Healthcare is a huge field with many career options for people with all levels of education. We encourage you to explore many areas of health in order to find the best fit for you. Many St. Olaf alumni offer opportunities for shadowing in a variety of fields, and the pre-health advisors can help you find your fit.
While there are prerequisite courses for all health professional programs, preparing for graduate education in the health professions requires more than taking the correct courses. Students must also demonstrate their motivation and commitment to the profession through exposure to the field, direct contact with patients, and evidence of core competencies such as service orientation, professionalism, integrity, and resilience.
Pre-health is simply an intention to pursue a career in any area of healthcare; pre-health is not a major. Health professions schools seek strong, well-rounded students who have not only demonstrated strength in the sciences but also an interest in the human condition. Therefore, the liberal arts offer the perfect roadmap for pre-health students to prepare for their graduate programs. Students from a variety of majors have successfully matriculated to graduate health programs, so it’s best to choose a major that’s interesting and exciting to you.
Preparing for any health professional program requires careful academic planning, as prerequisites vary by field and even by school or program. Please review the course recommendations for each health profession in the Advising Resource section below.
Students should take advantage of the many opportunities to obtain patient contact and observe practitioners at work in their field of expertise. Related experience is essential to successful application to many health professions programs. Students seeking more information about clinical opportunities are encouraged to visit the Piper Center.
Registered Nursing Assistant Course
EMS/EMT Education Course
Three Links Care Center (CNA)
Northfield Retirement Community (CNA)
St. Olaf EMT
Northfield Hospital & Clinics
Hope Dental Clinic
St. Olaf Alumni Directory (shadowing)
Pre-Health Wilderness & Emergency Medicine Course in Colorado
Many health professions schools value research experience as an undergraduate. Research not only demonstrates your intellectual curiosity and commitment to learning, but it also provides evidence of your ability to work as part of a team and to critically interpret scientific literature. Research can be in any area and can take place in the laboratory, the field, or internships.
Rockswold Health Scholars
Health Scholars at Mayo Clinic
Research at the Blood and Marrow Transplant (BMT) Center at UMN
Biomedical Ethics Research at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, MO
Mayo Innovation Scholars
Norway Innovation Scholars
National Institutes of Health
Mayo Clinic SURF Program
Summer Health Professions Education Program (SHPEP)
National Science Foundation (NSF) – Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Database
Independent Study Courses
Directed Undergraduate Research
As healthcare is a service profession at its core, health professions schools are interested in students who have demonstrated compassion and empathy through service to others. Therefore, participating in meaningful service to your community illustrates your desire to work with others and make a difference in others’ lives. Long periods of service are preferred to brief stints in many activities.
Oleville Volunteer Network
National Association of Free & Charitable Clinics
Northfield Hospitals & Clinics
St. Olaf EMT
Hope Dental Clinic
Northfield Shares – Volunteer Opportunities
Pre-Health 101 (first-years), 201 (sophomores), and 301 (juniors and seniors) workshops are held multiple times every year, and are designed to allow students to check in with Professor Kevin Crisp, Chair of the Health Professions Committee, and Katie Hughes, Pre-Health Career Coach, about progress towards their goal of matriculating to a health professional school.
Advising Resources for Health Professions
Academic preparation is crucial for students interested in attending graduate health professions programs. Please review the appropriate advising resource for your area of interest and meet with the appropriate faculty advisor often.
Please check the advising resources below and to your right to see the recommended and required courses along with additional requirements for each professional interest.