Letters of Recommendation
There are two types of letters required for application to medical school; the first is a composite letter of evaluation from a premedical advisory committee and the second type is a personal letter of recommendation from a faculty member, employers, or another individual who knows you well. Multiple letters are needed. Personal letters of recommendation should not come from immediate family members or close relatives.
Composite Letter of Recommendation "Premedical Advisory Committee (PMAC) Letter"
Dr. Neil Allison, as Chairman of the University of Arkansas Premedical Advisory Committee, conducts committee meetings to produce a composite letter of evaluation from the University of Arkansas for each applicant. If you are applying to UAMS (and most other medical schools) it is mandatory* for you to request a composite letter of recommendation from a premedical advisory committee. Each applicant will be interviewed by two members of the committee and the committee’s evaluation is based on academic excellence, volunteerism and community service, health-profession experience, involvement and leadership, the committee interview, and personal letters of recommendation.
* UAMS 2009-2010 College of Medicine Catalog, under the section "For the Medical School Applicant" it states
Premedical Advisory Committee Composite Evaluation: (Mandatory) If it has been two years or less since an applicant last attended or graduated from college, you must request a letter of evaluation from the school's Premedical Advisory Committee. It is the responsibility of the applicant to investigate and determine if your school has a Premedical Advisory Committee. You must meet all established deadlines of that committee for requesting a letter be sent to the College of Medicine Office of Admissions. Applicants who fail to satisfy this prematriculation requirement will not be allowed to proceed with their application. Therefore, their application will be rejected. If it has been two years since you last attended or graduated from college, you have the option to either request a letter of evaluation from the Premedical Advisory Committee or ask three faculty members to submit letters of evaluation. If your school does not have a Premedical Advisory Committee, you must ask three individual faculty members to submit letters of evaluation.
Personal Letters of Recommendation
Also from the UAMS College of Medicine Catalog for personal letters of recommendation:
In addition to the Premedical Advisory Committee letter, "you may include three personal letters of recommendation in your file, letters that attest to your performance outside the classroom, i.e., motivation, integrity, leadership abilities, work ethic, professionalism, volunteerism etc., from individuals who know you well, preferably over an extended period of time."
For a complete description of applicant procedures for UAMS, please refer to the current College of Medicine catalog. UAMS College of Medicine catalog
PREMEDICAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE INSTRUCTIONS FOR PERSONAL LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION
1. THE WRITERS OF YOUR RECOMMENDATION LETTERS MUST DIRECTLY SEND A COPY OF THEIR LETTER
TO THE PREMEDICAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS:
Dr. Neil Allison
Liebolt Chair of Premedical Sciences
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
University of Arkansas
Fayetteville, AR 72701
Please note: It is your responsibility to make sure that your letters of recommendation have been received by Dr. Allison for the Premedical Advisory Committee (PMAC) evaluation. As letters are received, you will be notified via Blackboard, so you can keep track of who has sent their letters in, and who might need a friendly reminder.
2. MEDICAL SCHOOLS PARTICIPATING IN AMCAS LETTERS:
Print out an AMCAS Letters form for each of your personal letter writers and one form for the PMAC committee letter. Have your personal letter writers send (or upload) their recommendations directly to AMCAS with the AMCAS letter form. Submit the AMCAS Letters Committee form in August with the rest of your materials to the PMAC. You will designate the name of the school on the PMAC Information form under AMCAS LETTERS Schools (Allopathic)."
3. MEDICAL SCHOOLS PARTICIPATING IN VirtualEval but not the AMCAS LETTERS PROGRAM:
Have your personal letter writers send their recommendations to each medical school directly. Some medical schools may not want or request a letter until after the secondary application - check on what each medical school wants with respect to this. Indicate each school on the PMAC Information Form. If the school is allopathic, place the name of the school under "AMCAS VirtualEval but NON-AMCAS LETTERS school."
4. MEDICAL SCHOOLS NOT PARTICIPATING IN AMCAS LETTERS or VirtualEval:
Have your personal letter writers send their recommendations to each medical school directly. Some medical schools may not want or request a letter until after the secondary application- check on what each medical school wants with respect to this. Indicate each school on the PMAC Information Form. If the school is allopathic, place the name of the school under "AMCAS Schools-you have provided mailing labels". If the school is osteopathic, place the name of the school under "AACOMAS Schools-you have provided the mailing labels".
5. TEXAS MEDICAL SCHOOLS:
Allopathic schools utilizing TMDSAS:
Have your personal letter writers send their recommendations to TMDSAS. Place the name of the Texas schools that you are applying to on the PMAC Information Form under TMDSAS Schools VirtualEval."
6. OSTEOPATHIC MEDICAL SCHOOLS PARTICIPATING IN VirtualEval:
Have your personal letter writers send their recommendations to each medical school directly. Some medical schools may not want or request a letter until after the secondary application- check on what each medical school wants with respect to this. Indicate each school on the PMAC Information Form under AACOMAS VirtualEval Schools (Osteopathic-not Texas)."
It is recommended that applicants supply no more than 3 letters of recommendation in addition to the Premedical Committee letter. UAMS recommends 3 only; more than that may look desperate. You should avoid letters from individuals who are not objective (your minister from childhood, your parents, other close family members). You should also avoid letters from high-level government officials unless you have worked directly for them in their office. This is especially true if they do not know you well as a person (e.g., they just know your parents).
Things to Consider Before Asking for Letters of Reference
- Choose people who know you well (faculty, employers, head of an organization you've been a member of, or volunteered for).
- Seek of variety of letter writers who may be able to contribute different things about you.
- Observe proper etiquette, do NOT approach a potential referee after class, show up at their office without notice, or via email.
- Make an appointment so you can ask the person when they have more time to consider their answer and you have time to supply them with the information they need.
- If they say they cannot write a good letter of reference for any reason, respect their wishes.
- Ask far in advance of any deadline, even if it is weeks in advance. You will come across as very unprofessional to leave your request to just days before letters are needed.
- Supply the letter writer with typed information concerning who the letter should be addressed to and the address. A stamped addressed envelope can be provided or offered.
- You do not need to suggest that you will pick the letter up, most letters are sent directly by the writer to the institution or individual they are addressed to.
- Be prepared, many referees like to see a current resume so they can add details about your accomplishments to the letter.