Is Wake Forest Good For Pre Med

Published
Is Wake Forest Good For Pre Med
Young practitioner doctor working at the clinic reception desk, she is answering phone calls and scheduling appointments

From your first day on campus to your medical school interview day, you’ll be ticking boxes and satisfying requirements. You’ll need to show you’ve completed certain science and education courses to even be eligible to apply to medical school, but the path you take through those classes and extracurriculars is entirely up to you. Planning early and well is vital to your success as a premed and will necessitate a lot of forethought. Fortunately, as a Wake Forest premed, you’ll have pre-health advisors at your disposal ready to assist and guide you through the process.

Pre-Health Pathway

Not everyone graduates from college fully prepared for the rigors of medical school. For those who want to enhance their skills and their chances of pursuing medicine, Wake Forest’s Biomedical Science Pre-health Pathway master’s program can help.

“Medical school is highly competitive. You may be a B or even an A student, but that might not get you into medical school,” says Brenda Latham-Sadler, MD ’82, House Staff ’85, a former director of Wake Forest’s Pre-health Pathway pipeline program who continues to teach in it. “Doing a medical school preparatory program following an undergraduate degree is one way to show that you can do the work that’s required in medical school.”

Latham-Sadler, associate professor of family and community medicine and associate dean of student diversity and inclusion, says the program helps students prepare academically, gain a year of experience before entering the Wake Forest School of Medicine or another medical school, or change careers. The program was initially designed to assist students from groups that have historically been underrepresented, which in turn led to higher levels of diversity in the School of Medicine.

“It’s not just ethnic or racial diversity,” Latham-Sadler says. “There are poor kids from rural areas who may not have received the best education. There are students who come out of a school system that didn’t adequately prepare them because of a lack of resources. There are also career changers. This program can help anyone who wants to make sure they are the best medical student they can be.”

From Basic Science to Master’s Degree

Velma Watts, PhD, associate professor emerita of medical education, started Wake Forest’s postbaccalaureate training program in 1987 when she was director of the school’s Office of Minority Affairs and assistant dean for student affairs. It first focused on basic science classes, all taught on the university’s Reynolda campus.

Today, the program is administered by Wake Forest’s Biomedical Graduate Programs office. By offering a master’s degree, it allows graduates to secure a science-related career should they choose not to attend medical school. In addition, the program has broadened its focus and also prepares students to seek admission into physician assistant (PA) or other degree programs, not just medical school admission.

“Students in the Pre-health Pathway have the opportunity to strengthen their study skills, become more familiar with the language of medical science and bond with other students who also express interest in a career in medicine,” says Marcia Wofford, MD, associate dean for student affairs. “Being prepared for the first day of medical school helps build confidence and enthusiasm which contributes to their success.”

According to Latham-Sadler, the curriculum focuses on courses that prepare students for medical school.

“Some pipeline programs place students in medical school classes with medical students,” Latham-Sadler says. “We do not do that. These are graduate classes set up just for students with a clinical pathway in mind.”

The Pre-health Pathway master’s degree can be completed in 12, 18 or 24 months, depending on the student’s choice. Most students in the program go on to successfully enter medical school, either at the Wake Forest School of Medicine or other reputable schools.

According to Bernard Roper, PhD, admissions chair for the Pre-health Pathway, 295 students have completed the current program or its predecessor since 1987. Since it became a master’s program in 2014, 100 students have completed the program, 31 of those graduates have matriculated to the School of Medicine’s MD Program and one matriculated to the PA Program.

Producing Amazing Leaders

“When we screen applicants, along with evaluating students’ potential for success in graduate school, we look for those with socioeconomic challenges, educational disadvantages and those who may be first-generation college students, because we know many of those students have not had the guidance and mentoring to place them in the best position for success,” Latham-Sadler says.

Strong candidates for the program are also often among those who need the most financial assistance to advance their education, and she stressed the need for scholarship support for students in the Pre-health Pathway. Such support can create benefits for all.

“There is a lot of evidence that having diversity in the classroom creates a better learning environment for everybody,” she says. “Diversity cuts across more than just race and ethnicity, it includes geographic origins, socioeconomic status and diversity of thought. Diversity in the classroom also helps decrease potential biases about patients from populations to whom medical students may not have had exposure. I think it makes all of our students better prepared to take care of patients.”

She also has seen how the program produces “amazing leaders.” One example she cites: B. Cameron Webb, MD ’13, JD, who as a Wake Forest medical student helped found the free, student-run Delivering Equal Access to Care (DEAC) Clinic. Today, he is assistant professor of medicine and public health science and the director of health policy and equity at the University of Virginia School of Medicine. He also serves as a senior policy adviser for COVID-19 equity on President Joe Biden’s White House COVID-19 Response Team.

