Health Sciences Advising Letter Service Application Cycle For Pre-Medical Students

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1 Health Sciences Advising Letter Service Application Cycle For Pre-Medical Students THIS PACKET CONTAINS THE INFORMATION AND LINKS NEEDED FOR A LETTER OF EVALUATION FROM THE HEALTH SCIENCES ADVISING (HSA) LETTER SERVICE FOR STUDENTS PLANNING TO APPLY TO MEDICAL SCHOOL IN SUMMER 2015 IN ORDER TO ENTER MEDICAL SCHOOL IN SUMMER The Health Sciences Advising (HSA) Letter is a cover letter representing the advising team s evaluation of your preparation followed by copies of the individual letters of evaluation submitted to Interfolio on your behalf. The entire package the cover letter and all individual letters is considered one letter by medical schools even though they know that multiple letters are included. Requirements for utilizing the HSA Letter service are intended to help you be better prepared for your application cycle and are necessary to provide your advising team with the information necessary to write an insightful HSA Letter to your medical schools. Materials will be accepted when AMCAS and AACOMAS begin accepting applications in June. Applicants must wait to submit their HSA materials until after submitting their AMCAS/AACOMAS applications. In this packet, you will find information on: Minimum Eligibility Requirements List of Required Materials Collecting Letters of Recommendation for the Health Sciences Advising Letter Process Instructions for Required Materials o Health Sciences Advising Letter Request for Preparation & Waiver Form o List of Letters of Evaluation o GPA form o Information regarding your preparation for medical school After submission of your materials Important tips for your application cycle

2 Minimum Eligibility Requirements To utilize the Committee Letter service, you must meet each of the requirements listed below: 1. You must have completed at least 30 credits of science/math at PSU by the end of Spring term Collect at least three academic letters. Two of these academic letters must be from PSU faculty. o Exception: Postbaccalaureate students who did not earn their Bachelor s degree at PSU can collect at least two academic letters, with at least one being from PSU. However, we still recommended that you have two letters from PSU faculty. 3. Collect at least one non-academic letter. Note: Most students collect more than one non-academic letter. See recommendations on the following pages for more detail. 4. Attend a Self-Evaluation Workshop (dates & times are sent to the listserv and posted each term in the CLAS Advising Center). Re-applicants who have utilized the previous HSAC letter will need to complete an online Self- Evaluation Workshop for Re-Applicants, which will be available on May 1 st. Please contact your pre-med adviser for the link to access at that time. 5. See your pre-medical adviser in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences (CLAS) Advising Center for at least two pre-med advising appointments (drop-in advising does not count), with at least one of those appointments occurring after 9/30/14. Note: It is recommended that you see your pre-med adviser regularly, especially in the application year. 6. Submit all materials on the List of Required Materials included in this packet in a single to AFTER submitting your application to AMCAS or AACOMAS. Materials will not be accepted prior to submission of your AMCAS/AACOMAS application. Note: this address is to be used ONLY for submission of materials. Please contact your pre-med adviser directly for any questions you might have. Deadline: There is not a set deadline for submitting materials this year. Instead, after submitting your AMCAS/AACOMAS application, you will submit your HSA materials. All eligibility requirements and materials (including letters of evaluation) must be complete at that time.

3 List of Required Materials All documents detailed in the following pages will be submitted as a single Word document or PDF to Materials can be submitted after you have submitted your completed AMCAS or AACOMAS application 1. Academic Records: Unofficial or official transcripts from ALL colleges or universities attended (including PSU), submit in.pdf or.doc format. You can also choose to submit MCAT scores if available. 2. Please include the information below in a single Word document or PDF. Instructions for each are included later in this packet. Please title the file in the following format: LastnameFirst- HSA A recent photograph of yourself- this is NOT OPTIONAL. The photo is used to help identify you. You can copy/paste the photo onto the 1 st page of your document. HSA GPA grid (Word document- rename file as: LastnameFirstInitial- gpa) Information on your activities and preparation for medical school, such as a Work & Activities list and Personal Statement. Additional details are contained in the packet. List of Letters of Evaluation 3. Submit Health Sciences Advising Letter Request for Preparation and Waiver Form (available to submit online after June 1 at: If you are also applying to schools that do not use the AMCAS or AACOMAS system (such as some medical schools outside the U.S.), you will submit this form a second time to include contact information and submissions requirements for those specific schools. Note: Your HSA Letter is only for submission to allopathic and osteopathic programs.

