during your college or post high school life
  4. Your long term goals

Many applicants may have had a rough start to their academics or are returning to academia after an extended time off. Your personal statement is the time to address an academic irregularities, below average grades, or long breaks in enrollment. This is the time you can take those negative aspects of your application and spin them into positive narratives about overcoming challenges.

It is vital you only address topics you have meaningful things to say about. If your family had no real influence on you one way or another, skip this and spend more time on your goals or motivation for your field.

These attributes are not the secret formula for getting into the program of your choice. Rather these are items that admissions committees have observed show maturity, as well as can be indicators of success, along with test scores and a well-rounded application. Not all admissions committees value all these characteristics:

Attribute

Indicated by

Realistic Self-Assessment

Acknowledge limitations

Resourceful

Seeking help when appropriate

Accountable

Accepting responsibility for learning

Cooperative

Working well with others

Persistent

Completing tasks

Balance

Demonstrating good performance with employment or extracurricular activities. Or improved performance without distraction of activities

Resilient

Accepting disappointment and moving on

Supported (Emotionally)

Not isolating self from others

Focused

Concentrating on task at hand

Active Learner

Integrating and applying new information

Flexible

Willingness to change

Efficient

Making good use of time

Organized

Systematically taking care of business

Purposeful

Setting long term goals and short term goals

It’s important to choose three to four that you feel represent you as a candidate. Do not choose all of them, while you may embody many of these, you want to choose the ones you have the strongest examples for.  Develop evidence by using examples in your life or experiences that would lead the reader of your letter to conclude that you are the person those adjectives describe.

Many folks have a quick answer when it comes to why a certain field. Most of the time its “I want to help people” which is great, but doesn’t really answer why they want to go into healthcare. After all teachers, social workers, counselors, and clergy all help people, what makes your interest in healthcare different from the help a teacher can give? Here is a helpful exercise to help you answer “The Why”

  • Why don’t you want to be a: teacher, nurse, research scientist, counselor, and clergy?
    • Answer each one by writing down the “why not”

Your answers to these questions will help you better understand why you want to go into your chosen profession. If you are still at a loss as to why this particular field, you may want to schedule a meeting the Pre-Health advisor to better explore your interests and goals in healthcare. 

The personal statement is a way for you to share personal details and information that would not be reflected in your application otherwise. It can be tempting to commit a bit of an information dump, but you want to limit yourself to relevant information that is not repeated elsewhere. For instance, you will have a chance to list all your extracurricular activities in your application, your personal statement is not the place to list them all again. Your reader has that information in your application you don’t want to provide so many details about your activities that your reader gets lost. To help you develop that balance think about these questions:

  • What did you learn from your experiences?
  • If you had a leadership role, how did you contribute to getting things done within that role?
  • How have you matured as a result of these experiences?

For most students, there is no need to mention your academic record. After all, you will have spent a great deal of time entering in each class into your application. For some students the Personal statement needs to address the irregularities in their academic record. Irregularities include:

  • The presences of Ws on your transcript
    • Having a 1 W on your transcript from freshman year because you changed your major does not need to feature in your personal statement. Having multiple Ws or an entire semester should
  • If you have any Incompletes or No Credit courses
  • Repeated courses or low grades in a course
  • Large gaps of time in between completed semesters

You want to make sure you give the reader and explanation not an excuse for the presence of these items. It’s ok to have made mistakes, and admissions committees understandable that people make them. However, you want to use these mistakes as an opportunity to not only acknowledge you have made errors, but take the chance to tell your reader what you have learned from your mistakes. 

For student that are reapplying to healthcare programs, a common question is asked is “Do I need to change my personal statement?” Short answer, yes. You want to start fresh, as you are not the same person that applied the first time around. You may have taken time off to work, travel, or gain another degree. You want to highlight those things as they enhance your application.

You also want to consider that application materials need to be new, even if you have had no change in your life, you want to write a new statement. Admissions committees want to know who you are in the present and what you have done since your last application, no matter how small you may think it is.

Another common question is, “Should I address the fact that I didn’t get in?” Yes, because the committees will know you are reapplying. By addressing it on your terms, you remove room for committees to question why you are reapplying. Consider the following questions as you plan your new letter:

  • What was your initial reaction to the letter of non-acceptance?
  • Your reaction to the “shock” of not getting into your programs
  • Whether or not you asked for a post interview with an admissions officer
  • Your reaction to that interview
  • What you have done since that interview/notification of non-acceptance
  • Progress made during the time between applications
  • Significant changes in your grades, test scores, extracurricular, or medical experiences improved or grown?
  • How you are a stronger applicant now than when you first applied

By asking yourself these questions and addressing the topic in your statement you get to share your narrative rather than letting the committee wonder.

Your personal statement cannot do it all, it is after all, one part of a large pool of materials you are submitting to admission committees. You will have to be strict, and leave some quality material on the cutting room floor, however, keep those ideas close (they will be great to share in an interview or secondary application).

Content based on Evelyn Jackson, PhD., and Harold R. Bardo, PhD., Write for Success: Preparing a Successful Essay for Your Application to Health Professions Schools(Champaign, IL: National Association of Advisors for the Health Professions, Inc.)

Get Help with your Personal Statement 

A second pair of eyes is vital, submit your personal statement to Theresa-Blackman@utc.edu along with your statement include:

  • First and Last Name

  • UTC ID

  • Healthcare program (medical, dental, physician assistant, etc.) you plan on applying to

  • Major

 

Attach your statement in a word doc or pdf. Please note turnaround on an edited personal statement can take up to 7-10 business days. Statements cannot be rushed, please submit your statement in ample time to be reviewed. This service is for current UTC students and alumni only.


Resume and Interview

The admissions interview is an exciting time for Pre-Health applicants. It is the first time you are able to speak to someone from the schools you are applying to about your goals.

With the changing world, virtual interviews are moving from something few schools offered, to the norm. Understanding that interviewing for a professional healthcare program and a virtual job interview are very different is important. Some program may require one-way video recorded interviews aimed at helping professional programs asses an applicant’s competencies that are important in a profession in healthcare.

The AAMC VITA interview is designed to provide admissions officers with information about an applicant’s journey to medical school and five core competencies for entering medical students. This one-way recorded interview targets:

  • Social Skills
  • Cultural Competence
  • Teamwork
  • Reliability and Dependability
  • Resilience and Adaptability

While every video interview will assess the same general domains, the specific questions asked may differ. The questions are designed to be unrelated to medical experience; therefore, the lack of medical-related experience should not impact your ability to answer questions.

Not all medical schools require the completion of the VITA, check with the Pre-Health Advisor for guidance on if you need to prepare for the VITA

Developing a good resume is important in the application process. Consider having the Center for Career and Leadership Development's assistance is crafting a quality resume.


CASPer is a situational judgement test (SJTs) which is a type of psychological test which presents the test-taker with realistic, hypothetical scenarios and may ask the individual what they would do in the dilemma and why they would do it.

Situational judgement tests tend to determine behavioral tendencies, assessing how an individual will behave in a certain situation, and knowledge instruction, which evaluates the effectiveness of possible responses.