Exposure and Experience
Check with individual schools whether they recognize Advanced Placement (AP) as college-earned credit. Not all do. It is better to view any earned credits as qualifying to enroll in upper division courses rather than as “testing out” of prerequisites.
Access to Classes
High demand exists for upper-division courses, especially in the sciences. Many departments grant enrollment priority to students declared in specific majors over those seeking enrollment for professional school purposes. Registration access procedures for impacted courses can change, and departments generally provide updates via their websites and email notifications, or by checking with the department’s program coordinator.
When you repeat a course, only your most recent grade is used when Western calculates your GPA. However, the class still shows up on your transcript. Although some students think that repeating a course will help them get into professional schools, this is almost always untrue. Professional schools will take into account all college-level coursework when performing their own calculation of your GPA, and this will include any courses you have repeated at Western. Still, in some circumstances it may be appropriate to repeat a course so talk to an advisor to be sure. Also, dropping a course can have an impact on eligibility for financial aid, scholarships, and athletic participation so consider your options carefully and speak with an advisor before making a decision.
What students pursue outside the classroom will be considered by professional programs along with what is accomplished in the classroom. It is important to choose extracurricular activities out of genuine interest - not all activities need to be healthcare-related or clinical in nature, although some clinical experience is helpful both for your application as for exploring your interest.. Some agencies that welcome WWU Pre-Med students as volunteers include the Sea Mar Community Health Center, the Unity Care NW Community Health Center, and a variety of adult care facilities in the area. Each year, an “Internship and Volunteer Fair” occurs on campus so that students can explore and network for volunteer opportunities. Find experiences that allow you to serve your community and learn more about how to relate to others different from yourself.
Finding shadowing opportunities can be challenging but is essential for determining whether a healthcare career is a good fit. For their first shadowing experience, students often ask a family friend, their own physician, or someone with a personal connection to shadow. Western also has an agreement with PeaceHealth to offer a shadowing program twice a year, in the fall and spring. The program is competitive and requires an application process, contact Health Professions Advising for more information if you are interested.
Research experience is not required to develop a strong application for professional school, but can be a great way to enhance your application if you are interested. Many opportunities exist both on campus through individual departments and programs, and off campus. Contact your major department, or speak with a faculty member about participating in undergraduate research.
Letters of Recommendation
Western does not participate in a committee letter process for professional programs, so it is important for students to develop a good relationship with faculty members, supervisors and volunteer coordinators throughout their time as an undergraduate in order to have strong letters of recommendation.
Note: The above information is for preliminary advising purposes only. We encourage students to meet with a Health Professions Advisor on a regular basis to develop an individualized plan.