4 Collecting Letters of Recommendation for the Health Sciences Advising Letter Process Medical schools expect letters of evaluation from both academic and non-academic evaluators, and both types of letters will be included in your Health Sciences Advising Letter package. Non-academic evaluators are individuals such as work, volunteering, and research supervisors; physicians you have shadowed; and extracurricular and/or leadership activity advisers. Character references (letters from family friends, etc. with whom you have not worked, volunteered, or shadowed) will not be accepted. Academic evaluators are instructors from whom you have taken a class. You may collect letters from other postsecondary institutions you have attended, but at least two of your academic letters must be from PSU faculty. The only exception is for postbaccalaureate pre-med students who did not earn their bachelor s degree at PSU; these students can collect at least two academic letters, with at least one being from PSU (it is still ideal, however, for postbac students to have two letters from PSU faculty and one letter from their undergraduate institution). Use the following as a framework for collecting letters: Two letters from science faculty One to two letters from non-science faculty Three letters from non-academic evaluators Evaluators submit their letters electronically to the CLAS Advising Center via the Interfolio system linked to our office. You must register for Interfolio using the link below before you begin to request letters. Note that this Health Sciences Advising-affiliated Interfolio account is available for any PSU pre-medical student, regardless of whether you will be utilizing the HSA letter service. Using Interfolio to collect letters of evaluation for pre-health students Interfolio is a convenient way to begin collecting letters of evaluation in advance for your future applications to professional programs. You can also use your PSU-affiliated Interfolio account for utilizing the Pre-Health Advising Letter Service as part of your application to medical or dental school. Create a PSU-affiliated Interfolio account: To create an Interfolio account that will be linked with PSU Pre-Health Advising, please use the following link: https://account.interfolio.com/dossier/signup?selected_institution=22955 Interfolio is a pay-to-use service with an account fee of $19 for 1 year or $39.90 for 3 years. As a result, our Request to Forward fee that students previously paid to PSU will be reduced from $36 to an estimated $12. Within the Personal Information section of the account settings, please add your PSU ID# and your AMCAS and/or AACOMAS ID# (once you have obtained them). Note: If you would like to link your previously created Interfolio account to PSU s Pre-Health Advising, please Melissa Yates at and include the address used to create your account.

5 Requesting Letters of evaluation: Be sure to ask references if they are willing to write you a letter of evaluation prior to entering their information into Interfolio. After they have agreed to write the letter, let them know to look for an from Interfolio, which will include instructions for submitting the letter of evaluation. To generate the letter request in Interfolio, you will need to sign into your Interfolio account and click Request Recommendation under the Dossier section. Fill in the required information with their professional contact information. Choose a document tile (such as Recommendation from J. Smith for medical school) and be sure to click the option to indicate This letter must be signed. We also highly recommend that you select This request is for a confidential letter or evaluation (which waives your right to view the letter) since professional schools prefer confidential letters of evaluation. After continuing to the next page, select for your request method. You have the option to attach additional documents for your letter writer to utilize in writing the letter. We recommend that you discuss with your letter writer in advance whether they would find additional documents helpful (ex. resume, transcripts, personal statement). You can also provide the reminders for letter writers found on our website at When you click Send Request Interfolio will send an to your letter writer with instructions on how to submit the letter of evaluation. You can track receipt of your letters within your Dossier. You will see the date of receipt next to the letter listed in your Dossier but you will not be able to view the confidential letter. If you have already collected letters of evaluation in vecollect: Create an Interfolio account using the link and instructions above. Sign in to your Interfolio account and click Request Recommendation under the Dossier section. You will need to complete a request for each letter of evaluation that you want transferred from vecollect to Interfolio. Fill in the required information with the professional contact information for your letter writer. Choose a document tile (such as Recommendation from J. Smith for medical school) and select This request is for a confidential letter or evaluation. Please be sure that you include the letter writer s name in the document title. After continuing to the next page, select Printed form for your request method and complete the request. After completing a request for each letter you want transferred, please contact your pre-health adviser with the address you have used to create your Interfolio account. Your pre-health adviser will complete the transfer and you will be able to see the date your letters were uploaded to Interfolio next to the letter listed in your Dossier. You will not be able to view the confidential letters.

