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  • Health professions exploration

    Just like choosing a major, choosing a health profession can be a process.  This process requires students to explore health careers and ask themselves key questions.  Two significant questions to ask yourself are "Is a career in the health field right for me?" and " What specific role within the health care field is most suitable for myself?"  

     

    Choose the Right Health Profession for Youself

    There are a number of health professions that people are familiar with.  For example nurses, pharmacists, and dentists.  There may be just as many health professions that you are not familiar with or have never heard of, e.g, Clinical Laboratory Scientist, Community Health Educator, Audiologist, Diagnostic Medical Sonographer.  There are multiple things that you can do as a student to see which health care role may best suit you.  

    • Evaluate whether a health career is actually the right path for you.  ExploreHealthCareers.org poses several key questions that you should ask yourself.
    • Participate in a job shadow.  This may provide you with a glimpse of the routine duties of a health professional.  
    • Enroll in HP 106, Introduction to Health Related Careers.  This is an elective course that allows students to gain exposure to some health professions.  The course should also help students learn of resources and tools that enable them to make informed decisions about their career choice.   
    • Research health careers online.  The Occupational Outlook Handbook and similar websites can help you to understand the basic tasks, required education & training, job outlook, etc. for specific health professions.
    • Volunteer or work in a healthcare setting.  This may expose you to a number of health care professionals.
    • Evaluate the advancement opportunities within the careers that you are considering. This information might be gained via a job shadow or online research.
    • Determine if you want to be involved in direct patient care vs. indirect patient care (e.g., health administrator, health information, etc.).

     

    Training for Health Professions

    Health professionals have to attain a certain level of education and training in order to be certified to practice in their field.  The level of education & training needed varies by occupation.  Thus, understanding the level of education and training that you are willing to complete, may help you to decide which professions are desirable.  

    •  Certificate programs - Certain health professionals may only need a post secondary certificate to practice.  Example professions include Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), & Phlebotomist. 
    • Associate degree programs - These degree programs are commonly offered at technical colleges and are typically two years in length.  Example programs include Nursing, Respiratory Therapy, and Dental Hygiene.  
    • Bachelor degree  programs - Some students are able to major in a four-year health program and then sit for their certifying examination upon graduation.  These programs typically require students to complete prerequisite courses and apply for admission.  Example programs include Clinical Laboratory Science, Therapeutic Recreation, Dietetics, and Nursing.
    • Master degree programs - To practice professionally in some health professions, it will be necessary to complete both a bachelor's degree and a Master's degree (typically two years in length).  Example professionals include Occupational Therapists, Physician Assistants and Speech Language Pathologists (sometimes called speech therapists).
    • Doctoral degree programs - Some professional programs in this area require the completion of a bachelor's degree and required prerequisites prior to entry, while other programs may only require the completion of required prerequisites and a specified number of undergraduate credits for entry.  These programs may range from three to four years in length.  Example professionals include Physical Therapists (DPT, Doctor of Physical Therapy), Pharmacists (Pharm.D, Doctor of Pharmacy), and Audiologists (Au.D, Doctor of Audiology).

     

    Health Programs at UW-La Crosse 

    UW-La Crosse offers health programs at both the undergraduate and graduate level.  In addition, UW-L also offers Pre-professional health programs as a way for students to prepare for graduate/professional health programs both at UW-L and outside of UW-L.   

     

    Undergraduate Programs

    Graduate Programs

    Pre-professional Programs

    Athletic Training

    Clinical Laboratory Science

    Community Health Education

    Nuclear Medicine Technology

    Radiation Therapy

    School Health Education

    Therapeutic Recreation

    Clinical Exercise Physiology

    Community Health Education (MS and MPH)

    Medical Dosimetry

    Occupational Therapy

    Physical Therapy

    Physician Assistant Studies

    School Health Education

    Therapeutic Recreation

    Pre Chiropractic

    Pre-Dentistry

    Pre-Medicine

    Pre Occupational Therapy

    Pre-Optometry

    Pre-Pharmacy

    Pre-Physical Therapy

    Pre-Physician Assistant Studies

    Pre-Veterinary Medicine

     

    Note:  Pre-professional programs at UW-L are not academic programs that lead to a degree.  They simply outline the academic requirements that you will typically need to apply to graduate level health programs.  To earn your degree at UW-L, you will have to complete an undergraduate major in addition to your Pre-professional program.

     

    Choosing the Right Major for Graduate/Professional Health Programs

     A commonly asked question by students considering a graduate level health program is "Which major gives me the best chance at gaining entry into my program?"  The truth is, there simply isn't a "right" answer to this question.   Professional health programs typically do not advocate for any specific undergraduate major, so your goal as a student is to select a major that works best for you.  It is common for students to opt for a biological based major, but high achieving students can enter professional programs from a variety of academic backgrounds.  The key to answering this question is identifying an undergraduate major that you are passionate in learning about and can achieve academic success with.

     

    Profile of Students Entering Pre-professional Health Programs

    When pursuing admission to most health programs, you may find that it can be quite competitive.  Thus it will take a lot of effort on your part, to be a successful applicant.  Admission to some programs may be based solely on academic performance, while other programs may use multiple factors for a more holistic approach.  Here are some common admission factors.  Please visit individual institutions for their specific selection criteria.

    • Grades - A crucial factor for entry is often your cumulative G.P.A.  Grades in required prerequisite science classes are equally as important.  
    • Test scores - Scores on standardized tests such as the GRE, MCAT, PCAT, etc., are often used in the admission process for graduate level health programs.   
    • Healthcare experiences - Healthcare experiences may be used to establish your knowledge and commitment to the field that you are preparing to enter.  
    • Letters of recommendation - Faculty members may be asked to speak about both your academic and personal attributes. 
    • Out-of-class experiences - Your involvement in student organizations, community service, volunteer experiences, work, and other life experiences may speak to your personal qualities. 
    • Communication skills - Believe or not, your written and interpersonal communication skills are being evaluated via your application materials and interviews.   

    Additional Resources

    Online Career Research

    Find Accredited Health Programs