Additional Health Careers

Osteopathic Medicine

To explore the field of osteopathic medicine, familiarize yourself with the following associations and resources, including information at https://ocs.fas.harvard.edu/amcas :

Dental Medicine

Dental Careers

  • Dentists may have a variety of responsibilities, including diagnosing and treating diseases and injuries of the teeth and mouth, improving cosmetic appearance, performing surgical procedures such as implants, educating patients to prevent oral disease, and teaching and performing research. 
  • Over 80% are general practitioners while about 20% are dental specialists who limit their practices to one of the nine recognized dental specialty areas (dental public health, endodontics, oral and maxillofacial pathology, oral and maxillofacial radiology, oral and maxillofacial surgery, orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics, periodontics, pediatric dentistry, and prosthodontics).
  • Although most dentists work in private practice, they also work in academic medical centers, research institutions, public health agencies, hospitals, military installations, and other industries. (American Dental Association, Dentistry Fact Sheet)

Shadowing and Volunteering

Interested students should familiarize themselves with the dental field before applying to dental school. In addition to being necessary to help inform your career decisions, there is a requirement for shadowing for many dental schools. Opportunities can be found through the resources below and elsewhere:

Application Process

The ADEA Official Guide to Dental Schools, available at OCS and online, is a comprehensive guide with information on preparing for and applying to dental schools, requirements and admissions statistics for individual schools, and the financial aid process.

Timeline

The dental application cycle is similar to that for medical schools with applicants officially beginning the process over a year prior to enrollment in dental school. Applicants should expect to apply well in advance of the official deadlines and spend the summer months (June through August) applying to schools, completing both the primary application and school-specific supplemental applications. Interviews, if granted, usually take place during the fall and winter. Acceptance offers will typically come no earlier than the beginning of December for most schools.

Course Requirements

Most dental schools require two semesters of coursework in each of the following: general chemistry, organic chemistry, general biology, and general physics. All courses should include corresponding labs. Increasingly, schools are adding requirements for courses in biochemistry, math and English. Students should check with individual schools and the ADEA Official Guide to Dental Schools.

Dental Admissions Test (DAT)

All applicants are required to take the Dental Admissions Test (DAT). The DAT is a computerized test and can be scheduled year-round. The test includes general biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, reading comprehension, quantitative reasoning and perceptual ability. Review the test, sample questions, and scheduling.

The Application

Students apply to dental school through a centralized application service, the Associated American Dental Schools Application Service (AADSAS). All U.S. Dental Schools participate in AADSAS. Processing of the application can take 4-8 weeks and applicants can monitor their status online. Note that Texas schools use the Texas Medical & Dental Schools Application Service (TMDSAS).

Letters of Recommendation

A House Premedical Committee Letter is acceptable (and preferred) by most dental schools, and it should accompany three individual letters of recommendation for dental school applicants. The Committee Letter is sent directly to AADSAS; applicants must submit the Letter of Recommendation form available in AADSAS to their Houses. Students can print this form after they have initiated their AADSAS application.

Quick Reference

Veterinary Medicine

Veterinary Careers

Doctors of veterinary medicine play a significant role in the health care and welfare of animals as well as human public health, medical research, and public safety.

Although most veterinarians work in private practice (approximately 75%), many others pursue a variety of careers including preventive medicine, regulatory or military veterinary medicine, laboratory animal medicine, research and development in industry, teaching and research, and public health. (Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges)

Shadowing and Volunteering

Interested students should familiarize themselves with the veterinary field before applying to vet school. In addition to being helpful for career decision purposes, all veterinary schools require veterinary, animal, and/or health science experience; many recommend a breadth of experience working with many species. Opportunities can be found through:

  • Your vet, local zoo, or humane society: You could also ask a veterinarian in private practice, either at home or in Boston, whether they could use any help.
  • Research opportunities involving animals: Check CARAT for undergraduate research opportunities within Harvard’s centers and departments. There are opportunities to work with animals in the areas of HEB or OEB.
  • Harvard Pre-Veterinary Society: A group of Harvard students interested in veterinary medicine. Join their listserv.  
  • Harvard Alumni Association: Online database of Harvard alumni available to discuss their careers.
  • Harvard Alumni in Animal Health Shared Interest Group: Join this shared interest group to connect with alumni interested in animal health for networking, mentorship, and perhaps to learn more about shadowing or volunteer opportunities.

