Selecting the Right Schools
Every health professions school is unique. Choosing the right school can mean the difference between enjoying your training or not. It can also mean the difference between being accepted and not being accepted. Every applicant should look at a number of variables when selecting schools: schools available in your profession of interest, private versus public, in-state versus out-of-state, curriculum style, special-focus programs, support services available, clinical training opportunities, location, and cost of living.
Step 1: Identify schools in your area of interest
Following are resources as you begin your search of possible schools in your chosen profession. This listing of professions and resources is not all the information available to you. The staff in the Institute are ready to assist you as you search for resources in the career you think is best for you!
- Allied Health Professions - an opportunity to explore the more than 80 professions considered to be vital to providing health care - learn about the professions and find schools with programs in each area
- American Dental Education Association - providing information on the dental profession and a guide to dental schools
- All Nursing Schools - a complete listing of nursing degree granting schools in the U.S. and information on the career of nursing including clinical nurse specialist and nurse practitioner careers
- American Association of the College of Nursing - information on programs, financial aid and other resources related to nursing
- American Occupational Therapy Association - schools nationwide providing education from basic to PhD level education in occupational therapy
- Association of Schools and College of Optometry - directory of optometry programs and information on the profession
- American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy - school specific information in addition to overall information on a career in pharmacy
- Pharmacy Schools - a worldwide directory of pharmacy schools and information on the pharmaceutical profession
- American Association of Medical Colleges - representing all 133 accredited U.S. and 17 accredited Canadian schools granting M.D. degrees
- American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine - providing information on the osteopathic medical profession and college specific information on all osteopathic medical schools
- Physician Assistant - Accredited Entry-level Programs - programs accredited by the Accredication Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant
- Physical Therapy - Directory of Accredited Programs - programs accredited by the American Physical Therapy Association
- Association of Schools of Public Health - Council on Education in Public Health (CEPH)-accredited schools of public health
- Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges - information on the profession, schools across America, application process, and funding
Step 2: Identify program variances
As you move through your education at Albion College, it is important that you consider the learning style that best suits you. It is important to consider a good fit between graduate school programs and curricula and your ideal learning style.
Health professions schools use three major curricula: basic science (lecture), organ-system, and problem-based learning. Some schools utilize just one curricula while many use a combination. Take the time to determine what curriculum each school uses to determine which schools would be best for you. For example, if you are a student who needs the structure of lecture to learn material, you will most likely find yourself struggling at a school that uses primarily a problem-based learning approach. Additionally, some schools' admissions committees will look at prior academic performance to determine whether a student is likely to succeed with their school's curriculum.
If a school has a special program focus, it can have a great impact on who is considered to be an appropriate candidate for that school. If it has a focus, is the focus medical research? Primary care? Inner-city or rural medicine? Or something else?
The Real Scoop? (Not just for medical schools!)
Sometimes you may want to hear from people who are attending the program you are interested in - or have graduated from the program to the real world - to get more information on the school and it's program. The Student Doctor Network is a forum for people in a number of health professions to share information and ideas.
Step 3: Consider the location
The cost of graduate education is an important factor in choosing a school for most people. Scholarships and fellowships may be available to assist you, however, there are some important factors to consider as you narrow your list of schools.
The impact of in-state and out-of-state residency
Your residency in relation to the school may be important in the tuition and availability of positions in the program. State funded public schools may have a cap on the number of out-of-state students they are able to accept. If your residence is not in that state, you will likely face very still competition for fewer slots. In addition, state schools will charge a higher tuition to out-of-state students due to reduced state funding for these students. Private schools are not subject to these restrictions as they do not receive direct state support, however their tuition is generally higher than state school tuition. It is important to check each school you are considering carefully to determine if they accept out-of-state students, any limits to the number, and the impact on tuition.
The importance of living close to your network
Consider your support network and how you interact with them. Do you value being close to your family and seeing them often to keep you grounded? Are you someone who finds support from people via phone or facebook? Do you find your classmates quickly become your primary support system as you study and play to de-stress? Once you carefully consider who your supports are and how you link to them, you will be in a better position to consider where you attend school.
Location effects on cost of education
The area cost of living may impact your happiness as a student and the size of loans you may incur in graduate school. You need to carefully look at the area around the school, activity options, and local cost of living as you make final choices between schools. Living in an area where daily living and recreational activities come at a high price can add significantly to the overall cost of your education.
The staff in the Institute is always ready to assist you in assisting you as you identify the schools that best match your needs!