To INFORM students about getting into medical school we hold group meetings (one in the fall and one in the spring) a year and go over what students need to be doing to get into medical school. We often have these meetings coupled with a visit from any one of the following: representatives of medical schools, former students now attending medical school, Army representatives talking about their scholarship program (and often supplying food!).
To ADVISE students we serve as premedical advisors. Students are assigned premed advisors in the fall of the sophomore year. Freshman who have questions should attend the group session; if they still have questions, contact us directly. As long as students have attended the group sessions there isn’t very much advising that has to be done, but if you have questions, don’t hesitate to ask. If you are a sophomore or beyond and you haven’t been assigned an advisor by the start of spring semester please contact the Biology Department office and ask to be assigned a premed advisor.
We ANSWER questions at the group meetings (the group sessions are particularly helpful because others often ask questions that help you haven't thought about), and by answering emails and when students stop by to visit.
To WRITE letters of recommendation we interview students, usually in May of thier junior year. Following the interview we draft a 'composite' letter utilizing ~ five individual letters of recommendation that students have solicited. These individual letters of recommendation generally come from faculty but may also come from employers, coaches, and others that know applicants well. A letter from a premedical advisor or advisory committee is not essential for students applying to medical schools; most medical schools allow students to apply without one. But it is the normal procedure and the one that all medical schools prefer. The interview that we have with students not only allows us to get to know students a bit better before writing on their behalf but we also use the opportunity to make sure that students understand the process of applying to medical school. And we also try to simulate, in a small way, the types of questions that students will face when interviewing at medical schools. One member of the committee will draft the composite letter and it is then reviewed and edited by the entire committee. We prefer to write these letters in the summer after interviewing students and students should plan to have their individual letters of recommendation available by August at the latest. (see timeline)
May I change my premed advisor? Well, sort of! You are more than welcome to visit (and get advice from) anyone on the committee at any time. You are not actually changing your advisor, but you are getting advice from additional people. You also may want to seek advice from people outside the committee: other faculty, physicians that you know, students in medical school. There is much help available online.
Does the premed advisor replace the advisor that has been assigned by the Dean's office? NO! Premed students have two advisors, one in their major (an academic advisor) and also a premed advisor. It occasionally happens that students have the same advisor in both roles (if you happen to major in biology, chemistry, psychology or sociology and you happen to get a member of the Premedical Advisory Committee as your academic advisor), but generally this is not the case.