PPHS students entering the concluding summers of their undergraduate years should continue to pursue vocational preparation through extracurricular activities, internships, and summer programs designed to enrich the individual’s experiential engagement and to build a balanced résumé. Students should begin to curate more sophisticated clinical and shadowing experiences. Please meet with the director of PPHS to discuss strategies for locating summer internships and other opportunities.
There are many opportunities for summer research and internships. Most opportunities have application deadlines between January and March.
Fall is a wonderful time for students to analyze their progress and application plans. PPHS students of junior standing should formulate a list of people who might be willing to provide letters of evaluation in the future. Once the list is complete, students should arrange meetings to determine the writers’ willingness to support their application. During these meetings, we recommend that you share your journey thus far and then solicit the potential writers’ input on further preparation.
Although students don’t need recommendations until their application year, letter solicitors should prepare a packet for their letter writer that includes:
- A list of your grades, separated by science and non-science courses
- Your CV or resume
- Your personal biography describing your motives and preparation thus far
- AAMC's guidelines for writing a strong letter of evaluation, including a reminder to write the letter on official letterhead and sign it.
Letters of evaluation should come from the faculty, physicians, and others who know you best and can speak most credibly about your character and academic ability. A prospective letter-writer should speak from a position of authority; letters from peers or family friends are inappropriate. You should provide the above-mentioned packet only after a professor or other letter writer agrees to your request. Communicate to the letter-writer that you are preparing for future graduate applications, and ask them for feedback as to their sense of your preparedness and viability as a strong candidate. Use this feedback to direct the next year in terms of volunteering, clinical experience, and other areas of improvement. This conversation will assist you in articulating your strengths and weakness, and it gives you the chance to grow intentionally, long before you complete graduate applications and interviews. Be sure to write each person a letter of gratitude for their time and feedback.
As third-year students continue to develop their narratives to sustain their vocational drive through community service, shadowing, and employment in their chosen health field, they should begin the year with a visit to their advisor or PPHS director to reevaluate and modify their game plan for personal and professional development. Each student’s vocational imagination should be based on pragmatic planning, reflective journaling, and thoughtful writing.
Students seeking to develop a more holistic, nuanced, and rich understanding of the healing arts should enroll in a Literature course or another Humanities course. By reading, discussing, and writing about stories, novels, movies, and plays portraying illness, suffering, and the human condition in general, aspiring healers will learn how to interact with patients with compassion, empathy, and humanity. Please check course pre-requisites in advance.
Winter term offers two opportunities for students to continue advancing their academic and reflective preparation for a career in health care.
The first is indispensable for excelling on the MCAT and in admissions interviews in health sciences: Sociology 3205, Sociology in Medicine: Inequality and Health. The Sociology department designed SOC 3205 to instruct students on the concepts, theories, and methods of sociology as they apply to the field of medicine. Students investigate the social determinants of health, health care systems, epidemiology, and the effects of health institutions on the individual and society, and other substantive topics in medical health. Prerequisite: PPHS 1800 or permission of the instructor.
The second course offering has emerged out of the necessity to prepare students to perceive issues impacting medicine at global and structural levels. Third- and fourth-year PPHS students are encouraged to enroll in PPHS 4600: Contemporary Problems in Medicine. In this course, students draw on the literature in diverse fields—bioethics, government, mainstream media, medical anthropology, narrative medicine, and social epidemiology—to investigate a variety of ethical issues. Prerequisites: BIO 3615 or permission of the instructor. The goals of PPHS 4600 are are follows:
- Participants will understand how culture, ethical deliberation, and faith interact in decision-making in healthcare, human subject research, and science.
- Participants will learn to apply ethical theories in the analysis of situations, questions, and judgments about actions.
- Participants will define the social determinants of health in order to explain the ways in which these factors impact human health and influence the clinical encounter and delivery of care. Students will incorporate the social determinants of health into analysis of ethical questions related to:
- Disease prevention and health promotion strategies
- Resource allocation at the health care system level
- Strategies for caring for disadvantaged patient populations
PPHS 4600 is offered in Spring to junior- and senior-level PPHS students who were unable to take the course in Winter. Students will find the material invaluable in the interview process.
Most importantly, advancing PPHS students should continue to develop their sustaining vocational narrative through 1) shadowing, 2) volunteering in underserved communities with Urban Involvement at the John Perkins Center, and 3) journaling in narrative form about their experiences. In addition, students can take advantage of new shadowing opportunities that go beyond the basic committee interview requirements.