April Spotlight: Scott Simpson, MS
Scott Simpson is a Career Counselor in the Pre-Health Student Resource Center. He has worked in the PHSRC for 16 years. Scott grew up in St. Cloud, MN. When he went off to college, he decided to move across the border to the University of Wisconsin-Lacrosse. As a college student, he was challenged to figure out what to major in, pondering the merits of one academic discipline over the other, believing that that one, single decision would result in the revelation of a clear, logical path. Eventually he majored in Political Science and Public Administration. Reflecting back, he learned that the need for "certainty" in a career can get in the way and be incapacitating. After graduating Scott took a couple of gap years moving to Portland, OR and Hood River (Windsurfing!). Eventually he found his way back to Minnesota, Scott enrolled in the M.S. Counseling and Student Personnel program at Minnesota State University-Mankato. Prior to coming to the University of Minnesota, Scott worked with college students as the Director of Career Services at Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa - Go Kohawks!
You're the instructor for AHS 1101: Orientation to Health Careers, a course that helps students explore health programs and careers. From your perspective, why is it valuable to learn about all the different health careers before pursuing one?
As a college student, I would have liked something similar to AHS 1101, it would have also been helpful for me to use the Career Services office on campus! For health professions, students are familiar with what they are exposed to, perhaps through an annual checkup from a physician or dentist, but there are so many health careers that students just aren’t aware of! In AHS 1101, students have the opportunity to reflect on their personal and work values, interests, and personality style and overall simply learn more about who they are. With this gained self awareness students are able to compare and contrast that information with what they hear and learn from our 20 + different speakers who come into class to share insights into their health profession. The value in learning about all the different health professions before pursuing one is that you are now familiar with the path ahead and moving forward you know what it is going to take to put together a competitive application for your health profession.
We're getting into the application season for many health programs! What are some of the qualities you see in the strongest applicants?
While the metrics (GPA /test scores) are important as programs get a sense of an applicant's ability to do the science heavy work required. In a holistic review process, I often share with students that you are never just a number, a GPA, and that there is a story behind every GPA, and admissions does try to tease out that story.
For me, what comes to mind with qualities of a strong application I have seen are those applicants who have a good sense of self, paired with an ability for self reflection. For any applicant it’s not so much what you did, but more so what you learned, how you grew, how you changed from those experiences you had. That self-awareness and ability for reflection allows one to articulate how they have demonstrated the competencies and qualities that are most important for their particular health profession.
One other quality that I see in strong applications revolves around how an applicant builds their portfolio of experiences. Often students get overly focused on thinking about “what counts” or what “looks better” in the eyes of admissions counselors. A piece to the experience building process I like to see from students is when a student also pursues experiences outside of healthcare. When that happens, while reading those experience descriptions you can almost sense the passion and drive regarding a particular cause, a population they have advocated for, or involvement in a hobby or interest. I like to share with an applicant that you are not just bringing your healthcare interest into the profession, you also bring your whole self into that profession as well.