Pre-Med Advising

Our PreMed Advising team is here to assist any Alaska resident interested in becoming a physician in Alaska, regardless of university affiliation or school standing.

Beginning this fall, the Alaska WWAMI School of Medical Education and the College of Health at UAA are delighted to offer a new Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Pre-Medical Studies. This certificate is designed to help those students who already have a baccalaureate degree prepare themselves for medical school and complete their pre-requisite coursework.

 What we offer:

  • General questions for Alaskan students considering medical school
  • Contact person for high school or college advisors working with students interested in becoming physicians
  • Guidance on medical school application requirements
  • General program information for Alaska WWAMI (Alaska's Medical School)
  • Support during the medical school application process
  • Committee Letters for UAA students
  • MCAT preparation (with Dr. Uffenbeck)
  • Preparing yourself to be a medical student (with Dr. Uffenbeck)

Our PreMed Advisors:

Dr. Ian van Tets, PhD
Phone: 907-786-4705
ScheduleOnce Link

Dr. van Tets is a physiology professor who teaches physiology-related courses for UAA's Department of Biological Sciences and for AK WWAMI. As a result, he is familiar with both the undergraduate science programs offered at UAA and the MD program offered by Alaska WWAMI. Dr. van Tets has provided pre-medical advising to Alaskan students from 2006 onwards--initially in his role as Director of AK WWAMI's Della Keats pathways program and from 2013 as a faculty pre-medical advisor.

Dr. Shannon Uffenbeck, PhD
Phone: 907-786-6975
ScheduleOnce Link

Shannon Uffenbeck is a professor and academic support coordinator for the WWAMI School of Medical Education where she teaches cell physiology to first year medical students in addition to helping students adopt successful learning strategies for both coursework and exam preparation. After starting her undergraduate education at St. Olaf College, she finished her degree here at UAA in the Biological Sciences Department while skiing for the UAA Seawolves. Upon completion of her M.S. degree (also in Biological Sciences here at UAA), she opted to continue her study of epigenetic changes involved in cellular stress responses by pursuing a PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology through UAF. She has spent the last four years helping WWAMI students incorporate evidence-based learning into their own personal study strategies.

Advising Information

  • I am a... High Schooler
    Take classes that challenge you, such as advanced-placement (AP) courses in science or mathematics. When applying for medical school, all required courses must be taken at a college or be college accredited.

    Begin collecting volunteer hours and seek out shadowing experience. Volunteering can be in any capacity and does not need to involve the medical field. To shadow a physician, reach out to a doctor or other medical professional whose work may pique your interest, and ask them if you can shadow them for a period of time.

    We recommend that you document your volunteer and shadowing hours so that it is easy to recall your experiences when it comes time to put together your medical school applications.

    See below for WWAMI requirements. Contact Alida van Almelo at with any questions.
  • I am a... College Freshman or Sophomore
    Undergraduate students in their first two years of college do not qualify for one-on-one pre-med advising appointments. We recommend that you communicate with your academic advisor within your discipline. Bring along the WWAMI course requirements below to help you plan out your undergraduate trajectory.

    Choosing a college degree program can be a difficult decision. For WWAMI, any Bachelor's degree will suffice, as long as you complete required courses. While you should pursue a degree that interests you, it can be more difficult to integrate the required course load into some degree programs than others. Degrees to consider avoiding include professional degree programs like Engineering or Nursing. These intensive programs are time-consuming and have requirements that do not include many of the same courses required for medical school, making it extremely difficult to fit those courses into ones schedule and graduate on time.

    Begin collecting volunteer hours and seek out shadowing experience. Volunteering can be in any capacity and does not need to involve the medical field. To shadow a physician, reach out to a doctor or other medical professional whose work may pique your interest, and ask them if you can shadow them for a period of time.

    See below for WWAMI requirements. Contact Alida van Almelo at with any questions.
  • I am a... College Junior, Senior or a Non-Traditional Student
    Students in their last two years of college and non-traditional students qualify for Pre-Med Advising through WWAMI. Prospective medical students are encouraged to meet with a pre-med advisor to discuss course schedules, preparation for entrance exams, completion of applications, coordination of letters of recommendation and other topics applicable to the development of a suitable undergraduate program and effective application to medical school. WWAMI pre-med advising is available to anyone seeking an advanced degree in a healthcare field.

