The Health Professions Recommendation Committee

Committee letters of recommendation are preferred by most medical schools. Benedictine University uses a committee letter process to provide students and alumni with letters of recommendation for application to medical and other health profession schools. To carry out this work the committee meets with applicants to learn more about each applicant and put their individual letters of recommendation into a cohesive perspective.

A letter is prepared on the basis of input from both the student and the faculty members. This input includes an application, personal statement, interviews, and letters of recommendation from other sources. Upon the request of the student, this committee letter is sent to the professional schools of their choice. All students seeking admission to professional schools should plan to interview with the members of this committee during the year before applying for professional school; typically, this will be your junior year. If you are considering going through the Health Professions Recommendations Committee, please read the "Application Eligibility" section to make sure you qualify. All of the items listed contain valuable information. It is to your advantage to read through all of them!

REVISED COMMITTEE PROCESSES
EFFECTIVE FALL 2021

PLEASE REVIEW CAREFULLY AND THOROUGHLY

Application eligibility- Undergraduate Students

Benedictine students and alumni interested in a health professional school after graduation and who meet the following criteria are eligible to participate in the HPRC process:

 

  • Completion of Intent to Participate form by the end of the third week of the Fall semester, submitted to the Director of the Pre-Health Professions Program.
  • Minimum cumulative GPA 3.3 from ALL post-secondary institutions
  • Minimum BCPM (Bio, Chem, Physics, Math) course GPA 3.1 from ALL post-secondary institutions
  • Minimum 30 credit hours of classes completed at Benedictine University by the end of the academic year in which a letter is sought
  • Minimum 12 credit hours  in BCPM courses completed at Benedictine by the end of the academic year in which a letter is sought, including at least one lab course.
  • Interest in one of the following professions:

    o    Medicine (MD and DO)
    o    Dentistry
    o    Podiatry
    o    Pharmacy
    o    Optometry
    o    Physician Assistant
    o    Veterinary
    o    Physical Therapy
    o    Occupational Therapy
    o    Nursing
    o    Podiatry
    o    Chiropractic

Upon submission of the “Intent to Participate” form, a personal Dropbox folder is created for the student. The student will then be sent a personalized link to the folder, where he/she can upload completed files. However, he/she cannot see the contents of his/her folder; only the HPRC members can.

Application eligibility- Graduate Students

1. EligibilityGraduate students currently enrolled in a Master’s program at Benedictine who are interested in attending a health professional school after graduation and who meet the following criteria are eligible to participate in the HPRC process:

  • Completion of Intent to participate form by the end of the third week of the Fall semester, submitted to the Director of the Pre-Health Professions Program.
  • Minimum cumulative GPA 3.0 in the graduate program.
  • At least 14 credit hours of classes completed in the graduate program at Benedictine University by the time the application is submitted
  • Interest in one of the following professions:
    • Medicine (MD and DO)
    • Dentistry
    • Pharmacy
    • Optometry
    • Physician Assistant
    • Veterinary
    • Physical Therapy
    • Occupational Therapy
    • Nursing
    • Podiatry
    • Chiropractic

Upon submission of the “Intent to Participate” form, a personal Dropbox folder is created for the student. The student will then be sent a personalized link to the folder, where he/she can upload completed files. However, he/she cannot see the contents of his/her folder; only the HPRC members can.

Collection of application components

 

A completed application packet for the student includes all of the following:

There are two deadlines for submission of these documents through the provided Dropbox link:

Priority deadline: End of the eighth week of the Fall Semester (Friday, October 22, 2021 by 5:00 PM Central Time)

  • The priority deadline will allow those students earlier access to interviews, thus maximizing their time to correct any deficiencies in their application. 
  • Students are encouraged to submit a draft of their application by this deadline even if it is not complete.

Final deadline: End of the first week of the Spring Semester (Friday, January 21, 2022 by 5:00 PM Central Time)

  • The final deadline is strict! Any incomplete applications after that date will result in the student not being allowed to interview with the HPRC in the 2021-2022 academic year.
  • Students who still have incomplete applications at the beginning of the spring semester will be contacted by the HPRC Chair, reminding them of the final deadline.

If a student needs to obtain a committee letter prior to the end of the fall semester he/she is applying, the student may petition the HPRC Chair and the Director of the Pre-Health Professions Program for an expedited application process. In this case, the complete application is due by the end of the fifth week of the fall semester.

 

Students are asked to obtain a minimum of three (3), but no more than six (6), individual letters of recommendation (iLORs). Those three letters must come from a combination of two (2) science faculty and one (1) additional resource (not necessarily faculty) that can speak to the student’s non-academic qualities. This could be a clinician who supervised a shadowing experience, a direct supervisor of a clinical work experience, a Scholar’s advisor, a research mentor, a supervisor for a volunteering experience, etc.

