Checklists

Preparation for a health professions school will be accomplished during your four years at Duke, and sometimes even after that. There is no rush. Look at the checklists below for general guidelines, and then a description of the application process.

Checklist for First-Year Students

The goal of your first year is to begin. See how your courses go. Get involved. Look for new opportunities. Consider that your interests might change.

  • Attend one of the Prehealth Information Sessions during Orientation Week
  • Sign up for your AdviseStream account.
  • Join the Health Professions Advising (HPA) listserv.
  • Read the "Prepare" section of this website.
  • Consider a major that interests you, and then begin to identify the best way to sequence your prehealth required courses within that major.
  • Focus on completing your first courses with distinction.
  • Engage rigorously. Learn for the love of learning.
  • Develop strong relationships with your professors.
  • Meet with your First Year Health Professions Advisor at least once during the first year.
  • If you experience academic problems, get help right away from your professors, the Academic Resource Center and your health professions advisor. 
  • Get involved in student groups of interest to you. Look for leadership opportunities.
  • Join one of the several student medical organizations based on a range of common interests.
  • Participate in one or more of the many community service organizations on campus.
  • Work on a research project if you have time.
  • Get experience in a variety of healthcare fields & settings.
  • Consider summer experiences that will broaden and develop your interest in medicine.  
  • For ideas on how to gain clinical experience, participate in community service, research, shadow a provider and consider summer opportunities, look here.
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Checklist for Sophomores

You will have completed your first science courses and are beginning to develop characteristics that will make you an effective physician or health care provider: maturity, discipline, experience, love of science and an ability to relate effectively to a wide selection of people. For this year, you should:

For suggestions of how to find clinical opportunities, shadowing, research, and service, and summer activities, see the section of Gain Experience.

  • Make sure you have joined the appropriate Health Professions Advising (HPA) listserv, monitor your email for announcements, and attend prehealth workshops and seminars.
  • Update AdviseStream with first year courses and grades and activities for the past year.  Track your progress.
  • Meet with your Health Professions Advisor this year so that you can begin to put together a plan for your next 4 or 5 semesters.
  • Meet with a Director of Academic Engagement if you would like advice on global and civic opportunities. 
  • Continue to focus on completing your science courses with distinction and challenging yourself in a rigorous curriculum.
  • Get to know your professors and make sure they know you. 
  • If you experience academic problems, get help right away from your professors, the Academic Resource Center and your health professions advisor. 
  • Demonstrate leadership in clubs and programs in which you are engaged.
  • Look for shadowing and other clinical opportunities.
  • Seek out undergraduate research experiences as a volunteer, work/study student or research independent study.
  • Gain an understanding of other cultures through international experience if you are interested; look at programs like DukeEngage and Duke Global Education.
  • Look for summer experiences that will enable you to continue to explore the biomedical sciences and health professions or to extend your strengths and interests.
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Checklist for Juniors

Since most students plan to apply to health professions school after graduation, the junior year is a time to work on your major and continue activities that are most meaningful to you. You should:

  • Update AdviseStream with sophomore year courses and grades and activities for the past year. Track your progress.
  • Continue to engage in shadowing and other clinical opportunities.   
  • Take advantage of study abroad programs if you are interested.
  • Begin or make plans to begin a research independent study or honors thesis.
  • Meet with your Health Professions Advisor if you have any questions. Note that your health professions advisors are now Deborah Wahl, Cindy Broderius and Dr. Chris Roy.
  • Check the websites of all schools you may apply to for any special required courses or experience, in case you need to work these in over the next two or three semesters.
  • Keep in contact with professors from previous years and get to know your professors this year.
  • If you experience academic problems, get advice from your professors, the Academic Resource Center and your health professions advisor. 

If you are one of the few students who will apply to health professions schools at the end of this (your junior) year, it is important that your AdviseStream is up to date. Then schedule a meeting with a prehealth advisor to be sure that you are suitably prepared to apply. Follow the steps in the How the Application Process Works section.

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Checklist for Seniors

You have gained perspective about who you are and what you want to do. Your accomplishments and clinical experiences continue to grow and you are beginning to anticipate a life after Duke. This year you should:

  • Update AdviseStream with junior year courses and grades and activities for the past year. Track your progress.
  • Make certain that you are subscribed to the Health Professions Advising (HPA) listserv based on your planned matriculation year.
  • Monitor your email so you won't miss important announcements from the HPA Office.
  • Continue to engage in shadowing and other clinical opportunities.   
  • Continue to engage in service work that you have begun.
  • Complete research projects or honors thesis.
  • Check the websites of all schools you may apply to for any special required courses or experience, in case you need to work these in.
  • Keep in contact with professors from previous years and get to know your professors this year.
  • Make plans for a job, internship, volunteer work, travel or other goal after graduation. Visit the Career Center, talk with faculty and a health professions advisor if you are unsure of choices.
  • Decide if you will apply to schools at the end of your senior year. If so, you begin to prepare for the application process this fall (fall of your senior year). Follow the guidelines under Apply.
  • If you aren't ready to apply at the end of your senior year and plan to take more time for coursework, service, clinical experience, or personal interests, talk with your health professions advisor about how the Health Professions Office works with alumni and the timing of an application in the future.
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Checklist for Alumni

More and more graduating seniors heading to health professions school are choosing to engage in some experiential activity before matriculating. If you are one of these, or if you have recently decided to pursue a career in health care after graduation, the Office of Health Professions Advising is ready to provide counsel as well as assist you with the application process in a full range of health professions careers.  

  • The health professions application process takes about eighteen months, so plan accordingly.
  • Review Apply section of this website.
  • Make certain that you are subscribed to the Health Professions Advising (HPA) listserv based on your planned matriculation year and monitor your email for our information and announcements.
  • Sign up for an AdviseStream account if you have not already done so. AdviseStream provides easy online support, documentation, and a basis for collaboration with our HPA Office.
  • If you visit the campus, schedule a meeting with Deborah Wahl or Cindy Broderius in the HPA office, or make a phone appointment to speak with one of them.  
  • Take advantage of our podcasts of workshops and presentations, which permit distance participation.
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