How to prep for a professional exam while being a professional student

Imagine a typical day: wake up in the morning, make breakfast, catch up on the news, and get ready to go out and have some fun! Before you get too happy, we all know this is not a typical day in the life of a college student; especially, not for a student trying to get into graduate school while also working part-time, taking classes, researching and volunteering.

Granted, everyone in college is busy with one thing or another, but the difficulty of studying for a professional school exam on top of the work you’re already doing can be immense. This, however, does not mean it cannot be done. In fact, here are some ways to manage your time, keep your morale up, and make sure you’re preparing appropriately for the professional school exam itself.

Staying on top of everything can be an enormous challenge, but one thing that makes this undertaking manageable is planning out what needs to be done first, finding a way to stick to that plan, and executing it in a timely fashion. The best way to do this is by using a calendar or planner, whether it be online or hard-copy, this is an absolute must to keep track of the multitude of activities you are involved with. Another helpful tool is sticky notes; these can be found on any laptop app. store and they elucidate short-term goals, putting them at the forefront of your to-do list. In terms of managing your time with respect to any non-class related activities (research, volunteering, clubs, extra-curriculars) – prioritizing is key. Prioritizing involves internal examination and an ability to discern what needs to be done now and what can be done later. This can be influenced by social pressures as well as personal motivations, but it is by far the most crucial aspect of time management – both in and beyond the classroom.

Here are some time-management workshops offered by the SASC that might help: http://success.ucdavis.edu/study-strategies/index.html

Once you have prioritized what needs to be done now, you can work on methodically attacking each task. Using a sample day from my life, I hope to show exactly what I mean:

Sam’s Schedule
7:00-8:25 AM:  Wake up, eat breakfast, get to school, pack study snacks, check emails
8:25-9:00 AM: Get to school, grab a coffee, walk to work
9:00-10:30 AM: Work at College of Biological Sciences – Peer adviser job
10:30-11:30 AM: Eat, clear my head, head back home,
11:30-1:00 PM: Go to the gym for a workout, shower, head back to school
1:00-2:00 PM: Review lecture material prior to class
2:00-4:00 PM: Lecture – MCB
4:15-8:00 PM: Study for professional exam (In my case, the MCAT), get dinner as well
8:00-9:30 PM: Have club meeting
9:45-12:00 AM: Study for my classes
12:00-12:45 AM: Head home, unwind, plan out next day

Now this is just a given day from my week, but it was particularly useful in showing how many activities and commitments a given student might have to deal with and how prioritizing involves doing some things more and ultimately saving other tasks for later.

Ideally, once something is planned, it should be set in stone and followed, but anyone who has planned something knows that this is not the case. Often times impediments or road-blocks appear and plans can be delayed or even foiled. In times when something does get in the way of your plan, you should deal with it first and find a way to make an adjustment to the plan you had made previously. Some of these road-blocks can involve adversity: emotional, academic, social and even personal. When adversity does strike it is important that you keep your morale up, approach the issue in a positive light, and take it one step at a time. This means that no matter how devastating something might be, you have to know that you can overcome it. Furthermore, keeping your morale up, entails staying healthy mentally. This means not overloading yourself, being able to have a social outlet, communicating feelings with others, and having some personal time. A small way to help yourself in this department is to set aside some slots of your schedule as personal time, kind of like what I do from 10:30-11:30 AM in my schedule.

There are also numerous services that help with this offered by SCHS and can be found here: https://shcs.ucdavis.edu/services/mindspa.html

https://shcs.ucdavis.edu/services/massage.html

Lastly, the professional school exam itself is meant to be one of the criteria used for selecting students into a specific graduate program. This means that it is substantially difficult in nature and a huge test of a student’s skills they have accumulated as an undergraduate. Studying for the exam presents many challenges to a student, especially during the academic year – he or she must find time to balance their current workload, commitments and activities while preparing specifically for their exam. Doing this is enormously difficult but vastly rewarding as well. To help yourself, you may consider scheduling an appointment with Health Professions Advising ( http://hpa.ucdavis.edu/ ) or explore using a test prep company such as Kaplan, The Princeton Review etc. If you implement the proper planning skills, make sure to keep your morale up, and methodically approach your professional exam then you have put yourself in the best position possible to succeed and make your dreams a reality.

