First Steps in Planning

Planning for your health professions career should begin in your first year at Washington and Lee. In addition to seeking the advice of your assigned freshman advisor, you will also need to the contact a member of the Health Professions Advisory Committee to discuss appropriate choice of major, course scheduling, and available summer opportunities.

Health Career Advisors and Staff

The advising of students seeking eventual admission to graduate work in health related fields, particularly to medical and dental school, is conducted by the Coordinator of the Health Professions Advisory Committee and the Committee of Advisors which she chairs. Members of this committee are:

  • Dr. Lisa T. Alty
    Coordinator, Health Professions Advisory Committee
    Professor of Chemistry
    Office: Science Center, Room A329; Phone 8927
  • Dr. Helen I'Anson
    Professor of Biology
    Office: Science Center, Room H405; Phone 8974
    • Dr. Erich S. Uffelman
      Professor of Chemistry
      Office: Science Center, Room A427; Phone 8040 
    • Dr. Paul Cabe
      Professor of Biology
      Office: Science Center, Room H303, Phone 8894
    • Dr. Fred LaRiviere
      Associate Professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry
      Office: Science Center, Room A429, Phone 8257
      • Mrs. Barbara D. Higgins
        Office Manager, Chemistry/Health Professions
        Office: Science Center, Room A330A; Phone 8872

      The Health Professions Advisory Committee Evaluation

      1. At the end of winter term of the junior year, each student should come to Mrs. Higgins' office to sign a waiver of confidentiality and begin the collection process of letters of evaluation. As part of the process, you indicate the professor(s) as well as off-campus evaluators, from whom you wish to obtain evaluations.
      2. In the spring term of the junior year, your choice of professors and any additional on-campus evaluators will be asked to complete a standard evaluation form and letter.
      3. During the summer, this information is compiled into a single composite letter, which is the format preferred by most professional schools.
      4. When a student has submitted the application and a test score has been reported, evaluations will be uploaded to the application service, usually in early July.
      5. This information is kept on file, and may be used in subsequent years.

      What Is Important?

      In a survey conducted by the AAMC in its Group on Student Affairs it was found that the preadmission variables accorded high importance by medical school admissions personnel included:

      • MCAT scores

      • Undergraduate science GPA and overall GPA

      • Involvement in health-related work or volunteer experiences

      • Personal comments on AMCAS and supplemental applications

      • Interview ratings
      • Letters of evaluation
      • Involvement in extracurricular activities
      • Quality of degree-granting undergraduate institution

      Some professions require a minimum number of hours shadowing/working with a professional in that field.  Please note that the number of hours is quite large for physician assistant programs, perhaps requiring a gap year working in a health care setting.  Hours required for dental, veterinary, PT, pharmacy and nursing programs may also be significant (200-400 hours).  Local dentists and veterinarians have accommodated W&L students in the past and/or you may need to get additional hours during the summer.