6 INSTRUCTIONS REGARDING REQUIRED DOCUMENTS As part of the HSA requirements, you will need to submit both an online Health Sciences Advising Letter Request for Preparation and Waiver Form and a set of documents. All documents detailed in the following pages will be submitted as a single Word document or PDF to Materials can be submitted AFTER you have submitted your completed AMCAS or AACOMAS application. Health Sciences Advising Letter Request for Preparation and Waiver Form This form can be found at The form will become available on June 1, 2015 for submission. We ask that you do not submit the form until AFTER you have submitted your AMCAS/AACOMAS application and are also ready to submit by your completed HSA documents. The form will cover your basic information (name, major, undergraduate/post-baccalaureate student, address, PSU ID number, numbers of credits completed as PSU, and date of self-evaluation workshop attended). The form will also ask whether you are willing to waive your right to review the evaluation information. Please read this section of the form carefully. We recommend that you choose I waive my right to review the evaluation information on file for me in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences Advising Center, as confidential letters of evaluation tend to carry more weight in the professional school admission process than letters that are not confidential. List of Letters of Evaluation At the end of your Word document or PDF, please include a list of the evaluators submitting letters on your behalf. Be sure to specify the information listed below: Academic Letters (Sciences): Instructor name Course Title/number School and year taken Academic Letters (Non-Sciences): Instructor name Course Title/number School and year taken Non-Academic Letters: First & Last Name Organization Job Title Remember: We recommended aiming for 2 Science, 1 to 2 non-science, & 3 non-academic letters of evaluation.

7 GPA form When you apply to medical school you will submit information on all the college courses you have ever taken and AMCAS (and/or AACOMAS) will use this information to calculate Science (BCPM), All Other (AO), and Total GPAs that will be reported in your med school application. For the HSA we wish to evaluate you based on these GPA categories. To complete the grid on the page below, use the GPA Calculator (Excel doc, provided to obtain the data required to fill out the grid below. If you completed college coursework while in high school, you must also use the AMCAS High School GPA Calculator. Be sure to read the INSTRUCTIONS tab in the Excel document carefully to complete the GPA calculation. Once you have totals from the Excel grid, fill them into the table below. When filling in the GPA grid below, give GPA to two decimal places, for example, A Word document of this grid can also be found at for use in submitting your HSA Letter Service materials. Academic Status BCPM GPA BCPM Hours AO GPA AO Hours Total GPA Total Hours High School (college coursework taken in high school NOT high school coursework) Freshman Sophomore Junior Senior Postbaccalaureate Undergraduate Cumulative Undergraduate (total GPA for each category to date BPCM, AO, Total. Do not leave blank!) Cumulative Graduate

8 Information regarding your preparation for medical school Information provided for the HSA Letter service is intended to provide your advising team with the information necessary to provide an insightful HSA Letter to your medical schools. You can provide any information you wish, but it is recommended that at the least you provide a list of your work and activities as well as your personal statement, which is similar to what you will submit to AMCAS or AACOMAS. You can also choose to share any additional information that you feel might provide the advising team with insight into your background, challenges you ve faced, particular achievements you wish to highlight, or any inconsistencies in your academic record. WORK & ACTIVITIES The details below will help you to prepare a Work & Activities list which meets the AMCAS guidelines. You will be asked to provide a resume-style list of activities and descriptions of the following: Healthcare-related experience (work, volunteering, and/or shadowing) Non-healthcare-related volunteering/community service Non-healthcare-related work experience Research experience Extracurricular & leadership activities (e.g. sing in a choir, play on a sports team, chemistry or physics workshop leader, officer in student organization, team captain, etc.) Honors and scholarships received You may list up to 15 activities. For each, provide a brief title and a description of no more than 700 characters that is somewhat more detailed than what you would include in a resume, yet still succinct. For example, detail in concise language what you did (including skills and abilities developed), observed, and learned from the experience. For each of the up to 15 experiences, provide the name of your supervisory contact for the activity (if you had one). Provide start and end dates for the activity, hours invested, and frequency of participation in the activity (e.g. June September 2009, 4 hours a week, for a total of 240 hours). When listing dates, be sure to include the month and the year (not just the year). Note that Capstones should only be listed if they held special significance to you, and you must reveal that it was for a Capstone class; it is misleading to represent a class as volunteer work. In addition, identify your three most meaningful activities and write more on these three activities; you will have an additional 1325 characters (on top of the 700 provided for the description) to explain why these are the most meaningful. For these activities, please provide the 1325 character expansion directly after the 700 character description. This format reflects that of the AMCAS application. As AMCAS suggests, when providing the additional information on your top three activities, you might want to consider the transformative nature of the experience, the impact you made while engaging in the activity, and the personal growth you experienced as a result of your participation. You can group some items together under one activity heading as appropriate. For example, you would list Dean s List as one of your 15 activities and then include in the description the various terms you were named to the list. Similarly, you could list Short-term Shadowing as one activity and then include the various physicians and areas in the description. (Note: You would not want to try to group several long-term experiences under one heading.)

