Preparing for your studies before you start your health care program takes time and a lot of work. It sure would be nice to collect some course credit along the way! Fortunately, some schools are recognizing this and offering for-credit classes that prepare future health care professionals for the work ahead. We recently got the full scoop from Robin Selzer, professor of the University of Cincinnati’s Professional Development 1000: Exploring Health Professions, about these exciting courses that may be showing up soon in a classroom near you.
Professional Development (PD) 1000: Exploring Health Professions is a 3-credit hour course that is open to all majors, years and has many unique qualities that separate it from a standard 1-credit hour course that focuses only on applying to health professions programs. We began offering the course in 2014, when I was hired to launch the creation of a Pre-Health Internship Program (PHIP). I was transitioning from practicing as a Health Professions Advisor; so it was a natural fit.
The PHIP provides a full curriculum that begins with the introductory PD 1000: Exploring Health Professions course, which is a pre-requisite for completing an internship in a healthcare-related setting. More on the internships part later. The course provides students with a wider and deeper understanding of a range of health professions, professional development, an understanding of ethical behaviors and cross-cultural care, and helps prepare them to a competitive applicant to health professions programs. Students also earn HIPAA certification and undertake Blood borne Pathogen training during the course to help them gain marketable skills. The course has a Social and Ethical general education designation which many students need as part of their major requirements for graduation. It is also the required first-year course for Medical Sciences majors in the University of Cincinnati’s College of Medicine.
One of the unique aspects of the course is that we dig in on the human side of healthcare. For example, we cover topics like why empathy is different than sympathy, listen to patient narratives and examine healthcare disparities and barriers to care such as the social determinants of health. Students complete resumes, cover letters, elevator speeches and LinkedIn profiles as part of a Professional Development Portfolio. Interprofessionalism is a learning outcome so that student learns the benefits of healthcare team collaboration, communication, and respect for each other’s expertise. Our Pre-Professional Advising Center is a key partner in helping to deliver their curriculum on holistic review when applying to health professions programs, securing strong letters of recommendation, the value of personal statements and standardized test preparation. We have also cover financial literacy as an important step in preparing a competitive application.
During the course, students are introduced to our web-based pre-health internship directory. They can view positions and post their resume if interested. Employers and community partners have account and can contact candidates of interest to interview. When seeking potential internship opportunities for students, I have a strong “sell” because I can promise them that students are prepared to responsibly engage in shadowing, volunteering or paid work in a healthcare setting because they took the PD 1000 course. The INT 3041: Health Professions Internship course is online and students then earn academic credit for this real world experience.
Ideally students should take courses like Exploring Health Professions in their first year, but even students in the application stage have shared that it is still beneficial because it covers more than the steps in applying. In summary, the PHIP provides pre-health students with a comprehensive curriculum throughout their undergraduate years. Incoming college students should contact their Office of Pre-Health Advising or their Career Center to determine if their school offers classes focused on exploring health career options like PD 1000. Many times these courses may be listed in Science departments, like Biology, as well.
Thank you to Robin Selzer for contributing this guest post.