How to Submit A Strong
Medical School Letter of Recommendation
Whether you’re a pre-med applying for a competitive summer internship, planning to take a gap year, or applying to medical school, you’ll need fantastic letters.
The Cracking Med School Admissions team strives for our advisees to have ONLY strong letters of recommendation. Not just “good” or “okay” ones. But EXCELLENT.
In this blog, we’ll give you tips to obtain strong medical school letters of recommendation as well as questions we frequently get asked by pre-med applicants.
If you have questions about your pre-med journey or applying to medical school, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are some tips for obtaining those awesome medical school letters of recommendation:
- Ask for a STRONG or EXCELLENT letter of recommendation. If your letter writer seems hesitant, then you may want to ask somebody else. Asking for a strong rec allows you to gauge whether your letter will be bad versus average versus stellar.
- Highlight noteworthy characteristics or interactions you’ve had with your letter-writer to jog his/her memory and bring to fore achievements you want discussed.
- Additionally, you should provide them a draft of your med school personal statement, fellowship essays, or summer internship application, if you have it. It’s okay if you don’t have to have the final draft ready. This will help your rec writers understand WHY you want to pursue a specific opportunity.
- Include a CV for reference.
The more information you give your letter writer, the easier job it will be for them to write you a STRONG medical school recommendation letter.
We have a bunch more tips for letters of recommendation in our book and on our recent blog:
Frequently Asked Questions about the Medical School Letter of Recommendation:
What are the components needed in a strong letter of recommendation?
- Your medical school letter of recommendation letter should have the following elements:
- Your recommendation letter writer should state that you are great. This can come in the form of April was the top __% of the class. OR Julie received and A in my biochemistry class. OR stories that show you are a great student & applicant.
- How (or in what capacity) the med school letter of recommendation writer knows you. Did you take a class with them? Were you in a lab? Did you shadow this doctor?
- Specific Examples. We cannot emphasize this enough. Just like your personal statement should have stories, your medical school letter of recommendation should also have.
How many letters of recommendation for medical schools?
- At the minimum, we suggest you have 4 letters of recommendation.
- Be sure the additional letters add a different perspective about who you are.
- Our Cracking Med School Admissions book gives examples of who each author asked for letters of recommendation and what the letter writer emphasized. In my medical school application, I had: 2 science professors; a non science letter of recommendation with professor who I did a junior research project with; my senior thesis advisor; and a doctor I shadowed and did public health work with in the Philippines during my Fulbright.
Can a teaching assistant (TA) or graduate student write my medical school letters?
- We frequently get this questions from our students because their science class in college was HUGE. Most of the time, pre-meds end up getting to know the TA rather than the science professor. Yes, a TA – even if the TA is a graduate student – can write your med school letter of recommendation. We would recommend only one of your letters be from a TA or grad student, though. Most of the time, the TA will write the letter in conjunction with the main professor of the class.
“How to write a letter of recommendation for medical school?”
- There is not one correct way to write a letter of recommendation for medical school. When you write a draft, make you have all the components stated above. If you are asked to write a letter of recommendation, the writer usually uses the examples as a template and to help them jog ideas in their heads about what to write. So, be sure to write specific examples in your draft!
What should a recommendation letter from a doctor contain?
- A sample letter of recommendation for medical school from a doctor you shadowed or worked with should have the following components:
- When you shadowed or worked with the doctor.
- How you interacted with patients.
- Intellectual curiosity of patient care and healthcare.
- Why your personal qualities would make you a caring doctor.
- Describe any other projects you may have worked with them on.
What should a medical school letter of recommendation from an employer contain?
- A sample letter of recommendation for medical school from employer should have the following components:
- What your job was.
- Describe what role you played.
- Evidence of teamwork.
- Any initiatives you took at your job: Did you start a new program? Did you lead an intra-mural soccer team? Leadership will be an important aspect to highlight for your medical school application.
- Impact you had with customers or patients.
- Work ethic
Is it okay to submit non science letters of recommendation for medical school applications?
- Absolutely! Especially if you are a non science major graduate, you should obtain a stellar letter from a faculty member who can speak about your other intellectual strengths. To give a sample of a non science letter of recommendation… My non science letter of rec writer was a Professor who taught a “Junior Year Task Force” on improving the public school system. She spoke about my research skills, analysis, and contributions I made to class discussions.
What is a medical school committee letter?
- Read our blog about medical school committee letters and why they are important here!
“What if I don’t get a letter from my school’s pre-med advising committee letter?”
- It’s usually a red-flag to admissions committees if you don’t submit your school’s pre-health advising committee letter.
Let us know if you have any other questions about your medical school letter of recommendation or summer internship letter of recommendation. We can help advise you with your AMCAS – from obtaining your letters of rec to editing your work/activities section to fine-tuning your personal statement. We look forward to working with you soon!