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Ask Mr. Moody

What’s The Deal With HPAC? Mr. Moody Tells All

photo2Dear Mr. Moody,

I keep seeing emails about something called “HPAC” and hearing my friends talking about it. I think maybe my pre-health advisor mentioned it once in appointment I had, but I’m not sure. I don’t really know what it is, except that is has something to do with applying to med or dental school. What’s the deal with HPAC? Why is it so important? What should I be doing now, if anything?


Acronym Averse

Dear Acronym Averse,

Ah, yes, acronyms can get confusing and develop a life of their own. Before you know it everyone is saying it but has little idea what it’s really about. So, here’s the breakdown: HPAC stands for Health Professions Advisory Committee. It’s basically a group of people (four, actually, GW’s pre-health advisors and two faculty members) who assess the strengths and weaknesses of students and alumni who want to apply to medical or dental school. At the end of the HPAC process (which involves an application, letters of recommendation, and an interview), participants receive a confidential letter of evaluation written by the committee. This letter gets bundled with your individual letters of recommendation and then becomes a Committee Letter.

Why so important? Well, medical and dental schools know that individual letters of recommendation are often not enough to give them a well-informed understanding of the applicant. As a result, they rely on the committee letter of evaluation to give them a more balanced and accurate picture. Many medical and dental schools consider not just an important, but actually a crucial, part of your application. As in, they pretty much require it.

So, what should you be doing now?

  1. Familiarize yourself with the details of GW’s HPAC process. There’s a lot of helpful information on the website, even nitty-gritty details of how to set up an Interfolio account (where you store your documents), as well as the minimum requirements for participating.
  2. If you haven’t yet, start talking to professors, mentors, and employers about writing a letter of recommendation for you. Ask people who can speak to important characteristics that med schools want to see in applicants, not just someone with a fancy title who doesn’t really know you. Also, no family members. That’s a no-no.
  3. Over winter break, start drafting your personal statement. It’s the part of your HPAC application that will take the most time so you don’t want to rush it. Consider this advice before you start.

Getting started on these things now will save you some stress down the road! I wish you the best in your endeavors!

Yours Sincerely,

Mr. Moody


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