The Premedical Committee Letter and Letters of Recommendations

 

A premedical committee letter is a summary letter that presents a comprehensive synopsis of your academic, extracurricular, and professional accomplishments, your service experiences, and your motivation and commitment to a career in medicine. Many medical schools require or prefer that applicants have a premedical committee letter from their undergraduate institution or postbaccalaureate program. The committee letter serves as a cohesive narrative of your background and experiences.

The prehealth advisor in collaboration with the Director of Health Professions Advising will write your premedical committee letter based upon information from your autobiography, meetings with the prehealth advisor, recommendation letters you request from faculty or other supervisors, and input from your dean and members of the science faculty. The premedical committee packet will include your premedical committee letter and copies of all of the recommendation letters that you request us to send to medical schools.

The Office of Health Professions Advising will provide a premedical committee letter for both undergraduates and alumnae who are applying to medical school and who meet the deadlines for the premedical committee letter process. There are no minimum GPA requirements or MCAT scores in order for you to receive a committee letter.  Alumnae enrolled in premedical postbaccalaureate programs or biomedical sciences graduate programs should first consult their premedical program advisors to see if the program will provide a premedical committee letter.

Process for obtaining a Bryn Mawr College Premedical Committee Letter

1.  Write an autobiography following the Autobiography Guidelines

The autobiography is a guided questionnaire that will enable you to reflect on and explain the experiences that have helped you to prepare for and choose a career in medicine. The autobiography is a document only for review by the prehealth advisor; it is not provided to anyone else on campus or to medical schools.

The autobiography is usually due during the first week of the spring semester of the year that you intend to apply to medical school.

2. Autobiography meeting with the prehealth advisor

Following submission of the autobiography you must schedule an autobiography meeting with the prehealth advisor. During this meeting you will be able to discuss your experiences and motivation for a career in medicinel as well as to consider your "readiness" for applying to medical school. This is an opportunity to explore your strengths and assess any potential weaknesses in your qualifications. In this meeting you will also discuss whom to ask for letters of recommendation to support your medical school application. The autobiography meeting must be completed before spring break of the application year.

3. Supporting letters of recommendation

One of the advantages of attending a small liberal arts college is the opportunity to get to know and work closely with professors. If you have developed a professional rapport with them, their letters will reflect knowledge of your personal qualities and long term goals as well as your academic abilities.  In addition to faculty, medical schools will also want to learn about your extracurricular, service, and work experiences from your supervisors. Recommendation letters are due in the Office of Health Professions Advising by June 1 of the application year.

The following are guidelines for other letters of recommendation for you to include in the premedical committee packet

  • You will need two letters from science faculty, and it is recommended that the letters are from professors from different scientific disciplines.
  • If you are not a science major you will also need a letter from a professor from your major.
  • You should include letters from nonacademic references such as work/study and community service supervisors, team coaches, medically-related volunteer or clinical employment supervisors, etc. During the autobiography meeting you can discuss with the prehealth advisor which supervisors to ask for letters of recommendation.
  • If you are applying to osteopathic medical school, be aware that many osteopathic medical schools require and most strongly recommend a letter from an osteopathic physician whom you have shadowed.
  • A premedical committee packet for seniors and recent Bryn Mawr graduates often consists of 4-6 letters of recommendation in addition to the premedical committee letter.

4.  Required forms

All letters of recommendation must be accompanied by a Recommendation Request Form with signatures from both the applicant and the recommender (see instructions below). All applicants must turn in a signed Recommenders List to the Office of Health Professions Advising by June 1 of the year that they are applying. The Recommenders List also serves as the waiver form for retaining or waiving the applicant's right to see the premedical committee letter.

Guidelines for Asking for Letters of Recommendation

It is recommended that you meet with letter writers in person to request a recommendation letter.  You can send email to recommenders to ask for a letter and to request a meeting about writing a recommendation.

  • Requesting the recommendation letter:  If you are asking someone to write a letter of recommendation and it is not possible to meet in person, try your best to set up an appointment to speak with them over the phone.  Share with them your career interests, and provide information on your performance in his or her class, lab, or other activity. Be clear about why you would like them to write you a letter.
  • Provide supporting materials: Give each recommender your resume. Providing these details will help the individual write a strong letter and also ensure that your letter has accurate information regarding your activities, such as dates and places you worked. If you take responsibility in giving your recommenders solid information, you help yourself in getting compelling and informative letters of recommendation.
  • Provide each individual writer with the Recommendation Request Form. This required document provides guidelines on how to write the letter and where to send the completed letter for your file. It also lets the writer and medical schools know whether or not you retain your right to see the recommendation letter.
  • Provide a deadline: Each recommender should be given one to two months at a minimum to write your letter of recommendation. Be sure to ask if the deadline you have provided is reasonable for the person's work schedule and other commitments. All letters of recommendation should be submitted to Office of Health Professions Advising by June 1st of the appilcation year. Contact the prehealth advisor if the recommender feels that she/he would need additional time to write the letter.

Waiving your Rights

For individual letters of recommendation and the premedical committee letter, you will have to decide whether to waive your rights to access the letter of recommendation. If you do not waive your rights, you may have access to read the letters in your file. If you waive your rights, you do not have access to your letters, nor can Health Professions Advising staff share with you the content of the letters in your file.  Medical schools typically prefer confidential letters of recommendation; however, you should make a decision that makes you comfortable. Feel free to speak to the prehealth advisor if you have any questions.