Feb 2, 2024

New certificate to help health-sciences students get head start in health-care careers

Students, Education
Students in the lab
Photo by Matthew Dochstader
By Don Campbell

If there’s one piece of advice Candice Richardson has for undergrads wanting to pursue a career in health care, it’s to discover what they’re passionate about. 

“When I talk to undergrads who want to get into med school or any health-related program, I always say, ‘Pursue your passion,’” says Richardson, a third-year student in the MD Program at the University of Toronto's Temerty Faculty of Medicine. 

“Your undergrad is a great time to discover what type of medicine or health care you are interested in. I think it's a time you can afford to try something new through a course, extracurricular or volunteer experience.” 

Thankfully for students enrolled in U of T Scarborough’s Health Sciences Stream , there’s a new certificate that can help students discover their passion while also preparing for a future career. 

Called the Certificate in Pathways to Health Professions, students will gain knowledge and cultivate skills in areas such as leadership, communication, equity and critical thinking. 

“These skills are essential in health care,” says Professor David Zweig, U of T Scarborough’s vice-dean of recruitment, enrolment and student success.

“This is meant to complement the science curriculum and help students prepare for advanced studies and future success in health professions.”

The certificate is geared towards any domestic student wanting to pursue a career in health care, including those wanting to apply to medical school or other professional programs such as nursing, pharmacy, physiotherapy or dentistry. Domestic students in the health sciences stream will automatically be enrolled in the certificate and will have the option to complete it while they earn a honours bachelor of science (BSc) degree. Those who complete it will graduate with a honours BSc as well as the certificate. 

In addition to course-based training in leadership, communication, equity and critical thinking, the certificate will also include two self-directed actions students can take, including getting involved in campus and community activities related to health, and professional skills development. The certificate will begin in fall 2024 in time for the first cohort of students in the Health Sciences Stream. 

Zweig says the goal is to expand opportunities available to undergraduate students at U of T Scarborough and provide a competitive advantage for those interested in a career in health care.   

He adds that U of T Scarborough students enrolled in the Health Sciences Stream can also take advantage of expanded practical opportunities through paid co-op terms. These can be done at some of the region’s hospitals, companies and research institutes such as SickKids, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, University Health Network, Sunnybrook Health Sciences and Unity Health Toronto

Richardson encourages students to take advantage of opportunities like the certificate to develop additional skills that are becoming increasingly important in health care. 

“A career in health care involves so much more than having hard skills,” says Richardson, who graduated from U of T Scarborough in 2018 with an honours bachelor of science. 

“Once you’re in a health care setting or practicing medicine, I think so-called soft skills like how to conduct yourself with patients and their families, or knowledge of community health and the social determinants of health, are incredibly important.”