From the President



  Books, Film, & Music



  My Response

  Letters to the Editor

  From the Editor

  Contact Response

  Submit Footnote

  Submit Letter to Editor

  Address Change

  Back Issues

  Response Home

  SPU Home

Autumn 2006 | Volume 29, Number 4 | Alumni

Advising Future Physicians

SPU achieves a 100 percent medical school acceptance rate in 2006

As Cynthia Fitch watched her young son’s soccer match from the sidelines recently, she pulled out a note card covered with her students’ names and phone numbers. Although far from the Seattle Pacific University campus, the associate professor of biology and coordinator of the pre-professional health sciences program (PPHS) reached for her cell phone. After all, she says, “I needed to check in on my premeds and predentals.”

“Advising is one of my favorite things,” says Cynthia Fitch, SPU associate professor of biology, who offers classes to demystify the four-year premed process. “We really believe that what we do is help students find their calling.”

In 2006, that dedication paid off for Seattle Pacific students — in a big way. The University enjoyed a 97 percent acceptance rate for students entering health care graduate programs, and an impressive 100 percent acceptance rate for the 14 SPU premed students.

Only about 50 percent of premed college graduates nationwide are accepted into med-ical schools, according to the American Assoc-iation of Medical Colleges. Dental, veter-inary, and other health programs follow suit.

Each year over the past decades, more than 90 percent of Seattle Pacific’s PPHS students have been accepted into medical, dental, and other health professional schools. That success is largely due to the careful advising they receive beginning in their freshman year — from Professor of Biology Ken Moore during the 1980s and 1990s, and now from Fitch.

“We believe that we’re helping students find their calling,” she says. Adds Moore: “It’s foolish for students with a desire to go to med school to attend a university that does not have the commitment to help them.”

SPU senior biology major Caroline Teel always knew she wanted to be a dentist like her father, Douglas Teel ’73. Since her freshman year, she followed Fitch’s and Moore’s advice, applying herself and excelling in demanding science courses and researching dental schools. When she met a premed student from a prestigious California state university last summer, Teel discovered just how unique her advising situation was. “This student didn’t feel as shepherded,” says Teel.

That “shepherding” continues throughout a student’s time at Seattle Pacific. And one component of the process gives new meaning to the phrase “it takes a village.” More than 20 SPU professors from all disciplines volunteer to be part of four-member advisory committees that interview PPHS students individually, an experience that prepares them for the entrance interviews given by the schools to which they apply. A successful interview with Seattle Pacific faculty leads to a letter of recommendation students include with their application.

Since the new Science Building opened in Autumn 2003, SPU’s PPHS program has become even more popular. To meet the growing demand, Fitch now offers three courses, from freshman- to senior-level, to help students navigate the demanding fouryear PPHS process. How did incoming freshmen respond? “I had 163 students registered when Autumn Quarter began,” she says.

— by Hope McPherson (
— photo by richard brown


Send This Page Send-to-Printer

Back to the top
Back to Home


Beyond Intellectual Mastery
President Philip Eaton offers a more complete view of education: Learning is “a bigger story than our own little pieces of intellectual mastery.”

Advising Future Physicians
In 2006, SPU achieved a 100 percent medical school acceptance rate through its unique, longtime approach to “shepherding” premed students.

Fiction on a Small Canvas
A new volume celebrates the best in Christian short stories — and leads off with a creation of SPU Adjunct Professor Mary Kenagy.

Goodwill Goalkeeping
Star soccer player Marcus Hahnemann ’93 wins fans in Europe, and represents America in the 2006 World Cup.

My Response
Principal and SPU doctoral student Karol Pulliam considers the classroom implications of John Medina’s 12 brain rules.

Back-Cover Art
Class of 2000 alumna Anne Faith Nicholls gives Response readers a “Page One Examination.”

Copyright © 2006 Seattle Pacific University. General Information: 206-281-2000