Recruiters set sights on TWU pre-health students April 2

pre-health fair poster

March 19, 2024 – DENTON – Five years ago, Ann Davis spearheaded a concerted effort to upgrade the profile of Texas Woman's University's pre-health programs to promote its students.

"We saw a need," said Davis, PhD, division head for TWU's Undergraduate Studies in Biology, faculty director for Joint Admission Medical Program and lecturer II in the biology division. "We pulled together a bunch of data, and identified the things we need to do to address this need. It's working. We're doing something that makes a difference."

On April 2, TWU will celebrate the success of those efforts.

For the first time, TWU will host a pre-health fair in conjunction with Texas Association of Advisors for the Health Professions. The event will take place in the southwest ballroom of the Student Union at Hubbard Hall from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

If you're not a pre-health student, that may not sound exciting. But it speaks volumes about the quantity and quality of pre-health students being produced by TWU, and it means that TWU has increased its visibility within the pre-health community to the point where representatives from more than 50 professional schools and graduate programs are coming to campus to recruit soon-to-be alumni.

"It really is such an amazing opportunity," said senior Sarah McHaffie, who plans to attend medical school. "It's a really great way for students to network and find opportunities, which can be intimidating or hard to find without guidance."

"This year is the first that I've really felt like it's time to host something like this on our campus," Davis said. "The advising program has really gained a lot of ground. We've been able to make a lot of changes that have really helped support our students, make sure they have the information that they need, the resources they need and the support that they need to be prepared for applying to professional schools, to be prepared to go to professional school and be successful. So we've actually seen an increase from 2019 when we started rejuvenating our advising program. We've about doubled our medical school acceptance rate since then. That has been a tremendously encouraging thing to have happen, to see our students going into the application process with confidence, knowing that they're ready, knowing what they need to do to be successful."

The term pre-health is a broader version of pre-med, describing undergraduate students taking courses to prepare themselves for education in the medical, dental, physician's assistant, pharmacy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, optometry and veterinary fields.

"I know that there are going to be maybe scholarship opportunities from certain organizations," McHaffie said. "I'm a senior, and I'm taking the MCAT (medical college admissions test) in April, then I'm applying to medical school this summer. So it's really imperative that I look around, see if they have any resources. Navigating testing prep, especially at an institution where there's so many first-gen students including myself, can be really difficult trying to get information, trying to get experience."

TWU has rapidly grown its population of pre-health students. Davis estimates 150-200 pre-medical, dental and physicians' assistant students, plus those students in physical and occupational therapy who are advised through the College of Health Sciences.

"We don't have as many dental or veterinary applicants, but they're the next group of students that we really want to get information out to them and bring them along as well," Davis said.

The fair is one stop in a series of recruiting fairs organized through the Texas Association of Advisors for the Health Professions, a statewide organization for health professions advisors. The week of April 2 will include stops around the Dallas-Fort Worth area. After the fair at TWU, there will be a similar event later that afternoon at the University of North Texas.

"It's a way for the undergraduate advisors and admissions representatives to communicate with each other, share information and make sure our students have the information that they need. And the programs know that they're getting students who know what they're doing and are ready," Davis said. "By coordinating pre-health fairs on undergraduate campuses the same week within a particular area, it makes things so much easier for the admissions recruiters.

"It'll hopefully get the attention of students who are early on in the process, get them thinking about their next steps and what they need to be doing right now," Davis said. "The fair is more for students who are kind of towards the end of their undergraduate program and are looking at really nailing down which career path they want, and then looking at different schools and saying what specific school or type of school they want. Figuring all of that out is really important. Think about what you would want to know about a program that you can't just find on their website, because that's a lot of the value of an event like this. And we've got people coming from not just Texas, but from around the country."

TWU's pre-health programs can also boast of its students earning honors from TAAHP, which offers annual scholarships to an undergraduate, a first-year medical or dental student, and two first-year students in a professional program other than medicine or dentistry. This year, TWU alumni are receiving two of those scholarships.

  • Isabel Goyco graduated summa cum laude in May 2022 with a bachelor's degree in biology, was a member of the TWU gymnastics team and was a two-time national champion in floor exercise. She is a medical student at Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine at UNT Health Science Center in Fort Worth, and will receive the Kaplan Achievement Award for Graduates.
  • Angel Shibu graduated summa cum laude in May 2022 with a bachelor's degree in biology. She is a physicians' assistant student at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, and will receive the TAAHP Achievement Award for Graduates.

"It's been a banner year for medical admissions for us," Davis said. "It's cool to see. We've had so many different people come together on this. Academic advisors, chairs and division leads and heads from a bunch of different programs. We've got staff who are involved in this process and faculty who mentor our pre-health student organization. There's a lot of people who are pulling together to try to make sure that these students are successful.

"It's been a lot of time, effort and energy. There's been a whole bunch of people involved. Our students are incredible people. All they really needed from us was just a little bit of information about what are we supposed to be doing when. They have such incredible stories, and they have such amazing experiences and skills that a little bit of guidance on sort of the hidden rules of the process is all most of them need to spread their wings and fly."

For more information, visit the TWU Spring 2024 Pre-Health Fair website.

For more information on TWU's pre-health program, visit the Pre-Health Resources website.

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Page last updated 10:42 AM, March 19, 2024