Journey a marathon, not a sprint for health majors

Courtesy Photo /
Academic Advisor Kelly McDonell

Courtesy Photo / Academic Advisor Kelly McDonell

College is a journey for any student at Grand Valley State University, some longer than others. Incoming freshmen have a lot of work ahead of them, especially those in the health care profession.

The CLAS Academic Advising Center on Tuesday held the event “First Year Pre-Professional Students: What You Need to Know” in Mackinac Hall. The program focused on starting a professional file for students in health care.

“We’re going to do things right and gear up for a marathon, not a 100-meter dash,” said Jo Ann Litton, senior academic adviser of pre-professional programs in the CLAS Academic Advising Center.

Kelly McDonell, academic adviser in the CLAS Academic Advising Center, also spoke to the over 20 freshmen and sophomore students in attendance Tuesday.

Litton and McDonell talked to students about their responsibilities as pre-professional health care students. Students were given information on their priorities for the next three to four years of college, and Litton and McDonell emphasized the importance of students being acquainted with faculty and advisers and doing the right research to ensure they have chosen the right profession.

McDonell shared her personal story of how she decided that she had chosen the wrong major, but it was too late.

“It’s good that you’re starting early and trying to decide what you want to do,” she said.

Litton and McDonell said students should get involved on campus immediately upon entering college. Litton said that no professional school wants a student who did nothing but study in college.

They said it is also important to network and cultivate professional relationships.

“It’s not what you know; it’s who you know,” Litton said.

They told students it is also beneficial to volunteer and do job shadowing while in college.

“What volunteering says is, ‘This is my moral fiber. This is the kind of person I am and I can work with people,’” Litton said.

Attendees and biomedical science majors Cindy Hacker and Travis Sadler both said they thought the program was helpful.

Sadler said that he enjoyed the intimate space of a classroom instead of an auditorium.

Hacker said it was helpful to learn about creating good relationships with advisers and faculty.

McDonell said the greatest benefit to the students who attended the program was the opportunity to learn about the offered resources at GVSU.

“As freshmen, a lot of people don’t know all of the campus support services,” McDonell said.

Litton said she hopes students left the program with their eyes opened to the work they have to do.

“It’s not an impossible task,” she said. “We have people placed in these professional schools every year but it doesn’t happen by chance.”

Hacker and Sadler both said they feel overwhelmed but more prepared for the future after the presentation.

Litton said doing a good job to prepare for professional school is a big job that cannot be accomplished in only a couple of years, which is why they begin educating students on the process as freshmen.

“Its coursework, it’s volunteering, it’s shadowing, it’s all of those things and you can’t just walk in and say ‘I had an epiphany, I want do this,’” she said.

For more information visit the CLAS Academic Advising Center at C-1-140 MAK.

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