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The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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By Max Porter, Contributing News Editor • February 26, 2024

‘Very daunting task’: Lack of pre-health advisers leaves students feeling unprepared

GW has not employed a pre-health adviser since last semester.
GWs+Ross+Hall+houses+classes+and+laboratories+for+students+within+the+School+of+Medicine+and+Applied+Sciences.
Sage Russell | Assistant Photo Editor
GW’s Ross Hall houses classes and laboratories for students within the School of Medicine and Applied Sciences.

The University no longer employs an adviser assigned to students preparing for graduate and professional education in health care, leaving pre-health students feeling lost while developing course schedules and seeking career opportunities.

University spokesperson Julia Metjian said GW is working to “expedite” its search for an adviser after employing two last semester. In the meantime, the shortage has reduced the availability of advising appointments and pre-health information sessions, causing students to worry they will miss out on crucial guidance when preparing to apply to medical school.

Metjian said the director of undergraduate advising is currently working as an interim pre-health adviser. Students can schedule a “general” appointment with an unnamed adviser through the pre-health advising website after it previously offered one-on-one virtual and in-person appointments with individual advisers last semester.

The website, which encourages students to meet with pre-health advisers to prepare to apply for post-graduation health programs and plan their undergraduate coursework, does not have any appointments available through October.

Pre-health students said there is limited availability for advising appointments this fall and that there has been a lack of timely responses to emails they send to the pre-health advising office. Students reported feeling worried that the lack of pre-health advising could hurt their chances of getting into medical school post graduation.

A sophomore studying public health — who requested to remain anonymous for fear of retribution — said after her original pre-health adviser stopped responding to her emails, she began to receive responses from different advisers’ email addresses this year. The student said pre-health advisers assist students with all the “moving parts” of being on a pre-health track — like course planning, preparing to take the MCAT or the entrance exam for medical school and clinical experience planning.

The student said that without an adviser, she must plan her course schedules and seek pre-health career opportunities independently.

“Others and myself are so frustrated with the advising that we just kind of neglected it altogether and just started doing our own thing, which is not something I think we expected to do when we went to college,” the student said. “We expected the school to be able to provide advising for pre-meds, especially since it’s a very daunting task to do on your own.”

The student added that having good relationships with pre-health advisers can help students develop strong committee letters, which are part of medical school applications and highlight students’ accomplishments during college.

“If they have more information about you, they’re gonna write a better letter about you and that goes directly to the med schools,” the student said.

Karishma Pandya, a senior majoring in biology, said when she checked the pre-health advising office website this semester, there were no ways to contact individual advisers and appointments were only available on a two-week basis on the website’s calendar. Pandya said she couldn’t book any of the few available appointments because they were during her classes.

“They should be available so that students can be helped out at whatever time they need that works with their schedule and within a reasonable 9 to 5, Monday through Friday basis,” Pandya said.

Pandya said in past years, she went to her adviser for advice when building her schedule and pursuing opportunities to volunteer and shadow in medical practices, which she can no longer receive without a consistently available adviser.

“It’s a disservice to a lot of students that come here because they should be able to be advised on whatever career path they want to go to and that should be accessible and available,” Pandya said. “I think that my application is not going to be as good because I didn’t have access to an adviser regularly.”

Jane Bartell, a first-year majoring in biology, said there were no available advising appointments when she wanted to get help creating her schedule before the fall semester, which ended up being “overwhelming” without the input of an adviser.

“If you can get an appointment, it’s a month out from when you need something,” Bartell said. “It’s not in a timely manner. It won’t help you for anything you need appointments for.”

Eesha Madan, a first-year majoring in public health, said she emailed the pre-health advising office multiple times over the past few months without receiving a response. She said she recently booked an appointment through the office’s website, despite the appointments being “pretty full.”

Madan said the lack of pre-health advising will cause her to fall behind and struggle in her classes in the future because of a lack of guidance from advisers.

“I don’t want to do anything wrong, so I’m trying to get the help that I need,” Madan said.

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