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Requesting Letters of Evaluation / Recommendation

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Letters Overview

Evaluations are important. They are personal statements about you as well as about your work. Think carefully about the evaluations you solicit. Health professional school admissions committees are interested in a variety of competencies that include:

  • Thinking & Reasoning Competencies
  • Science Competencies
  • Interpersonal Competencies (service orientation, social skills, cultural competence, teamwork, oral communication)
  • Intrapersonal Competencies (ethical responsibility, reliability and dependability, resilience and adaptability, capacity for improvement)

There is no perfect number of evaluations. In general, an average of four recommendation letters is suggested, with a potential of more for MD/PhD programs depending on the number of research experiences one has obtained.  When considering whom to ask:

  • Think of those aspects of your work and activities you wish presented and who might do that best.
  • Do not overlook areas outside the sciences.
  • Your major field of study is especially important.
  • Two science evaluations (preferably from course work or course laboratories) should be included, regardless of major.
  • Letters from significant research supervisors are encouraged. Some medical schools require letters from all Research P.I.’s, so check each schools' policies.
  • Remember college deans, coaches, employers, volunteer activities, and summer experiences.
  • Think about requesting letters from people who can vouch for your possession of the different competencies that schools seek in their students.
  • Assemble a group of references that can together create a picture of the range of accomplishments and competencies.

How to Request Letters from Evaluators

  • Whenever possible, ask for an evaluation letter in person.
  • Provide the writer Guidelines for Writing a Letter of Evaluation for a Medical School Applicant.
  • Ask the writer to include a statement in the letter that, "The applicant has waived his/her right to view this letter."
  • Prepare a succinct and brief autobiographical statement and resume which helps the writer understand your background. Most people appreciate this aid to memory. You might include some discussion of the development of your professional goals and your extracurricular interests.  Consider providing the writer your Health Professions Evaluation Profile Form.
  • You should give the people writing your letters a sense of why you are asking them specifically and what perspective you think they can bring to your application file.  Let them know what aspect of your work or what competency they can speak to that your other letter writers cannot.
  • Ask for your letters well in advance of when they are due.  People will be much more willing to write a thoughtful letter if they have plenty of time in which to do so.
  • Let your writers know the outcome of your applications, even if you didn't get in anywhere, and thank them again for their help.  This simple communication shows you are mature, responsible, and appreciative of their time.  Additionally, if you need them to write another letter for you in the future, keeping in touch with them will make them more willing to do so.

Please Note:

  • Evaluations must be submitted on letterhead and must have an original signature. It is the applicant's responsibility to inform their writer(s) of this information.
  • Evaluations should augment your academic and professional record.
  • The status of the writer is not as important as the content of the evaluation. You should ask those people who know you and your work best.

In accordance with the Family Rights to Privacy Act, applicants have the right to read letters of recommendation received and/or sent out about them. Admissions committees, however, view confidential evaluations much more seriously, and the applicant should consider this very carefully, since medical and other health professions schools will be informed if you have NOT waived your right to read the letters.

Submitting Letters of Recommendation/Evaluation to Interfolio Dossier Service

Beginning with the 2018-2019 application cycle, HPAP has contracted with Interfolio for the collection of individual letters of recommendation/evaluation.  This service will allow applicants more flexibility for where letters are sent during the health professions application process (for example: when you have letters sent from Interfolio to the application service(s) such as AMCAS, TMDSAS, AACOMAS, or AADSAS at the time of application, you'll be able to designate which letters go to each individual school).

How to Begin:

  • Set up your Free Dossier Account with Interfolio (the information is at the bottom of the linked web page).
  • Request your individual letters of recommendation/evaluation through your account.  It is recommended letters are submitted by early June.
  • When you are ready to apply to a health profession program, the HPAP office will provide you a discounted subscription code for $44, good for the first year.  This charge replaces the former $50 processing fee.