Further Information for Faculty

Faculty play an important role in assisting pre-health students on their path to medical careers by writing recommendation letters and advising students academically. Please review the guidelines for writing recommendation letters and curricular advising. Faculty with questions about advising pre-health students should contact the pre-health advisors.

Pre-Health Curricular Advising

Advising sheets are designed to give typical pre-health student or faculty academic advisor a general understanding of course work requirements for applying to professional healthcare school. These documents may not be equally suitable for all students and should be used solely as an initial guide, since specific admission requirements may vary from school to school. Students are responsible for checking the specific admission prerequisites for each professional school to which they apply.

Letters of Recommendation

A letter of recommendation from a faculty member needs to provide the admission committee an insider look into an applicant’s proven academic ability to be successful in medical school. Letters of recommendation are important and the admission committee considers them carefully. One should be honest and supportive in the letter, but also brutally honest – not everyone who asks for a letter will be the best candidate in the world. At Butler, we want our letters to hold weight. If all letters from Butler arrive with enthusiastic recommendations, then eventually admission committees will ignore our letters. If an applicant has issues, then comment on those and justify your concern with examples. Then provide a level of recommendation appropriate with those concerns.

The Process

Professional School letters of recommendation are quite similar in content to those you may have written for graduate programs. Furthermore, the process for submission is also similar, with almost all letters (except for a few programs) uploaded electronically to a centralized application service.

When you agree to write a letter of recommendation, you should have about two to three months to complete the narrative comments. Normally, students should ask for a letter of recommendation in February or March and you will need to upload the letter by the end of  June. It is best if you can write the letter before the end of the semester in order to avoid delays in uploading and delays in the student’s application packet. An application can be penalized because of a late letter by their application packet being placed lower in the pile and this could jeopardize a student’s chance for successful matriculation. Once the student submits materials to the centralized application service, you should receive an email with instructions for uploading the letter. Follow those instructions and uploading should take no more than a few minutes. When the upload is complete, you are finished!

We do ask that you save an electronic copy of the letter for resubmission in the following year, should the student applicant be unsuccessful in their first attempt. This is occurring more frequently now and, thus, resubmissions are common.

Narrative Comments

As you prepare your letter of recommendation, please consider the following information that professional schools are looking to find in your letter. Some common threads to a good letter for health professional schools include:

  • An explanation of your relationship to the student and how long you have known and/or worked with the student
  • Specifics about the student’s abilities and achievements both academically and non-academically
  • Personal comments that provide insight into the student that grades cannot do
  • Use comparisons of the student to others, not in name but in ability or competencies
  • An overall ranking using the following: enthusiastically recommend, highly recommend, recommend, recommend with reservation (explain), and do not recommend at this time (explain)
  • Omit references to the student’s appearance as these are seen as inappropriate

When preparing your letter consider including comments on some, not all are necessary, of the following points:

  • Maturity
  • Academic potential
  • Problem solving skills
  • Ability to handle stress
  • Adaptability
  • Communication skills
  • Ability to exercise good judgment
  • Self-confidence
  • Resourcefulness
  • Compassion
  • Work ethic
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Capacity for empathy
  • Motivation for learning
  • Understanding of the profession
  • Motivation for the profession
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Integrity

Submitting Your Letter

The student requesting the letter will enter your contact information into the application service website. You will receive an email from the application service with instructions on how to electronically submit your letter. Be sure your letter has an actual signature on it prior to sending it. If you have questions about the submission process, contact one of the Pre-Health Advisors.