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
Upper-division courses, particularly in the sciences, tend to be in high demand. Many departments give priority to students declared in specific majors over those needing prerequisites for healthcare programs. Keep in mind that registration policies and procedures for impacted courses can change, so check the department’s website or contact the program coordinator to ask about course enrollment processes.
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.
Students should gain shadowing experience with both a PA and a physician. 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. Discuss your shadowing options with Health Professions Advisors.
Most PA programs require that applicants obtain a certain number of paid clinical hours (UW requires at least 2000) before applying. Some examples are work as a CNA, Medical Assistant, ER Scribe, or EMT. Check with individual schools if you have questions about certain jobs will meet the clinical hours requirement.
Graduate Record Examination
Many PA programs have done away with the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) but some still require it. Be sure to check with programs you’re interested in to know for sure. The GRE is offered monthly at the WWU Testing Center, and assesses your verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and analytical writing skills. Information is available at ets.org/gre.
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.