Program Overview

Huwighurruk is a health education pathway for learners who are passionate about becoming physicians and are focused on serving American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) communities. Huwighurruk is designed to empower participants as they navigate their path to medicine. The program will provide a culturally focused framework, intertwined with academic rigor, to successfully recruit and retain prospective medical students focused on serving AI/AN tribes and communities within rural and urban areas. If requirements are met, students will have an agreement for acceptance into UC Davis School of Medicine and the Tribal Health PRIME Pathway the following academic year. This conditional acceptance to UC Davis School of Medicine requires the following: 

  • Maintain a 3.7 GPA or higher for the duration of the program.
  • An MCAT score of 499 or higher.
  • Completion of UC Davis School of Medicine prerequisite requirements
  • A letter of completion and recommendation from the program director(s), which outlines academic readiness for medical school.

Huwighurruk THPB Eligibility Criteria

Learn more about our eligibility criteria by clicking HERE!

Students are expected to commit full-time to this program, with major components including:

  • Minimum of 21 units of Biology, Chemistry, Physics or Math (BCPM). Classes will be selected based on previous coursework;
  • Minimum of 6 units of Native American Studies and/or health issues related to American Indian/Alaska Native health disparities;
  • 1 unit per semester of scholarly or clinical activity, and cohort seminar (16-20 hours per semester).
  • Evaluation and referral for tutorial and academic services to increase success, as needed.
  •  Summer Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) preparation and the medical school application process.

*If student does not meet academic requirements at program conclusion, the program will continue to work with student an additional 9 months, then reassess readiness and program eligibility.

Academic Curriculum

During the fall and spring semesters (and summer for some), students enroll full-time at Cal Poly Humboldt in rigorous upper-division science courses. Attention will focus on strengthening a student's preparatory background and demonstrating success in a challenging academic environment. Each participant, in close consultation with program advisors and directors, selects the course load. Students will also complete Native American Studies courses of interest that will add foundation and focus to specializing in patient care in Tribal and other AI/AN communities. In addition, cultural and tribal traditional frameworks will be taught in specific seminars geared to these students. Throughout the academic year, students will also have opportunities to engage in research and/or clinical self-directed activities, seminars focused on application preparation, professional development, health disparities, introduction to clinical reasoning, and other related topics.

MCAT Preparation

In most cases, students begin with a CARS (Critical Analysis and Reasoning) preparation during their Spring Semester. In early/mid-June, students take a six-week session that consists of interactive instruction in learning skills and an intensive MCAT review course. Outside of class, students’ study in small groups and take turns teaching each other the concepts, with support from the staff coordinator and program faculty.

Medical School Application Process

The program includes development of the medical school application with a writing specialist, selecting schools, and preparing for interviews. In addition to workshops, individual advising is provided throughout the application process. A detailed letter of recommendation is provided for each student who completes the program successfully.

Huwighurruk will cover the cost of tuition, educational fees, and housing expenses. Postbaccalaureate year costs are summarized on tuition and living expenses website. Prior to program start, participants will work with the Financial Aid Office on the Cal Poly Humboldt campus, and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) will be required. The FAFSA should be submitted by March 2, 2024 for the upcoming academic year. Students will receive a stipend during the academic year to help offset other living and program costs, most especially during the summer to focus on MCAT preparation. Currently this stipend is projected to be $1,137/month (August through June).


Housing costs will be covered for students living in program-provided, on-campus residences (as resources are available). If other options are utilized, students will be responsible for their own housing costs, but the program will assist with connections to resources as available.

The Tribal Health Postbaccalaureate Program is intended for individuals who:

  1. CATEGORY 1: Are seeking academic enhancement to prepare for medical school.
  2. CATEGORY 2: Previously applied to medical school but were not accepted or do not possess a qualifying MCAT score for medical school.
  3. CATEGORY 3: Non-science majors or “career changers” now seeking a career as a physician.

To be eligible for Huwighurruk, the following criteria apply:

  • Be a citizen or descendant of a federally recognized American Indian/Alaska Native AI/AN Tribe or have a CDIB showing tribal affiliation, or Descend from a person with a Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood (CDIB), or Descend from a person on the California census rolls of 1928 or 1933, or on the California Judgment Fund Rolls of 1953 or 1972.
  • Ideally be a resident of California, have significant ties to California or demonstrated significant commitment to any AI/AN Communities or Tribes.
  • Demonstrate a history of commitment to practice in the AI/AN community.
  • Have completed most, if not all of the undergraduate degree requirements (or higher) from an accredited US college or university.
  • For CATEGORY 1 and 2 applicants, student must have completed the majority of basic prerequisite coursework for medical school.
    • 1 Year- Biology with lab
    • 1 Year- General Chemistry with lab
    • 1 Year- Organic Chemistry with lab
    • 1 Year- Physics with lab
    • Biochemistry is encouraged, but not required.
    • Have an undergraduate and science GPA average of at least 2.9 and a BCPM GPA average of 2.5
  • For CATEGORY 3 applicants, students must have completed:
    • 1 Year- General Chemistry with lab
    • 1 Year- Biology with lab
    • Have an undergraduate cumulative GPA average of at least 3.2
  • Initial online application
  • All official college transcripts
  • Three essays
    • Personal Comment (2500 char.)
    • Postbaccalaureate Essay (2500 char.)
    • Significant Experience (2500 char.)
  • Three letters of recommendation
    • One from a science faculty member, one from a tribal and/or urban AI/AN community service experience, and one from the following list: 
      • Research Director or Principal Investigator (if you have research experience) 
      • Tribal leader, AI/AN health clinic leader or AI/AN tribal community leader regarding volunteer experience or commitment to serving the AI/AN community.  
      • Medical/Research Pathway Program Director (if you are a current participant or have completed a pathway program) 
      • Current employer 
      • Faculty member (science or non-science professor) 
  • Secondary application (by invitation only)
    • Program Category
    • Confirmation of Eligibility Criteria
    • Other Pathway Program Participation (if applicable)
    • Two Supplemental Essay Questions
      • Describe what qualities or assets you would bring to the UC Davis School of Medicine community? (300-500 words)
      • What experiences have you had with rural and/or underserved communities/populations and more specifically what involvement have you had with tribal communities/populations? (300-500 words)