NCSU CALS PreHealth Club -Health PAC vs PHC vs Review Comm.



Because I realize that the terms Health PAC - Pre-Health Club - and Health Professions Review Committee are often confused and lumped together andthey are three very distinct items - I wanted to briefly provide someclarification on these to hopefully direct folks to the correct functionsand uses

1)  Health PAC -
·        WHAT - This is the Human Health Care Careers advising center and website (Health Professions Advising Center)
·        WHO - ANYNCSU student, alumni, grad student and ANY student that has an NCSU student ID number may register for Health PAC Services and use the resources

·        REQUIREMENTS- NONE - this is an advising resource - strictly for student benefit - through not only the center but also the website, listserv, portfolio, counseling, etc- folks only need to enroll and use

·        HOW TO BECOME PART OF HEALTH PAC -Simply click on the register link on the website and complete the data sheet and the check the listserv and waivers boxes
Students can be in ANY major, be in any college, etc to use the services and to apply they only need to meet the course requirements of their chosen graduate program

The center helps guide students with respect to these needed courses as well as the other key parts needed in most successful applicant profiles (service, clinical experience – etc)

2)  NCSU Pre-Health Club -
·        WHAT -  This is a CLUB (like many other student organizations - Dr. Flick is the adviser for this club (as well as the director of Health PAC) - BUT it is different  - separate from Health PAC - students are NOT required to join - it is strictly to help provide them with field specific info and opportunities
(the club has yearly dues, requirements, etc - Health PAC does not - Health PAC is not a club)
·        WHO - Same as Health PAC - open to any student, grad, etc with an ID number
·        REQUIREMENTS - Dues are $15/year - regardless of when they join – full details on dues, payments, etc are located on the club website and from the link on the Health PAC website as well
               -  Students to remain active are asked to:
(a) Attend at least 3 meetings a semester (there are large full group meetings and 12 interest groups and honor societies meaning a minimum of 39-40 meetings/semester that they have opportunities to attend
(b)  Acquire 5 service points - including volunteering in club sponsored events such as the Governor Morehead School for the Blind, Tutoring,  Science Saturdays and almost 50 projects a semester (see link on Pre-Health Club site under point opportunities for some as well as under each interest group link)
·        HOW - Simply Click on the link for the enrollment form either from Health PAC or the Pre-Health Club site itself
or typing
               ( the website also includes power points and meeting minutes from each group,
               project updates and a full calendar of events and MUCH more - take a look
               at the site and all it offers just like the Health PAC site)

3)  NCSU Health Professions Review Committee
·        WHAT - University committee comprised of faculty from different areas that review all medical, dental, optometry, physician assistant, and pharmacy applicants who chose to have their files reviewed by our faculty committee and a composite submitted on their behalf (again - is a choice by the applicant although MOST schools strongly encourage and some even require students whose schools have a committee to submit a composite file - reasons below)
     The committee makes a "university committee recommendation" for each applicant
     reviewed and submits this along with the items listed below as part of the  
           student's "composite" review committee recommendation to each school they ask to
           have their file sent to
          This replaces individual letters from recommenders and places them in a
          single file with the university recommendation
·        WHY USE THE COMMITTEE - Again - Many/most graduate programs specifically
request a committee letter be submitted for students whose schools have a committee
·        WHAT THE COMPOSITE DOES - The composite not only compiles all the letters of recommendation into a single document but our committee composite helps provide a targeted review that highlights the student in a single document  (details below)

There is nothing "magical" about the letter - its strength and importance is not just in the "ranking" but more in the ability to significantly target and highlight student points that may be missed in the lengthy applications and scattered assortment of letters  (it provides basically like a "cliff note" summary that really hits major points in short order making a solid snapshot of the student for schools
·        WHEN - Health PAC begins working with students planning to use the committee as part of their application in Nov before they apply - typically for first time applicants the spring/summer after their junior year but essentially the summer a YEAR before they plan to matriculate - for example - students wishing to matriculate in the fall of 2012 should aim to submit their applications in June of 2011 (and take their admissions test or make their first attempt before this)

The committee sets three firm "lockout dates" at which point students are expected to submit distinct parts of their file that not only will be reviewed by the committee but many parts used in their applications (these include their personal statement, obtaining letters of recommendation, compiling their transcripts and test scores and a detailed listing of their accomplishments) (this not only gives us what we need as the committee but helps keep them on target for having the items needed by Their application services

