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Skidmore College
Health Professions Advising
& Student Health Professions Network 

Applying to Programs

Fall Semester Two Years Prior  |  Winter Break Two Years Prior Spring Semester A Year and a Half Prior  |  Summer a Year Prior  |  Fall a Year Prior Through the Summer Before Matriculating  |  Application Materials  |  Health Professions Graudation Program Application Services  |  Primary Applications  |  Personal Statements  |  Secondary Applications  |  Situational Judgement TestsInterviewing  | Financing  |  Standardized Testing

Overview & General Timeline

Students applying to dental, medical (M.D. and D.O programs), optometry, physician assistant, and veterinary medicine programs go through the HPAC Interview Process detailed below. Students applying to other health professional programs (e.g., nursing, PT, OT, etc.), please discuss with your HPAC advisor.

Recent acceptance statistics of Skidmore students into medical, dental, and veterinary programs and where they matriculated to after graduating college are on the HPAC website under Current Student Information.

To determine your HPAC Interview and Application timeline use the linked Excel Spreadsheet. When using the spreadsheet, enter the year you want to start the program and it update the other dates in the form. In addition, there are example timelines depending if you take a gap/glide year or not.

Useful Links:

What does the HPAC interview entail?

HPAC members will review your submitted materials along with your letters of recommendation. One HPAC member will serve as the lead for your HPAC interview and will typically be your HPAC advisor. An additional 2-4 members of the committee will also be part of the interview. The typical schedule:

  • Introductions
  • Two starting questions asked of all candidates:
    • Why do you want to go into your field of interest (e.g., medicine, denistry, or veterinary medicine)?
    • What makes you a good candidate for the field?
  • Follow-up questions to your responses, submitted materials, and possiblely current topics in the field - You may want to subscribe to the table of contents of the New England Journal of Medicine or related journal so you are aware of topics discussed and follow-up to learn about reoccurring discussion areas.
  • Feedback from HPAC members on your interview, submitted materials, and application.
  • Your questions for HPAC.

Your responses to the first two questions should be substantive. Think about the narrative of why you want to go into the particular field. Reflect on key events and experiences that help highlight your motivation and the narrative that connects them together. Like with your personal statement, you want to show not tell. For example, a memorable patient experience highlights A) you had the experience, B) your interpersonall skills, C) your empathy & care for patients and their families, and D) you understand what the profession is. For what makes you a good candidate, the interview is not a time to be overly modest. It isn't easy to talk about yourself in positive terms. While you don't want to boast, you do want to highlight your strengths and what you are bringing to the field. Do not put down others - stay positive and focussed on you. You want to be your professional authentic self.

Given the substance, you don't want to give short responses to the two questions (< 2 minutes per question, < 4 minutes total for both). However, you don't want to overwhelm the interviewers. You want to invite them in to ask follow-up questions due to interest not because they are lost or misunderstood you. You want a combined response to be 7-12 minutes total of the 20 minutes of the interview. It means you want to prepare and think ahead of time how to respond to those two questions with clear, concise, substantive, and authentic answers. Talk with your HPAC advisor along with Rachel Chase in the Career Development Center. Practice your responses to those two questions. Preparing ahead of time will also help with your nerves. The interviewers will have your personal statement. You should be going beyond what is in your statement, enriching what you stated.

Overall, the interview will be about 30-35 minutes in length including follow-ups, feedback, and time for you to ask the committee questions. It is good to prepare a couple of questions in advance. For interviews with programs, make sure you prepare questions that go beyond what you can find easily on their webpages. Asking for information that is easily accessible on the web is a sign that you didn't do your homework on the school. You want to ask questions that demonstrate you are a professional who does the necessary research to ask the questions that are going to elicit responses so you can make an informed decision.

General timeline HPAC Interview & Application Process (Note Two-Year Process)

Fall Semester Two Years Prior

Junior year if applying to start Fall after graduating, Senior Year if planning to take a Gap Year

  • September-November – Review the AAMC Anatomy Applicant Guide (or equivalent) and work on competencies & experience worksheet.
  • September-November – Reflect ahead of writing your Personal Statement and read the Approaching the Personal Statement for additional details.
  • September-November – Sign-up for relevant entrance exams (e.g., MCAT, DAT, OAT, or PCAT). Standardized tests
  • September-November – Study for relevant entrance exams e.g., MCAT, DAT, OAT, or PCAT).
  • September-October – Create a target list of schools you are interested in applying to. Check their requirements. Note there may be courses and other requirements that need to be completed by the time you apply and others that need to be completed by the time you matriculate.
  • October-November – When registering for Spring courses, be mindful of courses you need to complete before applying to the programs you are interested in as well as for studying for entrance exams. You are responsible for making sure those requirements are met on time.
  • October/November – Discuss who you are going to ask write letters of recommendation on your behalf with your HPAC advisor. Also, start discussing statements that need to be written and start outlining.
  • Early December, submit your HPAC Interview Application Form to Ellen Grandy or upload to

Winter Break Two Years Prior

  • December-January – Watch the prerecorded webinar on writing a personal statement, offered through Robertson Premedical Consulting (See detailed HPAC Interview Timeline for link).
  • Review what is expected in the application materials (MD programs or DO programs).
  • Review and reflect on how to discuss patients, colleagues, supervisors, faculty, classmates, and other people in a professional manner in your materials.
  • December-January – Write drafts of your CV and personal statement and upload to your Box folder.
    • Please use the writing prompts from the recent application cycle that can be found in the applicant guides from AMCAS, AACOMAS, AADSAS, or VMCAS and include in the top of your document, along with your name. Please note any character limits.
  • January – Submit your transcripts to your folder once Fall grades are available.
  • January – Schedule an appointment with Rachel Chase (Career Development Center) to discuss your materials including feedback on your statement.
  • January – Continue to update and revise your competencies & experiences worksheet.

