Western Washington University · Bellingham, Washington
What is the study of Pre-Medicine?
At any given time Western Washington University has an estimated 350 students on a pre-medicine track. However, Western does not offer a "Pre-Med" major, and there is no formula for getting into medical school. Pre-Med students are those who identify themselves as such, formally or informally. Applicants are evaluated in five areas by medical school selection committees. All are important: MCAT, cumulative grade point, letters of recommendation, extracurricular activities, and interview. The objective here is to address some basic issues that arise repeatedly with
Pre-Med advising. It is intended to get you started in planning your Pre-Med track while at Western.
Today, medical schools emphasize the importance of a liberal arts education and do not recruit students from one specific major or discipline. Thus, students have flexibility in planning their Pre-Med educational program. Your undergraduate years offer you the opportunity to explore many academic fields, to develop basic skills and knowledge, and to demonstrate expertise and experience a field of study (major) of your choice. Pick one in which you excel and enjoy. Popular majors for Pre-Med students are Biology and Chemistry, but Pre-Med students have majored in a diverse range of academic disciplines including P.E. (Exercise/Sports Sciences), Psychology, History, Philosophy, Communications, Art History, Speech Pathology/Audiology, and Fairhaven self-designed majors. Some students pursue combined majors such as Anthropology/Biology, Biochemistry, and Cellular & Molecular Biology.
- Take Math Placement Test; begin appropriate math sequence to complete Calculus: MATH 124, 125.
- Begin General Chemistry series as soon as possible: CHEM 121, 122, 123.
- Begin General Biology Series winter or spring quarter: BIOL 204, 205, 206.
- Work on fulfilling GURs, including ENG 101.
- Begin pre-requisite and co-requisite courses for possible major.
- Meet with Pre-Healthcare Advisor to develop a plan of study.
- Continue through Organic Chemistry Series: CHEM 351, 352, 353, 354, & 355 (or 356 for non-Chemistry majors).
- Begin Physics sequence fall quarter: PHYS 114, 115, 116 or 121, 122, 123 (depending upon major).
- Take stats class: MATH 240 (or equivalent in major, if offered).
- Take a second English Composition course: ENG 201 or 202.
- Declare or apply for major.
- Research careers and graduate schools.
- Prepare for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) to be taken the summer after junior year.
- Begin Biochemistry: CHEM 471, 472 or BIOL 471, 472.
- Take a third English composition course: ENG 301 or 302.
- Begin primary application to the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS).
- Draft personal statement.
- Request letters of recommendation from professors and professionals.
- Prepare for possible medical school interview with a mock interview (or do spring of junior year).
- Complete major, GUR, WP & other graduation requirements.
- Two quarters before graduation, meet with faculty advisor for major evaluation and apply for graduation.
Note: Advanced Placement is generally not recognized by professional schools as college-earned credit. It is expected that students gain at least 40 hours experience shadowing a physician.
MCAT—The Medical College Admission Test is offered several times per year (January through September). Applicants must take the exam no later than August of the year preceding anticipated admission. There are various ways to prepare for the MCAT, and each student takes an individualized approach toward this. MCAT information, including registration, is available at www.aamc.org/students/mcat/.
Other Information about this Major:
Declaring a Major: refer to the department of your chosen major for pre-requisites and GPA requirements for declaring.
*Note that Biology majors need a grade point average of 2.9 or better for CHEM 121, 122, 123, and BIOL 204, 205, and 206 in order to advance to Phase II of the Biology major. Admission to Phase II is required in order to take upper division Biology classes. If you major in Biochemistry,
you will need a 3.0 grade average in CHEM 121, 122, 123, 351, and 352 and BIOL 205 in order to move on to a Phase II Biochemistry major.
Enrollment in BIOL 348 & 349 (Human Anatomy and Physiology) is restricted to majors for which those courses are required. Students whose major doesn't require BIOL 348 and/or 349 may be able to take those courses with instructor permission. Interested students should submit an
override request to the instructor no later than three weeks before registration begins.
*In addition to the foundation courses, select medical schools may require one year of English (expository writing).
Repeating Courses: is not viewed favorably by professional schools. An isolated case may be acceptable but may also require an explanation in application.
Pre-Med Web-page: www.careers.wwu.edu/prehealth.shtml
Students should join the pre-med listserv by sending an e-mail message to Renee.Murray@wwu.edu with this information: subject: pre-med listserv, Last name, First name, student number.
AMCAS: The American Medical College Application Service: http://www.aamc.org
Academic course requirements for medical schools may vary, but regardless of your major, certain prerequisites are expected by most schools and include:
- One year general chemistry with labs: CHEM 121*, 122, 123 (5, 5, 4)
- One year organic chemistry with labs: CHEM 351, 352, 353, 354, 355 [or 356 for non-Chemistry majors] (4, 4, 3, 3, 3, )
- At least two quarters of biochemistry: CHEM 471, 472 (4, 4) or BIOL 471, 472 (4, 4)
- One year physics with labs : PHYS 114**, 115, 116 (5, 5, 5) or PHYS 121**, 122, 123 (5, 5, 5)
- One year of biology with labs: BIOL 204, 205, 206 (4, 5, 5), and additional courses under advisement
- Two quarters calculus: MATH 124, 125 (5, 5)
- Statistics: MATH 240 (4) or major equivalent
- One year of English is highly recommended:
ENG 101, 201, 202, 301, or 302 (5, 5, 5, 5)
*Completion of MATH 114 or Math Placement into MATH 115 or higher is a prerequisite for CHEM 121.
**MATH 115 is a prerequisite for PHYS 114; MATH 124 is a co-requisite for PHYS 121.
Note: At WWU, general chemistry (CHEM 121) is prerequisite to general biology. It is imperative that pre-med students begin chemistry as early in their program as possible.
ACOM: ENG 101
BCOM: ENG 202
QSR: MATH 124, 240
LSCI: BIOL 204, 205, 206; CHEM 121, 122, 123
SCI: PHYS 114
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