“The program was an incredible springboard into medical school for me,” Webb says. “It enhanced my foundation of knowledge in the sciences, increased my confidence that I could succeed in medical school coursework and provided me with a family of individuals who would be with me every step along the way. It was truly one of the most critical experiences in my professional path, and I’m really grateful I had the opportunity to participate.”

Latham-Sadler says Webb is just one of many such alumni.

“We have a number of graduates who are out in the world representing us well who would not have been accepted into our medical school had they not done our pipeline program,” she says. It has given opportunity to people who would not have had it otherwise, but it also has helped us fulfill our mission of educating excellent medical professionals.”

A tall African American man wearing a suit smiles and stands next to a Caucasian woman with reddish hair and wearing a suit

B. Cameron Webb, MD ’13, JD (left), with Dean Julie Ann Freischlag, MD, during a DEAC Clinic celebration in 2018, is among many alumni who have benefitted from the postbaccalaureate/pre-health program.

How to Succeed as a Wake Forest University Premed

Gain a comprehensive understanding of Wake Forest University’s premed program. Learn about premed prerequisites, top extracurricular activities, and the acceptance rate for WFU premed students

Is Wake Forest Good For Pre Med

Part 1: Introduction

Part 2: Wake Forest University premed requirements

Part 3: Wake Forest University premed extracurriculars

Part 4: Getting into medical school as a Wake Forest University premed

Part 1: Introduction

Wake Forest University traces its roots back to before the Civil War in 1834 and is one of the oldest institutions of higher learning in North Carolina. After relocating to the city of Winston-Salem in 1956, the academic offerings at the school gradually expanded and became more robust, garnering accolades and notoriety for the high quality of its education.

Its medical school in particular is highly regarded across the nation as a Top 50 school according to US News and World Report. Wake Forest University School of Medicine is well known for its research acumen and dedication to investigating highly diverse fields, from regenerative medicine and neuroscience to Alzheimer’s and cardiovascular disease. If you’re interested in pursuing a career at the forefront of medical research in these areas, you may be attracted to Wake Forest for undergrad.

Being accepted into Wake Forest for undergrad is no small feat, but navigating the process from freshman premed to medical school acceptance is even trickier. It will require dedication, grit, proper planning, and a belief in serving the greater good above all else.

In this guide, we’ll cover the particulars of what it takes to be successful as a Wake Forest premed. We’ll take a close look at the premed requirements, which extracurriculars help you stand out on med school applications, how to obtain shadowing and volunteering hours, as well as discuss the acceptance rate for premeds graduating from Wake Forest.

Part 2: Wake Forest University premed requirements

From your first day on campus to your medical school interview day, you’ll be ticking boxes and satisfying requirements. You’ll need to show you’ve completed certain science and education courses to even be eligible to apply to medical school, but the path you take through those classes and extracurriculars is entirely up to you. Planning early and well is vital to your success as a premed and will necessitate a lot of forethought. Fortunately, as a Wake Forest premed, you’ll have pre-health advisors at your disposal ready to assist and guide you through the process.

When it comes to the requirements you’ll need to fulfill as a Wake Forest premed, your courses align with the requirements of most medical schools. We’ve created a handy table outlining the courses at Wake Forest below.

Wake Forest University Premed Requirements
Medical school requirement Required courses Optional courses
Biology: One year (with lab)
Note: ‘L’ indicates lab
BIO 150/L
BIO 160/L
Recommended:
HES 350 (Human Physiology) and a course in cell and molecular biology
Chemistry:
1. General Chemistry: Two semesters (with lab)
2. Organic Chemistry: Two semesters (with lab)
3. Biochemistry: One semester
General Chemistry
CHM 111 (General Chemistry I)
CHM 280 (General Chemistry II)

Organic Chemistry
CHM 122 or 123 (Organic Chemistry I)
CHM 223 (Organic Chemistry II)

From the table above, we can see that premeds at Wake Forest have a lot on their plate. Cramming these courses into your four-year tenure as an undergrad can be a daunting prospect, especially when you need to factor in time for extracurricular activities, studying for and taking the MCAT, and sending off medical school applications.

To this end, we’ve created a three-year course plan in the table below that’s based on Wake Forest’s own recommendations. In our table, we’re assuming the student does not wish to take a gap year before medical school and will take the MCAT during their junior year. We also assume they will not study abroad.

If you follow this path, it’s possible to complete all the requirements and still leave yourself with enough time to put your full effort into your med school applications. Be sure to check which classes are being held during the summer session at Wake Forest.

Be sure to work with your advisor to design a plan that aligns with your situation, and don’t be afraid to alter it if your situation changes. The last thing you want is to struggle unnecessarily and end up putting a dent in your GPA.