Spring Semester A Year and a Half Prior

  • February through May - Refine and finalize list of schools you will be applying to. Double check requirements and if you need to take any additional classes before matricualting. Check to see if you need to take the CASPER and AAMC PREview assessments. Prepare for them as well if need be. Additional information on CASPER.
  • February-early May – If possible, take relevant entrance exam (e.g., MCAT)
  • February – Request your letters of recommendation. Give the HPAC letter of recommendation cover sheet to all letter writers. Letters need to be on letterhead and include a signature, and they should be sent directly from your letter writer to Ellen Grandy. Please review guidelines for letters of recommendation.
    • It is good if you have a draft resume/CV to provide your letter writers along with key points and competencies you think each writer should address. No single letter writer will address every competency and skill expected by the programs. However, the collection of your letters of recommendation should. Think about your letter writers accordingly and discuss with your HPAC Advisor.
      • For faculty members this could include what courses you took from them and when, particular assignments you did well on, course engagement, discussions you had in office hours, presentations given, and skills demonstrated.
    • Recommendation Letter Guidelines Med/Dental/Vet Students
    • Recommendation Letter Guidelines Other Health Professions
  • February – Make an appointment with your HPAC advisor to review competencies & experiences worksheet and other materials. Revise and refine as needed.
  • February – Continue drafting personal statement (should be on at least second major draft with multiple revisions)
  • February-March – Schedule an appointment with Rachel Chase in the Career Development Center to discuss your materials including feedback on your statement.
  • March – Continue drafting your personal statement (should be on at least third major draft with multiple revisions) and have it critiqued by at least one of the following (ideally multiple people): The Writing Center, HPAC Advisor, and or Industry Expert (i.e., a physician, veterinarian, or dentist). Integrate the feedback into your personal statement to finalize the document for submission to HPAC.
  • Mid-March – Check-in with your letter writers to see if they need any additional information and to remind them of the submission deadline.
  • March - May – Begin writing secondary essays using prompts from previous years (see for MD/DO). 
  • March - May, finalize your competencies & experiences worksheet and resume/CV as well as other materials for submission to HPAC.
  • March - May, if MD/DO, start drafting your key activities/experiences for your primary application (you can have up to 15) and your meaningful experiences (up to three) using your competencies & experiences worksheet as your starting point. Additional information regarding the Work & Activities Section and further details and examples.
  • Early April – Submit the final versions of your resume, competencies & experiences worksheet, and personal statement to Box folder. Confirm with Ellen Grandy that your letters of recommendation have arrived. If they have not arrived, follow-up with your letter writers to remind them to submit their letters.
  • April – Prepare for your HPAC interview. Discuss with your HPAC advisor.
  • Early to mid-May – HPAC interview.
  • May – Revise and refine your materials, taking in feedback from your HPAC interview.

Summer a Year Prior

  • By May-June – Take the CASPER and AAMC PREview assessments if you haven't already as required or recommended for the schools you are applying.
  • May-June – Request your HPAC Committee Letter by contacting Ellen Grandy (it takes up to three to four weeks from the request to the letter to being submitted).
  • June – Submit your primary common application. Please see your competencies & experiences worksheet to assist you with the 15 signficant experiences.
  • June-August – Revise and refine responses to secondary application requests and submit them promptly. Aim to submit your responses back to the schools within two weeks of the schools putting out their requests to you.

Fall a Year Prior Through the Summer Before Matriculating

Application Materials

For those going through the HPAC Interview Process (those applying to dental, medical (M.D. and D.O programs), optometry, physician assistant, and veterinary medicine programs), the following need to be completed (see Detailed HPAC Interview Timeline for specific dates):

  • HPAC Interview Application (typically due in December prior to your HPAC interview in May)
  • Competencies & experiences worksheet (submit by early April to your folder)
  • Unofficial Transcript(s) (submit by early April to your folder)
  • Resume/CV (submit by early April to your folder)
  • Personal Statement (submit by early April to your folder) – Should go through multiple drafts and edits. It should be read by multiple people including Rachel Chase in the Career Development Center, your HPAC advisor, and others (e.g., someone in the field, Writing Center, etc.).
  • Letters of recommendation submitted on your behalf (3-5) to HPAC through Ellen Grandy (early April)

Health Professions Graduate Program Application Services



Physician Assistant (PA)

Podiatric Medicine

Public Health


Primary Applications

  • Biographical data
  • College courses & grades including where taken
  • Key Activities (see your competencies & experiences worksheet; they will serve as your notes to write) and meaningful experiences
  • Personal statement/entrance essay
  • List of schools applying to
  • Standardized test scores
  • Letters of recommendation - If going through HPAC for dental, medical, optometry, and PA, HPAC uploads the individual letters with the committee letter. Veterinary medicine programs typically don’t have committee letters so individual letter writers will upload. 

Personal Statements

Secondary Applications

After submitting your primary application, you will have secondary application materials to submit (supplemental applications). The specific questions asked vary by school as they are trying to determine your fit for their program. Some schools request secondary materials from all applicants, while for other programs it will be a subset of applicants based on their initial screen of the application materials. Start looking at prompts the spring before you apply (March-May). You can expect to be spending a significant amount of time June-August after you submit your primary application working on secondary applications. The more you can do in advance the better. You want to be sure to provide high quality responses that are well written in a timely manner. You should aim to submit your secondary application within two weeks of the school making the request. It is why starting early is important.

Useful links:


Situational Judgement Tests

A growing number of schools are using use situational judgement tests (SJTs) to better understand your interpersonal and intrapersonal skills, and how you make ethical decisions. CASPER and AAMCPREview are the two commonly used systems.

Financing resources