The health care sector offers diverse opportunities in clinical, research and administrative settings. Opportunities range from patient care and advocacy to research, health care policy and public health. While these careers are often very rewarding — both personally and financially — many require a minimum of four to eight years of education before beginning a career. Explore this section to learn what kind of health care career is right for you.
- What Can I Do With This Major: This site offers a list of career paths sorted by common majors
- Explore Health Careers: This multidisciplinary, interactive website offers extensive information on clinical and nonclinical career paths in health care
- Mynextmove: Explore possibilities in health care and match your skills
- Occupational Outlook Handbook: This site provides an encyclopedia of careers you can use to find out about different roles, education requirements, salaries and more.
- Medical School Applicant Guide: Learn about what you need to be a competitive candidate for medical school.
- Vault Guides: This site offers a sample of careers in health care. Each guide gives, among other valuable information, an overview of the job and entry-level requirements.
- Public Health Careers: Explore major areas of public health employment to identify prominent occupations and relevant specializations, and provide employment and salary data.
Pre-professional health career advising
In spring 2020, pre-professional health advising moved within Career Services. If you are interested in learning about the track options, declaring a pre-professional health advising track, or finding out what it takes to maintain your track, you can find that information on the Pre-Professional Health Hub in Canvas.
The guides below are designed to help you explore what it takes to be a professional healthcare practitioner and connect you to resources within each field.
- Pre-occupational therapy
- Pre-physical therapy
- Pre-physician assistant
- Pre-veterinary medicine
VCU Career Services offers career advising for students pursuing pre-health majors. The guides below are designed to help you explore what it takes to be a pre-health major and connect you to resources within each field.
If you are interested in learning about the various majors or parallel planning, you can find that information on the VCU Pre-Health Advising Blog.
Shadowing and volunteering are vital components toward understanding more about a professional field of interest. Shadowing involves following a professional throughout their day, observing the ins-and-outs of the profession as a whole. Volunteering allows you to actively perform tasks and make contributions to a workplace or organization.
Experiences with direct patient contact are highly regarded by most admissions representatives, and graduate and professional programs in health sciences require a minimum number of hours of shadowing experience. Most admissions representatives want to see that you give freely of your time to support your community as well.
MCV and VCU Health opportunities
- NICU shadowing
- Center for Trauma and Critical Care Education
- Pre-Medical Graduate Certificate Program
- Orthodontics shadowing
- Dental associated research opportunities
- Paid positions with VCU Health
- Dogs on Call
- VCU Life Sciences research opportunities
- VCU Community Memorial Hospital hospice volunteer
VCU Health Systems opportunities
VCU Medical Center is fortunate to have hundreds of volunteers that give of their time to help make the hospital a better place. This fast-paced environment provides many opportunities for those who want to serve.
- Volunteer services through VCU Health
- Deliver flowers and mail to the patients
- Read to children
- Calm nervous families of patients receiving treatments or having surgery
- Visit with patients
- Work in the Three Bears Gift Shop
- Assist in the clinics
Cross Over Ministries
Cross Over employees and volunteers are committed to upholding CrossOver’s vision of “creating a healthy, vibrant community where every person is restored by the compassionate, healing love of God.” For more information, visit Cross Over Ministry or contact Molly Smith, Volunteer Program Manager, at email@example.com or (804) 422-2600 ext. 119.
Health Brigade (formerly Fan Free Clinic) provides quality health services, especially to those least served, in a compassionate and non-judgmental environment.
Non-licensed volunteer opportunities:
- Medical Clinic Lay Volunteer
- Registration Volunteer
- Health Outreach Specialist Volunteer
Not all volunteering opportunities are available at all times.
Sheltering Arms Rehabilitation
The Sheltering Arms volunteer program assists in the fulfillment of our mission of providing rehabilitation services of the highest caliber with compassion and respect, enhancing the quality of life to those persons experiencing disabilities and offers financial assistance to those in need.
The following are just a few of the areas where volunteers serve throughout the organization:
- Information Desk
- Mail Delivery
- Medical Records
- Resource Library
- Human Resources
- Business Office
- Patient Care
- Club Rec
Contact the Volunteer Service Department for more information.
The Virginia Home
The Virginia Home provides loving, lifelong residential care to adults with permanent physical disabilities. Each member of our care team is committed to service with dignity, dedication and compassion for the 130 residents who live here. Volunteers are truly the heart of our Home.
- Resident Companion
- Computer Assistant
- Community Outing Companion
- Department Assistance
Contact The Virginia Home volunteer opportunities to fill out an application.
Local hospitals and rescue squads
- Chippenham Hospital
- Henrico Doctors' Hospital
- John Randolph Medical Center
- Parham Doctors' Hospital
- Retreat Doctors' Hospital
- Hanover Emergency Center
- St. Mary's Hospital
- Memorial Regional Medical Center
- Richmond Community Hospital
- St. Francis Medical Center
- Forest View Rescue Squad
- Tuckahoe Rescue Squad
- Henrico Rescue Squad
Research experience is encouraged but not required in all healthcare disciplines or professional programs. If you are interested in attending a research-focused institution or applying to a research-heavy program, obtaining significant experience performing research will be an important part of your application. Contact faculty members who are undertaking research that matches your interests and volunteer in their labs.
