Prepare to apply

The process of applying to a program should start long before the application deadline. It’s important to begin shadowing and volunteering as early as possible. Many programs recommend that you begin gathering and preparing your application materials a year in advance of the semester you wish to enroll.

While individual schools and programs may have different requirements, most program applications require some or all of the following:


Your resume should focus on your health care-related experience including shadowing and volunteering. Be sure to include information about what you learned and observed, including technical information.

We can help you develop a great resume for your application. Schedule an appointment with our health sciences career advisor to get started.

Personal statement

Writing a top-notch personal statement requires time, personal reflection and attention to detail. And plenty of edits. Personal statements that are genuine, thoughtful, focused and precise will improve your entire application.

Before beginning to write your personal statement, make sure to review all of the instructions and requirements for your field of interest and for each school for which you plan to apply.

When writing a personal statement, reflect on the following:

  • Why do I want to enter this field? Why this field and not another?
  • What skills and abilities do I possess that would help me succeed in this field?
  • What experiences have I had so far that confirm my passion for this field?

Shadowing and volunteering

Shadowing and volunteering are vital components to understanding more about a professional field of interest. Experiences where you have direct patient contact are most highly regarded by admissions representatives.

Entrance exam

Each health profession has different exam requirements, so visit the website for the individual exam for registration dates and information. Entrance exams are offered throughout the year. Plan on registering several months in advance to ensure you get your desired test date and have adequate time to study.

The Medical College Admission Test is offered about 22 times a year at testing locations across the country. For statistical information on the correlation between GPA and MCAT scores as it relates to the competitiveness of your application, visit the AAMC's data center

The Dental Admission Test is offered throughout the year at testing locations across the country.

The Pharmacy College Admission Test is offered in January, June, August and October at testing locations across the country.

The Optometry Admission Test is offered throughout the year at testing locations across the country.

Other health professions
Nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, clinical radiation sciences, clinical laboratory sciences, veterinary medicine and dental hygiene use the Graduate Record Examination as their entrance examination. Tests are offered throughout the year at locations across the country.

Letters of recommendation

While each program and school has specific guidelines, most will require you to submit a number of letters of recommendation from professors, a supervisor or someone you shadowed who can speak to your knowledge, skills, abilities and/or passion for the field. Get to know your professors and supervisors and ask for recommendation letters six to eight weeks prior to their deadline.

After you’ve completed a class or volunteering/shadowing experience, keep in contact with your professor or supervisor. Networking for Alumni is an important part of maintaining a connection with those who can recommend you in the future.

Personal interview

Most health care programs require an in-person interview as part of the application process. Each health care field and each program within those fields conducts interviews differently. For the most accurate answers to questions about the interview process, contact the program’s admissions department directly.

Practice and preparation are the two keys to giving a representative, cohesive and competitive interview. Knowledge of interview questions, techniques, etiquette and measures to control anxiety will all help you give the best interview possible. Your career advisor can help you prepare by setting up a mock interview. You also can prepare on your own by using InterviewStream.

Multiple mini interview

Some dental and medical schools use multiple mini interviews.

The MMI was created as a potentially more effective means of assessing qualities that lie outside the realm of grades and test scores — a student’s “soft skills.” The MMI format is similar to “speed dating” in that applicants rotate among six to 10 interviewing stations. An interview question or prompt is posted on the door at each interview station, and applicants are given two minutes to prepare. Once the interviewer enters, the applicant will have six to eight minutes to answer.


All programs will require transcripts from every college or university you have attended. You can request official transcripts of your academic record by completing the Transcript Request Form. The form is available on the Monroe Park Campus in the Student Services Center in Grace E. Harris Hall or on the the MCV Campus in the Records and Registration Office in the VMI Building. A $5 per copy transcript fee is charged.

You may also use your eID and password to log in to eServices to request an official transcript. A credit card payment is required to complete your order. Online requests are processed within two business days after your request is made. Students and alumni with financial holds will not be able to request a transcript.

Virginia Commonwealth University
Division of Student Success
907 Floyd Avenue, Room 143
Box 842007
Richmond, Virginia 23284-2007

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