Advising is available throughout the year for CSULB students and CSULB Alumni considering professional training in the health care fields of Medicine (Allopathic & Osteopathic), Dentistry, Optometry, Pharmacy, Physician Assistant, and Podiatry. The Health Professions Advising Office (HPAO) advises students at all stages of the health professions planning process, from career exploration through the interview.
Advising Services and Resources Include:
Many of us think of a doctor or nurse when we think of the medical field. However, there are so many more opportunities or ways to get involved in the health professions field! One great resource or starting point would be to check out explorehealthcareers.org. This website can introduce you to many different areas in the health professions. We also have created career planning handouts where you can look at the different pre-requisites and requirements for different health fields that we have highlighted.
Another way to start exploring is to get involved. Are you debating about being a Pharmacist – then start shadowing or working in a pharmacy. Can you not decide between Dentistry and becoming a Physician's Assistant? Start getting involved, talk to people in the field, volunteer or even research the different options. Come visit our office and we can talk through these opportunities with you. We encourage you to be open and see what is out there as you start your pre-health journey!
There are so many opportunities to get involved in! How do you know what is right for you? Important factors that admissions committees are looking for are: Clinical exposure, leadership, involvement, research, community service or volunteering, working, and many others! Come visit our office and we can talk through ways to get involved!
The Association of American Medical Colleges has published several core competencies that they are looking for with their applicants. We recommend that you get involved with activities that develop these competencies and characteristics. Check it out and let us know if you have any questions!
Have you signed up for our emailing list? We send different updates, announcements, and opportunities that we come across. To sign-up, please email us at CNSM-HealthProfAdvising@csulb.edu - we need your first and last name, and CSULB student ID number (only applicable for CSULB students). Also check out our bulletin-board located in the SAS Center.
How does a pre-health student balance it all! Come talk with us and we can take a look at ways to balance your schedule.
One thing to keep in-mind is that your GPA and test scores are one of the most important things that professional schools are first looking at. If you are involved in any activities that are causing your GPA to suffer, then we recommend scaling back until your GPA is brought up (check out the career planning handouts for average GPAs for the different professions). Have you taken our challenge; are you studying 36 hours a week? Check it out, Why Study36?
Also, the Learning Assistance Center has great resources on time management, enhancing your study skills, and so much more! We highly recommend that you take advantage of their resources.
Our office can assist in academic planning, but due to limited staffing, if you are a CNSM major, we strongly recommend that you first meet with the CNSM Academic Advising Center to plan out your classes. Once you have a plan, then we can start figuring out when to get involved, introduce clinical experiences, and when to take the MCAT, etc...
If you are a non-science or math major, then we do recommend that you visit our office to start planning your pre-requisite courses during our walk-in hours. It is important that you start on your pre-requisites early to compliment your major courses. If you are unable to finish all the pre-requisites within your timely graduation, there are options to finish your coursework through post-baccalaureate programs, here at CSULB through Open University, or depending on the courses, community college can also be a viable option.
Research is increasingly becoming more important. It is another way to enhance your classroom experience and is a great way to showcase your love of science and increase critical thinking skills. Although research is not required at all medical schools or health professional schools, successful applicants are adding this to their application and experiences. Options include volunteering in a lab for a professor, getting a job as a lab assistant at a local university, hospital or pharmaceutical company, or participating in a summer biomedical research program. View summer undergraduate research programs.
If you are interested in doing research here on-campus, the best way to get involved is to contact the professor directly. If you are looking to work with a professor in the College of Natural Science and Mathematics, go to the major department's website, and click on faculty research. From there, you can look at different professor's lab websites and see what interests you, and what the requirements are. Once you find one that you like, contact the professor directly to see if it would be possible.
One of the services we offer includes providing a review of your personal statement when you are ready to apply to your professional school of choice! You can send a polished copy of your essay in a Word format to Lyndsey (Lyndsey.McKinley@csulb.edu). This draft should be at least five paragraphs in length, with an introduction and conclusion. Please allow for 5-business days for review, and we will schedule an appointment to meet and discuss your statement. The HPAO will only review up to two drafts of your statement, so we encourage you to submit your most polished draft at the time of the request.
*If your statement is still in a very rough-draft format, or if you need to work on the writing skills, we may ask you to develop it further before we give you feedback.
You should expect that your essay will go through multiple drafts (allow time and space for this process). We also recommend that you ask other people review your statement: someone who knows you well (such as a friend, parent, or mentor), someone who does not know you as well (such as a professor or staff member), as well as our office.
