Pre-professional programs position DSU students for careers in medical, legal fields

Jan. 29, 2019

This paid piece is sponsored by Dakota State University.

Quincy Bates came to Dakota State University as a softball player from Alaska, but she’s going to leave much closer to her planned career as a physical therapist.

That’s because of one of DSU’s many pre-professional programs. These degrees integrate with careers that require specific licensures, equipping students with knowledge and research opportunities as undergraduates that prepare them for the next step in their education.

For Bates, that meant a firsthand look at physical therapy while she earned her bachelor’s degree in exercise science.

“It was the program I was searching for,” she said. “I’ve been delighted with it.”

Other students feel the same way, according to DSU instructor Kari Hall. Pre-professional programs get them engaged and invigorated about their future work.

“Our students work closely with our faculty, which creates lifelong connections. They also gain exceptional experiences that enhance their academic profile,” she said.

“Students can graduate with an exercise science degree from DSU and then go on to pursue a professional program such as athletic training, medical programs, physical therapy or occupational therapy.”

Pre-professional programs position students for an additional two to four years of study after undergraduate work. In addition to physical therapy, the following programs are offered:

  • Accelerated nursing
  • Athletic training
  • Chiropractic medicine
  • Dentistry
  • Law
  • Medicine
  • Occupational therapy
  • Optometry
  • Pharmacy
  • Physician’s assistant 

Classes are smaller than average, allowing students to work closely in small groups and with instructors as they gain real-life experiences and build lasting relationships.

“These students possess real-life work experience, apply learned knowledge towards their profession, obtain work-related skills and have valuable connections,” Hall said.

Carefully crafted undergraduate degrees uniquely prepare students for their professional futures. For instance, a student going on to law school could earn a bachelor’s in cyber leadership and intelligence or business administration while building skills and connections applicable to a legal career.

A student planning to become a physician could earn a bachelor’s in biology while taking a curriculum designed to prepare for admission to medical school.

Pre-professional students often learn in a professional setting. They attend conferences, workshops and networking events, introducing them to physicians, attorneys, accountants and health care professionals.

They also gain skills through internships, apprenticeships and shadowing programs. A program called Handshake helps them make those connections starting online.

“It’s available to students looking for jobs and internships, and there are also conferences and professional memberships, which are required for specific classes as well as graduation,” Bates said. “These are all great ways to start networking and getting your name out there.”

In the physical therapy program, for instance, Bates and her fellow students can become members of the American College of Sports Medicine, attend a regional ACSM conference and create their own research initiative to present at an industry or DSU event.

“In my program, the goal after you graduate is to start working with patients. Having experienced a number of major and minor injuries myself, I can’t wait to assist and support individuals who’ve gone through similar, if not the same, situations as me,” Bates said.

“The program here provides me with exceptional training and tools to continue to advance my learning in the field. A lot of focus in our classes revolves around hands-on learning. It helps you gain experience and better understand what you’re doing, so you can comfortably perform exercises with your clients or patients. The classes are great, and my professors help whenever and however they can. I really appreciate that.”

For information about DSU’s pre-professional programs, click here.

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Pre-professional programs position DSU students for careers in medical, legal fields

Headed to law school, medical school or into another health care occupation? You can get a head start while still an undergraduate with these unique Dakota State University programs.

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