All the best and good luck,
Sam Bhatnagar

Peer Adviser – College of Biological Sciences

4th Year Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Major

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Resources for Pre-Health Students

Are you interested in medicine but do not want to take the long path and 663go through medical school to reach your dreams? Have no fear, the medical field is extremely broad and you can still have a career within the health field without having to go to medical school. Pretty exciting right? Without further ado, let us talk about some of the resources UC Davis offers if you are considering a health profession.

One of the resources you should visit would be Health Professions Advising (HPA). Joanne Snapp, the Director of Health Professions Advising, has many resources about different health professions. Some of these professions may include Dentistry, Nursing, Physicians Assistant, Occupational Therapy, Veterinary Medicine, Clinical Lab Specialist, Genetic Counseling, and many more. Joanne Snapp also has many workshops that are geared towards specific professions as well as general workshops for anyone interested in health professions. She also lists out required and recommended courses, success stories, process of applying/interviewing, and information about different schools. All this information is accessible on the HPA website where a student is also able to schedule an appointment.

Another helpful resource that is available to you is the Internship and Career Center (ICC). If you are interestedcommunity_outreach in health professions, the best way to “try out” the career is through an internship. This way you would be able to experience the daily life of that profession and see if that is something you would enjoy doing for the rest of your life. Speaking from experience, internships were the key elements that guided me to my current career path. I have participated in multiple internships where I was able to gain hands-on-experience that I would have never learned from a textbook.

In October, UC Davis co-sponsors The Annual UC Davis Pre-Medical and Pre-Health Professions National Conference, which is a great resource to gain knowledge on different health professions. This is the largest pre-medical and pre-health conference in the nation and it is a completely student run organization. This year around 2,000 speakers will be attending from various schools and programs such as Pharmacy, Nursing, Public Health, Podiatric Medicine, and many more. The conference offers more than 350 workshops where you are able to gain insight and engage with speakers on a more personal level. I would highly recommend attending this conference, as it will expand your knowledge and allow you to get a wider understanding of the various health professions available.

The UC Davis Study Abroad is another useful resource because they have medical-internglobal health internships. Their internships are across the global and some of the locations may include: Bolivia, South Africa, India, Peru, and many more. This is great opportunity because you are able to travel as well as gain hands-on-experience in diverse locations, which is great because when the student comes back to the United States they have a new health perspective as well as increased cultural-sensitivity.

The last valuable resource is health professions student organizations. UC Davis offers hundreds of different student organizations and these organizations help you get involved. By getting involved, you surround yourself with other students who have similar career goals and they are able to give you tips and encouragement along this career journey.

As you can see, UC Davis highly values pre-health students and wants to offer many ways for students to find their own success as a health professional. Most of these resources are free of charge so make sure you take advantage of these wonderful opportunities while you still have the chance!

Rufa Pazyuk
BASC Peer Adviser
Second Year, Biological Sciences Major

Health Professions Advising (HPA): Resource Highlight

HPA LogoWelcome back fellow students! I hope you all had a wonderful Spring break and are ready to tackle this new quarter. Now that the bulk of the school year is behind us and you are more or less settled into your academic groove, it is a perfect time to start thinking about the possibility of a professional health career! Some of you may already be decided on a health career and some of you may just be curious about the various options available. Fortunately for you, UC Davis has a wonderful resource for all students considering a health profession!


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Joanne Snapp, M.S. E.d.

Health Professions Advising (HPA) is a great resource to turn to if you are interested in a health career. In order to help you better understand this campus resource, I interviewed Joanne Snapp, the Director of Health Professions Advising. Joanne was kind enough to answer the following questions:

  1. What is the mission and what are the core values of Health Professions Advising?

The Office of Health Professions Advising serves all UC Davis undergraduates, graduate students, and alumni pursuing any health profession or allied health field.  Advisers use a holistic approach while providing support and feedback during academic and application preparation. We encourage students to be proactive and reflective during their career decision-making. Our goal is for students to become successful applicants who demonstrate compassion, leadership and a commitment to academic success throughout their journey toward a health professions career.

