Application Process

Your first years at Duke in planning for a prehealth career wil involve:

  • Completion of required science courses, with grades that show skill and proficiency.
  • Clinical experience in working with patients and shadowing physicians or other health care providers so that you are sure that you know what your health career will be like.
  • A record of community service to demonstrate your desire to serve others.
  • Often, research experience in a science or in your major.
  • Other unique achievements that show you are a mature, responsible, accomplished applicant.

At some point, you will make the commitment to apply. Applications go in during the summer (for medical schools, June and July). But preparing for the application actually begins the semester or two before:

Fall and Spring Preceding Your Application

  • Attend the Health Professions Advising (HPA) application season Fall Kickoff.
  • Make certain that you are subscribed to the HPA listserv based on your planned matriculation year.
  • Monitor your email so you won't miss important announcements from the HPA Office.
  • Attend all the information sessions offered by the Office of Health Professions Advising, including the HPA Applying Workshops.  
  • Make sure your AdviseStream is up-to-date, including your Profile and your Academics and Engagements Planner. Make sure that your descriptions and reflections are complete. Update your resume. 
  • Make an appointment with Deborah Wahl, Cindy Broderius or Dr. Chris Roy to evaluate your readiness to apply. Medical schools and other health professions schools will look at your academic performance, clinical experience working with patients and shadowing providers, history of service to others, and for many, research exposure. If you have not had time for clinical experience and service to others, consider postponing your application until you can.
  • Watch for announcements to see if the Health Professions Office will offer interviews, or assistance with your application.
  • Prepare for and take the appropriate standardized test in a timely manner; if needed. Evaluate your performance if you are concerned about your scores.
  • Determine who you will ask for a letter of recommendation and then request letters using the Letters of Evaluation module in the Apply module of AdviseStream.

Summer and Applying

  • Check that your letters of recommendation from professors or others are on file at the HPA Office using the Letters of Evaluation module in AdviseStream.
  • Complete the appropriate application in a timely manner. The Primary Apply Planner in AdviseStream formats your content consistent with online applications, acting as a staging area and saving you time.
  • Work on completing and submitting secondary applications that schools send you as soon as you receive them using the Secondary Application Planner available to you.

Fall and Spring After Applying

  • Interview at health professions schools where you are invited; prepare with our interview tipssample interview questions, and HPA Interviewing Workshop
  • Use your Interview Planner mobile app to carry important interview information with you and after the interview, make notes quickly.
  • Participate on our HPA “conversations” with deans, physicians and others.
  • Consult with Deborah Wahl or Cindy Broderius if questions come up.
  • Accept one offer by May 15 (for medical schools) and formally decline all other offers.
A few notes ...
  • Rolling vs. Non-Rolling Admissions. Many schools use a rolling admissions policy, which means they will evaluate applications as soon as they are received and will make decisions in mid to late October and November. For these schools, you need to submit your application as soon as applicants are accepted (June, July) so that you will be in he first group of applicants to be considered. Delaying an application to late summer or fall can mean that by the time you are evaluated, the class is already filled. Most state-supported schools that prefer in-state residents will use a rolling admission plan. Other medical schools like Duke, Columbia, Cornell will wait until spring and then evaluate all applicants at once. They will send out acceptance notices in late February or early March.
  • Deferrals. Some applicants accepted to a medical school will then decide they would like to postpone admission for a year (a deferred admission) so that they can pursue another interest. Deferrals are generally granted on a case-by-case basis, taking into account what your plans are. Talk with your health professions advisor if you are considering this. Note that if you are not yet certain of your interest in a medical school, it is wise to apply only when you are sure. It is possible that additional accomplishments beyond completion of college will make you a better candidate or help you to articulate better why you want to pursue a health career.