The application process for medical, dental, or veterinary school or any other health careers program is very time consuming, expensive, and requires knowledge of the field, knowledge of oneself and careful preparation. Make sure it is the right choice for you by researching the field and observing/shadowing health-care professionals. The application process begins very early -- usually around 18 months in advance of entering the school -- so it is essential that you familiarize yourself with the expectations, content, and format of the application. If you plan to enter a school immediately after graduation, you need to submit your application before your senior year begins.
The general application process is very similar across the disciplines. First, you need to meet the academic requirements of each school to which you are applying. Every health discipline has different requirements, and, to make it even more confusing, individual schools within the same discipline have different requirements. It is essential that you look at specific programs/schools of interest to make sure you will meet their coursework requirements. Stay on track with your academic requirements by meeting once a semester with a Pre-Health Advisor.
To apply, you will need to prepare for and take an entrance exam, choose your schools, request letters of recommendation, write a personal essay, complete a centralized application, and interview and follow up. The main distinction between the disciplines is whether or not they prefer or require a letter of evaluation, referred to as a committee letter, from your undergraduate pre-health advising committee versus individual letters of recommendation. At Wooster, the Pre-Health Advising Committee prepares a committee letter for all applicants to medical, dental and podiatric schools, and for any additional applicants applying to a program that requires a committee letter (some optometry schools, for example). If you need a committee letter, you MUST follow the Committee Letter Process and follow the necessary steps.
There are typically two phases to the application cycle – primary and secondary. The primary application is most often a centralized application service for that particular discipline whose main purpose is to verify and convert transcript grades and pass them on to the individual schools to which you are applying along with your entrance exam scores and other biographical data. Once an individual school receives the primary application, they send out secondary applications, which may or may not have a fee associated with them. The secondary applications typically require writing short essays and providing additional information. It is typically during the secondary application that letters of recommendation are reviewed.
Important resources and information, such as course requirements, entrance exams, centralized application, and directories of schools, can be found on each specific health careers discipline listed on the Pre-Health website.