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Dental School Letter of Recommendation

It is likely that a letter of evaluation will be required for your application. If your school has a pre-medical or pre-dental committee, medical and dental schools prefer that you obtain your letter of recommendation from the committee. If your school does not have a committee or you have graduated from the undergraduate institution, then you will need to obtain individual letters of recommendations.

Committee Letters of Recommendation

At Saint Mary's, a pre-medical/pre-dental committee will produce a composite evaluation letter. The committee is comprised of two science professors, one nonscience professor, and the Health Professions Advisor. The faculty members are chosen by the student and they should be chosen carefully and given every opportunity to get to know you. It is too late to begin this process when the letters are due.

Recommendations from faculty who have taught you are the most important, particularly science faculty. Whatever your major, it is crucial to have at least two recommendations from science professors in at least two different areas of basic science (biology, chemistry, physics, math), unless you have already had upper division or graduate courses, in which case faculty from those courses would be suitable. You should also choose one nonscience professor for a recommendation. If you have had research or other experience, a recommendation from someone who supervised that work is useful, if you did well.

It is the student's responsibility to get to know individuals who can write a letter of evaluation. Failure to get to know three (or more) professors who could write accurate and reflective letters of evaluation is a serious deficiency.

The process of obtaining your committee letter begins with the student contacting the professors and requesting their participation. Next, the student should schedule an interview. It is the student's responsibility to schedule the interview and reserve a room. The committee will interview the student and then the committee will meet to discuss the content of the letter. This process should take place in the Spring of the year that you are going to apply to medical or dental school.

You will be asked to sign a waiver of rights to have your file closed. This means that you will not be eligible to read the committee letter of evaluation. Closed files are preferred by the professional schools, but you do have a legal right to have an open file. If you choose an open file, it will be indicated on the letter of recommendation sent from the college. It is your responsibility to inform any faculty member asked to sign the letter that the file will be open and that you retain the right to read the letter.

Medical and dental schools take these committee recommendations seriously. Admission committees know that these are objective evaluations from individuals who are experienced in judging undergraduates applying to medical and dental school.

The following criteria are used in the evaluation:

  • Motivation, genuineness, and depth of commitment
  • Maturity, personal development, ability to cope with life situations
  • Emotional stability, performance under pressure, mood stability, ability to relate to others
  • Interpersonal relations, ability to get along with others, rapport, cooperation, attitudes toward supervision
  • Empathy, sensitivity to needs of others, consideration, tact
  • Judgment, ability to analyze a problem, common sense, decisiveness
  • Resourcefulness, originality, skillful management of available resources
  • Reliability, dependability, sense of responsibility, promptness, conscientiousness
  • Communication skills, clarity of expression, articulation
  • Perseverance, stamina, endurance
  • Self-Confidence, capacity to achieve with awareness of own strengths and weaknesses

Additional Letters of Recommendation

Non-faculty recommenders, on or off campus, might include student affairs staff or deans, coaches, chaplains, work supervisors, and research or volunteer supervisors. Those who have supervised you in the field that you hope to enter or have seen you work directly with in a helping capacity can write very useful letters.


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