Western University of Health Sciences’ College of Pharmacy and College of Optometry signed linkage agreements with California State University, Fullerton, creating an Early Admission Program (EAP).

“The linkage agreement with California State University, Fullerton is an important step in our efforts to create early assurance programs with important minority-serving academic partners,” said College of Pharmacy Dean Daniel Robinson, PharmD. “CSUF has a strong commitment to diversity, which aligns perfectly with our interest in attracting students with diverse backgrounds into the health professions. This linkage has special significance to me, since I am a proud graduate of CSUF.”

“We really value our partnership with Cal State Fullerton in supporting students from different backgrounds who want to pursue a career in optometry,” said College of Optometry Dean Elizabeth Hoppe, OD, DrPH, MPH. “The opportunity to increase diverse perspectives and diverse backgrounds will strengthen our student body and ultimately benefit both our profession and the patients served by our graduates.”

Cal State Fullerton students must spend at least one year in the linkage program to become familiar with WesternU. Typically, students would enter the program in their junior year after completing required courses at Cal State Fullerton, and would be admitted to the EAP by the respective college admissions committee. They will spend time on WesternU’s campus and work closely with WesternU students and faculty.

“So that means when they come on campus (as WesternU students), they’re already very comfortable with campus,” said Christina Goode, PhD, Cal State Fullerton Professor of Biochemistry and Director of Health Professions Program, and WesternU Adjunct Professor. “They tend to take a lead in their class.”

The linkage program provides WesternU colleges with a diverse group of students.

“We specifically target groups of students who are underrepresented minorities, financially or socially disadvantaged, and students who have demonstrated a willingness to work with disadvantaged populations,” Goode said.

Cal State Fullerton also has linkage agreements with WesternU’s College of Podiatric Medicine and the College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific.

Second-year College of Podiatric Medicine student Bryant Nachtigall entered the Cal State Fullerton linkage program as a post-baccalaureate student, having earned a kinesiology degree. During his time in the linkage program, he shadowed several College of Podiatric Medicine faculty members.

“It’s a great preview in terms of learning their philosophy,” he said. “It allows you to start fostering that relationship with mentors. It makes for a more comfortable transition, having a good overview of faculty and staff.”

Nachtigall said he would recommend the linkage program to others. Some of his peers spent thousands of dollars applying to several medical schools and visiting various campuses.

“It allows you to save a lot of time, effort and money,” he said.

Nachtigall is president of the DPM Class of 2016 and president of the WesternU chapter of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons.

“Familiarity with campus gives you more confidence to take on more responsibilities,” he said. “It’s easier to work with faculty if they’re familiar with you from shadowing.”