In light of the holistic review, health professional schools seek well-rounded applicants who demonstrate core competencies through non-academic experiential learning. We encourage you to engage in volunteer and community service, medical-related experiences, research projects, enrichment programs, and leadership opportunities. For you to generate a compelling narrative, sustained commitment to these activities and constant self-reflection are recommended.
Join a Student Club/Community Service
Pomona College has a diverse spectrum of student-led organizations and offers multiple programs for you to selflessly serve others, such as the Draper Center for Community Partnerships. Look outward-exercise your citizenship by contributing to college life, advocating for voiceless community groups, and becoming a student leader. Join your peers to support a cause that you value. Access the full list of student clubs and organizations here.
Clinical Healthcare Experience
Getting first-hand experience in a clinical setting is essential for you to make an informed decision about choosing a health career. Through shadowing health care providers and actively serving patients, you will gain meaningful insight into medicine and other health professions. For example, veterinary schools typically require 200 or more hours of veterinary experience, and physician assistant programs require an average of 500-1000 hours of direct patient exposure. Explore local patient care opportunities [xslx].
Disclaimer: These links are provided for your convenience and do not represent an endorsement by Prehealth Advising or Pomona College. In addition, Prehealth Advising and Pomona College are not responsible for the content of any pages linked to this web site.
Research is not a requirement for a competitive application unless your career interests are more focused on academic medicine rather than on patient care (ex: MD-PhD, DO-PhD, DVM-PhD). Conducting research is a valuable academic experience, as it develops your dexterity, tenacity, critical thinking and analytical skills. If you are interested in research, be sure to explore the Pomona College Internship Program (PCIP), and the Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP). Explore more local and national research/fellowship programs during summer or post-graduation [xslx].
Prehealth Enrichment Programs for Diversity
For students from backgrounds underrepresented in the health professions, many schools offer summer enrichment programs as their recruitment pipelines to increase institutional diversity. These programs often include test prep, research, admissions 101, shadowing and networking opportunities. Please check eligibility and APPLY EARLY. Explore more enrichment programs [xslx].
Learn more about resource supporting diversity in health professions under the resource tab.
Develop Cultural Competency
AAMC defines “culture” as integrated patterns of human behavior that include the language, thoughts, actions, customs, beliefs, and institutions of racial, ethnic, social, or religious groups. “Competence” implies having the capacity to function effectively as an individual or an organization within the context of the cultural beliefs, practices, and needs presented by patients and their communities. The Institute of Medicine of the National Academies highlights that "students need to understand that cultural competency encompasses language, customs, values, belief systems, and rituals that patients bring to the medical encounter.” To develop your cultural competency, check out this crash course developed by Stanford School of Medicine. Also consider these advice:
- Participate in Community Engagement programs with a public health focus [xslx]
- Participate in the STEP program, Health Bridges, Hunger and Homeless Initiative, Project Horseshoe Farm and other programs serving the local community
- Take sociology/anthropology courses that will enhance your cultural understanding and experience
- Study abroad is highly valuable experience and also highly recommended; just be sure to plan carefully and seek advice from the Study Abroad Office early
- If interested in a science or health specific study abroad ask about DIS, SIT, and the University College London Molecular Biology and Neuroscience Programs
- Before engaging in health-related experiences abroad, read the AAMC Guidelines for Clinical Experiences Abroad and the ADEA Guidelines for Predental International Experiences. You can also prepare using the University of Minnesota Global Ambassadors for Patient Safety Workshop.