Pre-Healthcare Professions Advising at WWU
What you pursue outside the classroom will be considered by medical schools along with what you accomplish in the classroom. Keep in mind that no one particular extracurricular activity, just as no one major, promises to be a ticket into medical school. This gives you liberty to pursue and grow in extracurricular areas of your choice and personal interest. Naturally, many pre-med students migrate toward activities in the health care field, primarily seeking hospital volunteer and physician shadow experiences. Bellingham's St. Joseph Hospital has been able to accommodate some but not all Western pre-med students into its volunteer program. The waiting period to volunteer there can be as long as two years, so early planning and connection with the hospital volunteer coordinator is crucial. Accommodations may be cultivated more easily through home town hospitals. Students have also arranged physician shadow experiences through hometown physicians if local physicians are unable or unwilling. Other agencies that welcome WWU pre-med students as volunteers include the Sea Mar Community Health Center, the Interfaith Community Health Center, and a variety of adult care facilities in the area. Each Fall Quarter, a "Community Connections Internship and Service Learning Fair" occurs on campus so that students can explore and network for volunteer opportunities. Generally, 60 local agencies attend this event. Other volunteer opportunities or paid positions are posted throughout the year on the Student Employment Center web site (Old Main 280). You might also consider volunteering for the Lifestyle Advisor Program (Old Main 560). Advisors use their health education knowledge to assist other students and increase the "health literacy" of Western's campus. In doing so, Lifestyle Advisors gain valuable hands-on experience in leadership, group facilitation, public speaking, peer counseling, marketing, graphics, and outreach. Lifestyle Advisor service projects areas have included:
- Student Health Assessment and Information Center
- Wellness Speakers Bureau
- Social Marketing and Outreach Project
- Community Health Service Learning Project
Lifestyle Advisors represent a broad spectrum of academic majors and bring unique skills and diverse perspectives into their health promotion projects. Lifestyle Advisors take a four credit class in the spring quarter (Health Education 250) and return to campus in the fall quarter for intensive topic training in a health specialty. Your extracurricular activities need not be limited to health related experiences. Avail yourself of an appropriate opportunity for research experience. Many opportunities exist both on campus through individual departments and programs, and off campus. Contact your major department, or watch campus bulletin boards, and speak with a favorite professor about undergraduate research. Research and student leadership experience are examples of areas where applicants have demonstrated personal growth and multidimensional interests. Keep in mind, if you work to support education (as many students do), your work commitments may restrict your time available for extracurricular activities. Medical schools generally recognize this and take it into consideration. Find a balance for yourself of interests and commitment so that quality is not compromised for quantity. Doing fewer things better may be more impressive than doing many things haphazardly and superficially.