Resources for Students & Alumnae of Distinct Populations (Preparing to Apply to Health Profession Schools)

A crucial topic in healthcare today is how to eliminate inequities in the quality and availability of medical care for ethnic, racial, social, and economic minorities. There is an urgent need to increase both the diversity and cultural competence of our health care workforce. Learn about:

Resources for Underrepresented Students and Alumnae 

Barriers that prevent students from becoming health professionals include lack of financial resources, lack of exposure to health professionals, limited educational opportunities, disabilities, and experiencing cultural, racial, or gender adversity. As they review applications, health professions schools may be interested in learning about disadvantages and obstacles that an applicant encountered on the path to becoming a health professional.

There are a variety of programs and organizations that support underrepresented students who seek careers in health care. Take the time to learn more about these. Many standardized test services and application services offer Fee Assistance Programs to assist students and their families with the expense of health professions school applications. Students with disabilities should not be reluctant to request accommodations for tests, interviews, etc. Health professions schools may have Diversity Officers who can share insights into the resources offered at their institutions. Many health professions schools also offer enrichment programs, summer opportunities, scholarships, and group support services. Explore the web sites of the schools to which you may apply. Join Wellesley student pre-health organizations to find support and information among your peers.

A Sampling of Programs Supporting Underrepresented or Disadvantaged Students

The direct websites of each school are the best places to go for further detail and up-to-date information.


Admissions Initiatives Supporting Native American Students

The direct websites of each school are the BEST places to go for further detail and up-to-date information.

  • The Native American Center for Health Professions at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health focuses on five primary objectives as part of their mission: Enhance recruitment of Native students to UW health professional schools and programs; Improve the Native health professional student experience; Establish and enhance Native health education opportunities; Recruit, retain and develop Native faculty; Grow Native health academic programs, in both research and education, with tribal communities.
  • University of North Dakota and University of South Dakota both participate in the Indians Into Medicine Program (INMED™), a comprehensive program designed to assist American Indian students who aspire to be health professionals to meet the needs of our tribal communities.
  • Each year, the Indian Health Service (IHS) sponsors two medical students to attend the Uniformed Services University for the Health Sciences (USUHS) in Bethesda, MD. The USUHS mission is to train, educate and prepare uniformed services health professionals, officers and leaders to support the military health system; US national security and national defense strategies; and the readiness of our armed forces. Physicians are trained in several primary care specialties and provide direct health care and disease prevention services. A USUHS education is at no cost to the student. Participants can draw a full salary and rank as a junior officer while attending the 4-year medical school program. In return, USUHS graduates commit to a 10-year service commitment with the US Public Health Service in a high-priority site designated by the Director, IHS.


Resources for Pre-Health Students & Alumnae With Disabilities

Many of our students, staff, faculty, and alumnae at Wellesley College have disabilities that impact their lives. Disabilities can be acute or chronic, and may have physical, learning, psychological, and/or sensory manifestations. Defining disabilities can be complicated, as they can vary in severity and in the challenges associated with them. Fortunately, many individuals with disabilities can be accommodated. If you have a disability and are thinking about a career in the health professions, it’s important that you educate yourself about your rights and resources.

Public campaigns are in place to increase awareness of the importance of having workers with disabilities in health professions careers. Evidence supports that people with disabilities enrich health professions educational environments and improve the care of patients. Healthcare providers with disabilities report that by drawing on their own experiences and challenges, they are able to provide informed and compassionate care and advocacy for others. Because of this, health professions schools and employers are striving to support trainees and employees with disabilities.

If you have a disability and are considering a career in a health profession, start learning about your opportunities now. The ADA requires schools and employers to provide reasonable accommodations unless they fundamentally alter a program or pose an undue burden to the institution. Many schools publish technical standards, which are criteria for entering and completing a health professions degree. These standards are often broken down into five essential functions: observation, communication, motor function, conceptual and quantitative analysis, and social skills. Exact standards vary by schools. Examples of accommodations to achieve these technical standards include extended test time for a student with a learning disability, a magnifying device for a learner with a visual disability, or a convertible wheelchair that allows a student with paraplegia to stand at a surgical table. 

Begin by talking with advisors in Career Education and Accessibility and Disability Resources at Wellesley College. Health professions schools and programs and admissions testing services usually have disability services experts as well, so look for disability information on websites and don’t hesitate to contact them with questions you have.

  1. For Admissions Tests: What types of accommodations are available through your admissions test service, what do I need to do in order to request accommodations, how long will the approval process take, and will my scores reflect that I received an accommodation when they are reported to schools?
  2. For Individual Schools/Programs: Is your institution welcoming to applicants with disabilities, is there someone on your staff who will assist me with requesting and using accommodations, and are your technical standards achievable with accommodations?