  1. What do you hope that students get out of utilizing Health Professions Advising?

I hope that pre-health students will feel supported when pursuing whatever health field they choose. I hope they trust the office as a reliable resource for accurate information and honest feedback. My goal is for each student to reach their career goal, but also to be realistic and reflective when making those decisions.

  1. What types of students should seek Health Professions Advising?

Health Professions Advising is for any student seeking a career in a health or allied health field, including veterinary medicine.

  1. When during their undergraduate careers do you recommend that students look into Health Professions Advising?

Students should begin attending HPA events as soon as they realize they may be interested in a health field. At the beginning of each quarter, I offer first year and second year class meetings. The sooner a student begins attending their class meeting, the better. I will cover all of the basics and more about being successful on this journey. Each meeting builds upon the next. I try to offer a presentation every day so that students have plenty of opportunities to come ask questions.

5. Is there a website or a Facebook page that students can visit to access all of the different Health Professions Advising resources?

Students should visit https://www.facebook.com/healthprofessionsadvising and/or http://hpa.ucdavis.edu/


 

sciences_laboratory_building
Sciences Lab Building

As you can see, HPA provides a wealth of both information and support in order to help students gain the tools necessary to succeed in reaching their career goals.

If you like what you hear so far, you may schedule an appointment via email: HealthProfessionsAdvising@ucdavis.edu.

If you have any questions you may call: 754-9256.

Additionally, the HPA office is located in 1011 Sciences Lab Building.

Also, keep your eyes peeled for upcoming events hosted by HPA throughout the quarter. Each quarter is filled with events such as meet and greets, small group advising, webinars, seminars that focus on different majors or professions, and many more! As Joanne mentioned, these are available for all undergraduate students, including transfer students, as well as graduate students, and alumni. You can keep yourself updated on these upcoming events through the Facebook page mentioned above.

Take care.

Daiana Bucio

BASC Peer Adviser

3rd year Genetics and Genomics major

 

Career Spotlight: Lawyer

Do you enjoy negotiating with others, defending your opinions, and rationalizing through difficult situations? Are you quick on your feet and able to analyze situations with a critical eye? If so, a career in law may be a good fit for you. As a science major, pursuing a law degree may be off the beaten path, but it is a great opportunity to enter into a career where your degree in science is viewed as a unique asset.

According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, lawyers “advise and represent individuals, businesses, and government agencies on legal issues and disputes.”  Job opportunities for lawyers is expected to grow 10% from 2012 to 2020, which is about average for most occupations. A lawyer offers advice and counsels clients on legal rights and obligations, as well as aids in interpreting the law. Researching precedents (earlier interpretations of the law and the history of previous judicial decisions) makes up much of a lawyer’s work, because doing so is necessary in order to offer sound advice and make informed decisions. There are many types of law that one can specialize in. As written by the State Bar of California, these include:

  • Criminal Law
  • Family Law
  • Taxation Law
  • Estate Planning, Trust, and Probate Law
  • Environmental Law *
  • Patent Law *

 


 

Preparing for Law School

Most law schools require a Bachelor’s degree. As with medical schools, law schools accept students with a wide range of majors. Despite this fact, most pre-law students generally major in economics, political science, or history. A major in science can therefore be uniquely beneficial. Having a science background gives students an upper edge in that they have working knowledge of scientific processes and have been taught to think critically, which is a very important aspect of practicing law. Unlike other professional schools, most law schools do not have pre requisite requirements, but be sure to research specific law schools you are interested in to check on this.  You can read more about how to prepare for law school, as well as find help attaining internships to get experience, by visiting the Internship and Career Center (ICC).

Aside from a Bachelor’s degree, law schools require taking the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT). The LSAT consists of five 35 multiple choice questions and measures reading comprehension, analytical reasoning, and logical reasoning. Preparing for the LSAT is an essential part of preparing for law school, as law school admissions look at applicant’s GPA and LSAT scores as primary factors when admitting students.

After law school, students must pass a licensing exam, commonly known as “the bar,” in order to practice law.

