Aspiring Care Providers Drive Growth in Health Professions

The Office of Health Professions guides pre-health students from their first required class to their graduate school applications.
Posted on September 8th, 2021 by

Taking classes is challenging enough without the additional worry of prerequisite requirements for admission to health profession graduate programs. Amid constantly evolving admission requirements for health profession programs, advising for pre-health students at Gustavus Adolphus College is more vital than ever.

With 30 percent of students coming to Gustavus with an interest in healthcare, the time soon came to expand pre-health support. In 2019, the College added another full-time specialist, Heidi Selzler-Bahr, to help students navigate prerequisite course planning, experiential opportunities, application assistance and more. Now, their operations are moving into a new office, one that is more visible and accessible for students, while staying part of the Center for Career Development.

Senior Health Professions Specialist Heather Banks

Health Professions remains one of the College’s seven Career Interest Clusters, a framework that helps the center offer tailored opportunities based on professional aspirations, not just majors. Whereas academic advisors assist students with course plans and graduation requirements, career specialists can help students find an alumni mentor or build real-world experience through shadowing or internships.

For pre-health students, however, their focus is different than most. “We still consider ourselves part of Career, as gaining experience is part of the career planning process,” explained Senior Health Professions Specialist Heather Banks, “but for many of our students the end goal is not to land that first job after graduation; they’re wanting to land an acceptance to a health professions graduate program. So we have a different focus for our mission and goal.”

In addition to more traditional advising, the office bridges experience and academics by helping students choose the right prerequisite courses and apply for graduate school. They hold application workshops, review personal statements, give tips for interviews, and provide application assistance. Their services are also open to alumni.   

Gustavus students benefit from dedicated specialists who reach out to graduate programs to make connections and learn what admissions officers are looking for. “It’s important for us to stay current and informed of changing requirements, and since this is our full-time job, we can give students dedicated support,” said Banks. “A lot of students at Gustavus don’t have a family member in healthcare who can help them navigate the process, and even if they do, the process 20 years ago looks a lot different than today.”

Health Profession Specialists at Gustavus embrace the challenge of staying on top of the latest changes to the many medical programs that students are looking into. After all, Gustavus students have diverse aspirations, including medicine, occupational therapy, pharmacy, and dentistry. Some students have even introduced Banks to newer, more niche areas of healthcare, while others have come to Gustavus to discover which opportunities are out there.

Wherever students are at in their journey, Banks assures them that the Office of Health Professions is there to support them, and that there is room for everyone under the vast, interwoven umbrella of healthcare professionals.

“I think the one thing that’s great about healthcare is that there is so much job growth and opportunities,” said Banks. “If a student is interested in doing something in healthcare, there’s something there for them.”


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin


Comments are closed.