Pre-Medicine Exploration & Preparation Guide

General Tips:

  • Visit the Pre-Health portal for a comprehensive look at the pre-health resources here at UW
  • Learn more about the various careers in healthcare by visiting  
  • Subscribe to the Health Career Interest page to stay up-to-date with relevant news on health-related jobs/internships; it also includes several resources regarding preparing and applying to graduate health programs.
  • Engage in this self-paced online course to learn about the significant steps in the application process for health professional programs.
  • Schedule an appointment with your academic advisor* (UAA/Departmental/OMA&D) to discuss course planning.
  • Schedule an appointment with a career coach* to discuss your career interests and goals, plus how to reach them.

*Disclaimer: The University of Washington does not have dedicated pre-health advisors, so staff members you meet with will likely not have deep or special insight but rather more general knowledge of requirements and recommendations.

Choose from one of the following for more information:

The American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) has identified pre-med competencies that define critical elements of preparedness for medical school through three lenses: professional, scientific, and thinking & reasoning skills. Applicants are encouraged to read about and demonstrate them through academic and extracurricular experiences. For the latter, visit HuskyLink to explore RSOs and campus offices like the Community Engagement & Leadership Education (CELE)Center or Office of Undergraduate Research (see additional research info below). Jobs and volunteering that are non-medical are also incredibly valuable.

Students are encouraged to get both professional-facing experience (shadowing) and patient-facing experience. Both are instrumental in demonstrating that students are a good fit for the profession, capable of being good physicians and working and empathizing with patients. We encourage students to start documenting their clinical experiences so they can reflect on them later in the application process. Also note that if considering applying to DO programs, most schools require shadowing at least one DO, so try to build that into your experience.

While research experience is not a requirement for medical school, many students use research to explore the intersection of science and medicine. Staff in the Office of Undergraduate Research (171 Mary Gates Hall) provide workshops and advising on identifying and exploring different research opportunities at the UW. If you enjoy research and want to make that a part of your daily life in medicine, consider MD/PhD programs, which uniquely require extensive research experience before applying.

Leadership is important because, as a healthcare provider, you will be responsible for leading healthcare teams and being a decision-maker. Leadership can be demonstrated in many ways, so students are encouraged to reflect on what leadership looks like in their experiences. The CELE Center on campus is an excellent resource for this!

Letters of Recommendation are vital to a student’s medical school application. Professional schools vary in how many letters they require and from whom but will usually require at least one science professor. Establishing relationships with faculty, TAs, mentors, principal investigators, and supervisors early on can help with creating strong letters of recommendations.

You can select any major as long as you meet all prerequisite courses. Every medical school has different expectations in terms of required and recommended coursework. Students may need to exceed the requirements of some schools to meet the requirements of other schools. We encourage students to review the requirements of individual schools and/or purchase a subscription to AAMC’s MSAR database to research specific course requirements further when they are ready to apply.

In addition to the MSAR, the AAMC publishes a robust “Premedical Coursework Chart” that contains info on prerequisites for all schools in the US and Canada. It is updated yearly and can be found here under the above title. The following courses are required/recommended by most medical schools:

Most require:

  • General Biology w/ lab (1 year)
  • General Chemistry (1 year)
  • Organic Chemistry w/ lab (1 year)
  • General Physics w/ lab (1 year)
  • College Math (1 year)

Some require:

  • Biochemistry (1 quarter)
  • Behavioral/Social Science (varies)
  • Calculus/Statistics (varies; counts towards College Math requirements
  • Genetics (1 quarter)

Recommended for MCAT Prep:

  • Psychology (counts towards Behavioral/ Social Science requirements)
  • Sociology (counts towards Behavioral/ Social Science requirements)
  • Ethics

While most programs don’t have minimum GPA or Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) requirements, many schools publish the average GPAs and test scores of admitted applicants, which can be useful for goal-setting and determining where to apply. Applicants should contact the programs’ admissions offices directly to locate this data. The Medical School Admissions Requirement (MSAR) database also publishes this data (for a subscription fee). Note that if you decide to apply to schools with minimum MCAT requirements, plan enough time for studying, practice testing, and potentially retaking the exam.

Many schools require a Situational Judgement Test (SJT), like CASPer or the AAMC PREview. The purpose of an SJT is to assess an applicant’s behaviors, thought processes, and decision-making skills. Because these tests are scenario-based, with no specific content you’ll be tested on, studying the test format is recommended.