Application Process

The AAVMC Veterinary Medical School Admission Requirements Guide (available at OCS), provides information about individual US and foreign vet schools, including coursework and application requirements.

Timeline

The veterinary application cycle begins about a year prior to enrollment. Many schools have application deadlines in early October. Interviews, if granted, usually take place during the winter months (January-March). Acceptance offers may come soon after an interview or not until April.

Course Requirements

Vet school course requirements are more extensive than for medical school. Most vet schools require two semesters of coursework in each of the following: general chemistry, organic chemistry, general biology, and general physics. All courses should include corresponding labs. In addition, most schools require biochemistry and microbiology. Applicants will sometimes take these at other colleges or universities. In addition to referring to the Veterinary Medical School Admission Requirements Guide (available at OCS), students should expect to consult with individual schools about requirements.

Graduate Record Examination (GRE)

Most veterinary schools required the GRE general test; a few schools also require the GRE biology subject test. Some programs will consider MCAT scores in lieu of the GRE.

The Application

For all but a handful of non-participating schools, students apply through a centralized application service, the Veterinary Medical College Application Service (VMCAS). Completed applications are sent from VMCAS to the individual schools beginning a few weeks prior to the application deadline (around late September). Be sure to research individual schools regarding specific application procedures. For assistance, please contact the VMCAS student hotline Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm EST (617-612-2884) or at vmcasinfo@vmcas.org.

Letters of Recommendation

Students do not need a committee letter from their House Premedical Committee; letters from individual faculty and supervisors are sent directly to VMCAS. VMCAS encourages applicants to use their online, electronic letter of recommendation format (eLOR). All but one U.S. vet program (Texas A&M) participate in VMCAS.

Selected Opportunities and Resources in Veterinary Medicine

  • Animal Rescue League of Boston: A nonprofit organization dedicated to rescuing domesticated animals and wildlife from suffering, cruelty, and neglect. Volunteer opportunities include assisting in the Mobile Clinic, Adoption Services, and Kennel Assistance. 
  • Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA): A nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums. A list of internship opportunities is available online. 
  • Cornell University, The College of Veterinary Medicine: The Vet School has a number of volunteer programs and publishes a newsletter that has helpful general information. 
  • Franklin Park Zoo: Descriptions of opportunities are available online. 
  • MSPCA-Angell: An organization involved in animal protection and veterinary medicine. Volunteer opportunities are available throughout Massachusetts. 
  • Museum of Science-Boston (MoS): Volunteers in the Live Animal Center at the MoS assist in the handling, care, and feeding of wild animals used for educational programs in the Museum.
  • New England Aquarium: Volunteer and internship opportunities, most of which require a six-month time commitment. 
  • Plimoth Plantation, Plymouth, MA: A reconstructed, 17th century village in southeastern MA. Opportunities include helping with rare-breed farm animals.
  • Projects Abroad: An international study and travel program with a specific area focusing on veterinary medicine. Placements include: Ghana, India, Mongolia and Romania (fee-based program).
  • Tufts Adventures in Veterinary Medicine Program: A week-long introduction for students interested in pursuing a DVM degree (fee-based). Tufts also has other volunteer opportunities to gain experience (e.g. wildlife clinic openings).
  • Windrush Farm Therapeutic Equitation: A nonprofit working horse farm with therapeutic programs for the disabled in Boxford, MA. Opportunities both in the barn and with students.

Quick Reference

Nursing

The field of nursing is undergoing rapid growth and change. Contributing factors include an aging population and workforce, increased demand for preventative healthcare and a shortage of primary care physicians. For a current view of developments in the nursing profession, see the American Association of Colleges of Nursing’s (AACN) Nursing Fact sheet.

For college graduates interested in healthcare, it is worth considering a career as an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN). In fact, nurse practitioners (NP’s) are among the fastest growing occupations with the highest percent change of employment between 2014 – 2024 (Note: this site also includes salary projections): https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nurse-anesthetists-nurse-midwives-and-nurse-practitioners.htm .

