Pre-health organizations gear-up undergraduates for future

Students who wish to be in the pre-health field at UC Davis may have different majors, but many strive for one goal: to pursue their fields of study after graduating and ultimately help others.

Both the Nursing Club and the Foresight Pre-Optometry Club help students interested in pursuing nursing or optometry careers beyond their UC Davis education.

The Foresight Pre-Optometry Club aims to provide both academic and social support to students who are willing to learn more about the profession of optometry. Members are mainly given all the information needed about the process of applying to optometry school.

“I decided to join fall of my sophomore year after having spent my first year at Davis as an undeclared major and exploring various career options,” said Teresa Nguyen, a fourth-year psychology major. “Optometry was the path that made the most sense to me. It’s clean, comfortable and fits my personality.”

For member Ece Turhal, a fourth-year biochemistry major, the most important part is the screening process for children in the community. Students administer a basic acuity test and refer them to a professional if they notice anything is wrong with the child’s vision.

“It is a very rewarding feeling. Considering about 80 percent of the information we learn comes through our eyes, vision is very important for a developing child. Children don’t know how clear they’re supposed to see, so they may not complain about not being able to see to their parents and teachers. So, our job is to make sure they can indeed see the board and learn,” Turhal said.

Aside from screenings, the club also helps students become more competitive applicants by having them participate in the club’s various activities throughout the year. With the help of their health sciences advising pre-optometry peer advisor Tiffany Phan, the club has guest speakers from optometry schools and students are able to meet with optometry school recruiters and visit optometry schools in California.

“We work closely with Prevent Blindness Northern California and participate in many of their events. We also have many optometry schools come and talk to us about their programs and talk about the admissions processes. We have seminars where we learn about the OAT and how to use OptomCAS to make applying in the future simpler. Also, the meetings are a great opportunity to talk with peers about classes — which classes to take, when and with who,” Turhal said.

This quarter, the Vision Service Plan, one of the largest eye care providers in America, came to talk to the students about their company and what they have to offer students who are interested in private practice. The club also holds social events, including a Thanksgiving potluck, and game nights. During spring break for the past couple years, the club has planned a trip to SoCal to see optometry schools such as the Southern California College of Optometry and Western University of Health Sciences.

“This is a great opportunity to not only bond with fellow members but to get a feel for the schools we visit. There are so many helpful people in the club, it would be silly not to come talk and get to know them. I feel more comfortable with the application process and I got to hear presentations from the schools I was interested in. I made friends, improved my grades, got experience and solidified my decision of becoming an optometrist,” Turhal said.

For those who are interested, the Foresight Pre-Optometry Club meets every other Wednesday from 6:10 to 7 p.m. in Wellman 26.

Similar to the Foresight Pre-Optometry Club, the Nursing Club educates many students who are interested in pursuing nursing after graduating from UC Davis.

The main purpose of the club is to inform pre-nursing students about the different graduate and accelerated programs in nursing. It also provides students with information about prerequisites for nursing schools, along with information about internships and volunteer experiences relevant to the nursing field.

“I wanted to meet other like-minded people with [the] same long-term career goals. I think it’s [a] great resource in learning more about nursing, especially at a school like UC Davis that doesn’t have an undergraduate nursing program yet,” said Amanda Jones, a third-year psychology major.

The students aid each other in pursuing their goal of becoming nurses, whether it be in picking classes, choosing what programs to apply for or informing each other about research or internship opportunities. They also have many guest speakers from different nursing universities’ admissions committees come and talk at the meetings as well as current UC Davis students or alumni who have been accepted to nursing school.

Students in the club volunteer at Sutter Oaks Nursing Center in by helping with holiday card delivery, helping at themed parties and spending time with patients.

Aside from learning about nursing, students have the time to enjoy each other’s company through pizza socials or bracelet-making at the Atria Covell Gardens.

“It has really opened my eyes to the different specialties in nursing and what it takes to get into a nursing program. It has enabled me to meet a ton of awesome people. It’s a great place to hear inspirational people too, and has really solidified my decision to pursue nursing as a career,” Jones said.

For those who are interested, the Nursing Club meets about twice a month on either Wednesday or Thursday in Olson 118 at 7 or 8 p.m.

ALICE LEE can be reached at features@theaggie.org.

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