New Advisor to Help Students with Health Profession Aspirations

Posted: August 24, 2006 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Robin Herron

Emil Chuck
Emil Chuck

Mason students and alumni who are interested in postgraduate study in the health professions – medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, veterinary science and others – have a new resource at Mason: Emil Chuck, the health professions advisor in Student Academic Affairs and Advising.

Chuck, who is also an assistant professor of biology, has taken on this new role to help students plan for a future in health professions and navigate the application process for the various programs.

Some of Chuck’s plans to accomplish this include

  • Developing a web site with suggestions on how to get experience in health professions
  • Hosting sessions with admissions representatives from schools offering health professions training
  • Speaking to groups on campus about health careers
  • Offering one-on-one counseling to students who are ready to begin the application process
  • Working with University Career Services to present programs featuring health careers
  • Developing relationships with area medical schools so Mason students can get volunteer and internship experience

Chuck stresses that even freshmen can begin thinking about their future in health professions. “It’s extremely important when applying to a medical school to have a record of dedicated interest, not only to get the experience but also to get professional references,” he says.

Based on his experiences and research, Chuck has some surprising insights about what a student should be concerned about when applying to a health professions program. The first is: the academic major.

“It really doesn’t matter what your major is,” Chuck says. “Even theater majors and history majors can consider going into a health profession.” If a student is short on science or biology courses, he or she can always take some as a nondegree, postbaccalaureate student.

The second is: when to apply. “Most medical schools want their students to have a one- or two-year break between undergraduate and postgraduate study to get some real-world experience,” he says.

What may make a student most successful in an application are demonstrations of personal attributes such as dedication, maturity, compassion, good communication skills, service and leadership, Chuck says. “All that grades and test scores get you is a seat at the table.”

One more surprising fact is the variety of opportunities for people in health professions. “The real world isn’t like what you see on TV shows like ‘ER’,” he says. “Human needs are not limited to hospitals and affluent areas. Some of the less glorified aspects of health professions are critically important.”

Students considering a health career might want to go into research, holistic health care or the administrative side of health care, for example. Chuck points out that some schools even offer interdisciplinary degrees such as an MD-JD or an MD-MBA.

While competition for spots in medical schools may be stiff, the job outlook for medical professions is good. “They’re predicting a shortage of doctors, dentists, pharmacists and even therapists in the next 10 years,” Chuck says, “especially those who can relate to people from diverse cultures.”

Chuck, who most recently completed a research fellowship at Duke University Medical Center, has a PhD in cell biology from Case Western Reserve University and will teach an introductory cell biology course in the spring. He can be reached at

Write to at