Dr. Brett Woods: Preparing for Health Professions

Brett Woods

This story is featured in the Fall 2018 edition of the HPU Magazine. Discover below how HPU mentor Dr. Brett Woods guides students striving to become medical practitioners. 

One of High Point University’s fastest growing populations is undergraduate science students preparing for professional health careers.

Beginning their freshman year, these students chart a vigorous course to gain acceptance into medical, dental, veterinary and a variety of other professional health programs after completing their HPU undergraduate education.

Getting there takes time, perseverance and commitment. That’s where the guidance and expertise of Dr. Brett Woods, assistant professor of biology and director of HPU’s pre-health advising program, comes in.

“It takes years to build successful health and science careers,” Woods said. “There are many questions to answer. Which medical school do you want to attend? What are its requirements? What grades and references do you need? How many hours of experience are required, and where will you get that experience? I am here to help students navigate their journey to the best professional health programs.”

Woods understands after navigating his career in the sciences. He’s a first-generation college graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, where he majored in economics with a goal to attend law school. But he discovered he wasn’t passionate about economics and was taken under the wing of a professor who guided him into the world of undergraduate research. 

He began studying migratory bird species on Alcatraz Island and switched his major to biology. After graduating, he served as a park ranger on the island for three years before heading to the University of Kansas to earn his Ph.D. in biology. 

Woods found his path thanks, in part, to a professor who cared and was willing to guide him. HPU’s commitment to one-on-one faculty mentorship in undergraduate research projects and experiential learning attracted him to teach at HPU. He knows those experiences can bolster students’ applications for professional health programs.

“Our faculty is devoted to providing students with the type of lab or off-campus research experiences that make well-rounded candidates for these professional programs,” Woods said. “Our students begin scientific research as early as their freshman year, and that’s very unique on a college campus.” 

Wood guides students like Alex Sprouse, a biology major from Clemmons, North Carolina, through planning, applications and much more.

“Dr. Woods’ guidance made an impact in improving my confidence in terms of applying to medical school as well as making sure I stay on track,” Sprouse said. “He has helped me by constantly encouraging me throughout my medical school preparation process in addition to providing me with several resources such as MCAT prep material, advice on my personal statement for AMCAS application, and advice on choosing which medical schools to submit my application.”

Connecting students to a network of faculty in the sciences is also important to Woods. There are professors who’ve completed these programs or are leading them right here on campus. HPU’s Congdon School of Health Sciences o ers master’s programs in athletic training and physician assistant studies, as well as a doctoral program in physical therapy. The Fred Wilson School of Pharmacy o ers a doctoral pharmacy program. Both academic schools found a new home in the state-of-the-art, 220,200-square foot Congdon Hall that opened in fall 2017, while the Wanek School of Undergraduate Sciences will open in fall 2019.

“When students come to us with a desire to work in the world of health care someday, resources for them are abundant,” said Woods. “We have a network of support that will guide them there.”


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