Some applicants are reluctant to inform health professions schools about their disability because they are worried this information may negatively impact their consideration for admission. It is entirely up to you whether you wish to reveal personal medical information at the time of application. Reflecting on challenges you’ve faced due to your disability as a fundamental part of who you are and why you are pursuing a career in the health professions may be an important part of the story you wish to tell in your application. Talk with your health professions advisor about this if you have questions or concerns. Note that by bringing up the need for accommodations earlier in the application process you can discuss with schools why you require accommodations, how challenging it will be for them to provide accommodations, and what documentation you will need to request accommodations. If you have a physical disability, it may be important to address your accommodation needs with an admissions officer or disability expert prior to visiting the school for an interview.

  1. Accessibility And Disability Resources at Wellesley College
  2. The US government enacted The Americans with Disabilities Acts (ADA) of 1990 to ensure that people with disabilities have equal opportunities for jobs, schools, transportation, and access to all public and private places that are open to the general public. Employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified applicants or employees.
  3. MGH Institute of Health Professions Disability Services: An example of how one health professions program supports students with disabilities
  4. AAMC: Paving the Way for Medical Students, Physicians With Disabilities
  5. 4 Tips for Medical School Applicants with Disabilities: US News and World Report 6/13/17
  6. Docs With Disabilities Podcast with Lisa Meeks


Resources for International Students Applying to Health Profession Schools

Note: For up-to-date information for international students, please visit the Slater International Center and speak with their staff.

It can be particularly challenging for international students to be accepted into US health professions schools. Many schools do not allow international applications, and those that do often accept international students in small numbers. It is also difficult to obtain funding as an international student, and some schools will ask students to place money in escrow or prove in some other way that they are able to cover their educational expenses. In general, applicants who are permanent residents are viewed similarly to applicants who are US citizens.

International students should refer to individual school websites to determine whether applications are accepted from international applicants. Rules for Canadian students vary, depending on the school. Students interested in research can explore application to MD/PhD programs, as independent funding may be available though those programs.

International students who are interested in taking a gap year before applying to medical school will need to check in with the staff of the Slater International Center staff to learn about issues such as visas, permits to work in the US during a gap year, and whether they should choose an academic major that will facilitate their request to work in the US.

Here are some references that may be helpful to international students seeking admission into US health professions schools:

Resources for Undocumented Immigrants/DACA Status Students and Alumnae

Note: For up-to-date information for undocumented immigrants/DACA status Wellesley students and alumnae, please visit the Slater International Center and speak with their staff.

Although it may be challenging to apply to health professions schools as an undocumented immigrant/DACA status student, there are schools that welcome applications as well as resources available to help you.

An undocumented immigrant is a foreign-born person who doesn’t have legal permission to be in the US. In 2012, the Obama administration granted temporary relief from deportation for certain unauthorized immigrants who entered the US as children, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). DACA status confers a lawful US presence, social security number, work authorization, and the allowance for participation in medical residency training. Some, but not all, health professions schools welcome applications from undocumented immigrants/DACA status applicants. For example, the Medical School Admissions Requirements (MSAR), an online resource offered by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), reports individual school policies regarding DACA applicant status in the "Application Policies" section within the "Admissions" section. Many schools and programs have more detailed information on their websites.

Undocumented immigrants/DACA status students have united to create resources for undocumented immigrants/DACA status students interested in pursuing careers in healthcare and in the sciences. Visit their website, Pre-Health Dreamers and read the information there including their FAQ Guide to learn more about applying, choosing schools, financing an education, scholarships, internships, residency programs and more. 

Below is a partial list of medical schools that have reported to the AAMC a willingness to consider DACA applicants (check individual school websites for updates):

  • Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California
  • Stanford University School of Medicine
  • University of California, Davis, School of Medicine
  • University of California, Los Angeles David Geffen School of Medicine
  • University of California, Riverside, School of Medicine
  • University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine
  • University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine
  • University of Connecticut School of Medicine
  • Yale School of Medicine
  • Georgetown University School of Medicine
  • Emory University School of Medicine
  • University of Hawaii, John A. Burns School of Medicine
  • Chicago Medical School at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine & Science
  • Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine
  • Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
  • Boston University School of Medicine
  • Harvard Medical School
  • University of Massachusetts Medical School
  • University of Chicago Division of the Biological Sciences the Pritzker School of Medicine
  • St. Louis University School of Medicine
  • Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine
  • Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth
  • Rutgers, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
  • University of New Mexico School of Medicine
  • Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University
  • Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons
  • Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
  • State University of New York Downstate
  • State University of New York Upstate
  • Stony Brook University School of Medicine 
  • Weill Cornell Medical College
  • Duke University School of Medicine
  • University of North Carolina Chapel Hill School of Medicine
  • Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania
  • Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University
  • Vanderbilt University School of Medicine
  • University of Utah School of Medicine
  • University of Vermont College of Medicine
  • University of Washington School of Medicine

Talk with your health professions advisor about your goals, plans, and concerns.