9 PERSONAL STATEMENT The details below will help you to prepare a personal statement which meets AMCAS requirements. Your personal statement should be no more than 5300 characters, including spaces. This is equivalent to about a page and a half single-spaced. The personal statement is your first opportunity to introduce yourself to the medical schools on a personal level. It is important that you illustrate clearly your motivation for and understanding of medicine as well as your personal characteristics. In doing so, focus on showing (illustrating) more than on telling the reader about your characteristics; being specific and using examples is an effective way of achieving this goal. For example, avoid statements such as, I m empathetic and caring, or I m good at multi-tasking. Instead discuss your experiences and motivations as a way of illustrating these qualities. Be sure to avoid vague statements (e.g. I am captivated by the many functions physicians serve ) and instead provide specifics and examples (e.g. I am drawn to medicine because physicians serve as A and B to patients, as C and D to colleagues, and as E and F to the community. I saw this illustrated vividly in my experience shadowing a family practice physician in. She did. This inspired me because. ) You may want to address the following: Why you want to become a physician. What is unique and interesting about you. What information about you indicates that you understand the field of medicine and are highly motivated to pursue a career as a physician. Future goals (e.g. what qualities do you want to demonstrate as a physician, what goals to you hope to achieve as a physician, etc.) Discuss the meaning behind your experiences: What have you learned/realized from your relevant experiences? How have your experiences informed your perspective on life, medicine, and what it is to be a physician? How do these lessons relate to your values, characteristics, and goals? How have they helped to drive your passion for serving in this profession? You should have some key ideas in mind that you want to communicate in your personal statement and the discussion and examples within your statement should serve to support and illustrate these ideas. While it is common (and encouraged/expected) to reference experiences or lessons learned from work and volunteering activities in the personal statement, it is not necessary to list and provide descriptions of all relevant activities in the personal statement. There is a separate work and activities section of your HSA materials (as well as the medical school application) specifically designed to give you an opportunity to list and describe these activities. In other words, avoid writing a personal statement that is essentially a prose version of your résumé. Remember, the focus is less on providing a list of accomplishments and more on your path to medicine who are you, what have you learned/realized through experiences on your journey and how/why did you learn it? How has this impacted your passion for the field and your related goals? The tutorial linked below may assist you in the development of your personal statement: Many resources are available to provide you with feedback on your personal statement. These include the Writing Center (188F Cramer Hall), the Career Center (402 University Service Building), and your pre-med adviser in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences Advising Center (M305 Smith Student Union).

10 Important Tips: When completing your AMCAS Letters information: When completing the AMCAS application, you must 1) complete the Letters of Evaluation tab and 2) be sure to assign your HSA Letter to each participating school on the Medical Schools tab. The following information will be useful to you as you complete the Letters of Evaluation tab: Select Committee Letter (DO NOT select Letter Packet or Individual Letter ) School providing letter: Portland State University Letter title: PSU HSA Letter Primary Contact/Author & Title: Dr. Melissa Yates, Coordinator. Health Sciences Advising Primary Contact/Author s & phone: Organization name & address: CLAS Advising Center- Portland State University PO Box 751- Mail code CLAS Portland, OR Additional Authors: Leave this blank. Even though multiple individuals submitted letters that are included in your HSA Letter, only one author (Melissa Yates) should be listed (in the Primary Contact field). You do not need to print the AMCAS Letter Request form since the necessary information is included in the Health Sciences Advising Letter Request for Preparation and Waiver Form When completing your AACOMAS letters information: When completing the AACOMAS application, you must 1) click the Supporting Information tile and then select Evaluations, 2) Click on the Create Evaluation Request and provide the information below for the Evaluator s Information: Name: Melissa Yates address: (Please carefully note the spelling! This is also different than the address provided for AMCAS). Due date: You can select a date approximately 3 weeks after your planned date to submit the AACOMAS application. This information is required by AACOMAS but does not replace the 3 week timeline set by the CLAS Advising Office after we have received all of your HSA materials. Personal Message/Notes: For HSA letter service Note: Students utilizing the HSA letter service will only have 1 evaluation request (detailed above) in their application. However, we will be including all of your individual letters as part of the HSA letter packet. When applying to schools not participating in the AMCAS or AACOMAS Letters Services (such as non-us medical schools): You can submit the Health Sciences Advising Letter Request for Preparation and Waiver Form a second time when you receive instructions on submitting the letters. Some schools will request them as part of the initial application, while others may ask for letters to be submitted later in the application process as part of a secondary application See your pre-med adviser regularly to discuss your progress toward application. Plan ahead and be proactive in scheduling your advising appointments. Advisers book out far in advance due to the volume of pre-med students at PSU. Make sure you meet or will have met all admission requirements for the medical schools to which you are applying by your expected medical school start date.