They will also compile lists of their schools they will be applying to and develop planned groupings of their letters of recommendation if they are applying to multiple program types (DO, MD, etc)

Full details of expectations are detailed under current applicants on the Health PAC website as well as in the handbook

·        WHAT IS THE COMPOSITE & WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO SCHOOLS - -although the "letter" from the committee is important - our entire composite is very targeted to highlight each student

First - there is an overall evaluation (highest, recommend without reservation, recommend, etc)

Next - there is the committee letter but not only does the letter endorse the student - it pulls our very key parts for graduate schools that include

-  quick summary of GPA, test scores, majors, minors, background
-  “sound bites” and strengths of personal statement
-  noted recommender comments and strengths (we actually pull key phrases and quotes from letters and provide these in our composite along with the complete letters in the file to reinforce students strengths) - we list the recommenders name and the quote as part of this
-  noted portfolio strengths - we pull key academic, clinical, service components from the students file and accomplishments sheet and bullet these in a very clear list as part of the composite

For instance - a clinical file note might briefly state:

Student has over 200 hours of clinical shadowing and experience including:
 50 hours of primary care shadowing, 80 hours of private practice specialty shadowing including cardiology, dermatology, etc.......

This allows the schools to really tease out the service, leadership, clinical strengths that are important to them once an applicant makes the typical "electronic screen" based on GPA and test scores

The committee then compiles a statement of student's maturity and recommendation as a possible member of not only the medical community but as part of the class and then our final endorsement/ranking

We then follow this with the more detailed accomplishments sheet that students upload into their portfolio:

For an example of what this may look like - a link is on the Health PAC website at:

This is followed by chart that identifies how all the student's recommenders ranked them on categories such as motivation, maturity, presentation skills, self confidence, teamwork

Then a description of each letter selected by the student to be included in their file - it lists the info about the recommender, how well they know the student, strengths and weaknesses and their actually letter uploaded electronically to Health PAC and the student's portfolio

This entire file (usually 15 - 20 pages in length) is made into a PDF with the names of the committee, statistics on how students are ranked and then uploaded to their application service, Virtual Evals ( or for schools not using electronic services application services for letter submission - mailed to them

This is all done at NO charge to the student - and the college covers the cost of the electronic service as well which can be $10 per program type for allopathic, osteopathic, etc -

This is a complete service supplied to the student for their benefit by the university and college

Full details on creating a portfolio and submitting to the committee are also on the website at creating a portfolio:
It is important to note that in the past three years - based on recommendations from the graduate programs, our university has made significant additions to the composite to what it is now.
Prior to this - the composite was made up of the applicants selected letters and a single mark to rank a student as excellent, good, etc
All the additional parts have been added because the medical application service now receives almost 50,000 medical applicants a year – schools like UNC receive almost 6000 applicants a year, Wake and Duke over 9000
Typically schools apply an electronic screen to many applications simply based on the numbers (MCAT, GPA) - to make an initial cut (then most then hand screen to numbers below the cut and then possibly later even lower)
Then they look to what makes applicants "unique" and if the applicants have the experiences they typically look for like clinical experience, service, leadership - This is where the composite file benefits them the most
What the composite does is to help provide a very clear, targeted and concise picture of the applicant strengths - and does the same for the letters of rec as well
In addition - if a student has specific things that should be noted (ie. may not have as much experience but worked 30 hours a week to pay all expenses while taking a full course load or specific event or "hiccup" can be explained - and although students often do this in their personal statement - this again highlights and supports the student by the university)
In recent years - we have started to see significant improvement in acceptance rates for students we feel in large part by not only the improvements in the strength of student portfolios and scores through the services above as well as their majors but through these improvements to our composite structure to create a highly respected document to the graduate schools - this is why we so strongly encourage students to participate in the committee and to use the services of Health PAC throughout their college career and if they so chose - to take advantage of the tremendous opportunities in Health PAC
Through the support of the university and CALS - we have been able to provide these three distinct services that students may chose to use to assist in developing their health care portfolio - again NONE are required but all are for the benefit of any student, alumni, etc
If you have any questions or concerns after reviewing the material on the websites – especially the applicant handbook, creating a portfolio and current applicants – please feel free to contact Dr. Flick at

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