Based on standards from the University of Utah School of Medicine, Rural Health Scholars focuses on several areas to best prepare students for a career in healthcare. Students should seek specific advice from RHS staff regarding timing, hours, and how to make each experience meaningful.
RHS Program Focus Areas
Healthcare providers must not only know the people they serve, but they also demonstrate an interest in making their lives better. The best way to gain experience in helping others is to volunteer in your local community. Serving is a major focus of Rural Health Scholars, so much that it is integrated into our one-credit university courses. Many healthcare graduate programs require certain hours and volunteer experiences. Our staff help students connect with service organizations and provide advice on what makes these experiences meaningful.
Physicians, dentists, PAs, and other providers are leaders in their clinic, community, and even across the globe. The ability to motivate a group of people towards a common goal is something students must cultivate at the undergraduate level. Great leadership roles stem from community organizations, work environments, campus clubs, and non-profits. Students in Rural Health Scholars are given the tools and guidance needed to solidify strong leadership positions. Opportunities exist within student club, which was recently named the DSU 2017 club of the year!
Students are expected to know a great deal about the healthcare profession prior to applying to a graduate program. One of the best ways to experience first-hand the life of a health care provider is to shadow one! Rural Health Scholars assist students in how to find a provider to shadow and get the most out of this experience. Through a direct partnership with Intermountain Healthcare, students in the program are given direct access to local physicians, PAs, dentists, podiatrists, nurses and others.
Depending on a student’s interest and graduate school selection, undergraduate research can be a great way to learn more about the science behind medicine. Cures for disease, new medications, and new discoveries about the human body are all possible through scientific research. To gain research experience, students are connected with faculty on campus or spend time at different universities across the United States during the summer. Students are encouraged to seek research outside of a class that clearly follows the scientific method.
The best way for students to determine if health care is a great career for them is to really know the answer to the question, “Do I like to work with sick people?” Often, patients come to healthcare providers with some sort of ailment and the ability to work successfully with these individuals to alleviate their discomfort is a key trait of a physician. Volunteering or working in a healthcare setting while in college can assist in figuring out great fit for a student and a career in health. Rural Health Scholars connects students with jobs and volunteer positions with local hospitals, clinics, plasma donation centers, elderly care facilities, and disabled adult homes, just to name a few. In addition, students can participate in a cultural immersion trip to gain experience with underserved populations.
In order to enter a graduate healthcare program, students must have high grades and a strong entrance exam score. With difficult pre-requisite coursework in college on top of an already busy schedule, students often find it difficult to maintain the high GPA often required for applications. Rural Health Scholars provides students with one-on-one, free, private tutoring for collegiate course. In addition, seminars are taught to prepare students to take the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT), Dental Admissions Test (DAT), Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT), Optometry Admissions Test (OAT), and the Graduate Record Exam (GRE).
Once students have met the high curricular and academic standards required of a graduate program, a personal interview with a school determines admissions decisions. This tends to be a very intimidating part of the process for students, as communication skills are so essential. To assist in this process, Rural Health Scholars provides mock interviews and tips to succeed in an interview environment.
Skills for Specific Disciplines
As the pre-health experts on campus, Rural Health Scholars staff members are well versed on the different requirements for various graduate programs. For example, students pursuing dentistry must demonstrate skills in manual dexterity, while students aspiring to be physician assistants require many hours of patient exposure. Students are not required to know these details out of high school, instead Rural Health Scholars provides discipline-specific information as needed.