Common Specializations in Law for Science Majors

There are a variety of common specialties of law that are applicable to students with a Bachelor’s degree in science. An example of one of these specialties is Patent Law.  Patent law involves working in areas of medical malpractice, medical or pharmaceutical patents, and intellectual property of medical or biological products. All of these specialties require a working knowledge of science and technology. According to educationportal.com, patent law is the most common specialty that students with a science background choose to pursue.  Patent lawyers specialize in an area of law protecting the rights of new inventions. Applying for a patent is a lengthy process that requires the expertise of a patent lawyer who is well equipped and trained to interpret the law, provide legal documentation, and critically analyze new biological products.

Another common specialization for students with a science background is Environmental Law. Environmental lawyers specialize in regulations, laws, and disputes relating to the environment. Environmental lawyers help increase awareness on climate change, alternative energy sources, and other sustainability issues. According to the Environmental Law Institute, the need for environmental legal expertise is expected to grow in the coming years due to an increase in legal legislation involving protecting the environment from greenhouse gases and global warming.

Both patent lawyers and environmental lawyers typically have a Bachelor’s degree in one of the following: chemistry, biology, physics, or electrical, civil, or biomechanical engineering.


Lawyers are some of the most educated and highly compensated professionals in the United States. The median annual pay rate for lawyers in 2014 was $130, 530. Considering a career in law may be a great option if you are passionate about the sciences and interested in legal rights and how they affect society.

Summary of Resources

U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics: A governmental agency that collects, processes and analyzes labor statistical data for the American public.

State Bar of California: This website offers information for both current and future lawyers on how to best practice law as well as advance their careers.

Law School Admissions Test: Here you will find all information on how to register and prepare for the LSAT. This website also  breaks down how to understand your LSAT score, and details the steps of applying to Law School.

Environmental Law Institute: The mission of this institute is to offer innovative law and policy solutions regarding how best to improve the environment.

 

Sincerely,

Zoe Lim
BASC Peer Adviser

 

Nursing: Master’s, Associate’s & Bachelor’s Degrees

Are you interested in teaching people to stay healthy and manage their illnesses? Are you interested in consulting with various health professionals to help the well-being of a patient? If you answered yes, then you may be a Nurse in the making!

There are various types of nurses with different credentials. The first form of nursing is a general Registered Nurse (RN). To become a Registered Nurse, a master’s degree is not required. There are three paths to become a Registered Nurse:

1. Bachelor of Science degree in nursing (BSN)

2. Associate’s degree in nursing (ADN)

3. Diploma from a nursing program.

In addition to a general Registered Nurse there are advanced practice registered nurses (APRN), which include Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners (NP). These three different specialties require a master’s degree from an accredited program.

1. A Nurse Anesthetist assists before, during, and after surgical procedures. They practice in every type of setting in which anesthesia is delivered. This can range for hospitals, dentists’ offices, to plastic surgeon’s clinics.

2. A Nurse Midwife mainly provides care for women, which includes gynecological exams, family planning services, prenatal care, and attendance during deliveries.

3.  Nurse Practitioners provide advanced nursing services to patients. An NP is an advanced practice Registered Nurse (APRN) who completed coursework and clinical education beyond that of a general registered nurse.

Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN) and general Registered Nurses work in similar environments. Nurses working in schools or physician’s offices tend to work normal business hours, but nurses working in hospitals, which provide round-the-clock patient care, may work nights, weekends, and holidays.images

Many nurses are known for their communication skills and compassion. Nurses are known for their personal role with patients because a patient is typically with the same nurse throughout his or her visit at the hospital. Learning another language can be beneficial in this line of work because communicating with various individuals is an important part of being a nurse. Being able to learn languages in classes also helps future nurses become more aware of the different practices of various cultures. Many nursing programs require prerequisites before entering the program, such as human physiology,  general science, or communication courses. For specific information on applying to nursing programs please see additional resources.  Nursing is an overall self-fulfilling career if you are looking to heal and help others.

