Choosing a major is difficult, but choosing a track might be even harder. While there are facilitated programs at UConn such as Pre-Medical and Pre-Dental, there are other tracks that are less structured, such as Pre-PA, Pre-OT, and Pre-PT. So how do you know which track is right for you?
When deciding, it is important to consider your interests. Could you be passionate about helping someone relearn how to walk after a car accident or could you see yourself completing an 8-hour life-saving surgery? Based on your interests, the specific roles each of these positions offer may be more suited to you. In addition, determining who you want to work with will narrow down your options. For example, a physical therapist for a sports team will have a completely different career experience than a physical therapist in a nursing home. Different careers in the healthcare industry require different tasks that you may find more suited to your personality and goals.
A great way to determine what you like in your undergraduate career is to join clubs or participate in research. These extracurricular activities help students gain experience in a low-stake environment to determine what they enjoy before going to a graduate school for it. Clubs for pre-health careers at UConn range anywhere from the science fraternity ABE, to the American Medical Student Association, to the Pre-Physical Therapy Club. A list of every registered organization can be found here.
Based on your interests in classes and the prerequisites required for graduate school, you can narrow down which path is best for you. Some graduate schools require more intense courses that go into greater detail, while others require a wider variety of courses that offer a broader view of the field.
To determine how to complete the prerequisites for your graduate program of choice, a great resource is your advisor. In addition to helping you plan your classes to satisfy both your major and the prerequisite requirements, they will sign you up for a ListServ that corresponds to which track you are on. This ListServ sends out emails every week regarding different research, volunteer opportunities, and jobs that will help you stand out when it comes time to apply to graduate school.
Another excellent resource for finding internships and talking about the application cycle for graduate school is The Center for Career Development. At The Center, you can fine-tune your resume to cater to what admissions counselors are looking for. You can also make an appointment with a career coach to learn more about finding internships and research opportunities, or even shadowing someone to determine if it is the right field for you.
Your undergraduate career is a great time to try on many different hats to figure out which one is right for you. Declaring a pre-health track is a big decision, so don’t be afraid to ask questions! Talk to upperclassmen. Find friends in your class and learn from them. Discuss with your professors. Talk to your parents or your parents’ friends. Use every resource you have available to you to ensure you are fully prepared for this next step in your career journey.