Pre-Health Spotlights

Learn more about alumni and partners with an interest in CLA pre­-health studies.

Emily Carstens

Emily Carstens

CLA Student, Biology, Society, and Environment
Entering the Program in Physical Therapy at the University of Minnesota in fall 2017

What did you do during college that helped you prepare for your future career? 

When applying to graduate school for Physical Therapy, they require you to have a set number of volunteer/observation hours. I took this requirement and tried to volunteer at as many different types of PT clinics as possible. I volunteered at 5 different clinics/hospitals and ended up having a job as a PT aide, which also counted towards my experience. Not only did this help fulfill a requirement, it helped me learn so much more about the profession I wanted to go into.

What makes your story unique? 

I wasn't the perfect 4.0 student. When you tell people you're applying for a Doctor of Physical Therapy program or applying for medical school, everyone assumes you're a straight A student and that you don't do anything besides study. Like every other student, there were classes that I struggled through all semester. Just because I struggled and didn't get an A, doesn't mean that I failed. It's not easy to balance work and school but in the end, we as students need to give ourselves a break and just do our best!

Vincent Barnett Photograph

Vincent Barnett, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
Director of Undergraduate Studies in Physiology

What experiences can help students explore their interests and decide on a health profession?

Many of our students are involved in more than one campus group. The Undergraduate Physiology Society is one group that they’re often involved in, but there are other pre­-health groups that students can participate in that are very useful. I also think that taking advantage of the advising services that are available here at the university can give students perspective, help them to set up internships, etc. Shadowing experiences can give you an idea of what it’s like to work in different healthcare fields. 

Margaux Jensen Photograph

Margaux Jensen

Third Year Doctor of Pharmacy Student
CLA Alumna, Biology, Society, and Environment

How did you decide that pharmacy was the right fit? 

I had a lot of experiences in undergrad, especially with BSE and CLA, that helped me confirm that pharmacy was the right path for me. An inpatient pharmacy volunteer experience was really huge in helping me decide. Working as a pharmacy technician was a huge part of it also, as well as being really involved in pre­-pharmacy club. Working with other pre­-health students within my program and in my classes was also really helpful in confirming that pharmacy was right for me. 

How did you find people to shadow? 

I shadowed a lot of pharmacists as an undergraduate student. I met almost all of them through pre­-pharmacy club. We had speakers come to every meeting in all different areas of pharmacy. They were all so helpful and there because they want to share their experiences and want to help people in the position they were in before. They would come to meetings and speak with us, and then I would talk to them afterwards and ask if I could shadow. They were all supportive and very receptive to having students come. 

Stephen Setterberg Photograph

Stephen Setterberg, MD

President, PrairieCare
Child, Adolescent, Adult & Research Psychiatrist
CLA Alumnus, Philosophy Major

What would your advice be to students who are interested in health professions and are considering what major to choose? 

The main advice I would give to students would be to choose the thing you’re most interested in. Don’t worry about the statistics for what major is going to get you accepted, because really, it’s not about the major. In fact, if you choose a humanities major, your odds are just as good as a physics major or chemistry major to get into medical school. It doesn’t make sense to do that unless that’s the thing you really want to do. Otherwise, go where your passion is. That will pay off later and will give you choices that you might not have otherwise had. 

How did your philosophy major uniquely prepare you for a career as a psychiatrist and business leader? 

My philosophy major gave me a couple of advantages that I might not have otherwise had in my career as a physician and a psychiatrist. In terms of my leadership roles in medicine, what the philosophy degree did for me was enhance my ability to look at underlying assumptions. Whether it’s a matter of policy decisions or questions of business strategy, or even sometimes scientific questions, I was much more sensitive to the underlying questions that had gone unexamined that maybe provided new solutions. One gets that from the scientific method, but I think one gets it in a different way from a philosophy background.

If you would like to be featured in CLA Pre-Health Spotlights or have someone that you would like to nominate, please email with your information.