Health Professions Advisory Committee (HPAC) Review Process
The purpose of the Health Professions Advisory Committee (HPAC) is to assist students who aspire to health-related careers by providing information about the process and by reviewing the credentials of those who plan to apply to health professional schools. The Committee decides what level of endorsement a student will receive in his/her letter of recommendation from the University.
Am I Ready?
Students should carefully consider their readiness for this intensive process, particularly since your ultimate rating will be shared as part of your official application package. Our goal is for you to be mentally and academically prepared for both the HPAC process and the application process. We encourage you to review and complete the Anatomy of an Applicant Self-Assessment Guide from the Association of American Medical Colleges website. Even for students applying to a health professional school besides medical school, this tool can be useful to understand the holistic nature of the doctoral level application process.
Pay particular attention to the 15 Core Competencies Listed in the Guide (pages 7-8) and make every effort to engage in development of these competencies so you are able to effectively address them in your application.
For personalized support, please make an appointment with your faculty advisor or Brianna Metzger, Associate Director of Pre-Health Advising.
To be eligible for review by the Committee, a student must:
1. Have completed or currently be taking:
- General Biology (8 credits)
- General Chemistry (8 credits)
- Organic Chemistry (8 credits)
- General Physics (8 credits)
- Mathematics (6 credits) – One semester of Calculus and one semester of Statistics are strongly recommended
2. Have earned credit for at least ten courses taken at Saint Joseph’s.
3. Meet the minimum GPA requirements outlined by HPAC which include:
- 3.2 GPA – Medical, Dental, or Veterinary applicants
- 3.0 GPA –Podiatry, Optometry applicants
- It is the Committee's experience that students with GPAs below these minimums are not competitive for admission into the respective health professional schools. Exceptions may be possible only with the permission of the pre-health advisor in consultation with the committee.
When to seek review
Students should go through the committee process in the spring of the year in which they plan to apply to professional school. For many students, this is the spring of their junior year, since many apply to professional school in the summer between junior and senior years for admission immediately after graduation. However, a growing number of students are deciding to delay their applications to professional school by one or more years. In those cases, students can seek HPAC review in their senior year or even after graduation.
You must first let the committee know of your intent to apply for a HPAC review using this Google Form. Following the form submission, you will receive the application and all additional instructions to complete the process.
Students must submit the application and all required documents to the HPAC by March 1 of the year they are seeking review.
Once a file is complete, students will have a formal interview with 3 HPAC members prior to their review. Committee members will be grouped into interview teams and students will sign up for an interview when their file is complete. All interviews will occur in the two weeks preceding spring break.
The Review Process
When reviewing a candidate, committee members consider such factors as breadth and difficulty of course work, grade point average – both overall and in the science areas -- demonstrated interest in the academic major, interpersonal skills, community service, extracurricular activities, and knowledge of health care issues. The committee also reviews the written comments of four faculty evaluators chosen by the student, interviewers’ impressions, and the student’s own personal statement about why he/she aspires to a health career. MCAT, DAT, GRE or other admission test scores are not part of the student’s file and consequently are not considered by the committee. Students are individually reviewed by each committee member and then discussed in a group meeting where a vote is taken to determine the specific rating. A simple majority vote determines the rating, however most decisions tend to be the unanimous opinion of the group. Student files are reviewed throughout March and early April. Students are apprised of their overall committee rating even if they waive the right to see the individual faculty evaluations. If a student is dissatisfied with the committee’s decision, he or she can request reconsideration by writing a letter of appeal within 10 days of the date of notification. The letter should indicate specific reasons for the appeal request.
Below is a brief description of the ratings given by the committee.
- Very Highly Recommended – The strongest endorsement possible, this category is reserved for those select few students who perform well beyond standard course expectations and who demonstrate leadership skills, service to others, well-developed interpersonal skills, and involvement in their chosen academic field.
- Highly Recommended – A strong endorsement, this rating is earned by those individuals who demonstrate excellent academic ability, who go beyond standard course expectations and who possess fine personal qualities.
- Recommended – This solid vote of confidence is given to the majority of candidates who clearly possess the ability to manage a demanding curriculum, who display positive personal behavior and who can succeed in a health career.
- Recommended with Qualification – This category is applied to those individuals who are basically qualified for professional school but about whom the Committee holds some reservation. The specific nature of the qualification (academic or personal) will be defined in the student’s committee letter.
- Letter of Information – If the Health Professions Advisory Committee chooses not to endorse a student, the letter will explain the group’s concerns, offer information about the student’s academic performance at Saint Joseph’s and include comments from faculty members who knew the student well.