 

If additional letters beyond the required three are submitted, they may come from other faculty, clinicians the student has worked or shadowed with, volunteer coordinators, etc.

 

**It is expected that you will ask those whom you are requesting iLOR’s from in advance if it is okay that they provide a letter for you. If it is discovered that you did not do this, the HPRC may penalize your recommendation by one level.

 

For transfer students with < 30 credit hours of Benedictine coursework (in their first year at Benedictine at the time of submitting the “Intent to Participate” form) and graduate students, there is a slightly different iLOR requirement:

  • At least one (1) letter from a science faculty member at Benedictine or at a prior institution and a letter from an additional resource that can speak to the student’s non-academic qualities should be submitted as part of the application process.
  • By the end of Spring semester of the year the student applies, the student must ensure that at least two (2) letters from science faculty, including at least one Benedictine science faculty member, are included in his/her portfolio. These combined letters then must satisfy the requirements met by all Benedictine students (two from science faculty, one from an additional resource)
Committee Review process
  • All finalized applications will be available to all members of the HPRC. For each applicant, two (2) members of the committee will be assigned for primary review of the student’s application.
  • These primary reviewers, along with the Director of the Pre-Health Professions Program, will conduct a personal interview of the applicant during the fall semester (“Expedited” or “Priority” applicants) or the spring semester (all other applicants). Applicants should check their e-mail address provided to the committee for who they need to schedule interviews with and when.
  • All members of the HPRC will review each student’s application file and primary reviewers’ assessments, and they will provide their own insights and collective committee decision at the committee’s meetings.
  • The HPRC Chair will prepare a summary of feedback to each applicant after the committee’s review of the applicant is complete. This will be done via the e-mail address provided by the applicant, with an invitation for a meeting to discuss further should one be desired by the applicant.
The Personal Statement

This is an open-ended statement where you tell us about why you want to go into the profession of your choosing. Your statement should be about 2 pages, double-spaced, but no more than 4600 characters for most applications.

The idea of the statement is for you to tell us something unique about your background and why you want to go into the profession of your choosing. This is your chance to be creative and help yourself stand out from other applicants.

We recommend that you share one or two interesting stories that helped confirm you are going into the right profession for you: something that took place when you were younger, and/or something that you experienced through shadowing or working in your field.

Try to avoid clichés like “I like science” or “I want to help people”, as these won’t help you stand out from other applicants.

This is typically the most difficult part of the application for many students, so we encourage you to start working on this early so you have time to prepare and review drafts.

**Need some help getting started and/or someone to help review a draft? Make an appointment with Ms. Anne Marie Smith in the Writing Zone (axsmith@ben.edu).

The HPRC Interviews

Interviews will be scheduled in a minimum of two blocks: those that made the “Priority Deadline” and those who submitted after this, but by the “Final Deadline”.

Those that meet the “Priority Deadline” will be interviewed in the fall semester prior to Thanksgiving Break, but all other students will be interviewed in the spring semester prior to Spring Break.

Depending on committee members’ preferences, some informal, preparatory interviews may start taking place in the fall semester for non-priority students, but the vast majority of interviews will take place in the spring semester.

Students will be asked to take part in three (3) interviews:

  • A one-on-one interview with the Director of the Pre-Health Professions Program
  • Two interviews with two randomly-selected faculty members of the HPRC
  • Faculty and the Director of Pre-Health Professions Program are free to choose the format for the interviews that they wish.
    • Some of the interviews will be conducted in-person while others will be conducted virtually via Zoom. Please check with your interviewer for the format of your interview.
  • Although these interviews are meant to be mock interviews, the purpose of the interviews are to gather information about the student to help form a recommendation. Students’ interview performances will thus NOT be used in any way to influence their overall committee recommendations. However, students are expected to dress and act professionally in interviews with faculty as practice for formal professional school interviews.
    • Students are not required to dress formally for the interview with the Director of the Pre-Health Professions Program.
    • However, students are required to dress formally for the interviews with the two faculty members.
    • Feel free to ask your interviewer for constructive criticism after your interview has ended.
  • Students should be aware that being a “no-show” to any interview with no attempt to contact the interviewer(s) may result in their recommendation level penalized one level.

Interview Guidelines for Faculty Interviews

Dress for your interview like you are going for a job interview in the business world!

For in-person interviews:

It’s okay to use perfume or cologne, but be aware that some people are more sensitive to these scents than others. You should also think about what you eat/drink before your interview!

For virtual interviews:

Please be aware of your background, both in terms of appearance and noise. Clean up clutter, do not have any ceiling fans on (or anything that makes a constant motion), and minimize background noise from anyone else living with you. Do not use a “cute” filter that doesn’t look professional.

