UW Medical Students Help GU Undergrads Explore Paths to Medical School

University of Washington School of Medicine and Gonzaga University Health Partnership's newly opened facility.
New UW-GU Health Partnership facility.

March 24, 2023
Cindy Hval

The opening of the UW-GU Health Partnership building in September means students from both schools have even more opportunities for interaction. The building houses UW School of Medicine and GU’s Department of Human Physiology.

Carolina Pavlenco, first-year UWSOM student and Medical Student Association communications director for her cohort, said the UW students have been in the building since July.

“When the GU undergrad students joined us in September, we thought it would be nice to get to know them better.”

She met Evan Nessen, president of the GU Human Physiology club, at a student leadership meeting and they discussed hosting a collaborative event.

Headshot of Evan Nessen, GU student.
Evan Nessen, GU student.

“We wanted to find a way to connect the GU Human Physiology students with the first-year UW med students because almost all of us are pre-med,” said Nessen.

They decided to host a Q&A panel so medical students could offer insights and answer questions about their paths to medical school.

“We get lots of advice, but we don’t get to hear from medical students who’ve actually gone through the application process,” Nessen said. “We wanted to know what it looks like to be a medical student.”

The event was held in November and Pavlenco moderated a panel of eight first-year UW-students.

“Our goal was to share the knowledge first-year medical students learned from applying and successfully matriculating into medical school,” said Pavlenco.

“Many of us vividly recall the vast majority of questions we faced during the application process mere months ago, as well as how it felt to face the overwhelming nature of the unknown. We wanted to help alleviate some of that burden for GU undergraduate students.”

Nessen said he and his fellow GU students appreciated the helpful information they received.

“They talked about the process of taking the MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test) and shared what jobs they had during their gap years,” he said. “One of the students had worked as a barista and said the job really honed her interview skills.”

Headshot of Carolina Pavlenco, UW student
Carolina Pavlenco, first-year UWSOM student.

That type of practical feedback was Pavlenco's goal. She wants to help demystify the application process for undergrads. When she was applying for medical school, she said she had a group of friends who were also applying.

“They were so helpful,” said Pavlenco. “One of our objectives is to create that kind of social support group for GU students.”

Another forum is scheduled for March. This time in addition to a Q&A session, medical school students will provide a physical exam workshop.

“I told Carolyn it would be so nice to learn about basic physical exams,” said Nessen, “When I shadowed a couple of physicians this summer they asked if I had any physical exam skills, but that’s not part of our Human Physiology curriculum.”

To broaden their outreach, they decided to hold the March forum at Hemmingson Center on the GU campus.

“It’s a chance for more GU undergrads to meet some of us and realize they have contacts they can reach out to if they decide they would like to apply to medical school,” Pavlenco said.

The positive response from their inaugural event proved encouraging for the medical school students.

“I think we were able to show that despite how challenging medical school can be, we find so much joy in it daily,” she said. “There’s such great support in the community here at the UW-GU Health Partnership. We want to continue to build upon this relationship between the UW and GU students.”

Interested in the UW-GU Health Partnership?