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Gain Perspective: Critical Reflection and Exploration


Admissions personnel in any of the health professions programs think this is a very important decision you are planning and they expect you to treat it seriously. We recommend you get an early start on the habits and practices that will help you make a well reasoned choice based on experiences that are meaningful to you.

  • Compare: Have you thought about other, similar paths?  
  • Write: Find a way to record your responses to what you experience and use this as a basis for thinking more deeply and critically about what you see and hear.
  • Talk: Conversations with friends, instructors, and advisors can be extremely helpful because, like writing, this forces you to articulate your understanding, confusion, interests, and excitement to someone else and learn from the process.
  • Study: Consider using your college education to help structure your understanding of healthcare from the perspective of serving others, politics, economics, society and culture, or history.  Talk to your instructors or an advisor about courses, majors, minors or other programs that can help with this.

Keep a Clinical Journal

We strongly encourage you to keep a journal once you start working/volunteering in a healthcare setting. This will help you assess whether this is really the right path for you and remember experiences and reactions to events. You will also need these records during the application process, when you will be asked to write personal statements explaining why you have chosen to become a doctor, dentist, veterinarian... More specifically, you might need to provide specific accounts attesting that you have had a certain minimum number of hours of clinical work/volunteer experience.

  • Keep a log of your clinical experience, noting the name of the organization, the dates and hours worked, and the duties you performed.
  • Record the contact information for the person who was your supervisor or who can confirm your work.
  • Intentional self-reflection: use your journal log entries to evaluate and reflect on how your understanding of the patients' experiences with health care,  and your own assessment of the profession may have developed in response.
  • Did the experience give you the opportunity to work with a diverse population?
  • Was there a physician or other health care professional who embodied what you would characterize as ideal attributes for their position? What were these attributes?
  • What was your reaction to interacting with sick, injured, or incapacitated individuals?
  • Did the experience confirm your desire to be a physician? Why or why not?