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Native American Pre-Health Program Many Nations. One Community.

Native American Pre-Health Program Overview

WSU’s Native American Pre-Health Program offers special support to undergraduate Native American and Alaska Native students. This support includes regular programming that addresses the intersections of Native and ‘Western’ sciences, the relationship between health and tribal sovereignty, and the states of health and health care in Native American and Alaska Native communities. Additional programming addresses professional development. For instance, students will meet Indigenous and non-Indigenous scholars, medical doctors, and dentists working in Native communities. Students will also travel to academic and professional health sciences conferences in order to grow their networks and learn more about their chosen fields. Last, students will receive support focused specifically upon the successful application and admission to graduate and professional degree programs. This support includes assistance in arranging internships or shadow experiences that are often required for admission to such programs; GRE, MCAT, and other testing preparation; preparing admissions applications; and more.

The specific goals of the Native American Pre-Health Program follow. 1) The program will help students navigate challenging pre-health courses successfully. 2) The program will provide inspiration and insight to students through culturally relevant programming. 3) The program will aid in professional development, through additional programming and visits to academic and professional conferences. 4) The program will help students gain the experience and knowledge necessary to become strong candidates for admission to postbaccalaureate degree programs and to prepare the materials needed to enter such programs. 5). The ultimate goal of the program is to help meet health needs in Native American and Alaska Native communities, by increasing the number of culturally informed Native health researchers and medical providers.

Eligible majors include but are not limited to the following:

  • Medicine
  • Dentistry
  • Veterinary Medicine
  • Nursing
  • Optometry
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Speech and Hearing Sciences
  • Nutritional Exercise Physiology
  • Pharmacy
  • Physician Assistant
  • Physical Therapy

Requirement for incoming first year students: 3.1 High school GPA, commitment to serve Indigenous communities, enrollment in or descent from a recognized tribe or Alaska Native entity

Program details:

  • Members of the program will meet weekly for a two-hour study session, hosted by a dedicated tutor in chemistry.
  • Students will meet every other week as a class.
    • Such meetings will include discussion of cultural and historical factors in health inequities, differences in Western epistemology and traditional Indigenous knowledge, professional development, etc.
    • Guest speakers will include health professionals, professors, advisers, and tribal representatives, and more.
  • Students will meet regularly with pre-health experts at the Health Professions Center.
  • Members will receive one credit for their participation.

Other program components:

  • Optional residence in a dormitory with other Native American Pre-Health Students, near the Native American Student Center
  • Visit to WSU Spokane Health Sciences Campus
  • Recreational and educational field trips
  • Coordinated tutoring with Academic Success Center, as needed

The Native American Pre-Health Program is intended to complement other sources of support. These include the following:



Further Information

Apply to WSU’s Native American Pre-Health Program

Contact Dr. Ken Lokensgard, Asst. Director Center for Native American Research & Collaboration: 

Other Important Contacts:

  • Native American Programs Asst. Director of Tribal Relations & Recruitment: Sharon Mail Kanichy (Makah),
  • Native American Programs Retention Specialist: Joelle Berg, MEd (Lac du Flambeau),
  • Health Professions Student Center Director: Dr. Donald Allison,
  • Native Health Sciences Director: Dr. Naomi Bender (Quechua),
  • Native American Health Sciences Outreach Coordinator

WSU Native American Health Sciences

WSU Partnerships for Native Health

  • Partnerships for Native Health (P4NH) is housed within the Institute for Research and Education to Advance Community Health (IREACH) at Washington State University. Formalized in 2009, the program has developed a comprehensive, interdisciplinary approach to achieve our mission of improving the health and well-being of American Indian and Alaska Native people of all ages.

The ‘Indian Health Disparities’ fact sheet, from Indian Health Service, can be found here: