When I committed to Hopkins, countless people from my high school asked if I wanted to become a doctor. While a significant percentage of our student body is pre-med, not all of us hope to attend medical school one day.
At Hopkins, by simple observation, there is a strong emphasis on pursuing a career in medicine, leaving fewer resources to support students interested in health careers outside the pre-med track.
In general, there is limited exposure to allied health professions such as nursing, therapy and clinical psychology at Hopkins. I’ve heard countless people complain about how they dislike being pre-med despite still being interested in the health field. Many students are simply unaware of the abundance of other professions available to them.
To respond to this overwhelming need, a group of current undergraduate students and Life Design educators are working within the Life Design Lab to improve allied health resources and opportunities. More specifically, senior Jeremy Costin and I are currently conducting interviews with students and alumni in allied health professions to better understand the needs of students.
In these conversations, some common themes emerged about the experiences of allied health students at Hopkins. Many noted that not having an advisor was detrimental to their experience. Other students explained how the University simply did not have all the classes required for their careers. A number recounted receiving little to no guidance on how to apply to graduate school and often resorted to asking upperclassmen or recent graduates for assistance.
One example is recent alum Kate Carosella, who graduated with a degree in psychology in 2018.
"I needed to forge my own path in terms of finding research opportunities at the medical campus. And even then it was sparse and frustrating... there weren't really any actual [clinical psychology] research opportunities outside of Dr. Papadakis' lab,” she said. “It wasn't until after I left Hopkins that I actually got the opportunity to do actual psychology PhD work.”
Another example is the nursing program. Hopkins does not have an undergraduate nursing major, but we do have one of the best nursing schools in the country. Despite this acclaimed program, Hopkins students who want to pursue nursing must take classes at other universities in order to satisfy the requirements to apply to nursing school.
Overall, allied health students suffer from a lack of resources and advising. They are forced to navigate their career paths alone, and have devised unofficial mentoring programs for upperclassmen to aid underclassmen in the absence of structured support. Senior Talia Feingold put it this way, “As a tour guide at Hopkins, people always ask me: ‘I am pre-dental. Should I come to Hopkins?’ I feel weird telling them to come unless they are pre-med.”
Conducting these interviews has guided us to form our overarching goals for this project: increase exposure to different options in the health field besides medical school, and then provide allied health students with ample resources about required classes, extracurriculars, exams and more that are analogous to the surplus of pre-med resources available. We are also aiming to create a robust alumni network and mentorship program for allied health students.
Allied health students are important and deserve to be supported with resources, opportunities, advisors and classes. Currently, the University is severely underserving them. This needs to change. If you want to share your story as an allied health student, you can fill out this form.
Asha Duhan is a sophomore from Ithaca, N.Y. studying Neuroscience and Public Health. She is a Peer Educator for the Life Design Lab.