University of California, Riverside

Health Professions Advising Center

Extracurricular Activities

Getting Involved in Co-Curricular Activities


Another large misconception that many students have is that medical and other health professions schools are only looking for applicants with strong GPA's and test scores. Academic excellence is important, however, health profession schools look at applicants holistically; or in other words, they look for for a well-balanced individual who has pursued growth as much outside the classroom as inside and who has demonstrated a commitment to a health career through campus and community activities. These activities are the student's opportunity to demonstrate their commitment, leadership, service, responsibility and other personal characteristics that health professionals need to possess. Being able to handle both a full academic load and extracurricular activities also indicates to admissions committees that you are able to multitask well and effectively manage your time.
Below are examples of what we call "meaningful activities." These activities are just a few of the many on and off campus programs and organizations that students can become involved in during their undergraduate education. There are many other opportunities out there so please use this list as a guide and not a checklist.

For a list of student opportunities both on and off campus, please refer to "Student Involvement".

"Meaningful" Activities

Student Organizations

UCR provides many opportunities for students to join clubs and organizations. There is no "one perfect" organization for a student planning a career in the health professions, just the one you feel is right for you. Join organizations that you feel will best widen your perspective and exposure to the fields of medicine and health. HPAC works with several student organizations on and off-campus, and we encourage you to pursue interests about which you are passionate. The pre-health community at UCR is constantly growing and there is at least one student organization for almost every health profession you can think of. For more information on student organizations visit our "Student Involvement" page or visit

Medically Related / Clinical Experiences

Medically related experiences add to the service component of an application, but time spent in a clinic or hospital is also important in confirming your interest and suitability for a particular health career. There are many different ways to gain clinical experiences including: shadowing a health care professional, volunteering through a hospital's volunteer services or volunteer program, training as an emergency medical technician (EMT), working ins hospice or other healthcare settings, and working as a medical scribe at a hospital. For more information on clinical experience, opportunities visit our "Student Involvement" page.

Community Service

Being actively involved in the community demonstrates your interest and dedication to helping others and the community in which you live. In addition to providing a way to express these personal attributes, community service also provides an opportunity for pre-health students to learn about the communities in which they will provide health care and to give back to these communities. Our student organizations often have opportunities, as does the UCR Career Center.

Research/Scholarly Work

Many students believe that research is mandatory in order to apply to a health professions program. This is not true. Research is an optional experience and students should become involved if they are interested in the experience. Research can assist in evaluating your career decision. You can learn if you would prefer to pursue basic science research, clinical research, or research in any other field such as public health, public policy, anthropology, economics, etc. This experience is vital to developing problem-solving skills and your ability to be innovative in addressing any issue/ problem in the healthcare field. UCR is proud to offer a remarkable number of research opportunities to students during their undergraduate careers through the Undergraduate Research Portal.


Study Abroad

 Study Abroad Class in Cost RicaSpending time abroad during your undergraduate career can provide you with diverse experiences that can help you on your path towards a career in the health field. Benefits include learning a foreign language, working with other cultures, and completing humanitarian work. Although it can be an extremely rewarding experience, studying abroad requires careful planning and preparation, especially while trying to plan your busy pre-health class schedule. UCR's Study Abroad and HPAC can help you avoid the pitfalls that could slow your progress.

More Information 

General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

Department Information

Health Professions Advising Center
Rivera Library B03

Tel: (951) 827-6233

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