WESLEYAN HEALTH PROFESSIONS PANEL & PANEL LETTERS
The Career Center provides counseling and organizational assistance to current Wesleyan students and alumni who are applying to medical and other health-related graduate schools, in fields such as public health, social work, optometry, and counseling psychology. Current students and alumni applying to medical, dental, or veterinary school who are within five years of graduation may also request an institutional letter of recommendation from the Wesleyan Health Professions Panel. Initial inquiry should be made eighteen months prior to intended date of matriculation. You will need to meet with the Health Professions Advisor and open an account with our Credential Service if you have not already done so.
The Wesleyan Health Professions Panel (HPP) is comprised of faculty and administrative staff. The purpose of the HPP is to prepare composite letters for Wesleyan applicants to medical schools. The panel letter describes the candidate's academic performance, relevant experience and personal characteristics in a concise format. Current students and alumni within five years of graduation who are applying to medical, dental, or veterinary school may request preparation of a panel letter. Although the HPP will not refuse a request for a letter, the panel may choose to register reservations about an applicant's candidacy.
RETAINING OR WAIVING YOUR RIGHTS TO SEE LETTERS
At the time that you file the form requesting a panel letter, and with each request you make for individual letters of recommendation, you will be asked to state whether you are retaining or waiving your right to see these documents. Medical schools indicate consistently that they prefer confidential letters to which you have waived your right of access. There may be other considerations, however, that lead you to retain your right of access. If you wish to receive a panel letter, you will be expected to waive your rights to see your individual letters of recommendation since the panel letter is confidential.
STEPS AND DEADLINES FOR REQUESTING A PANEL LETTER
Before a panel letter can be written for you, you must submit:
- a personal statement,
- a resume and accompanying descriptions of listed activities ("detail forms"). Complete a Detail Form for each activity/organization that is listed on your resume,
- transcripts from all colleges or universities (including Wesleyan) where you have taken courses,
- a Preparation Form (which lists those persons you have asked to write letters for you),
- a request for a letter of academic and disciplinary clearance (Clearance Form), and
- Document Transmittal Form
Interview with the Health Professions Advisor and take the MCAT by May 31, 2014. If a candidate does not take the MCAT by that date. If you do not take the MCAT by May 31, 2014, you will receive a standard cover letter that will accompany your individual letters of recommendation. If you believe there are circumstances in your case that warrant an exception to this requirement, you may request an exemption.
You must have at least three letters on file for a panel letter to be written. In your interview, you will be asked about your relevant experiences at Wesleyan and during the summer, why you are interested in the medical profession, and what you hope to contribute to medicine and society as a result of your work. You may find this interview helpful as preparation for the medical school admissions interviews that are part of the application process. To guarantee that your panel letter will be complete by mid-August, you must have your personal statement and letters of recommendation on file in the Career Center by the designated deadlines.
- Please see: "Timeline for Undergraduate Medical School Applicants" for specific dates for this academic year.
Panel letters will be prepared for alumni up to five years after graduation. The deadlines for alumni differ slightly from those for undergraduate students. Alumni applications need to file all necessary documents in a timely manner, including three letters of recommendation, in order to receive a panel letter for the upcoming admissions cycle.
- Please see: "Timeline for Alumni Medical School Applicants" and "Important Steps for Alumni Requesting a Panel Letter" for specific dates for this academic year.
THE PERSONAL STATEMENT
Your personal statement provides your interviewer and other panel members with an idea of why you are pursuing a career in medicine. This may be the first time you will sit down and write about your interest and qualifications. The statement should be between two and three pages in length. You may end up using portions of your personal statement in the "Personal Comments" section of the common application for medical school (AMCAS), which you should file in early June. Some topics you may want to cover are:
- Why are you interested in medicine? What contributions do you want to make to medicine?
- Describe or explain any circumstances that have affected your academic performance in college.
- Identify any talents, skills, and special interests, activities or jobs that may enhance your candidacy for medical school.
- Of your various activities, describe at least one that gave -- or gives -- you the greatest satisfaction and why.
- Is there any specific area of medicine that you are planning to pursue?
LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION
Medical schools want to see letters of recommendation from your professors (at least one in the sciences), employers, and others who have supervised you and can comment from first-hand observation on your performance. Ideally, those who write letters for you should know you well. You would do well to talk with them; give them your resume, and spend a bit of time telling them about your background and your aspirations for a career in medicine. The ideal number of recommendations varies from applicant to applicant. For some, three will suffice; others may want to solicit six or eight. If you are unsure about whom to ask for a recommendation, or how many letters you should request, talk with the Health Professions Advisor about your situation.
Give individuals you've asked to write on your behalf plenty of time to write your letter of recommendation. It may take a month or more to get your letter written. One letter must be from a Wesleyan University staff or faculty member and it is advisable to have at least one letter from a faculty member in the sciences.
The Career Center operates Wesleyan's Credential Service that, for a nominal fee, will keep your letters of recommendation on file for five years, and send them to the schools you designate. When you open a credential file with the Career Center indicate that you are a health professions applicant. For more detailed information, including contact persons and hours of availability, see Career Center's Credential Service. This link also gives you the current year's deadlines for submitting required information for a Health Professions Panel letter and what you may expect as a result of meeting, or not meeting, these deadlines.