Future job trends favoring Advanced Nurse Practitioners are discussed here: https://nursejournal.org/nurse-practitioner/7-future-job-trends-for-nurse-practitioners/ .

Nurse Practitioners’ scope of practice is not limited to assisting physicians. NP’s can practice independently, provide primary and specialty patient care, prescribe medications, teach and conduct research, and direct healthcare systems.

NP’s practice in a variety of settings, including primary care clinics, private practices, outpatient surgical centers, public health agencies, nursing homes, hospices, the military, and industry.

Nursing Career Pathways:

There are a wide variety of career paths for those interested in pursuing advanced nursing careers. See the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN)’s website for career pathways in nursing.

Pre-Nursing Advising:

The OCS Pre-Health advisers provide assistance to pre-nursing Harvard students and alumni. To speak with an OCS Pre-Health adviser, please schedule a 30-minute appointment through Crimson Careers.

Students and alumni who wish to become advanced nursing professionals will enter an Accelerated Bachelor’s/Second Degree Bachelor’s or Entry Master’s Program. The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is also an option for pursuing research, assuming leadership positions and advancing the field.

Shadowing and Volunteering:

Students and alumni should familiarize themselves with the nursing field prior to applying to nursing schools. Gaining healthcare experience helps refine your interest in the field and will strengthen your application. Ask the OCS Pre-Health advisers for help connecting with alumni who are pursuing nursing careers. Opportunities can be found through the resources below and elsewhere:

  • Your family nurse or NP. Ask nurses or NPs either at home or in Boston, whether they need help in their office.
  • House Premedical Tutors: Even if your House Tutors are not in the nursing field, other resident and non-resident Tutors can serve as resources.
  • Harvard Alumni Association: Online database of Harvard alumni, many available for shadowing.
  • Volunteer and/or apply for nurse assistant positions at local hospitals and public health clinics.
  • Check OCS’s Getting Experience webpage for volunteer opportunities related to nursing.

Applying to Nursing Programs:

Finding Programs:

Find A Nursing Program: http://www.aacnnursing.org/Students/Find-a-Nursing-Program

Comprehensive List of Nursing Schools by State and Degrees Offered: http://www.bestnursingdegree.com

Application Process:

Application Timeline: Varies depending upon program

  • Apply approximately one year in advance
  • Complete prerequisites (online and community college coursework is accepted at several schools, check to confirm)
  • Take GRE, if needed
  • Apply in Fall or Spring (if offered) - application deadlines vary
  • Apply to nursing programs online, directly with the school using NursingCAS, the centralized application
  • Note that some nursing schools do not use NursingCAS. To find out if a school uses Nursing CAS, see http://www.nursingcas.org.

Common application materials:

Online Application, Resume, Transcripts, GRE Test Scores, Letters of Recommendation, and Personal Essay.


Common Nursing Prerequisites (not a complete list):

Anatomy and Physiology, Microbiology, Statistics, Nutrition, Biology, Inorganic or General Chemistry (a small number of schools require Organic Chemistry), Psychology, Human Growth and Development. Depending on the program, applicants may be required to take a full year, or just one semester of these prerequisites. Some programs require labs with coursework. Prerequisites vary so always check with each nursing program.

Financial Aid:

Funding Resources for Nurse Educators, but also contains funding information for nursing students (from AACN):

http://www.aacnnursing.org/News-Information/Fact-Sheets/Funding-Resources

http://www.aacnnursing.org/Portals/42/News/Factsheets/FS-Funding-Fact-Sheet.pdf

Nursing Scholarships and Financial Aid
 

Additional Resources for Exploring Careers in Nursing:

Quick Reference:

 

Other Health Careers

Public & Global Health

  • Career opportunities in public health are diverse, and include such fields as: health services administration, biostatistics, epidemiology, health education/behavioral science, environmental health, international health, maternal and child health, nutrition, and public health practice/program management. Learn more.
  • Every year OCS hosts several schools of Public Health as well as a Nonprofit, Government, and Global Health Fair. Please see Crimson Careers and our calendar for specific events.