Timeline & Checklist
Letters of Recommendation
Mock Interviews
Program Selection

Timeline & Checklist

For many health professions programs, the application process starts 18 months before matriculation. The specific timeline provided below is tailored for medical and dental school applicants since these applications invole a committee letter provided by the Health Professions Advising Committee. For health professions that operate on a different calendar, adjust accordingly.

Inform the Health Professions Advising office if you intend to apply in the coming academic year. 

Consider the strength of your application carefully and apply when you are able to submit a strong, competitive application. The application process is long and arduous; it is also expensive. It is much better to defer an application in order to gain additional experience or work on grades than to apply too early and need to re-apply later. Note: a re-application needs to be significantly stronger than the original application, so continue to gain experience during your application year. 

Fall Semester (18 months prior to matriculation)

  • If you plan to apply in the coming year (or two), attend the Applicant Meeting Part 1 (in September).
  • Schedule a pre-application advising appointment with the HPA office. Complete this appointment in the fall to discuss your individual timeline, qualifications, and plan for applying. 
  • Map out a timeline for taking the entrance exam (MCAT, DAT, etc.) including time for preparation. Visit the Admission Tests page to learn more about entrance exams. 
  • Start itemizing the experiences/activities that you will list on your application. While the applications don't "go live" until May, you can access an older version of the application to preview the format and required information. Some Admissions officers suggest working on this section before the personal statement. 
  • Start preparation for your personal statement: Attend a personal statement workshop, identify specific narratives (stories) you could include to illustrate your preparation and motivation for medicine/dentistry. The Applicant Reflection Questions document provides prompts for reflective writing as an initial brainstorm exercise. 
  • Consider potential letter writers for recommendations and reach out to determine their availability to provide a recommendation. See the information below on Letters of Recommendation for suggestions and an introduction to the letter collection service, veCollect. 
  • Start investigating specific programs. If you are applying to medical school, consider whether you will apply to MD (allopathic) and/or DO (osteopathic) programs. Both types of degrees allow you to practice as a physician, but have separate centralized applications. If you are interested in nursing, consider the type of nursing programs--accelerated BSN (bachelor's in nursing), entry-level master's, or advance practice nursing (nurse practitioner). 


  • Attend the Applicant Meeting Part 2 (second week of spring semester)
  • Sign up for an HPA mock interview (interviews are scheduled in February and March). A mock interview is required for any medical or dental school applicant who seeks a Committee Letter (a letter provided by HPA which summarizes your individual recommendation letters and the mock interview). Applicants to other types of health professions programs can beneft from a mock interview and are invited to participate in the experience. (See the section below for further information about mock interviews.)

Spring Semester (15 months prior to matriculation)

  • Fill out the Pre-Mock Interview form which contains questions about your background, activities, interest and experience in your chosen profession. This should be submitted at least one week in advance of your mock interview. 
  • Request letters to support your application. The deadline for letters is May 31st. See the section on Letters of Recommendation for further guidance. 
  • Medical & Dental applicants: Submit a Committee Letter Request. Do this even if you aren't fully decided about applying this year--the request doesn't expire. 
  • Many applicants take the entrance exam from January-June of their application year. 
  • Draft the activities/experience descriptions.
  • Work on your personal statement

May - June

  • Go to the respective website to begin completing the primary application (this can take a few weeks to complete).
    *The new application for AMCAS opened May 3, 2022.
    *The new application for AACOMAS opened May 4, 2022.
    *The new application for AADSAS opened May 10, 2022. 
    *The complete application for VMCAS opened May 12, 2022. 
    *TMDSAS (Texas medical, dental & veterinary medicine schools) opened May 3, 2022. 
    *The new application for PharmCAS opened July 14, 2022. 
  • Request official transcripts from all U.S. schools attended to be sent to the application service.
  • All recommendation letters should be submitted to veCollect by May 31st.

June - July

  • Decide upon list of schools to which you will be applying. Do your homework (see the Program Selection section below).
  • Complete your application and submit online.
  • Medical & Dental applicants: Provide ID numbers to Health Professions Advising (both your Letter ID and AMCAS/AACOMAS numbers for medical school applicants). 

July - August

  • The HPA Office composes and sends committee letters to application services for medical and dental applicants (AMCAS/AACOMAS/AADSAS) along with individual recommendation letters. 

Letters of Recommendation

For applicants with a Committee Letter (medical & dental applicants):
We recommend 5-6 recommendation letters from faculty (both science and non-science) and other writers representing other facets of your experience (coaches, employers/supervisors, clinicians and volunteer coordinators). 

Request letters from people who know you well. For those who agree to write letters, provide them with:

  • a resume or CV
  • an explanation of your reasons for applying to these programs (why do you want to be a physician, dentist, etc.?)
  • the HPA information packet on letters of recommendation which provides suggestions on information to include in a letter
  • the letter deadline--all letters need to be submitted by May 31st

Sign up for the letter collection service, veCollect (email HealthProfessions@pugetsound.edu for instructions). These letters need to be confidential to be included with the Committee Letter, so be sure to waive your rights.

For applicants not requesting a Committee Letter

Other health professions programs do not utilize committee letters. For these types of programs, individual letters will be submitted directly to the application service. Note the limit on the number of letters accepted and an letter requirements (letter from a professor, clinical supervisor, etc.)

Mock Interviews

HPA offers mock interview for pre-health students and alumni. We use a panel format to provide multiple perspectives and maximum feedback. Mock interviews are required for anyone requesting a committee letter, but are also useful practice and feedback for applicants to other types of health professions programs. 

Program Selection

In deciding on the number of programs to list on your application, consider expenses for primary and secondary application fees as well as the time it will take to complete secondary applications. The ideal number of programs varies by type of health professions. Medical school applications are especially competitive and we suggest applying to 10-20 programs, especially if an applicant is considering only MD programs or a combination of MD & DO schools. While you should include your "dream school", do not focus on ultra-selective programs; applicants who take this strategy often find that they are left with no interviews or acceptances. There is no "guaranteed" admission to any program, but be sure to include a number of schools where you have a greater likelihood of acceptance. 

  • Which factors are important to you? Geographic location? Program features? Curricular approach (problem-based learning, a block system, pass-fail grading, etc.)? Mission of the school?
  • Consider your overall GPA and calculate your math/science GPA with all classes in Biology, Chemistry, Physics & Math.
  • Keep your GPA, math/science GPA, and entrance exam scores in mind when selecting potential schools - include a range of programs.
  • Check websites for programs of interest for required/recommended courses in addition to GPA & test stats - how competitive are you?