How to maintain a high GPA as a Wake Forest premed

Your schedule as a Wake Forest premed will be overflowing with responsibilities. General education and major requirements in addition to courses needed for medical school and extracurriculars will eat into your time to study. With so much on your plate, keeping your GPA as close to 4.0 as possible can seem like an impossible task.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, one possible route to consider is completing a post-bacc program. Taking this option means you won’t be able to go directly to medical school after your four years as an undergrad, but it will give you extra time to focus on your grades and extracurriculars, likely making you a stronger candidate than you otherwise would have been.

A post-bacc program can serve two different purposes depending on your situation. You might have decided to delay many of your premed prerequisites until after graduation so that you can focus on your major, or you may have completed most or all of your premed prerequisites, but still need to improve your grades in those courses to be competitive for med school. Wake Forest doesn’t have a post-bacc program exactly, but they do offer a Biomedical Science (MS) – Prehealth Pathway program that grants you a master’s degree and is a great way to solidify your grades and expertise in science courses you will need for medical school.

In addition to considering a post-bacc, here are a few other pieces of advice for maintaining a sky-high GPA.

  • Don’t overburden yourself. In the same vein as delaying some courses until after graduation, this piece of advice—if followed—can help you maintain balance and keep your stress levels low, which will translate into higher scores. You’ll be presented with a variety of new and exciting opportunities in college and it will be tempting to say yes to all of them. However, you must choose wisely so that you don’t scatter your efforts. It’s better to say ‘no’ to an extracurricular and get an A in biology than to say yes and end up with a B or C.
  • Resources and support are available. Make sure you seek out help if you’re struggling academically. Wake Forest provides plenty of support for students that know where to look.
    • Center for Learning, Access, and Student Success (CLASS) – Here, you can schedule an academic coaching appointment or a tutoring session with a peer tutor.
    • The Writing Center – This is where you can get assistance editing and revising your college essays as well as things like resumes, personal statements, and research proposals.
    • Tutoring – The Math and Stats Center, as well as the Chemistry and Biology departments, all offer drop-in tutoring if you need it.
    • Ask your advisor. Students at Wake Forest are assigned a general academic advisor for the first two years who is there to help you navigate difficult classes.
    • Pre-health Listserv – Don’t forget to sign up to the pre-health listserv to stay up to date on tips for success, happenings around campus, and connect with others working their way through premed. It’s always good to have a support network to lean on if you need it!

    What is the best Wake Forest premed major?

    The majority of premed students think that majoring in one of the sciences, such as biology or chemistry, will grant them an edge on their medical school applications in one way or another. Whether they believe it will result in a higher MCAT score, a greater likelihood of securing shadowing or research opportunities, or just more favorable treatment by admissions committees, there are no definite statistics to back up this belief.

    The admissions process at medical schools is truly holistic, and no one major is valued over another. While the path to a white coat includes a substantial amount of STEM classes, that in no way diminishes the chances of humanities majors on their quest into med school. Humanities majors tend to possess excellent critical thinking and fine-tuned communication skills, both qualities highly valued in the medical profession.

    In fact, according to U.S. News and World Report, the most popular majors at Wake Forest include Business, Management, Marketing, Social Sciences Journalism, and then the Biological Sciences. So if no particular Wake Forest major is preferred by adcoms, how do you know what to major in as an undergrad?

    The answer is simple: follow your passion. If you choose to study something you love for the next four years, you’re much more likely to achieve higher scores with less effort. This may leave you with more time to develop interests outside of your classes, thereby making you a more attractive applicant for med schools.

    When should you take the MCAT?

    Of all the planning decisions you need to make as a Wake Forest premed, when to take the MCAT is one of the most important. Wrapped up in this decision are many other considerations, such as, “Will you take a gap year?” and “Do you need to leave time for a retake, if necessary?”

    These decisions come down to your personal preference and what your optimal timeline is for starting med school. After settling on a course of action, you’ll want to map out a study schedule and stick to it religiously so that you achieve your highest score the first time.

    We usually advise students who do not wish to take a gap year to schedule their MCAT exam for the spring semester of their junior year. This allows them to cover as much material as possible in their classes before taking the MCAT. If you follow our three-year course plan above, you’ll have completed your biology, chemistry, physics, and calculus requirements as well as social science courses before you sit for the test.

Maddie Otto

By Maddie Otto

Maddie is a second-year medical student at the University of Notre Dame in Sydney and one of Level Medicine’s workshop project managers. Prior to studying medicine, she worked and studied as a musician in Melbourne. She has a background in community arts, which combined her love for both the arts and disability support. She is an advocate for intersectional gender equity, and is passionate about accessibility and inclusive practice within the healthcare system.