Prehealth at NYU: It’s Not a Major—It’s a Path

Cat Richardson

The prehealth program at NYU prepares you for and advanced degree—while letting you keep your academic pursuits and career options flexible.

A decorative motion animation depicting a pill bottle and geometric shapes moving around it.

Health fields are constantly evolving, and the need for dynamic thinkers has never been greater. For this reason, the Salant Prehealth Program prepares students for an advanced degree in different health fields while providing the flexibility to select from hundreds of different majors and minors. If you choose to be prehealth at NYU, you will build a foundation in critical thinking and engage with the world on many fronts. You will also bring your interests together to create an academic experience unique to you. Most importantly, you will gain the tools to be successful in whatever career you ultimately choose—even if it doesn’t exist yet.

 

Nursing students dressed in scrubs

The Picture of Health

The challenges and opportunities in the field of health require problem solvers who can think outside the boundaries of traditional disciplines. That is why prehealth students at NYU can choose any major they want. At the same time, they build an excellent foundation in STEM and writing. All together, this ensures that they meet the criteria for applying to medical, veterinary, dental, and optometry schools. “This is extremely beneficial for students at NYU,” says Zahin Ahmed. He is a Neural Science major at the College of Arts and Science. “It gives you a chance to explore different fields that you are interested in and be a flexible thinker.” And in the end, everything connects: economics, communication, and genetics all play a role in our health.

The prehealth program is also a source of community, support, and opportunity. “I have gotten great advice and guidance from prehealth advisers,” says Zahin. “They make sure you’re on track and can help you create a four-year plan of coursework.” The program also hosts talks from medical school deans and application overview workshops. Additionally, it connects students with research, clinical, and volunteer opportunities. Through these experiences, they gain valuable knowledge and determine if a health career is the right fit for them.

Two students sitting in a science lab wearing lab coats.
A student studying the human skeleton using a plastic model

Who Can Be Prehealth?

A Mechanical Engineer Keeping His Options Open

“I didn’t come to NYU to be prehealth, but it was in the back of my mind as an option,” says Levi Olevsky. He is a junior at the Tandon School of Engineering majoring in Mechanical Engineering. “I went to college with an open mind,” he adds. He knew that his major wouldn’t necessarily set his future career in stone. “I chose Tandon because I was on my high school’s robotics team, which opened up the field of engineering.” And even though he has declared a major and is on the prehealth track, Levi is still keeping his options open. “Mechanical engineers can pivot to lots of fields, so it seemed like a good foundation.”

For Levi, prehealth combined the problem-solving he values in engineering with a more humanistic element. That’s why, after his first year at Tandon, he contacted a prehealth adviser who helped him plan. Does he see engineering and prehealth as related? “I’m interested in working with the musculoskeletal system, maybe as an orthopedic surgeon,” he explains. “Helping maintain the structural integrity of the body is very related to mechanical engineering.”

He is also considering Tandon’s minor in Biomechanical and Biosystems Engineering, and he is interested in how prosthetics are created and improved. To gain real-world experience, Levi has been shadowing a sports medicine doctor. In addition, he was recently accepted to become a volunteer at Lower Manhattan Hospital. He also finds community as the secretary of the Tandon Prehealth Student Board. “We share opportunities and bring everyone together for peer-to-peer learning,” he says.

A Neural Science Student With Day-One Certainty

“I’ve known for a long time that I was interested in medicine,” says Zahin. He has served in leadership roles in the NYU chapter of the American Medical Student Association and NYU’s peer-reviewed medical journal, Medical Dialogue Review. “Coming to NYU, I wanted to commit to trying it out.” And as he immersed himself in the prehealth community, Zahin’s interest in medicine grew immensely.

His commitment to prehealth never wavered. But choosing a major was a journey. “I planned on being a Biology major. It was the safe choice for me,” he explains. “I knew I was good at it. But in my Principles of Biology II course, we got a glimpse into the world of neurons, action potentials, and the nervous system and I was hooked. I had never considered neural science before, and my decision to choose it was based on the excitement that it brought me and the challenge that it posed.” Zahin does not regret his ambitious decision. “My prehealth and neural science friends will be lifelong ones. Our bonds are strengthened by marathon study sessions,” he says.

Zahin also made research an integral part of his experience at NYU, working as a research assistant for two professors. “In Dr. Karen Adolph’s Infant Action Lab, I worked with her team to study infant motor development,” he says. “Then, in the Visual Neuroscience Lab led by Dr. Tony Movshon, we studied the mammalian visual system. There, I specifically focused on visual motion perception. I have had the privilege of working with and learning from some of the top professors and researchers in their field. I know that I will hold the knowledge I gained with me for a long time.”

The NYU Health Community Responds: Mobilizing Against COVID-19

NYU is home to faculty, staff, and students who are at the top of their fields. What’s more, they value their communities and are agile responders. As a prehealth student at NYU, you will work alongside people who care. This community faces every challenge with a spirit of compassion, innovation, and teamwork. At the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, NYU hit the ground running. We not only pivoted our research, we also mobilized for community service, health care, and guidance to limit the virus’ impact—and to keep New York City safe.

NYU Langone Health was on the front lines of treatment and recovery for COVID-19 patients. Meanwhile, over 50 students from the NYU Grossman School of Medicine graduated early to join the efforts of their colleagues. Additionally, the NYU community has had a hand in everything from gene sequencing the virus to understand its spread to using data to model its growth and predict who may be most susceptible. They have also created policy recommendations that aim to protect the most vulnerable. And they have donated personal protective equipment and food to those in need.

The NYU COVID-19 Task Force continues to leverage NYU’s intellectual and technological resources. They are researching quicker testing methods, creating open-source designs for face shields, and developing 3-D–printed respirator components and ventilator splitters, among many other initiatives. To learn more, visit NYU’s COVID-19 response page.

Student seated in clasroom

How To Get Involved In Prehealth

There are a lot of ways to gain prehealth experience outside of the classroom and connect with classmates who share your interests. “I have really enjoyed being a part of the prehealth community,” says Zahin. “It’s nice to see the same faces over the years as you progress through the curriculum together.”

The NYU chapter of the American Medical Student Association (AMSA) connects undergraduates to a network of medical professionals. At NYU, AMSA hosts events like medical student panels as well as MCAT prep sessions. They also organize volunteer excursions and tutoring sessions. This year, they even launched a peer mentorship program.

Many student clubs, including the Pre-Vet Club and the Pre-Dental Society, convene prehealth students for exploration of the field and community service.

The Medical Dialogue Review is NYU’s peer-reviewed student-run medical journal. Articles range from discussions of public health to reviews of recent medical journal publications.

Majors and minors in many NYU schools provide prehealth experience. To begin with, check out the NYU School of Global Public Health. Then take a look at majors and minors at CAS, Tandon, and Steinhardt that include Genetics, Biomechanical and Biosystems Engineering, and Nutrition and Dietetics, to name just a few.