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History of Pre-Health Committees

What is a Pre-health Committee?
Since the 1970s, most undergraduate colleges and universities in the United States have instituted a pre-health committee. Because the professional schools were at the fore-front of encouraging undergraduate institutions to form pre-health committees, most schools expect applicants from colleges that have a pre-health committee, to use it and to apply with the assistance of their university’s pre-health committee.

Professional School opinions on Pre-health committees:

University of Maryland Dental School
University of Maryland School of Medicine
Each university’s pre-health committee functions differently, but they share a common mission: to evaluate an applicant’s credentials and overall competitiveness for professional school. The pre-health committee at UMBC, the Health Professions Evaluation Committee (HPEC), is comprised of faculty and staff from the Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Physics, and Psychology departments and the Health Professions Advising Coordinator. The HPEC-process, also known as the Pre-Application Phase of the application cycle, assists students with preparing and gathering the necessary documents needed for application to medical and dental school. The “HPEC-process” mirrors the centralized application service process, provides a confidential credentialing service for applicants and the UMBC faculty, ensures consistent and holistic recommendations to professional schools from year to year, and provides professional schools with an executive summary or composite letter for each applicant. Some of the factors considered in the comprehensive review include academic accomplishments, intellectual ability, motivation to pursue a health professions career, leadership and teamwork abilities, standardized test scores, professionalism, and interpersonal communication skills.

A previous edition of AAMC’s Medical School Admission Requirements book provided an excellent summary of the purpose and contents of a pre-health committee composite letter: “One important service provided by the advisor to pre-health students, and frequently also to alumni, is the pre-health committee letter of recommendation. This is usually a composite letter written on behalf of a medical school applicant by the college or university’s pre-health committee. The pre-health advisor may be a committee member or the committee chair, and is usually the liaison between students and the committee, facilitating letter-writing and the distribution of letters to schools. This letter presents an overview of the student’s academic strengths, exposure to health care and medical research environments, contributions to the campus and community, and personal attributes such as maturity and altruism. The letter may also address any extenuating circumstances that may have resulted in deficits in the student’s performance during a course or semester, or provide perspective on challenges and problems that student may have encountered. The letter can also explain school-specific courses and programs in which the student has participated.”

In sum, the pre-health committee letter is an institutional letter which provides a comprehensive evaluation of an applicant’s readiness for professional school while holistically reflecting upon an applicant’s scholarly accomplishments, demonstrated commitment to a healthcare career, research experiences, philanthropic and community service related activities, leadership qualities, and personal characteristics and history.  The overarching goal of the committee’s evaluation is to provide admissions committees with a multidimensional assessment of an applicant’s suitability for medical school and reflections on the applicant’s core competencies, as defined by AAMC.

The credentialing arm of the Health Professions Evaluation Committee acts as an intermediary in the recommendation letter process. The Committee collects and stores recommendation letters written for active applicants and then transmits them to the professional school admission committees, along with the HPEC composite letter or executive summary.

The minimum requirements to access the services of UMBC’s HPEC are fairly consistent from year to year and unless a new policy is implemented, potential applicants can assume that the requirements will be very similar to the ones listed below for the next Cohort.

Requirements are subject to change and potential future applicants should check back to this website for updates and modifications applicable to future cohorts.