New Workshop for Pre-professional Degrees

K. Patricia Bouweraerts

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For students who would like to find out about professional careers, a new workshop is being offered as a result of the unique collaboration between academic advisors at Truckee Meadows Community College and the University of Nevada, Reno. The first “TMCC/UNR's Pre-professional Workshop” takes place in February.

“The communication is very open between TMCC and UNR, and that is a real benefit to students,” said Sione Lavaka, Academic Advisor. “This new workshop will be a great starting point for students to discover questions they might not know to ask when preparing for one of the many pre-professional career tracks.”

Natalie Brown, Program Director for Academic Advisement, Transfer Center and International Student Advisement, agrees.

“We think this is an exciting new way for students to learn about how to prepare, find out what classes to take, and more,” she said.

The free workshop will be held in the Academic Advisement computer lab at TMCC, and is taught by Sione Lavaka and Grace Cardenas Leal, Coordinator for Pre-professional Programs, UNR.

  • When: Wednesday, Feb. 24, 1-2 p.m.
  • Where: Sierra Building, room 108
  • RSVP: Reserve seat by calling 775-673-7062

“We’re co-leading the workshop, presenting information about what prerequisite courses are needed and many of the aspects that are important when preparing for professional careers,” Leal said. “We want to make sure there is a seamless delivery of programs and services for students.”

Pre-professional career tracks covered at the workshop include:

  • Pre-dentistry: dentist
  • Pre-law: lawyer
  • Pre-med: physician and pre-physician assistant
  • Pre-pharmacy: pharmacist
  • Pre-physical therapy: physical therapist
  • Pre-occupational therapy: occupational therapist
  • Pre-optometry: optometrist

Students will be working with instructors in the lab and may bring pencil and paper or a tablet computer for note-taking. Attendees will receive handouts with an outline of the presentation.

“We’ll talk about the big picture of what to expect in professional career programs,” Leal said. “We will also cover timelines and benchmarks for students.”

She said that the overall cost is higher for professional career tracks, but taking lower division courses at the community college makes it more affordable. Leal recommends that students meet with an academic advisor to make sure prerequisites are met before transferring to a four-year school.

Prepping for a career as a freshman

The advisors agreed that in many of the professional occupations, students need to think about graduate school when they are a freshman, not as late as their senior undergraduate year.

“It’s not a race, it’s a marathon,” Leal said. “There is also a sense of discipline involved, and the choice of lifestyles to maybe even read professional journals during free time.”

Lavaka added that volunteer activities and experience hours completed outside of school are nearly as important as the work done in the classroom.

“The students will be committing a lot of time in school and out of school,” he said. “The medical field is constantly changing – it’s a lifelong process.”

Leal agreed.

“If students are going into a helping profession, they want to make somebody’s health better and encourage hope,” she said. “In research, they may want to contribute to solving a problem. In law, it’s about advocating for policies, establishing new laws and supporting clients.”

Leal and Lavaka pointed out that it’s not just the higher salaries that students should aim for – it’s also how they want to live their life. Students should consider if they are driven to stay constantly updated on medical research as a way to fulfill a calling.

Good job outlook

The guidebook “Health Care Careers in Nevada 2014-2015” is produced by a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Area Health Education Centers (AHEC). It is available in Academic Advisement for students’ reference. The book provides data on how many professionals work in various health care occupations, salaries, and employment outlook – how many openings occur each year.

“Health care opportunities are great in Nevada,” Leal said. “When the number of openings per year equals the University class capacity, then it can indicate virtually 100 percent placement in some fields.”

Other professional fields such as engineering, public health and nursing are advised at their respective departments at UNR.

For more information about pre-professional programs or to register for the Feb. 24 workshop, contact Academic Advisement at 775-673-7062.