Committee Letter Writing
  • After the interviews are complete, the Director of the Pre-Health Professions Program and two faculty interviewers will complete a preliminary review and recommendation. The other voting faculty members on the HPRC will read through the application and personal statement and complete a preliminary review and recommendation based on their reading and experiences with the applicant.
  • The full HPRC will then be convened, where the committee will discuss their findings and assess the student for a recommendation level (Outstanding, Strongly Recommend, Recommend, Recommend with Reservation, Do Not Recommend).
  • Once the HPRC has made a recommendation, the HPRC Chair will contact the student for a short debrief via e-mail to go over the recommendation level and suggestions for improvement.
  • The student is then asked whether he/she wishes to receive a letter from the HPRC. If he/she confirms, the student will then be asked to identify where he/she would like the letter submitted and to submit a formal request to the HPRC Chair.
  • Students must give a minimum of 2 weeks’ notice (3 weeks’ notice if the letter is requested during the academic year) for where and when the letter must be submitted by. Requests for letters on any shorter timeframe cannot be guaranteed.
  • To request a letter, students must complete and submit the Request a Letter Form and Release of Rights Form, sending them to the Coordinator for Pre-Health Professions.

Final approval of committee letters will occur once all of a student’s application packet and iLORs are submitted, ant the HPRC has met to discuss the recommendation.

Letters will be primarily written by the faculty who interviewed the student as part of the process, though the Director of the Pre-Health Professions Program and Chair will also participate. As letters are finished, they will be circulated among the entire HPRC for review and editing. The HPRC Chair then confirms that all iLORs have been submitted, at which point the letter is given final approval.

Once final approval is confirmed, the letter is sent to the designated place(s) the student identified and the letter is then archived should the student need an updated letter. In most cases, the committee letter will be sent as a packet along with the iLORs the student included, unless the student requests otherwise.

Updating an HPRC Letter

If you have previously interviewed with the HPRC over a year ago and would like a new or updated HPRC letter, you may request one without having to interview again in most cases.

Simply do the following:

  • Complete and submit the Request a Letter Form and Release of Rights Form, sending them to the Coordinator for Pre-Health Professions.
  • E-mail the HPRC Chair with any updates to your clinical, volunteering, academic, and/or other relevant experiences.

o If your updates are minor, then this e-mail will be sufficient.

o If your updates are major, or it has been multiple years since your original HPRC interviews, you may be asked to do a quick follow-up interview with the HPRC Chair, Director of the Pre-Health Professions Program, and/or the HPRC member writing your letter.

o If we feel that your updates may affect your recommendation level, your information will be shared with the HPRC members to see if anyone would want to change their recommendation levels. If so, the HPRC Chair will let you know of the changes via e-mail.

  • If you interviewed with the HPRC prior to Fall 2019 (the former HSRC), you will be given the following options with how to proceed with getting your letter

o You may have your original letter uploaded as-is with no changes.

o You may work with the prior HSRC Chair to write or update your letter.

o You may have the current HPRC members write you a new letter, but you would need to re-interview with the HPRC Chair and the Director for the Pre-Health Professions Program. Only choose this option if you have no pre-existing letter or need a new letter.

  • You must give a minimum 2 weeks’ notice for all letter requests (minimum 3 weeks’ notice if the request is during the academic year). Any requests on a shorter time line cannot be guaranteed.
Forms
HPRC Timeline

Friday, September 17, 2021: “Intent to Participate” form due by 5:00 PM Central Time to Dr. Schurman (rschurman@ben.edu) **Dropbox link will be sent via e-mail the following week**

Friday, October 1, 2021: “Expedited” Application due by 5:00 PM Central Time **This requires an appeal to the HPRC Chair and the Director of the Pre-Health Professions Program to be eligible**

Friday, October 22, 2021: “Priority” Application due by 5:00 PM Central Time **This is for those students who wish to interview with the HPRC in the fall semester**

Friday, January 22, 2022: FINAL Application due by 5:00 PM **This is the final deadline! Any incomplete applications after this date will not be considered!**

For more information, or questions about the HPRC process, please contact:

Anthony DeLegge, Ph.D
Chair, Health Professions Recommendation Committee
Benedictine University
Phone: (630) 829-6556
E-mail: adelegge@ben.edu

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Yvonne Kumon
Assistant to the Dean
ykumon@ben.edu
(630) 829-6084

Bonnie Beezhold, Ph.D.
Interim Associate Dean
bbeezhold@ben.edu
(630) 829-6528

Cheryl Mascarenhas, Ph.D.
Interim Dean, Science & Health
cmascarenhas@ben.edu
(630) 829-6587