There are many parts to the application to health professions programs that you should be prepared to complete, including the application form, transcripts, personal statement, and supplemental essays. Be sure to understand deadlines and how schools will review your application.
Be sure to understand all application requirements for your particular career field and the individual schools. Many health professions programs utilize a centralized application service that provides standardized information to individual schools from a single form you complete.
Applications typically ask for basic biographical information as well as your academic background, honors, extracurricular activities, research, paid work experience, volunteer hours, clinical experience, and more. For each entry, you will need to select the type of experience and provide details including the dates of involvement, number of hours completed, and supervisor contact information.
In describing those experiences, try to go beyond explaining the day-to-day responsibilities and include reflections and insights about how those experiences impacted you. For example, did you gain a new skill or learn something new? Did the experience challenge or change your perspective about a particular topic or issue? How did this experience contribute to your knowledge about healthcare and/or motivate you to pursue this career?
Official transcripts must be sent from the granting institution to the centralized application service or individual schools in order to verify your academic coursework and grades. To obtain transcripts, contact the Registrar's office. Note that you will need to request transcripts from all institutions from which you have taken college courses, even if the credit has transferred.
Most applications require an essay. For many students, this can be one of the most challenging parts of the application process. A personal statement or essay is your opportunity to share your background and your motivation for pursuing that particular healthcare career. If you are applying through a centralized application service, you will typically write one personal statement that goes to all schools.
There is no universal format for writing your essay, and it should be personal to you. Some potential topics include: your journey toward this career field, significant life experiences and how they impacted you, strengths you can contribute to the profession, your goals for your education and career, and how you can contribute to the diversity of the incoming class.
Anecdotes and stories tend to be more effective and memorable than generalized descriptions about the career field or declarative statements such as “I am a leader.” For example, describing how you delivered meals to an elderly home-bound person can show the reader how you are compassionate, empathetic, and understanding as opposed to simply listing those qualities.d In sharing stories, try to focus on quality rather than quantity, so that the personal statement does not become a listing of your resume.
Spend time crafting your personal statement, and seek critical feedback from mentors, advisors, and others whose judgment you trust. Be sure to address the prompt if one is provided, follow all guidelines related to page or character limits, and proofread your essay before submitting. Some example prompts are provided below.
- Use the space provided to explain why you want to go to medical school (5,300 characters.)
- Every person has a story that has led them to a career. Since there are a variety of health professions that "help" others, please go beyond your initial interaction or experience with physical therapy, and share the deeper story that has confirmed your decision to specifically pursue physical therapy as your career. (4,500 characters.)
Supplemental Essays & Secondary Applications
While the first essay you write – the personal statement – is often generalized for all schools, you may have the opportunity to address school-specific questions through supplemental application questions. Depending on the career field, these questions may be included as part of the original application, or as a next step in the process, known as “secondary applications.” Common questions include why you have chosen to apply to that particular school, how you will enhance the diversity of the school or profession, and what you understand about healthcare inequity or social determinants of health.
For some health professions, most notably medicine, secondary applications come with an additional application fee. Schools will provide deadlines but you should aim to turn around secondary applications within two weeks, if possible, to put yourself in good position for an invitation to interview.
Most health professions schools operate on rolling admissions. This means that applications are considered for admission as they are received. The earlier your application arrives at the school, the more seats in the class are available. However, this should not cause you to rush to prepare your application and suffer in quality. Apply early, but with polished materials.
Individual schools have their own policies about when your application is considered complete. For example, a school may wait until your application, essays, transcripts, standardized test scores, and all letters of evaluation have been received before extending an invitation to interview. Keep track of all parts of your application and follow up if necessary.