Exploring Careers Beyond Medicine: Dozens of Opportunities




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FALL 1998
Volume 42, Number 1


Exploring Careers Beyond Medicine

Geology in
Puerto Rico

Human Rights

A Conversation with the President

New Honors Director

A Time for Questions

On the Iowa Web

Major Topics...

Parent Times Briefs


Ask The University of Iowa's first-year students this fall about what their intended careers and it won't take long before one answers, "I'm in premed."

Hundreds of students come to campus knowing that they're interested in medicine and science. At the other end of four years, fewer than 130 will be accepted into the College of Medicine. Of course, students apply and are accepted in other schools, too. But many of those entering students will decide on alternative careers during their time at Iowa.

"Usually when a student wants to go into medicine, we talk about their interests-what prompted them to select this career," says Charles Hauck, who with Anne Frankel advises freshmen considering medical careers. Hauck and Frankel are advisers in the Academic Advising Center.

"We have a chart here that shows other careers," he says. "Basically, it divides them into preprofessional track and other careers that do not require as much advanced training, such as podiatry.

"The College of Medicine has two undergraduate majors, Clinical Laboratory Science and Nuclear Medicine Technology, and we discuss those possibilities, too," Hauck says. "While these majors have limited enrollment, in my experience, solid students can get in."

Outside of medicine, Hauck describes biology, biochemistry, chemistry, and other possible related careers. Biomedical engineering is a possibility. Biomedical engineers work directly with physicians and nurses, helping to build the equipment or measurement devices or prostheses that physicians need for their patients. It is a very rigorous major that may take up to five years to complete, he says.

"I usually refer students to Career Development Services for help with career-related questions in any major they're interested in," he says. Career Development Services specializes in helping students select not only an interesting career, but also internships or job-shadowing opportunities that can help students confirm that they're on the right track early in their academic careers. Volunteer work also serves that purpose, he notes.
Nursing, dentistry, and pharmacy are popular with students. Nursing offers undergraduate and graduate degrees, while pharmacy begins in sophomore year and ends five years later with a Pharm.D. degree. Dentistry is a graduate program.

"In all these discussions we're trying to see how firm their premedical goal is, and make sure they know that other options exist," Hauck says.

"One thing I always tell them is not to choose an undergraduate major because they think it will help them get into medical school," he says. "If you're not really interested in your major, it might not work out academically. Medical admissions officers look at academic performance, scores on the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), and achievements in extracurricular activities, as well as indications of who this student is. They don't concentrate on what major the student chose."

Some students apply for admission to the College of Medicine and don't get in. They may wind up discussing their future with Tom Taylor, who directs admissions for the College of Medicine. Students who are not accepted have the right to an interview with him, and during that interview he tries to help them redirect their energies.

"I try to help them decide if they should fine-tune their application a bit and try again," Taylor says. "If not, we have a general discussion of why they applied for medical school in the first place. We look at their skills and interests. For example, a student primarily interested in science of medicine might be advised to look at the Ph.D. programs in basic sciences, with an eye on a research career. Someone who generally wants to care for others might look at social work, counseling, or clinical psychology.

"And those who just want to make money I send to the College of Business Administration, where they should have been all along!" he quips.

"It's very individual. We help them focus on their abilities so they can go out and find a satisfying career. We never know if they succeeded or not."

The College of Medicine also has two popular graduate programs other than the traditional M.D. degree: the physician assistant program and physical therapy. Both are ranked among the best programs in the United States in their fields, both are very popular with students-and both are just about as difficult to get into as medical school.

By Anne Tanner


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