Things to Look for
As you explore where to attend a health profession program, you may want to consider multiple factors in relation to your fit at that institution. Honing in on specific aspects of the program or school may serve you well throughout this discernment process. With these goals in mind, here are some areas, resources, and opportunities that you may want to look for as an applicant underrepresented in the health professions.
Diversity Office & Multicultural Student Affairs Office
Many schools have a specific office or staff member dedicated to supporting underrepresented students. Review the school’s website for services offered by a diversity and inclusion office, or multicultural student affairs office. Diversity and inclusion offices may offer student, faculty, and staff networking events, educational opportunities, and additional support for participants with marginalized identities and their allies. Multi-cultural student affairs offices often provide a ‘drop-in’ meeting space on campus and additional opportunities for students to explore their identities through programming, promoting dialogue, advocacy, and equity among members.
Schools seeking to attract more underrepresented students may also have additional resources available. Discussing these types of resources with an admissions officer can be a way to assess a school’s commitment to their mission.
A school’s commitment to address health care disparities can potentially be viewed as an anti-racist barometer, as these disparities disproportionately impact communities of color. Taking a close look at the curricular content, or course offerings, may provide an indicator of the school’s commitment to educating a diverse group of health care providers to be ready to serve all members of the community. Research the school’s website to assess if such courses are offered, mandated for all students, or offered as electives.
Information about student groups may at times be difficult to find on an institutional website. The information about the groups can often be sparse or not regularly updated, or may even be accessible only to enrolled students via a login. To glean more information, look for ‘open house’ opportunities on the website or online admission presentations. Reaching out to the admissions office to connect with current students may give you some valuable insights into the range of groups on campus.
This list of national student organizations in the health professions is by no means definitive, but it may help you with your research.
A program’s website, newsfeed, and social media can often provide insight into the culture of the institution, although many other institutional events may be limited to their enrolled students or require a login. Students often create their own blogs or user groups. So, some creative searches may lead to additional insights to better assess whether this school will be a good institutional fit.
We recommend looking for program admissions events, or signing up for program information via listserv opportunities at institutions you are interested in attending. These events are often hosted by admissions offices and often include access to campus partners (e.g., multi-cultural student affairs or student diversity offices) which are designed to promote interest in the program and institution.