The PREP

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One of my favorite things about this past summer was the opportunity I had to participate in the Health Professions Readiness and Enrichment Program (HPREP) at Campbell University, where I was offered admission to the DPT program for this coming January. Although I will not be attending Campbell, HPREP was a very helpful and enlightening experience. The HPREP program was a week-long consortium of interview tips, a personal statement workshop, labs, research symposium, and the most fun- getting to know the student mentors, Campbell faculty, and my 89 fellow participants. I’m here now to share a bit about my experience at HPREP and the key takeaways which I believe aided me in being accepted to a DPT program.

My involvement in HPREP began when I applied in January of the second year of my Masters program. A close friend of mine had participated the year prior and had nothing but good things to say. I submitted transcripts, a letter of recommendation, and a personal statement detailing why I was interested in physical therapy (HPREP is great for all pre-health students, but caters specifically to PT, DO, PA, Pharmacy, Public Health, and Clinical Research). For the few months that followed, I was certain that either Campbell hadn’t wanted to accept me, or that they had forgotten about me, because I didn’t hear anything for a while. However, I was stoked when I finally got the acceptance email- though I knew very little about what I was getting myself into.

HPREP took place in late May, just a few weeks after my Masters graduation, and just a couple of days following my medical mission trip to Mexico, so I was pretty worn out. The first day at HPREP, we checked in and I realized that the administration had paired roommates based on like interests, and my roommate and I were even more alike than either of us could have imagined! We were an upbeat combination of soccer-playing, coffee-drinking needing, Charleston-obsessed, physical therapist hopefuls and, even though we spent only a week together, she knows more about me than some people whom I’ve known my whole life!

So I had my first HPREP friend and I was refreshed and ready to take on the rest of the week, and absorb all the information that was about to come my way- and boy, was there a lot of it. We got to participate in a simulation lab where we completed an initial assessment, checked vitals, and administered medication- all on a life-like robot using real-life medical equipment. I actually started to stress out about losing the fake patient! Not to worry though, we saved him 😉 In that week we were also given sample personal statements of pre-health students who had all been accepted to Campbell’s various health professions programs to give us an idea of what and what not to do as we wrote our admissions essays. For the DPT program, it was a little different, because Campbell does not require a personal statement, but rather 3 short essays addressing the issues Campbell DPT is most passionate about: rural healthcare, interprofessional education, and diversity. Essays were a big point of insecurity for me going into applications, so this part of HPREP was definitely helpful in easing my anxiety.

We finished out the week with a scavenger hunt (no comment on whether or not we won…) and a service project. The service project consisted of putting together dental kits for an amazing non-profit known as “Danilo’s Cares,” which provides services and care packages for underprivileged youth in Honduras. Compiling the kits with my new friends was a blast, and I was so humbled and honored to meet a representative from Danilo’s Cares, as it helped us to put a face to the mission.

As I got to know admissions staff, professors, and current DPT students at HPREP, I began to understand that, sometimes, it’s not what you know, and it’s not who you know- it’s who knows you. Although we were all at HPREP to become better applicants, we were essentially interviewing for the school while we were there. It was expected that we would present ourselves professionally and attend every session with a positive and open mind. I saw many of the students, faculty, and administrators that I met at HPREP when I revisited Campbell for my interview this past July. Although my actual interviewing professor was unfamiliar to me, seeing so many friendly faces who remembered my name made the interview process fun- almost like a second HPREP. This was especially true because I interviewed that day with two of my fellow HPREP-ers; we were excited to be reunited and even got to stay in town for free the night before at the beautiful home of one of our HPREP student mentors, a current 2nd year Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine student and official awesome person.

Of course, a preparatory program like HPREP is in no way required to gain admission to graduate school. However, if you do have access to a program like this one, I would highly recommend that you utilize that opportunity. HPREP greatly decreased the anxiety I felt about applying to graduate programs and introduced me to an amazing group of people who I still keep in touch with and continue to miss every day. Overall, 12/10.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Start early, start early, start NOW. It’s never to early to start your [insert health profession here] education. Prep programs, GRE/MCAT/DAT/PCAT courses, resume workshops (many universities offer these), shadowing, mock interviews, and practice essays can boost your confidence- and your chances- as you take on applications when it comes time. Applications can be an overwhelming time, and it is important to be as prepared as you can, especially if you need to get applications in early for Early Decision or rolling admissions programs.
  2. Numbers matter, but they don’t have to define your application. I’m sure you’ve heard this before, and you will surely hear it again, but it’s because it’s the truth- you are more than your GPA. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try in your classes, of course. Many schools won’t even interview students who do not meet certain numerical requirements. However, well-roundedness is where it’s at. You don’t have to do everything- and frankly, you won’t be able to- but getting involved in volunteer work, research, sports (intramurals count!), student ambassadorships, shadowing, leadership positions, faith-based groups, Greek life, etc. is a great way to show aspects of your interests and personality beyond your academic capabilities. Don’t be afraid of any academic hiccups you do possess- you can’t change the past, but you can control how you improve your work for the future. Check out my tips for Campell’s DPT-specific work below!
  3. Don’t be afraid to reach out to students and faculty at the schools you’re applying to. They’ve seen the program first-hand and are the best source of an honest perspective on the curriculum and all that the program has to offer. Some of my most informative conversations regarding admissions and PT school overall came from speaking with current 1st and 2nd year DPT students about their experiences. They weren’t afraid to tell me how difficult and demanding their studies were, but that they were so grateful for their new Campbell family and that they were truly enjoying themselves, and believed that Campbell provided them the tools to be fantastic clinicians and informed consumers of research post-graduation.

Tips for Applying to Campbell DPT that Worked for Me:

  • Get your shadowing hours in a variety of settings
  • Volunteer/get some sort of experience in rural areas
  • Volunteer/work/shadow in a hospital or somewhere else where you can witness the benefits and challenges of interprofessional work
  • Start keeping a list of your extracurricular involvement and honors (it’s easier to remember all that you’ve done if you document it as you go or as you remember, rather than trying to recall it all at once)

Other NC Prep Programs to Look Into:

  1. UNC Chapel Hill MED
  2. ECU Summer Program for Future Doctors

Check out some of my favorite moments of the week below!

Now it’s your turn- don’t forget to comment below! Accepted to a graduate program? What helped you to get there? Starting applications soon? What are you most looking forward to about the process!? Have you done or are planning to do a prep program? Tell me about your experience! Know of any that I haven’t mentioned? I’d love to add them to my list!

❤

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