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Are you applying to medical, dental, or pharmacy school or other health professions program this year?

Applying to a health professions program-medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, veterinary medicine, or any of the other professional programs-- can be challenging, and it is much easier to go through the process with a guide. The Health Professions Advisory Program (HPAP) can help you prepare and avoid the pitfalls. We can aid you in making the tough choices about careers and schools, and can help you navigate the sometimes complicated application and admissions process.

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Below are some important steps in the application process:

Admissions TestsThe standardized admission test for the health profession of your choice is something you begin preparing for the moment that you enter college. MHCP can assist in you in identifying information and resources for these exams.

Health professions admissions test requires a significant amount of time and effort for adequate preparation. To get a score that accurately reflects your best efforts can take anywhere from 3-5 months of study. Most students prepare for and then take the appropriate standardized exam as they begin the 12-14 month application process.

Some students choose to participate in a preparatory review courses such as Kaplan, Princeton or Examkrackers , geared toward different learning styles and levels of comfort with the material. These courses can be expensive although test preparation organizations do have some discounted fees for which one may apply. Others forgo formal review courses and purchase their own review materials and study on their own or in small study groups. Whatever direction you choose, MHCP can help you find the way that works best for you and identify resources to help you with the process.

 

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Centralized Application ServicesMost, but not all, health professions programs use a centralized application service which means you have to submit only one application which will be received by the schools/programs you designate in a specific health profession. Becoming familiar with these centralized application services can help simplify the process and improve your chances of admission. Individual graduate program and centralized application websites will have detailed information on specific requirements. Links to the common Centralized Application Services appear below:

  • Allopathic Medicine (MD) - AMCAS American Association of Medical Colleges Application Services
  • Dental Medicine -AADSAS American Dental Schools Application Service
  • Osteopathic Medicine(DO) - AACOMAS American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Services
  • Pharmacy - PharmCas Pharmacy School Application Service
  • Physician Assistant - CASPA Principle Application Service for Physician Assistants
  • Podiatric Medicine - AACPMAS American Association of Podiatric Medicine Application Service
  • Public Health - SOPHAS Schools of Public Health Application Service
  • Veterinary Medicine - VMCAS Veterinary Medical College Application Service

Did you know?

  • Submitting your application late can be disadvantageous as many schools have a rolling admissions process.
  • Applicants do not always begin their professional degree programs immediately after completing their undergraduate degree. See an example plan for students taking one or two extra years after graduation to prepare for the application process.
  • Beginning in the summer of 2010, the UCR Career Center   will NO longer offer a letter of recommendation file service to new users but will continue serving those with current accounts until it expires. Applicants are encouraged to create a new file with Interfolio.
  • The cost of applying to medical schools can vary from $2,000 to over $5,000, though in certain circumstances those unable to pay the fee may apply for a waiver of some fees. For example: Regular registration for MCAT - $230; AMCAS fee for 1 school - $160, each additional school is $32.  If an average applicant applies to 15 schools then the AMCAS fee will be $608.  The application fee for a secondary application ranges from $50 - $100.  At an average rate of $75 for 15 schools will total $1125.  The cost for travel for interviewing at each school will vary greatly depending on the number and locations.  Additionally, many students complete test prep courses which can average in cost between $1500 - $2000.

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Personal Statements

 Most applications to health professions programs require a personal statement. First and foremost, a personal statement is personal. There is no one way to write a personal statement, but you should address the development of your interest in your chosen health profession and your path to applying to the program. Important experiences and what you learned from them, especially in terms of your personal growth, any particular strengths you will bring to the profession, and your educational and career goals should be considered when writing you personal statement. Also consider discussing adversity you might have overcome and also how you will contribute to the diversity (in the broadest sense) of the class. The personal statement should not be a re-hash of your activities list or resume. MHCP staff can review and work with you on this important part of the application. Are there other campus resources for reviewing personal statements?

As important as the statement is, an outstanding narrative is only as strong as the applicant's track record in service, leadership, and scholarly work. In other words, an outstanding statement cannot over compensate for a weak record.

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Letters of RecommendationLetters of recommendation are a particularly critical component of the application because they verify the level of contribution, innovation and independence that would be otherwise merely listed on the application. Admissions committees are very interested in your academic achievement and they are just as interested in your character, experience, and motivation for a career in the health professions.

You should plan to have two letters from science faculty and at least one from a faculty member in another discipline. However, it is especially important that you have letters of recommendation from individuals who can describe your leadership skills, campus and community service, research or innovation in scholarly projects, and understanding of and commitment to a career in a specific health profession.  These letters can be from research supervisors, job supervisors, project mentors, etc.

You should carefully determine whom to ask for a recommendation letter. Be sure to ask a potential recommender if s/he knows you well enough to write a strong letter of support and is willing to do so. Recommenders need sufficient time to write your letter and should have your CV and personal statement to review. It can also be helpful to schedule an appointment with a potential recommender to discuss the recommendation letter-and always be sure to follow up with a written "thank you."

M.D. Applicants: AMCAS Letter Service Pilot

The American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS), the national centralized application process for applying to M.D. programs, has expanded its letter of recommendation service to now include almost 100 medical schools.  AMCAS collects letters of recommendation and makes them available electronically to the schools.  

If you are applying to any of the designated medical schools participating in this program, you can use the Interfolio service to collect all your letters and have them send one packet of letters to AMCAS (regardless of how many of these schools you are applying to), and AMCAS will forward your letter packet to the schools you designate on your AMCAS application. 

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Preparing for the Interview

InterviewerAdmission committee interviews are yet another critical component of the selection process for nearly all health professions programs. Learning as much as you can about the type of interview, who will be involved, and preparing well thought out questions for the interviewer(s) will help demonstrate your interest in the program. Students should work with the Career Center and the Health Professions Advisory Program (HPAP) staff to prepare for this important part of the admissions process.

The MHCP staff can meet with you and provide individual assistance.

 

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