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The Letter of Recommendation Process

The following discussion contains information and instructions on how to obtain your medical school letters of recommendation. Although all professional schools require letters the process for medical school involves setting up a file with Patricia Scopinich in the Natural Science Office and obtaining a committee letter from Cecile Santos.

Medical, dental, veterinary, physician assistant, and physical therapy schools require you to send letters of recommendation from faculty and others who know you well. We will be referring here primarily to allopathic medical schools (M.D.) and osteopathic medical schools (D.O.) because the letter process for them is similar. Dental, veterinary, and physician assistant schools require letters that are sent electronically by your letter writers directly to the application service so you only need to set up a letter file in the Natural Science office if you are applying to medical school.

The basic process involves setting up a hard copy and an electronic letter file with all of your letters in it in the Natural Science Division Office at Pepperdine, and when it is complete it is uploaded electronically to Virtual Evals (http://www.virtualevals.org/what-is-virtualevals/) where medical schools can download the letter file anytime they need them.

Listed below are the instructions for setting up a letter recommendation file:

  1. In the spring semester before you apply to medical school contact Patricia Scopinich at patricia.scopinich@pepperdine.edu and set up a medical school letter file. You will be asked to complete an Applicant Information Sheet and The Code of Academic Integrity Form.
  2. Select your evaluators (two science, one non-science, and anyone else who knows you well and can speak about your clinical/research/etc. involvement) and ask them to write letters of recommendation for you. You should have no fewer than three and no more than six letters.
  3. Request these letters during February and March of the application year. Ask your evaluators to complete them by May or June at the latest. Check with your evaluator to see if they would like an autobiographical summary, a copy of your personal statement for AMCAS, or a resume listing your major accomplishments and personal strengths.
  4. Provide them with a Letter of Recommendation Request Form. The top portion must be completed by you before you give it to your evaluator. Your evaluator must complete the remaining portion of the form and return it to Patricia Scopinich with his/her letter. We prefer to receive letters in two forms: hard copy mailed to Ms. Scopinich and by e-mail either as a Word document or PDF.
  5. Letters of recommendation must be addressed to the admissions committee of medical schools using "Dear Admissions Committee" (no other address information is required) and must also be on official letterhead and signed by the evaluator.
  6. When we receive each of your letters of recommendation you will be notified by email and your letter will be placed in your file. Make sure we have your latest email address.
  7. Once you have given out your request for letters, it is advisable that you contact Patricia Scopinich (x4321) periodically to check the status of your file.
  8. Once all of your letters have been received and you have given Cecile Santos a copy of your AMCAS (and /or AACOMAS) application, she will write your committee letter, which can take up to three weeks to complete. Please Note: This process can be done in a timely manner in spring and summer of your application year but not during the fall semester, so please get this done before school starts in August.
  9. This committee letter is combined with your individual letters and all of them are scanned into a pdf file. Separate files are created for allopathic and osteopathic medical schools. Once your file is uploaded it cannot be changed but you can add one additional letter later.
  10. Before your application can be uploaded online you will need to provide Ms. Scopinich with:
    • List of schools (Cecile Santos has this because it is on your AMCAS/AACOMAS applications.)
  11. Your pdf file of your letter packet will be uploaded online to Virtual Evals who will manage your letters making them available for download to every school on your list including the pilot schools. We know that the AMCAS application does not make this very clear but your letters do go from Virtual Evals either directly to the school you applied to or indirectly if it is a pilot school (Virtual Evals to AMCAS to pilot medical school). If you want to know more about how Virtual Evals works either check their Website (http://www.virtualevals.org/what-is-virtualevals/) or click on the following link (How VE Works).

If you have any questions about your letter file or this process contact Patricia Scopinich. Do not ever contact Virtual Evals as they do not respond to students. There are a few exceptions to this process for UCLA and some M.D./Ph.D. programs. When you notify us that these schools want to have your letters they will be be mailed by our office. Almost all schools access your letters electronically via Virtual Evals or the pilot process and therefore can download them multiple times if they lose them.

Your file will be kept by the Natural Science Division for five (5) years in case you should reapply to schools in subsequent years. However, it is advised that you should contact evaluators and request updated letters each application year.