Resources to get you started:
As schools start to narrow down their applicants, you may be invited to an interview! This is the best time to see if you are a good fit for the school, and if they are a good fit for you. We offer mock interviews to create an interview type setting, and provide you with feedback. We book mock interviews after you have received an invitation for an interview. If you are interested in this service, please contact Lyndsey and let her know the schools where you have been invited to interview at.
Some schools are moving away from the traditional interview, and are working with the multiple mini interviews. Make sure you research the different schools and know what kind of interview you are being invited to before you go. The Career Development Center here on-campus also has resources for interviewing and conducts mock interviews. Also, check out InterviewStream – this is a live link with interview questions already set up. All you need is a webcam capacity on your computer and you can conduct a mock interview at any time and send the video back to yourself!
Our Health Professions Advising Office offers a letter forwarding service. You can set up a confidential file for your letter writers to send their letters to. Once your file is complete and you are ready for us to send them, we can either send a letter packet or send the letters individually.
Other options for your letters of recommendation: Interfolio and VirtualEvals (currently our office does not work with VirtualEvals). We always recommend that you check with the schools that you are applying to and see what their preferred way to receive letters is. Some schools request that they are sent through the centralized application service for the health profession, others through a letter forwarding service (similar to ours), or even one of the service linked above, and yet others may request that the writers send them directly to the school. Always make sure you check, let us know if you have any questions.
Everyone decides their pre-health journey at different points. If you know your freshman year exactly what you want to do, great, you will have more time to accomplish all the different aspects to a well-rounded applicant. If you decide your senior year that you want to pursue medicine, you are not too late, you will just have a different path or starting point. Our office's mission is to help support you to be the most competitive applicant that you can be. If this means waiting a year to apply to make sure your grades have increased or you have more clinical exposure, that is okay, and that can be in your best benefit! Come see our office to see what your timeline will look like.
Tip: To apply to most professional schools it is about an 18-month process. If you are planning to go right into medical school after you graduate, than you will be applying to medical school the summer after you finish your junior year. Whichever program you choose, we strongly recommend that you APPLY EARLY.
There are many ways that people choose their professional program. Think about how you chose Cal State Long Beach? There were probably multiple factors – accessibility, cost, program, location, etc... As you start to narrow down your search, we recommend that you apply to 10, 15, even 20 schools (be sure to be aware of the cost of applying to multiple schools and even the aid assistance programs that can sometimes accompany them). Apply to your dream schools, but also apply to programs that you are more competitive for as well. Don't just rely on what you have heard from family, friends, or even the media. Do your research – this is where you will spend your next 2-4 years or even more time depending on the program you pursue. What kind of curriculum focus does the school have? Does the school value research? What kind of financial aid options do they offer, and how does their cost compare with other schools? What does the diversity of the campus look like? What will the weather be like? Figure out what are important factors for you. Professional programs are very competitive and typically more competitive in California.
Check out: The Medical School Admissions Requirements book, this book will give you a list of programs and their profile or requirements. We also have a hard copy book available in our office to check-out.
Tip: Start creating an excel sheet with the different requirements for schools you are looking to apply to. Even if you check the MSAR, or check out requirements your freshman year – always check directly with the schools that you are applying to for the most up-to-date requirements.
The HPAO has a Resource Library where you can check out books! Some of our titles include:
And many more! Check some of these out to broaden your perspective and preparation in the different fields. If you are interested in donating any books to our library that are applicable to the health field, or that have been helpful for you, please contact Lyndsey.
College is expensive. Health Profession programs are expensive. Applying and preparing is even expensive! So how do you think about paying for it all? One thing is to keep your debt and expenses to a minimum now, so that later on, you will have a solid foundation to go into your professional program. We strongly recommend that you take advantage of the financial literacy program here on-campus!
Tip: Talk to the schools that you are looking to attend to see about scholarship and loan options. Also check out your health-profession's national association, they may have scholarships available as well.
If you would like to learn more about the different resources and opportunities available for minority programs, please see the links below.
For students who want to complete their prerequisites, or take additional science courses can do so through a post baccalaureate program, or even through open university or a community college. There are two types of post baccalaureate programs. Some programs are designated as career changer programs (or if you were not a science major in your undergrad) and have not taken the prerequisite courses before. The second type of program focuses on grade enhancement – taking more science courses to increase the overall science GPA (these programs typically require you to have completed science courses already).
AAMC has an excellent database that you can search.
If you wish to take a few courses but do not want to pursue a second degree as a CSULB student, you may enroll in courses through the College of Continuing and Professional Education, which allows non-matriculated students to enroll in courses with the permission of the instructor through "Open University". For information, visit the Open University website.
A third option is to take courses at a community college to help increase your science GPA, or just to get several of the prerequisites out of the way. However, check with your top 3-5 schools, to see what their policy is on community college courses before you take them. One great resource is to use www.assist.org.