Incoming Students 2023-24

A group of people standing in front of Old Main during spring.


If you are a new Western student or thinking about becoming one, you probably have many questions about pursuing healthcare careers. We are here to help!

Health Professions Advisors are available throughout the summer to meet with new students and families. You can also contact us via email at

Below you’ll find answers to some frequently asked questions including information about Departmental Advising sessions at Fall Advising and Registration this summer.

For more information, please review our website, and the university catalog.

Health Professions Advising Frequently Asked Questions

Our office, located in Old Main 280, is comprised of two professional health professions advisors, dedicated to supporting students in preparing for, applying to, and entering professional programs in a variety of healthcare fields. We advise students and alumni interested in medicine, dentistry, nursing, veterinary, optometry, pharmacy, chiropractic, and physician assistant training, as well as those interested in allied health careers. For students interested in Physical Therapy, Nutrition, or Occupational Therapy please contact Health and Human Development.

Health Professions Advisors will be available virtually on a drop-in basis on each of the dates below between 11:00 a.m.- 1:00 p.m. (PST)

- Wednesday, July 19
- Thursday, July 20
- Monday, July 24
- Tuesday, July 25
- Wednesday, July 26
- Monday, July 31
- Tuesday, August 1
- Wednesday, August 2

Health Professions Advising Zoom Link

You can learn more about how Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) credit transfers to WWU at this website. If you are transferring coursework from a community college or another university, make sure you have your official transcript sent to WWU so can advise you into the correct classes. Note that healthcare programs may accept coursework that WWU does not.

When you attend Advising & Registration, you will meet one on one with an academic advisor who will guide you through figuring out which math and science coursework makes sense for you. It is often helpful to take the ALEKS Math Placement Assessment before you come to your advising session. If you have specific questions about courses, please contact the Health Professions Advisors at

Not at all! Choosing a major that reflects your interests will not only help you to fully enjoy your undergraduate experience (generally resulting in a higher GPA) but can set you apart from other applicants and provide you with the breadth of coursework health professions programs are looking for. Be aware, however, that many programs require an extensive list of prerequisites so it is essential that you begin planning early in order to ensure that you can complete your prerequisites, major, and general graduation requirements within a timeframe you are comfortable with.     

The basic set of prerequisites for dentistry, medicine, optometry, pharmacy, and veterinary school include the general chemistry (161, 162, 163) and general biology series (204, 205, 206) as well as organic chemistry (351, 352, 353) and physics (114, 115, 116 or 161, 162, 163). Chiropractic, nursing, and physician assistant schools have slightly different requirements, but Chemistry 161, Biology 204/205, and Math 114 are good places to start.  

 Applying to a health professions program is a long process. Consult the Career Services Center website for timelines and other resources.

Briefly, your first and second years should focus on coursework and obtaining experience. If you plan to enroll in a program immediately after graduation, the junior year is especially busy because you will be obtaining letters of recommendation and preparing for and taking admissions tests (MCAT, GRE, DAT, etc. depending on the program) and submitting applications.

The most successful applicants are proactive and apply early

 In essence, health professions programs want to see three things: a strong academic record, firm and clear motivation for your field, and outstanding personal qualities. You can demonstrate these through:

  • clinical experiences including volunteering, job shadowing
  • developing experiential skills outside the classroom by taking on leadership positions, joining clubs, etc.
  • getting comfortable working with all sorts of groups and individuals
  • cultivating professional attitudes and behaviors, taking your education seriously

 As an institution with a focus on undergraduate education, Western emphasizes the importance of a liberal arts curriculum. As a student here, you will have the opportunity to conduct research alongside leading scholars, and through our GUR requirements gain a breadth of educational experiences that will aid you in gaining admission to healthcare programs.