The health care sector offers diverse opportunities in clinical, research and administrative settings. Opportunities range from patient care and advocacy to research, health care policy and public health. While these careers are often very rewarding — both personally and financially — many require a minimum of four to eight years of education before beginning a career. Explore this section to learn what kind of health care career is right for you.
In spring 2020, pre-professional health advising moved within Career Services. If you are interested in learning about the track options, declaring a pre-professional health advising track, or finding out what it takes to maintain your track, you can find that information on the Pre-Professional Health Hub in Canvas.
The guides below are designed to help you explore what it takes to be a professional healthcare practitioner and connect you to resources within each field.
VCU Career Services offers career advising for students pursuing pre-health majors. The guides below are designed to help you explore what it takes to be a pre-health major and connect you to resources within each field.
If you are interested in learning about the various majors or parallel planning, you can find that information on the VCU Pre-Health Advising Blog.
Shadowing and volunteering are vital components toward understanding more about a professional field of interest. Shadowing involves following a professional throughout their day, observing the ins-and-outs of the profession as a whole. Volunteering allows you to actively perform tasks and make contributions to a workplace or organization.
Experiences with direct patient contact are highly regarded by most admissions representatives, and graduate and professional programs in health sciences require a minimum number of hours of shadowing experience. Most admissions representatives want to see that you give freely of your time to support your community as well.
VCU Medical Center is fortunate to have hundreds of volunteers that give of their time to help make the hospital a better place. This fast-paced environment provides many opportunities for those who want to serve.
Cross Over employees and volunteers are committed to upholding CrossOver’s vision of “creating a healthy, vibrant community where every person is restored by the compassionate, healing love of God.” For more information, visit Cross Over Ministry or contact Molly Smith, Volunteer Program Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (804) 422-2600 ext. 119.
Health Brigade (formerly Fan Free Clinic) provides quality health services, especially to those least served, in a compassionate and non-judgmental environment.
Non-licensed volunteer opportunities:
Not all volunteering opportunities are available at all times.
The Sheltering Arms volunteer program assists in the fulfillment of our mission of providing rehabilitation services of the highest caliber with compassion and respect, enhancing the quality of life to those persons experiencing disabilities and offers financial assistance to those in need.
The following are just a few of the areas where volunteers serve throughout the organization:
Contact the Volunteer Service Department for more information.
The Virginia Home provides loving, lifelong residential care to adults with permanent physical disabilities. Each member of our care team is committed to service with dignity, dedication and compassion for the 130 residents who live here. Volunteers are truly the heart of our Home.
Contact The Virginia Home volunteer opportunities to fill out an application.
Research experience is encouraged but not required in all healthcare disciplines or professional programs. If you are interested in attending a research-focused institution or applying to a research-heavy program, obtaining significant experience performing research will be an important part of your application. Contact faculty members who are undertaking research that matches your interests and volunteer in their labs.
The VCU Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) and Division for Health Sciences Diversity offer additional information. Contact Herb Hill at email@example.com for more information.
Joining a professional association opens doors to numerous opportunities. Professional associations allow you to connect with experienced professionals who can help you explore career options, alert you to internship or job opportunities and provide insight into current industry trends and practices. Many professional associations offer reduced or discounted membership fees to students.
ConnectVA: Database of nonprofits in Virginia, has the capability to search for health-related organizations, volunteering opportunities, and jobs
TheAgapeCenter: A listing of all health-related organizations’ local Virginia branches
RamsConnect: Explore more than 500 student organizations to to find the best match for your career interests, including:
Before you start your application and interview process be sure to read through the Medical School Applicant Guide.
When applying for positions related to healthcare, tailoring your resume to is key. Highlight any research experience you have, both from inside and outside of class, as well as technical skills when crafting your resume. Consider including relevant coursework, especially if you have little experience in the field outside of class. This can demonstrate skills gained as well as interest and exposure to the industry.
Perhaps the most important tip for making your documents stand out is to use industry lingo. Review the position description, highlight key words or phrases, and reflect that same terminology in your resume or cover letter. This shows you have done your research and are familiar with the culture of the industry.
A cover letter is your chance to build a bridge between you and the position for which you are applying. Here is where you address how your relevant skills, experience, and personality can benefit them. This 1-page document should be personalized to the position/organization, as it will show you’re interested and will help you stand out from others in the applicant pool.
As you start to consider what to write in your personal statement, first ask yourself what they already know from your resume, cover letter, transcripts, letters of recommendation, etc. Consider what the reader doesn’t know that will help them decide that you will be successful in their program and therefore are a good investment? For most people, this often revolves around themes of why you want to pursue this field and how your experiences have prepared you thus far to be successful in this next step.
Strong personal statements achieve three objectives:
Things to keep in mind
Letters of recommendation are often required for graduate programs, scholarships or fellowships.
While each program or school may have specific guidelines, most will require you to submit a number of letters of recommendation from professors, a supervisor or someone who can speak to your knowledge, skills, abilities and/or passion for the field.
When considering a person to ask to write a recommendation, make sure that the person:
When asking for a recommendation:
The interview is your opportunity to share how your skills and experiences have prepared you to be successful in this role. Interviews take practice. Nearly all interviews contain two parts, common questions about your experience and situation-based questions to gauge your fit for the position. Afterward, you’ll be given the opportunity to ask questions of the interviewer.
While you cannot control the interview format or timeline, you can be prepared to speak about your relevant skills and experiences. Take some time to reflect on what you’ve done and how you can fill this organization’s need.
Many paid opportunities will require you to first complete a certification program to be considered, however, there are some that do not require certification. Talk to a career advisor about which option might work best for you.
The Allied Health Education/Certification Program listing has more than 2000 CAAHEP-accredited programs that prepare entry-level practitioners in 25 health sciences professions.
The Community College Workforce Alliance prepares individuals with quality curriculum and job placement support required for a successful career in the healthcare industry.
Cody Rogalski, assistant director, health and STEM
Megan Hollis, associate director, health sciences career advising
Sonya Barnes, assistant director, health sciences career advising
William Burke, career advisor, pre-professional health and STEM
Brian Cone, career advisor, pre-professional health and STEM