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 Dr. Matt Nelson in the Biology Department.
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:
- 3.0 GPA – Medical, Dental, or Veterinary applicants
- 2.8 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 be reviewed 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.
To initiate the review process, students must present a file of information to the committee by February 15 of the year in which 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.
Students must submit the following documents to their HPAC file by February 15 of the year they are seeking review.
You must register first, letting us know your intent to apply for an HPAC Review using this Google Form. Following the form submission, you will be emailed a unique link to a shared Google folder for all of your documents to be submitted through. The following items (see each item below) will need to be downloaded, completed and re-uploaded to your unique Google form. There are several forms that require your signature. These forms will need to be printed, signed and scanned before uploading. Please keep the name of the form the same but add your last name. This will allow us to easily identify the form and student who submitted it. PLEASE UPLOAD ALL DOCUMENTS IN PDF FORMAT!! This is very important to streamline the collection and distribution of all materials to the HPAC Committee. Thank you!
The HPAC Committee will need to review your unofficial transcripts. Please download and print a copy to upload to your Google Form. You can find your Class History by clicking on the three little dots in the upper right hand corner of Degreeworks once you are logged in. The dots are right next to the printer and email icons. From the drop down, choose "Class History", then print that screen. Due to the scaling of the information, we request that when you print the document, you change the "scale" to about 70% so that the information is easily readable on one page. You are always welcome to ask questions about this process - address inquiries to email@example.com.
This form is an opportunity to voluntarily provide information about any University policy that you were deemed to have violated during your time at Saint Joseph’s University or at any other college or university that you have attended. Each professional application you submit will also ask you to provide this information and a background check will be run upon your acceptance to verify this information. This form will be kept confidential with only the HPAC Committee Members having access to the information you provide. Please note that this form will require YOUR SIGNATURE.
This form is required in order to obtain records from SJU Community Standards regarding any policy violation that has occurred. This form requires YOUR SIGNATURE.
Complete the Evaluator List to indicate who you are requesting Letters of Evaluation from. You will need to upload this to your Google form so we know who to expect Letters of Evaluation from on your behalf.
Please note that these Letters of Recommendation will be submitted to the application portal on your behalf along with the Committee Letter
Keep in Mind:
Science majors should request three (3) letters from Science/Math faculty (at least one (1) from the major department) and one (1) from a Humanities/Social Science professor.
Non-science majors should request two (2) letters from Science/Math faculty and two (2) from Humanities/Social Science professors with at least one (1) from the major department.
Choose professors who know you well and who will give you a strong recommendation. Recommenders should speak to your academic, professional or personal development and competencies.
Email these instructions and evaluation/feedback form to your recommenders for ease of completion since the evaluation/feedback form is a fillable pdf. Recommenders will then complete the evaluation/feedback form, attach your letter of evaluation and then upload it to a Google form designated for their use (this link is listed on the instruction sheet).
Include your SIGNED Waiver Form (below) with the email.
Supply each professor with the Faculty Letter of Evaluation and Instructions, an unofficial copy of your transcript, and personal statement by January 31 at the latest so that the faculty can submit their completed letter by the HPAC deadline of February 15.
Please request that the faculty recommender upload your letter by the deadline of February 15
This form must be downloaded, completed and signed by the applicant. Then, you must upload one copy to your Google Form in the appropriate field to have it on file with Health Professions Advising Office. Next, you will email another copy of this completed and signed form along with the Faculty Letter of Evaluation and Instructions (above) so that your recommenders know whether you have waived your right to see their recommendation. Many faculty will not write the letter of recommendation unless they know that their comments are confidential. Please contact Health Professions Advising if you have any questions or concerns about this waiver. This form requires YOUR SIGNATURE.
This material on this document is extremely important for the HPAC Committee to get to know your back ground. Please complete it as thoroughly and completely as you can. (Please note: this form has been updated as of 11/11/21 to reflect minimal changes. Please compare content with the Sample SBQ below.)
- This is an outline of the content we need to review your HPAC file. Please type the information on a Word Document and upload that to your Google Form.
- View a sample of a Student Biographical Questionnaire
- There is no "form" for the personal statement, however, there is a place to upload it on your Google Form. It should be neatly typed as a Word Document.
- This should be an honest, serious, well-written essay about you, your goals, your motivation to enter a health career, and why you think you are an appropriate candidate for professional school. Highlight specific examples from your background. You can use this essay later on your applications. Although there is no specific size limit for HPAC purposes, limit your character count to 5300 characters for medical school essays as that is the limit for the medical school application services, and 4500 for other health professions as that is the limit on other applications (dental, optometry, etc).
Feel free to take a professional selfie to upload for your file. Your Google form will have a specific place to upload this photo.
Please complete this form if you have already completed the HPAC process and are now interested in applying to a health professional school (only necessary for medical, dental, optometry, veterinary or podiatry schools). As with the other forms on this page, please download the pdf document, complete the required information and email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Any questions, please email Dr. Matt Nelson at email@example.com.