Before selecting evaluators, please consider that no one is required to participate in the Letter of Evaluation (LOE) process. Anyone writing a letter of evaluation for a health professional school bears an obligation of candor to you, the institutions to whom it is addressed, and to the institution the writer represents. It is the writer’s responsibility to determine how to respond to your request for a letter. If a prospective evaluator feels that they are not able to write a letter following the guidelines of honesty and reliability provided by the PreMed and PreHealth Advising Program, then it is their responsibility to decline.
Evaluators typically put tremendous time and effort into letters that they write. It is expected that all LOEs that are received in support of your career goal will be sent on to health professional schools. Students are not allowed to “letter shop,” asking for extra letters and then choosing the best ones to submit. Do not request more than three faculty letters nor more than three external letters unless you have been granted an exception to this policy.
Under most circumstances you will want to wait until your application year to request letters of evaluation.
For internal letters from NU faculty this will allow you the opportunity to take your smaller, upper level classes before you request a letter of evaluation. In addition, if you have a professor who you particularly like, you may enroll in another class or complete a directed study with them. After a second class the professor will be able to write a better evaluation. Remember to keep in touch with faculty after class ends; stop by for advice about a co-op or research position, tutor their class, or assist with their research. Make an effort to check in with a couple of former science professors once a semester to let them know what you are doing, and to maintain your relationship.
For external letters you may request letters within a few months of your experience. However, it may be more effective to maintain a relationship with your evaluator and ask for a letter closer to your application time. This allows a mentor to see how you grow over time. It also helps to establish that you are able to maintain long-term professional relationships. We do require that at least one clinical letter reflect an experience in the US, with a practitioner in the specific field to which you are applying, within 18 months of your application.
External letters that are dated more than three years before your application year will not assist you to be competitive. Therefore, we require all letters to be dated within the three years preceding your application.
Prior to requesting letters, you should decide whether you want to waive your right of access to the letter under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Make sure you review the FERPA information posted in MAP before you request letters of evaluation.
Whenever possible we recommend that you make an appointment to meet with your potential evaluator to request a letter of evaluation. In your email request for an appointment let the evaluator know that you would like to meet with them to discuss your application to medical or dental school. This sets the stage for your meeting and, in the unlikely event that the evaluator doesn’t feel that they can recommend you, allows them to decline. When you go to your appointment bring a current resume, a draft of your personal statement, and a copy of your degree audit or unofficial transcript to leave behind with the evaluator. Be prepared to talk about your passion for medicine/dentistry and future aspirations.
Once an evaluator has agreed to write a recommendation for you, you will send an official request to them via the Medical Applicant Portal (MAP). Log into your account and go to the “Letters of Evaluation” section and enter the contact information for your evaluator. MAP will send instructions for submission directly to the email address that you enter. Under no circumstances should you send a letter request to your own email address.
Explain to each evaluator who consents to write a letter on your behalf that:
- They will receive an e-mail from the PreMed and PreHealth Advising Program confirming that s/he has agreed to write a letter on your behalf. The confidentiality status of the letter will be confirmed as well as your matriculation year.
- They will be asked to submit a candid letter of evaluation electronically. NU faculty will submit a word document, all other evaluators will be asked to submit a PDF copy of a letter that is signed, dated, and on professional/institutional letterhead. All NU faculty are required to submit electronically. For external evaluators, we prefer an electronically submitted PDF but we will accept a hard-copy original by US mail (not by fax).
- Make sure to tell the evaluator the deadline for submitting their letter. It is also included in the letter request email.
- You may also want to give your evaluator a copy of the AAMC’s Guidelines for Writing a Letter of Evaluation for a Medical School Applicant. This brochure was developed for allopathic medicine programs, but generalizes well to other types of health professions.
The PreMed and PreHealth Advising Program will maintain your letters of evaluation (LOEs). LOEs will be available to you for use in the next three years if you decide to defer your application, or if you are not successful the first time you apply. If you decide to defer your application, or must re-apply, we recommend that you replace one external letter that speaks to what you have done in the time since your other letters were received.
Please note: The PreMed and PreHealth Advising Program cannot forward letters to any program other than what was designated on the original request. We are unable to send letters to medical master’s, Post-Bacc, Physician’s Assistant, Nursing (etc.) programs. Please contact your evaluators directly to request that letters be tailored to the program to which you are applying.