Nutritional Sciences provides an excellent background for those interested in pursuing professional degrees in human or veterinary medicine; degrees in dentistry, pharmacy, physical therapy, nursing, public health and other health professions.
Medical & Dental School
OPSA can advise you realistically on whether your credentials show promise for admission to medical or dental school, but only you can decide if that is what you truly want to do. One way to explore your interest is to volunteer at a local hospital or dental office. You can also observe or shadow a physician/dentist or talk to professionals in the field. Another way is to read information about professional schools and medicine/dentistry as a career. Be sure to join one of the campus pre-health organizations.
The dental hygienist works as a member of a professional health care delivery team. While each state governs the practice of dental hygiene, the primary specialties of the practitioner are treating and educating patients in the control and prevention of oral disease. Typical duties include evaluating and charting oral disease and conditions, removing deposits from the teeth, exposing and processing dental radiographs, and applying preventive agents to the tooth surfaces. Dental hygienists may be employed by general dentists or dental specialists in a variety of venues.
- Dental Hygiene Brochure
Occupational therapists assist individuals to develop, recover, or maintain daily living skills and work readiness and/or performance. These patients learn/relearn many of the day-to-day skills necessary to for an independent, productive, and satisfying lifestyle. Occupational therapy is the use of purposeful activity and intervention to maximize the independence and maintenance of individuals limited by a physical injury or illness, a cognitive impairment, psychosocial dysfunction, mental illness, or developmental or learning condition. OTs may be employed at hospitals, clinics, rehabilitation facilities, extended care facilities, schools, camps, or in the patient’s homes.
- Occupational Therapy Brochure
Optometrists are concerned with the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of abnormalities associated with a person’s optical system. Doctors of Optometry (O.D.) evaluate the refractive status of the eye, as well as the selection, design, provision, and adaptation of corrective measures for the eye. Optometrists may also be involved in work place design and in the creation of a highway’s lighting and marking system. Observation in at least one optometry setting is required along with letters of recommendation. A strong academic history and interviews are important admission factors, too.
Pharmacists dispense drugs prescribed by physicians and other health practitioners and provide information to patients about medication and its uses. They advise health care providers on the selection, composition, and effects of drugs. Compounding, the actual mixing of ingredients to form powders, tablets, capsules, ointments, and solutions, is only part of a pharmacist’s practice. Most medications are produced by pharmaceutical companies in a standard dosage and form. Pharmacists are employed in hospitals, clinics, health maintenance organizations, home health agencies, government agencies, nursing homes, community pharmacies, pharmaceutical companies, and some are self-employed.
Physician assistants provide patient care under the supervision and direction of a licensed physician. Their duties include obtaining patient histories, performing physicals, running diagnostic and therapeutic functions, and other duties as needed. PAs may assist anywhere from surgery to treating minor wounds, allowing specialization. Employment is available in hospitals, clinics, private practice, nursing homes, or schools.
The primary responsibilities of a physical therapist are to test, evaluate, and treat patients with acute or prolonged motor dysfunction. Treatments are planned and implemented to restore normal health and function to the body. They use a variety of physical agents, such as massage, heat, cold, water, and electricity. Physical therapists may elect to specialize with certification in areas of pediatrics, geriatrics, sports medicine, cardiopulmonary, or electrophysiology. PTs work in hospitals, clinics, private practice, nursing homes, home health agencies, or schools.
Registered nurses are employed in a variety of roles such as private care providers, administrators, educators, practitioners, and consultants. The aim of nursing is to provide support, to improve or correct certain conditions, and to prevent illness. Nursing incorporates several skills, including problem solving, communication, and ethical judgment. There are three ways to become a registered nurse. The first is a two-year associate degree program offered at junior or community colleges. The second is by completing a four year baccalaureate degree in nursing at a college or university. Lastly, a student with a non-nursing Bachelor’s degree may enroll in a twelve to twenty-four month baccalaureate program or a Master’s level degree program in nursing. There are many of these programs across the state, each with its own prerequisites and admissions criteria.
OPSA provides advising and guidance for students interested in professional programs. http://opsa.tamu.edu/OPGSA_ProfessionalPrograms.shtml