Preparation for a health professions school will be accomplished during your four years at Duke, and sometimes even after that. There is no rush. Here are general guidelines.

The goal of your first year is to begin. See how successful you are in your courses - what is easy, what is more challenging. Begin to develop the characteristics that will make you an effective physician or health care provider.

  • Sign up for the Prehealth Listserv so you receive announcements, tips, opportunities.
  • Read the "Prepare" section of this website.
  • Identify a major that interests you; it does not need to be in a science.
  • Develop a strong relationship with professors with whom you share interests.
  • Meet with your Prehealth Advisor each year to review requirements and plans.
  • Meet with a DAE (Director of Academic Engagement) if you would like advice on finding local, national, and international opportunities for civic engagement.
  • If you are not doing as well as you'd like academically, seek advice from your professors, the Academic Resource Center and your Prehealth Advisor. 
  • Find experiences where you can interact with patients and families, or individuals who deal with health problems, to see what health care is like for individuals.
  • Find experiences where you shadow a doctor or other health professional, to see what the lifestyle, challenges and rewards are like for the kind of health professional you might wish to become.
  • If you have time and interest, look for research experience as a volunteer in a lab, a volunteer on a project, work/study student, or in paid employment, summer fellowship or research independent study.
  • Gain an understanding of other cultures and work on your confidence and ability to communicate with individuals unlike you.
  • If you are interested, join a student prehealth group.
  • Look for summer experiences that will enable you to continue to explore the biomedical sciences and health professions, or extend your strengths and interests.
  • Begin to check the websites of health professions schools in your home state (or ones that you are interested in) to see what they look for in applicants and their requirements and policies; an easy way to do this is to do an internet search, e.g. google "yale med sch adm req".  Or to see a state by state listing of medical schools, visit AAMC MSAR

OVERALL... Learn for the love of learning.  Get involved.  Serve those in need.  Volunteer.  Lead.  Enjoy your time at Duke and grow.

  • Begin or continue research; consider enrolling in a research independent study for credit, or complete an honors thesis and graduate with distinction.
  • Watch the prehealth email listserv for announcements and opportunities.
  • Check the websites of schools in your state and any others you may apply to for changes in required courses or experience, in case you need to add courses or experiences..
  • Keep in contact with professors from previous years and get to know your professors this year; begin to think about who you will ask for letters of recommendation.
  • If you are not doing as well as you'd like academically, seek advice from your professors, the Academic Resource Center and your Prehealth Advisor
  • If you intend to apply to health professions schools soon, read the Apply Section.  You need begin preparations for applying months before you actually apply.
  • Decide when you will take the MCAT or other standardized exam and allow sufficient time to review for it.
  • Make plans for a gap year if appropriate.
  • If you are an alum, keep in touch with our office by phone, email or SKYPE. 
  • Use a non-Duke email address when you apply to schools, as your Duke email address is discontinued a year after you graduate.