    To set up an appointment at your convenience, go to: *Please note that availability varies depending on our faculty's teaching schedules and appointments are shown two weeks out. If you do not see a time that works for you, please check back.

    Contact Alida van Almelo at with any questions.

Student StudyingWWAMI Requirements

Core requirements for applying to the WWAMI School of Medical Education are as follows:

  • You must have a Bachelor's degree
    That degree can be in anything. See "College Freshmen & Sophomores" above.
  • You must complete specific, college-accredited courses
    Every medical school has similar but varying requirements, so consider what schools you might like to attend and ask what their course requirements are. The WWAMI requirements are as follows:
    • Humanities/Social Sciences: Select courses from any of a wide range of humanities disciplines such as Sociology, Psychology, Anthropology, History, Literature, etc... to demonstrate your competency. There is not a minimum number of courses required to meet this prerequisite. Courses that teach writing, speaking, performance or language skills do not count toward this requirement.
    • Physics: One year of Physics is required--either two (2) semesters or three (3) quarters. The Physics courses need to be either the 100 or 200-level core courses for science majors, not a general education requirement (GER) designed for non-majors. As of August 2021, students applying for the entering class of 2023 or later will no longer be able to meet this requirement by doing 1 semester of physics + 1 semester of calculus.
    • Chemistry: Two years of Chemistry is required and must include college-level Inorganic and Organic Chemistry as well as Biochemistry. To satisfy this requirement, you can take CHEM 105, 106, 321 (Organic Chemistry I) and CHEM 441 (Biochemistry I). You do not have to take Organic Chemistry II or Biochemistry II. All Chemistry labs are optional, but may improve your understanding of the material and may be required by other medical schools.
    • Biology: One year of college-level Biology is required. Courses may include molecular genetics and cell biology/cell physiology. To satisfy this prerequisite, you may take BIOL 242 and BIOL 252 at UAA, or the equivalent courses at another college or university. The prerequisite for both courses is BIOL 108, which is a 6-credit, intensive course. These courses must be core or elective courses for science majors. GER courses and courses intended for allied health, pre-nursing or nursing majors (such as BIOL 240) do not count toward this requirement.
    • Optional Courses: Courses such as Ethics, Psychology, Sociology, Physiology, Microbiology, Gross Anatomy, Developmental Biology, etc... are recommended but not required. The inclusion of these and similar courses is likely to strengthen your application and may also help you with your MCAT preparation. Please note that the WWAMI program does not necessarily recommend that you to take "Anatomy and Physiology" as a preparatory course.
  • MCAT optional for the WWAMI 2022 application cycle
    The MCAT is a standardized, national exam used to compare medical school applicants across the United States. It consists of four equally-weighted sections:
    • Chemical and Physical Foundations (Chemistry and Physics)
    • Biological and Biochemical Foundations (Biology and Biochemistry)
    • Physiological, Social and Biological Foundations of Behavior (Psychology and Sociology)
    • Critical Analysis and reasoning Skills
    • Detailed information on this exam can be found at the AAMC website
  • You must take the CASPer Test
  • You must collect job shadowing hours
    WWAMI requires that all applicants have a minimum of 40 hours of job shadowing. However, stronger applicants have significantly more than the minimum hours required. We recommend documenting these hours so that it is easy to recall what you did and what your impressions were when it comes time to put together your medical school application and prepare for your interview.
    Shadowing must be with a physician (MD, DO, DPM). Working as a medical scribe counts toward job shadowing hours.
  • Volunteer service hours are important
    There is not a minimum number of volunteer service hours required for the WWAMI program. However, they are strongly encouraged, as showing a dedication to one's community will significantly strengthen your application, and our strongest applicants typically have many volunteer hours.


Still looking for answers?

If your questions were not answered above, contact us with your specific questions.