Health Professions Evaluation Committee [HPEC]
What is HPEC and why does it exist?
Many health professional schools/programs expect, encourage, or accept, as part of the admission application process, a committee letter of evaluation (also known as a committee letter) that is written by personnel in the applicant's undergraduate institution. The Health Professions Evaluation Committee (HPEC) at Virginia Tech are personnel who write these committee letters. The HPEC writes such letters only after a process which includes a formal interview with the student-applicant. HPEC is a part of the support given to students by Health Professions Advising (HPA) at Virginia Tech.
Please read all details below to understand the process and requirements, and determine if and when you should request an HPEC interview.
Which health professional programs expect HPEC letters?
- The following typically do expect (or strongly encourage) an HPEC letter:
MD | DO | DDS | OD | DPM.
- The following typically do not require an HPEC letter:
PT | PA | BSN | MSN.
- However, do not rely on what is typical. Be absolutely sure to look at the requirements of each of the schools to which you plan to apply to know whether they expect or encourage a committee letter from your undergraduate institution.
To be eligible to request an HPEC interview, you MUST:
- Be a currently enrolled Virginia Tech student, or an alumna/alumnus who has graduated within the last two years.
- Have a cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.20 or higher.
When do HPEC interviews occur?
- HPEC interviews occur in spring semester, from mid-March to April or early May. For exact dates, see HPEC timeline and deadlines for students.
- Begin preparing two years prior to the semester you hope to begin professional school.
- For example, if you hope to begin professional school in fall 2025, you will be applying to professional school in summer 2024. If you need an HPEC interview, that would occur in spring 2024, and you begin preparing your documents in October 2023.
I wish to have an HPEC interview. When do I start preparing?
- To prepare necessary materials to submit for spring HPEC interviews, preparation begins in the October prior. See HPEC timeline and deadlines for students.
What must I submit to request an HPEC interview?
- You must have the following submitted to the HPEC portal by the deadline.
Deadline for spring 2024 HPEC is Wed. Jan. 31, 2024, 5pm ET.
See HPEC timeline and deadlines for complete information on where and how to submit your documents.
- Completed application, including your personal statement.
- Current resume.
- Unofficial transcripts of ALL college-level coursework (to the Documents section of the HPEC portal).
- Two to five assessment forms completed by "assessors," who are individuals you requested in advance (see deadlines) to complete this form about you. You will have supplied names and email addresses of your assessors to HPEC; HPA personnel will then provide your assessors access to the assessment form to complete online.
(Again, assessment forms are NOT the same as recommendation letters that could be required as part of your application to health professional schools..)
- NOTE: all documents submitted to the HPEC portal are for internal HPEC use only. None of these documents are sent to any professional schools to which you apply.
The HPEC interview is NOT a practice interview. This is a formal interview with two basic purposes:
- You must demonstrate your strength as an applicant so the committee members can write a committee letter for you;
- The experience will help you prepare for interviews that you could later have with the professional schools to which you apply; however, it is NOT a practice interview, and you should not treat it as such.
You will be asked a variety of questions. At the conclusion of the HPEC interview, you will receive constructive feedback on how you performed based on your responses, body language, and communication skills. This feedback will be valuable to you as you prepare for your professional school interviews. However, again, the HPEC interview is not a practice interview. It is your only opportunity to speak with the HPEC to promote yourself. The committee letter will focus on the areas of strength that you demonstrate during your interview and in your written materials.
- Seek and use resources to learn about typical interview questions.
- As with any professional interview, questions will not be provided to you in advance. However, none of the questions should come as a surprise to you, if you prepare. You will not be asked trick questions. You will be asked questions that give you the opportunity to showcase your understanding of the career you hope to enter, your preparedness for health professional school, and your personal characteristics including maturity.
- Think about and practice responses, verbally and in writing, to become comfortable responding.
- Career and Professional Development provides an interviewing skills guide, and offers practice interviews. Note that while much of the discussion of interview preparation relates to job search, the same principles apply to interviews for admission to professional school. You should know yourself, know the requirements, and show the fit and your ability to be successful. Give specific, clear examples when you respond to questions.
How long is the HPEC interview?
- The HPEC interview lasts ONE HOUR. This includes time to explain the process, conduct the formal interview, and give you feedback and next steps.
Is the HPEC interview in person or by Zoom?
- Prior to the pandemic, HPEC interviews were in person.
- Since the pandemic, HPEC interviews have been conducted by Zoom.
- HPEC interviewers are on the Blacksburg campus.
- HPEC serves many alumni who are no longer living near the Blacksburg campus, many of whom are employed, and would incur expense and loss of more work time to travel to the Blacksburg campus. Conducting HPEC interviews by Zoom enables broader and more equitable access to this service.
Can I repeat the HPEC interview in a future year?
- The HPEC interview is a formal interview. Each eligible individual may have one HPEC interview.
- The HPEC process, scheduling, and interviewing are time and labor intensive.
- The preparation process for you during the fall prior to the spring HPEC interview is designed to help you carefully examine your readiness to apply to health professional school. During that process, it is possible you could decide to delay requesting an HPEC interview to the following year. This is an important decision-making process for you, and you can seek HPA advising to help you make this decision.
The HPEC letter is NOT the same as a reference letter:
- The HPEC committee letter is NOT the same as reference letters that professional schools might require or suggest that applicants submit.
- Reference letters would come from individuals who know you, and you would request that those individuals submit a reference letter on your behalf.
Who are the HPEC interviewers?
- Each interview consists of two HPEC interviewers interviewing one applicant.
- The committee members include academic and administrative faculty from campus departments, including Health Professions Advising, Career and Professional Development, and academic departments that help undergraduate students prepare for health professional careers.
- You will not be provided the names of your specific interviewers in advance, and you may not request any specific interviewer(s). Remember this is a formal, professional interview, and not a practice interview. In a professional interview you do not always know in advance the names of everyone by whom you will be interviewed.
How long is the HPEC letter valid?
- For the current and subsequent year.
- HPA will submit the committee letter for the application cycle following the interview. Example: you have an HPEC interview in spring 2026; the committee letter is submitted in summer 2026 for your application in 2026, to begin professional school in 2027.
- If you wish to delay your application to the next, consecutive application cycle, you may request an update to the committee letter, and HPA will submit it.
- After the year extension, the committee letter will not be available.
Advising and questions:
- HPA advising is available to you throughout the process of preparing your materials and preparing for your HPEC formal interview.
- As included on the HPEC timeline and deadlines for students, you are encouraged, after you begin to draft your materials in October, to make an appointment to meet with HPA advisors to review your materials. In seeking advising, allow yourself ample time prior to the January deadline.