11 Take the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) as early in the application cycle as possible (ideally by May 2015 and no later than August 2015). The September 2015 administration is accepted by most medical schools but is not recommended, as it takes place rather late in the application cycle. Only take the MCAT when you are adequately prepared. Adequate preparation is typically associated with 1) completion of recommended coursework 2) long-term, intensive study and practice, and 3) satisfaction with practice scores. If you are not sure when to take the MCAT, please discuss it with your pre-med adviser. MCAT registration information is available at You should register at least 60 days in advance of when you want to take the exam to have the best chance of reserving a seat on your preferred test day. o Registration for April-June 2015 test dates will open on Feb 11. o Registration for July-Sept 2015 test dates will open in mid-april. Apply early in the application cycle. The AMCAS (American Medical College Application Service) and AACOMAS (American Association of Osteopathic Medical Colleges Application Service) applications typically become available in May. AMCAS and AACOMAS begin to accept medical school applications during the first week of June, although the application deadline for most medical schools is October 15 or after. We recommend that you submit your application in June after spring term grades have posted. o It can take up to six weeks for your application to be processed and many medical schools use rolling admissions. In other words, they review applications and move forward with filling interview slots and then slots in the incoming class as they receive applications. Early application also allows time to resolve any issues that may arise during the application verification process. For those taking the MCAT in August, it might make more sense to wait until July to submit the application. This is related to receipt of secondary applications; consult your adviser for more details. NOTE: It is okay to submit your application before you know your MCAT score, though there are some risks involved with this strategy. If you are not sure if you should wait until you know your score to submit your application, please discuss it with your pre-med adviser. The AMCAS and AACOMAS applications will post at the following links: Request that institutions send your official transcripts to AMCAS/AACOMAS as early as possible. When completing the AMCAS and AACOMAS applications, you must request that every postsecondary institution you have ever attended send transcripts to AMCAS/AACOMAS (using a Transcript Request Form that is available within the application). They will begin to accept transcripts when the application opens in May. You can start to request that transcripts be sent before you have even submitted your application. Don t request that your PSU transcript be sent or submit your AMCAS/AACOMAS application until all grades you wish to be included as part of your AMCAS/AACOMAS GPA have posted. Course grades posted after submission are not included in your GPA for the cycle. After submitting your HSA Letter Service Materials: It can take up to 3 weeks for your HSA Letter to be completed and submitted. This does not delay the processing of your AMCAS or AACOMAS application. Respond to secondary applications in a timely fashion. After receiving your primary application, many medical schools will request that you complete a secondary application. Some, such as OHSU, may require you to know your MCAT score in order to determine if you should complete the secondary application. The secondary may include more essay questions and requests for more information on your activities, residency, background, and fulfillment of prerequisites. Institutions typically impose a deadline for receipt of the secondary application respond in a timely fashion due to rolling admissions. Your pre-med adviser is available to help in reviewing your responses prior to submitting.

12 Prepare for interviews. After you submit secondary applications, you will hopefully begin to receive requests to interview at various institutions. Practice discussing your experiences, goals, and motivations. One of the best ways to do so is to attend an interviewing workshop and schedule a mock interview in the PSU Career Center (402 University Services Building; ); schedule your mock interview even if you haven t yet been invited to interview at a medical school yet. If you wait to contact the Career Center until after you have been invited to interview at a medical school, it is likely that you will not be able to take advantage of the Career Center resources prior to your interview, as they will be booked out.

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