Deciding when you want to apply takes thoughtful consideration. It is important you feel ready to go forward and make your application to professional programs. Being ready includes several factors from completion of meaningful clinical experiences, research, volunteering, shadowing, and other activities you participated in during your undergraduate years. But readiness is also about the depth of reflection you have given to your chosen profession. At some point during the application process, you will be asked why you want to be a professional in your chosen health field. Be sure to talk to mentors and pre-health advisors or keep a journal of reflections about your “why.” Being able to respond to that question gives you a sense of your readiness in addition to completing entrance tests such as DAT, MCAT, OAT or GRE.
Make sure you understand the application timeline for your health profession. For many healthcare professions, the application cycle begins over one year in advance of when you matriculate. It helps to “think backwards” from when you plan to send your primary application so you will have the time you need to assemble the clinical experiences, academic record, and activities you want to include in your application. Your pre-health advisor can help you develop your timeline to apply to programs.
Preparation includes not only performing well in the required coursework and standardized exams, but also developing your extracurricular profile, including service to others and exploration of your chosen healthcare profession. Many of the health professions follow a rolling admissions model, so it is advantageous to apply early in the cycle.
Finally, view your application as an admissions committee might. Do you feel your application is complete because you are satisfied with your clinical and volunteering experiences? Have you shown that you have explored your healthcare field of interest? Have you demonstrated commitment to helping others? Have you shown academic competence in the required coursework? Have you secured strong letters of recommendation? Are you satisfied with your scores on the standardized test required for your field? Have you educated yourself about the application timeline for your specific program? If the answers to these questions are “yes,” then you are most likely ready to apply. Your pre-health advisor will be happy to discuss the status of your preparation with you.