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Pre-Professional Advising

244 Meadow Brook Road
201 Hannah Hall
Rochester, Michigan 48309
(248) 370-4936

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Pre-Professional Advising

Pre-professional Advising
Your source for pre-health information.

You are in the right place if you or someone you know are interested in becoming a physician, physician assistant, physical therapist, dentist, pharmacist or other health care professional.

The planning and preparation needed to successfully apply to health professional schools is a unique journey for each applicant.  It is more important than ever for pre-health students to have accurate and timely information. Oakland University provides the following resources for students considering healthcare careers:

  • OU Pre-Health Info Announcements - Oakland University students, faculty and staff can sign-up to receive campus-wide messages about important pre-health information using your Oakland University email. Go to your MySAIL page and log in. Under "Campus Life" you will find "GrizzOrgs". This will take you to a portal of Oakland University student organizations and departments. Visit the Grizzorgs: OU Pre-Professional Advising page. Those not affiliated with Oakland University can receive announcements via our blog. To subscribe, click the Follow button on the lower-right hand side of the Pre-Professional Advising Blog home page.
  • Individual Pre-Health Advising 
  • Pre-Health Quick Question Sessions 
  • Application Prep 
  • Pre-Health Workshops

Additional details for all these services can be found on the Pre-Health Events page.

Stay on track with your degree plans by connecting with your Faculty Adviser(s) and your unit Academic Adviser(s) too. Use the find my academic adviser tool to help direct you to your specific unit Adviser(s).

Your Pre-Health Journey
Much More Than a "To Do" List

Your pre-health years should involve much more than simply checking off a “to do” list on your way to applying to health professional schools.  Think of these years as a unique journey rather than steps to complete a checklist.  Yes, there are things you will be expected to experience along the way, but you should make your own choices, follow your own passions and determine your own path whenever possible. You will be expected to know why you have made your choices and to be able to explain these choices to others. After all, you need to know how to make choices yourself before you can help your patients make important decisions.

Why Exploring is Important

Successfully applying to health professional schools and being ready to attend them is about much more than coursework and admission exams. You should spend a considerable amount of time exploring your health care field(s) of interest through shadowing, patient contact and exposure to different populations, etc. Done well, this exploration can help you understand not only a great deal about the field you are considering, but also help determine if you are on a path that is a good fit for you! Consider also finding ways to participate in non-medical volunteer opportunities. Admission committees look for individuals who will not only be a leaders in their field, but also leaders in their future communities. It is equally important for you to develop ongoing relationships with peers, faculty and mentors.

Choose Target Schools Early

As early as possible, start investigating health professional schools. Read the schools’ mission statements and learn as much as you can about each individual school. Do your interests match what you learn about the schools? Are you are the type of applicant a school may be looking for? You are much more likely to move forward in the admission process if there is a good “fit” between you and your target schools. You are also likely to enjoy your time in graduate school more if you have chosen schools that match your interests and learning style.

Beyond the Numbers

Prepare well for any interviews and realize that subjective evaluations of you can be as important as grades and exam scores. Personality traits and qualities play a huge role in WHO IS, and WHO IS NOT, accepted to health professional schools. Your positive personality traits need to come through clearly in your application, letters of evaluation and interviews. Keep in mind that admission committees are choosing individuals for their incoming class, future alum and health care colleagues. They are also looking for ethical individuals they would trust in the future with a family member’s care. So, it is important for all of your application to accurately and positively represent who you are!


The reward of a successful pre-health journey is acceptance into a long sought-after program or programs. It is the culmination of years of hard work and effort. Acceptance is a time to congratulate you -- a future health care provider and celebrate your success!

Common Questions
Where can I learn more about health careers?

You may be interested in a specific path, but have you explored enough options yet to be sure? The health care field is very broad and there may be several areas that would be a good fit for you. If you are open to considering options, then the Explore Health Careers website is a great place to start. This is a very reputable site that can provide you with an overview of different health care career options, years of education required, average salaries, lists of programs, links to national organizations and so much more! Be sure to also check out Is a Health Career Right for You?

What’s the difference between shadowing and volunteering?

At the most basic level, shadowing is following someone around on the job – with permission of course! However, it is a great way to see the “daily role” and inquire about the “life style” associated with a particular health career. It is also an opportunity for you to observe patient care and to learn about how the delivery of health care relies on a team of health care providers working together (the interdisciplinary nature of health care).

Volunteering is a more active way for you to connect with patients or others in the community. Although most pre-health students are more familiar with volunteering in health care settings it is important for you to volunteer in non-medical settings too. Health professional programs look for individuals who have the potential to not only be leaders in their respective fields, but also valued contributing members of the broader communities they will eventually belong to.

Shadowing and volunteering are important activities and admission committees will expect you have multiple, meaningful experiences in both areas before you apply to graduate programs. You can learn more about these roles on the Clinical Exploration tab of the Exploring Your Options page.

What should I major in if I am interested in a health career?

The reality is you can choose any major and be successful in applying to health professional programs as long as you also successfully completed the prerequisites! Some students choose a science major because of their interest in the subject. Others choose a science major because of the amount of overlap between the major and the courses required by their target health professional programs. Still other students choose a non-science major like English or History because they really enjoy these areas of study. These students find ways to elect their science prerequisite courses alongside their other non-science courses.

Admission committees are interested in applicants who have varied backgrounds and experience. As they “build their incoming class” they like to accept students with different majors because they value the unique perspectives and greater diversity a variety in majors and experiences can bring to an incoming class.

So, think about your interests, timeline and intended health career as you choose your major. Think also about how you would explain your degree choice(s) to someone if asked. In the end, choose options that are meaningful and make the most sense for you!

How long should I study for my graduate health admission exam?

It really depends upon the level of knowledge you are starting from, when you intend to apply and what other courses or activities will be ongoing at the same time. Know though, it is common for students to spend two to three months preparing for the GRE and four months or more preparing for exams with science content like the DAT, MCAT, OAT and PCAT exams. Since there is risk in repeating these exams, a great strategy is to plan to take your admission exam once when you are most prepared. See the Admission Exams tab of the Academic Preparation page to learn more and be sure to connect with your advisers to discuss your specific situation.

How difficult is it to be accepted to health professional schools?

It is a tough reality that there are always more applicants than available class seats in health professional programs, although the overall acceptance rates can really vary depending upon specific programs the career path. As an example, for the past five years nationally less than ½ of the applicants who applied for admission to US medical programs (MD) were accepted.

While it’s interesting to know the overall acceptance rates, what is more important is for you (the applicant) to focus on what you can do to increase your chances of being successfully admitted to your target schools! So, explore and investigate your options thoroughly. Use all available resources. Continue to evaluate your progress by assessing your strengths and what you can still strengthen. Take your admission exam when most prepared. Choose the timing that leads to you applying when you are the most competitive applicant you can be. And finally, be sure to show admission committees who you are and why you are so passionate about pursing your chosen health career. See the Preparing to Apply page for more information.

Contact Information

For Pre-health consultations contact:

Pre-Professional Advising
Hannah Hall, Suite 201
Oakland University
244 Meadow Brook Road
Rochester, MI 48309
(248) 370-4936