Medical School Letter of Intent and Update Letter: 4 High-Yield Tips
The medical school interview season is well underway, and many of you may be in the position of balancing interview invites in the midst of your day-to-day life. However, if you still haven’t heard back from your top medical schools—or any schools—fear not! The season is still only halfway done, and good things come to those who wait…right? Good things come to those who wait, but only things left behind by those who hustle. And if you want to do anything and everything you can to get an interview offer at your favorite medical school, then you might consider sending a medical school update letter or medical school letter of intent. In this blog post, we’ll go over the key tips and facts about your medical school letter of intent, and how sending these letters may improve your chances.
WHAT: Medical school update letter vs. Medical school letter of intent (LOI): What’s the difference?
In brief, a medical school update letter and medical school letter of intent are short letters of correspondence, usually less than one page in length, that are addressed to the dean/director of admissions or the admissions committee. The key distinction between the two is that medical school update letters disclose updates on achievements, awards, and endeavors to the admissions committee, whereas a medical school letter of intent reaffirms and strengthens your interest in the school. There is no distinct line that separates the two letters, and the content in both of these letters can be similar; in fact, it is perfectly fine to write a letter that incorporates updates on your application AND your interest of going to that specific medical school. The key factor is whether you have notable things to update.
- Noteworthy projects or milestones that you have not yet mentioned in your application, including
- Job promotions
- Research Publication acceptances
- Poster presentations not previously mentioned in your application
- Leadership positions or milestones
- MCAT Scores – these are automatically sent to AMCAS, which distributes it to the medical schools. Unnecessary to mention in the update letter, UNLESS you have taken the MCAT a second time and there is drastic improvement between the scores.
- Grades from ongoing courses – As with above, this is not worth mentioning UNLESS it portrays a drastic improvement in your GPA.
WHY: Why are medical school update letters / medical school letters of intent useful?
Simply put, a medical school update letter is an extra bit of you for the admissions committee to read and learn about. A medical school update letter or medical school letter of intent gets added to your file, and many (but not all) schools will re-examine your application upon receipt of these documents. As such, they should be written with the same level of care and formality that you would use in a personal statement or secondary essay.
Not all applicants send a medical school update letter or medical school letter of intent. But if you do, it demonstrates a measure of persistence on your part, a proactive element in which you are putting the extra effort to make sure your application is getting in the door. Granted, there’s a risky line between persistent and pestering.
Send a medical school update letter or medical school letter of intent to deepen your narrative as a candidate. Your accomplishments should back up your attributes in leadership, persistence, or innovation. Did you get a job promotion with more responsibilities? Highlight that in the letter, and tie it back to the school and why you would be a great fit. Were you invited to a research conference to present your findings? Disclose it, along with your enthusiasm to bring that energy to the school. Did your transcripts from your supplementary courses return with high grades? Write about how this is a byproduct of your persistence to excel, in spite of poor grades in the past.
If your medical school update letter can further add to who you are, what you offer, and what you will bring to the school, then it will be noticed, and it will improve your chances of hearing back from the school.
WHEN: When should I send a medical school update letter or medical school letter of intent?
Medical school update letters and medical school letters of intent are best optimized if sent around the following timeline:
- 5 months after the school received your secondary application and you haven’t heard back for an interview
- 2 weeks after you’ve been placed on hold for interview at the school.
- 1 month after you’ve interviewed at the school but have not yet received a decision.
- 1 month after you’ve received a waitlist decision from the school.
HOW: How should I format the medical school update letter or medical school letter of intent?
- Emailing your medical school update letter or medical school letter of intent to the medical school is the norm these days. Before sending your letter, call up the school to confirm the email address.
- Attach your update letter as a PDF to the email, NOT as a word document.
- In the body of the email, state that you are an applicant, include your name, AMCAS ID, and a brief message detailing your update letter.
A Sample update letter is provided below. Our Cracking Med School Admissions team can help you edits your medical school update letters and practice for mock interviews.
KEY TIPS: Before you send in a letter of intent medical school, do your homework:
- Some medical schools explicitly note that they do not want medical school update letters, medical school letters of interest, or additional materials. If that is the case, DO NOT send them any additional materials. These policies are pretty strict, and rather than viewing your letter as the exception, the committee might perceive it in a negative light.
- Look up online or call ahead to inquire the name of the medical school dean, director, or admissions coordinator. Then, address your update letter specifically to that person. It will show that you’ve gone the extra mile than just addressing the letter to “Admissions Committee” or “To Whom It May Concern.” Be polite and cordial: each medical school has a point of contact for all admissions inquiries, and if you are crafting a letter of intent to your top school, being warm and affable will make a positive difference. And everyone in admissions talks! Your attitude—both good and bad—will be noticed.
- While the general framework for the medical school update letters of medical school letters of intent can be used for multiple schools, make sure that each letter is tailored specifically to each school. For a medical school letter of intent, reiterate why you’re particularly set on that school and why it would be a good fit.
Sample Letter of Intent Medical School:
Dear [name of Dean/Director of admissions],
Greetings! As an MD applicant, I realize that the interview season is rapidly underway, and the [School of Medicine] has already interviewed many superb candidates. Therefore, I am writing you with the hope that my application will be reconsidered for an interview at your school. [Medical school] is one of my top choices and I strongly believe that it is a perfect match for my future endeavors.
Since the submission of my application, I have received a promotion as site manager for the scribe program in the emergency department where I work full time. My new responsibilities include managing all the training protocols for new-hire scribes, overseeing continuing classroom education for my team of 15 scribes, and serving as a liaison between the physician group and the scribe company. I am thrilled to grow in this role and expand my abilities to lead a team and learn from the strengths and personalities that my cohorts provide. As such, I believe my newfound responsibilities best convey the attributes I will bring to [Medical School]: patience, encouragement, and leadership.
The hospital where I work stimulates interaction with patients of all types of backgronds. A large proportion of patients in the ED come from predominantly Hispanic/Latino communities, and some Spanish-speaking ability is crucial to assisting the physicians in their charts. As such, I am currently implementing medical podcasts to teach myself and my co-workers medical Spanish, skills which I believe align with the patient population surrounding the [Medical school’]s patient population.
Along more personal lines, I feel that [medical school] offers the best avenues for my support network. Medical school will be stressful, there’s no doubt about it. Because the school is situated less than two hours away from my friends and family, I am thrilled that I will never be too far from the support of loved ones to empower me through otherwise an otherwise challenging time in my life!
Thank you for your time and consideration. I sincerely hope for the chance to meet with you and show what I have to contribute to the [medical school] incoming class of [year of admission]
All the best,
Our team at Cracking Med School Admissions has advised several applicants who didn’t get a medical school interview right away, but have used our strategies to eventually land an interview and get accepted! There are more strategies about landing a medical school interview in our book, but you can also ask us directly for advice on the best strategy for your situation. We can help YOU draft and proof-read update letters, letters of intent, emails, and appeals!