Preparing for a Career in the Health Professions

What does it mean to be a “pre-health” student at Princeton? It means that you are considering going to medical, veterinary, dental, or another health professions school sometime after you finish your undergraduate degree. And it is not just about academics!   Usually, it means that you have a deep and abiding interest in science and humanity, that you have a particular interest in health and disease, that you have a desire to help others, and that you thrive on hard work, responsibility, and leadership. 

What constitutes a successful pre-health student? There is no absolute definition. Students that tend to be successful in the pre-health journey are usually: 

  • Excellent students in any discipline
  • Strong in the science courses they’ve taken, whether or not science is their concentration
  • Inclined to help others and take on leadership roles
  • Self-aware and interested in the challenges that face others in society

The Preparing Guide

Preparing for a Career in the Health Professions, Class of 2020 (pdf) - recommended reading for all students in their first semester. This will take you through the basics of academic and non-academic preparation as a pre-health student.

Preparing for health professions school application includes engaging in course work and activities that will prepare you for your professional life. It should also include plenty of “soul searching” to determine that this is, in fact, the best path for you at this time. Don’t be afraid to explore other areas of interest along the way. Your pre-health preparation intersects with your overall personal and intellectual development at Princeton. The Office of the Dean of the College provides in-depth action plans for each academic year that should be consulted alongside our advice.

A Generalized Timeline

First Year

  • Read your Preparing Guide.
  • Get to know your advisers: HPA, faculty, residential college and peer.
  • Get to know your resources.
  • Like us on Facebook!
  • Get added to our HPA listserv.
  • Start gaining clinical experience.
  • Try out student organizations of interest. Find a few that appeal to you and stick with them.

Sophomore

  • Consider how different concentrations and certificates may inform your future as a health professional.
  • Take on leadership roles in organizations.
  • Look into summer internships.
  • Continue to gain clinical exposure.

Junior

  • Look into standardized test (MCAT, DAT, etc) prep. Register to take the exam over the summer.
  • Check in with HPA to assess your strengths and areas to improve as a candidate.
  • Continue to gain leadership and clinical experience.
  • Foster strong relationships with faculty -- you'll need letters of recommendation soon!
  • Come to an Applicant Workshop to get a sense of the application process.
  • Look into fellowships with early fall deadlines (e.g., Fulbright, Rhodes).

Senior

  • Come to an Applicant Workshop.
  • Schedule an Applicant Intake appointment to discuss candidacy.
  • Ask for letters of recommendation.
  • If taking one "glide year": Prepare pre-application materials and have pre-application interview. 
  • Apply for fellowships, post-bac programs, or other glide year activities.
  • Come to Applicant Seminars in the spring, apply in the early summer.