What is Pre-Health?

Pre-Health is a broad term that includes a multitude of health professions that students may pursue, from acupuncture to medicine. Health Professions Advising (HPA) is the office that focuses on supporting pre-health students and includes 2 dedicated professional advisors. Prospective students are welcome to contact the Health Professions Advising staff at any point during the college search process (healthprofessions@pugetsound.edu).  

Advising Resources

  • Individual advising is available in-person or virtually (via Zoom) to any student or alum at the Office of Health Professions Advising (HPA) in Thompson Hall 203. Pre-health students work closely with both a faculty advisor within their major and a Health Professions Advisor who is specializes in pre-health advising. This combination of support ensures that students remain on track to graduate within 4 years, and receive timely and personalized pre-health advising support tailored to the specific professional health program. Health Professions Advising services are available to alumni regardless of how many years they have been away from the University, or what professional path they may have taken after graduating.
  • Mock interviews are conducted each spring for pre-health students who are preparing for professional health program interviews. The mock interview format mirrors the structure that most students will encounter during graduate program interviews, and includes a panel of University faculty and staff who are highly informed regarding professional health programs. Students may repeat the mock interview process in subsequent years if desired, or if recommended by the mock interview panel.
  • When students apply to medical or dental school, a committee letter of recommendation is prepared on their behalf. This letter is preferred by medical and dental schools as one means of evaluating candidates, and summarizes students’ academics, activities, recommendation letters, and interaction with HPA, as established through individual contact and an interview.
  • A number of workshops and events are offered throughout the academic year. Workshop topics include: MCAT preparation, alumni and health professions school visits, personal statement writing, and interviewing.
  • Finally, the HPA website features a variety of helpful information and resources.

If you have any further questions or concerns feel free to contact the Health Professions Advising office at healthprofessions@pugetsound.edu

Frequently Asked Questions

The 10 year average for University of Puget Sound is over 80% (compared to a national average of 40%), which speaks to the personalized advising support and intentional planning that Puget Sound pre-medical students receive.

Students may participate in the University of Puget Sound's Health Professions Advising Program as a first year student, beginning with new student orientation. We help you decide which future career may be best for you and how to meet the academic and other requirements for medical and other health professional schools. Regular meetings take place throughout the year for potential applicants to all health professions. We offer interview workshops, practice interviews, writing workshops, and guidance through the application process. When you are ready to apply, you may choose to set up a confidential file of letters, which becomes part of the summary committee letter--preferred by many medical and dental professional schools. Mock interviews are offered as part of the committee letter process. HPA also hosts representatives from different health professions programs to visit with students about the admissions process and their schools. 

Become a self-directed learner. Set goals. Become increasingly responsible. Exercise self-discipline. Diagnose, prescribe and evaluate your own learning, and use learning resources (Center for Writing, Learning, and Teaching, for instance). Recognize your own limitations. Gain experience working with diverse populations who have identities different from your own. As part of the learning process, volunteer or paid work experience in the health fields is very important*. Engage in community service opportunities in which you have great passion, and demonstrate a sustained commitment to the activity over an extended period of time (activities do not need to be limited to the healthcare field). You must know what a typical day is like in the life of the professional you wish to become. While grades and admissions test scores are important, they aren't the whole picture.
*Professional health programs look favorably upon remote/virtual opportunities during the COVID-19 pandemic if in-person experiences are limited. Students can visit the HPA Gaining Experience webpage to explore opportunities that include both remote and in-person experiences.

The University of Puget Sound does not have an internal screening process to qualify for a committee letter. Any student, current or alum, may request a committee letter, and one will be written for all who participate in the Health Professions Advising Program. Participation includes: a Health Professions Advising interview, requesting confidential letters to be sent to the HPA office, and turning in a committee letter request form and waiver. Students whose credentials—admissions test scores and GPA—fall below those which are considered to be competitive, are counseled to discuss the weaknesses. Those students are encouraged to strengthen their application before they apply.

The Health Professions Advising Program doesn't recommend any one particular approach to test preparation. Whether it be a course which is taught in regular class sessions such as the Princeton Review or Kaplan or one that is computer-based, the choice is yours to make. Puget Sound students have been successful test takers using all methods of preparation: self-study, informal groups, class-based, and computer-based.

Successful students in the past have done the following: Taken the required courses and done well in them, studied hard for the admission test required and done well, had a consistent record of community service through work or volunteer service, had some exposure to the health care environment while in college, applied in a timely manner to a reasonable mix of schools matching their interests and accomplishments, developed the kinds of relationships with professors and others that will enable them to get good recommendations, practiced interviewing skills, and had a clear understanding of their motivations for medicine as well as the ability to articulate this in writing and in interviews.

The Health Professions Advisors are well prepared to support students interested in nursing, including RN, BSN and MSN programs. Pre-nursing students are strongly encouraged to begin working closely with a Health Professions Advisor early in their time at Puget Sound to ensure nursing pre-requisites are fulfilled. Pre-nursing students can select any academic major while fulfilling nursing pre-requisites.

Beyond the required medical school pre-requisite courses (select offerings from biology, chemistry, physics, biochemistry, statistics, psychology & sociology), a broad liberal arts background is encouraged and expected, as is majoring in the field of greatest interest. When a student is “pre-med”, that typically suggests that they are completing the courses required for admission to medical school, but have selected a major in a specific subject matter.