Additional Resources:

BLS.gov – Occupational Outlook Handbook for Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners & Registered Nurses

UC Davis Internship and Career Center

Pre-Nursing Preparation at UC Davis

Quick Stats

Entry-Level Education:

Registered Nurse:

  •  Associate’ Degree
  •  Bachelor’s Degree
  • Diploma from approved nursing program

(Must pass the National Council Licensure Examination)

Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Anesthetist, & Nurse Midwife:

  • Master’s Degree

(Must be a registered nurse and pass a national certification exam)

UC Davis majors which may be of interest but are not required:

  • Biological Sciences
  • Human development
  • Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior

UC Davis minors which may be of interest but are not required:

  • Biological Sciences
  • Human Development
  • Spanish

Median Pay (as of 2012):

  • Registered Nurse (AA/BA): $65,470 per year /$31.48 per hour
  • Nurse Practitioner (MA): $96,460 per year /$46.37 per hour

Career Spotlight: Dentist

Do you see yourself to be a highly respectable healthcare provider for your community in the future? Would you like to treat pain with the latest instruments and diagnose symptoms with computer software? Do you like working with people in a team effort? Are you interested in pursuing a career that offers a good balance between your professional life and private life? Would a profession that allows you to practice both art and science be enjoyable for you? If so, you may want to consider pursuing dentistry as a career.

According to University of California, San Francisco School of Dentistry, “Dentistry is the art and science of maintaining the health of the teeth and surrounding oral structures.” It involves physical evaluation of patients, prevention of oral and dental diseases, disease diagnosis, and therapy. Furthermore, it is a dynamic health profession that is continuing to grow due to an increasing realization that oral health can have a serious impact on systemic health. If the eyes are the windows to our souls, then our oral cavities are the windows to our health, often serving as a means to detect the early signs and symptoms of systemic disease. For example, systemic conditions such as AIDS or diabetes usually first become apparent as mouth lesions or other oral problems. In fact, according to the Academy of General Dentistry, more than 90 percent of all systemic diseases produce oral signs and symptoms.

Dentistry is a very versatile profession. For example, according to explorehealthcareers.org, general dentists may do the following (in addition to many other procedures):

  • Use the latest techniques and equipment to examine the head and neck and oral cavity to identify and diagnose oral conditions that may manifest into systemic disease and determine the oral health of the patient.
  • Use the latest radiographic, computer-generated imaging, and other specialized diagnostic techniques to identify diseases of the teeth, supporting bone and gingival tissues, and other tissues in the oral cavity and head and neck.
  • Restore and replace teeth damaged by decay, lost from trauma or disease, with newly developed dental materials, implants, and crown and bridge techniques.
  • Perform corrective surgery on gums and supporting bones to treat gum disease.
  • Extract teeth when necessary using the most up-to-date anesthetic techniques.
  • Eliminate pain arising from oral diseases, conditions and trauma, making use of prescriptive medicines to reduce pain and discomfort.
  • Correct mal-positioned teeth to improve chewing, speech, digestion of food and appearance.
  • Oversee the administration and business of private practice and frequently employ and supervise a large number of staff and allied dental personnel to help treat their family of patients.
  • Evaluate the overall health of their patients including taking and evaluating comprehensive medical histories.
  • Provide instruction and advice on oral health care and preventive measures to maintain healthy oral tissues and prevent oral disease.
  • Provide instruction and advice on oral health care, including individualized diet analysis, brushing and flossing techniques, the use of fluoridated products and other specialized preventive measures to maintain healthy oral tissues and prevent oral disease.

The same source also estimates that full-time dentists who work in private practice allocate approximately 36 hours per week, of which 33 hours/week is spent treating patients. Many have great flexibility in determining the number of hours per week they choose to work, the procedures that they want to work on, the materials that they want to use, as well as the assistants that they want to work with.


To apply to dental schools, most applicants have at least a Bachelors degree.  Furthermore, preparation for dental school requires that certain prerequisite courses be completed and that applicants take the Dental Admission Test (DAT). A competitive DAT score is around a 20-22. More information about the DAT may be found at the American Dental Association website.