The VCU Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) and Division for Health Sciences Diversity offer additional information. Contact Herb Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Joining a professional association opens doors to numerous opportunities. Professional associations allow you to connect with experienced professionals who can help you explore career options, alert you to internship or job opportunities and provide insight into current industry trends and practices. Many professional associations offer reduced or discounted membership fees to students.
ConnectVA: Database of nonprofits in Virginia, has the capability to search for health-related organizations, volunteering opportunities, and jobs
TheAgapeCenter: A listing of all health-related organizations’ local Virginia branches
RamsConnect: Explore more than 500 student organizations to to find the best match for your career interests, including:
- Delta Epsilon Mu Pre-Health Fraternity (DEM)
- Engineering World Health at VCU (EWH at VCU)
- Cancer Awareness Team (CAT)
- Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA)
- Project REACH
Before you start your application and interview process be sure to read through the Medical School Applicant Guide.
When applying for positions related to healthcare, tailoring your resume to is key. Highlight any research experience you have, both from inside and outside of class, as well as technical skills when crafting your resume. Consider including relevant coursework, especially if you have little experience in the field outside of class. This can demonstrate skills gained as well as interest and exposure to the industry.
Perhaps the most important tip for making your documents stand out is to use industry lingo. Review the position description, highlight key words or phrases, and reflect that same terminology in your resume or cover letter. This shows you have done your research and are familiar with the culture of the industry.
A cover letter is your chance to build a bridge between you and the position for which you are applying. Here is where you address how your relevant skills, experience, and personality can benefit them. This 1-page document should be personalized to the position/organization, as it will show you’re interested and will help you stand out from others in the applicant pool.
As you start to consider what to write in your personal statement, first ask yourself what they already know from your resume, cover letter, transcripts, letters of recommendation, etc. Consider what the reader doesn’t know that will help them decide that you will be successful in their program and therefore are a good investment? For most people, this often revolves around themes of why you want to pursue this field and how your experiences have prepared you thus far to be successful in this next step.
Strong personal statements achieve three objectives:
- State information about the applicant
- Illustrate the information through anecdotes or experiences
- Connect the information to the applicant’s candidacy for the program
Things to keep in mind
- Be yourself. Write honestly. Don’t use big words for the sake of using big words.
- Show. Don’t tell. Use stories to illustrate your main points.
- Demonstrate your knowledge of the field, without preaching. They are in the field. They already know.
- Be sure your conclusion makes an obvious connection to your next step in the field.
- Read it aloud. Have others read it. Make sure there are no typos or other errors.
- Personal Statement Guide
- Writing a Personal Statement
- Personal Statement Worksheet
- Personal Statement Rubric
Letters of recommendation
Letters of recommendation are often required for graduate programs, scholarships or fellowships.
While each program or school may have specific guidelines, most will require you to submit a number of letters of recommendation from professors, a supervisor or someone who can speak to your knowledge, skills, abilities and/or passion for the field.
When considering a person to ask to write a recommendation, make sure that the person:
- Knows you well enough to speak to your abilities
- Knows your work
- Is able to speak positively about you
- Is able to write a letter properly
When asking for a recommendation:
- Don’t wait until the last minute to ask. Your reference may have several other letters to write. Ask for a recommendation six to eight weeks prior to the deadline
- Find out if the program you’re applying to requires a form, a letter or both. If a form is required, make sure that you find it and give it to your recommender.
- Provide the recommender with everything they need to write a letter (e.g., forms, resumes or transcripts) at one time.
- Always write a thank-you note to the recommender.
The interview is your opportunity to share how your skills and experiences have prepared you to be successful in this role. Interviews take practice. Nearly all interviews contain two parts, common questions about your experience and situation-based questions to gauge your fit for the position. Afterward, you’ll be given the opportunity to ask questions of the interviewer.
While you cannot control the interview format or timeline, you can be prepared to speak about your relevant skills and experiences. Take some time to reflect on what you’ve done and how you can fill this organization’s need.
Many paid opportunities will require you to first complete a certification program to be considered, however, there are some that do not require certification. Talk to a career advisor about which option might work best for you.
Certification not usually required
- Patient care technician
- Nonmedical patient transporter
- Medical scribe/medical transcriptionist
- Patient services representative
- Dispensing optician
- Research/laboratory assistant
- Home care aid
- Certified nursing assistant
- Dental assistant
- Medical assistant
- Pharmacy technician
- Surgical technician
- Personal care aid
The Allied Health Education/Certification Program listing has more than 2000 CAAHEP-accredited programs that prepare entry-level practitioners in 25 health sciences professions.
The Community College Workforce Alliance prepares individuals with quality curriculum and job placement support required for a successful career in the healthcare industry.