Below is a general summary of those prerequisites that will differ slightly depending on the school of interest:

  • Inorganic Chemistry: 1 year with lab (CHE 2ABC)
  • Organic Chemistry: 1 year with lab (CHE 118ABC; CHE 128ABC+129ABC also acceptable, and other combinations of organic chemistry may be acceptable for some schools)
  • Physics: 1 year with lab (PHY 7ABC; PHY 9ABC also acceptable)
  • Biology: 1 year with laboratory (BIS 2ABC + 1 additional lab, such as EXB 106+106L or NPB 101+101L or BIS 101+MCB 160L or MIC 101, because BIS 2A does not include a lab)
  • English: 1 year (any 3 courses in ENL, COM or UWP; 2 quarters of composition highly recommended;ESL, English 57 and communication not acceptable by most schools); check individual schools for exceptions (e.g. UOP) and restrictions (e.g. UCSF)

Besides the didactic prerequisites, admission committees highly suggest that the applicant have a solid idea of what the profession is about. Students are encouraged find a shadowing position or internship position that would give them adequate exposure to the field of dentistry. In addition, the admission committees will look at the applicant’s work experience, research experience, volunteer experience, and extracurriculars. To get started, joining the Pre-Dental Society at UC Davis to meet other pre-dental students.

Once a student is in a DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery) or DMD (Doctor of Dental Medicine) program (both degrees are the same according to the American Dental Association), all U.S. licensing jurisdictions require evidence that a candidate for licensure has passed Parts I and II of the written National Board Dental Examinations. Each examination is composed exclusively of multiple-choice test items. Part I is a comprehensive examination covering the basic biomedical sciences, dental anatomy and ethics testlets. Part II is a comprehensive examination covering clinical dental subjects, including patient management.


According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for dentists was $149,310 in May 2012. Employment of dentists is projected to grow 16 percent from 2012 to 2022, faster than the average for all occupations. Lately, the profession has enjoyed favorable recognition in lists of the “best jobs” according to many sources, including U.S. News and CNBC

Hopefully you found this to be a good introduction into the profession. You can also find information about the preparation for dental school by checking out the guidelines provided by the Student Academic Success Center.

Sincerely,

Wilson Ng
BASC Peer Adviser 2014-2015

 

 

Career Spotlight: Financial Analysts

Have you ever been interested in stocks, bonds, or other investments which have an emphasis on biotechnology, health services, and medical products? Would you be interested in helping an individual make an investment decision or conduct analyses on environmental companies? Do you like biology and finance? If you answered yes to any of the above, then Financial Analysts may be the job for you!

A Financial Analyst is a business guru who helps individuals or companies make investment decisions. They study the stock market, bonds, mutual funds, make recommendations to different investments, and provide strategies to save money. A biological sciences major would have a very similar job description except it will focus more on administering analyses of biotechnology, pharmaceutical, medical products and evaluating scientific resource towards developing and existing products.

Financial Analysts have a variety of job locations. Some examples include, working at a bank, at man-at-computera large corporation, or for an individual. This is perfect for anyone, whether they may be an extrovert or an introvert. The extrovert will benefit at a large corporation, where social and enthusiastic personalities thrive. The introvert, on the other hand, will enjoy working more for an individual, a more low key environment.

Some requirements one must meet in order to become a financial analyst, is to obtain a Bachelor’s degree and have efficient math skills, analytical skills, communication skills, computer skills, writing skills, decision making skills, and be detail orientated. It is also important to take courses in statistics, marketing, accounting, investment analysis, business law, and ethics.

UC Davis majors that are favored but not required: Computer Science, Biological Sciences, Physics, Economics, Mathematics, and a major within the Engineering department.

UC Davis minors that are useful but not required: Biological Sciences, Computer Science, Economics, Professional Writing, Energy Science and Technology, Environmental Policy Analysis and Planning, and Technology Management.

Medium Pay (as in 2012):                                                                                                                    $76,950 per year                                                                                                                                  $37.00 per hour

Links to find more information about Financial Analysts:                                                                      United States Department of Labor (Bureau of Labor Statistics)                                                  WiseGEEK (Financial Analyst)                                                                                                                     Chron (Degrees Needed)                                                                                                                               Investopedia (Becoming a Financial Analyst)

Rufa Pazyuk                                                                                                                                               BASC Peer Adviser                                                                                                                                           Second Year, Biological Sciences Major