How to Submit a Strong Medical School Letter of Recommendation

By March 30, 2019 March 30th, 2020 Admissions Advice, Primary AMCAS Application

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 of recommendation.

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 post, we’ll cover 2 main topics:

  1. Tips to obtain strong letter of recommendation
  2. Frequently asked questions – The FAQ section is EXTREMELY important to read because we give tips about how to submit an application with a well-rounded perspective of yourself from your recommenders. 

If you have questions about your pre-med journey or applying to medical school, email us at info@crackingmedadmissions.com or fill out the contact form below.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Include a CV for reference.
One common question we receive is: “What to include in a medical school letter of recommendation?”
 

Remember, it’s important to have specific examples that highlight your talents, skills, character, and work ethic. Below are a list of personal characteristics and attributes your medical school letter of recommendation writer can write about. 

If you want more tips for submitting strong medical school letters of recommendation, read our Cracking Med School Admissions ebook, where we have an entire chapter dedicated to  letters of recommendation.  In the chapter, we discuss who each author asked for a recommendation and WHY each author asked each person for a recommendation letter. 

Remember, 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.

 

Here is a list of characteristics and attributes
your medical school letter of recommendation writer can highlight:

  • Character
  • Trust
  • Integrity
  • Respect for others
  • Compassion
  • Cultural competence
  • Maturity
  • Responsibility
  • Responsiveness
  • Listening skills
  • Reliability
  • Diligence and persistence
  • Timeliness and punctuality
  • Teamwork and collaboration
  • Academic and intellectual ability
  • Discipline
  • Innovative thinking
  • Creativity
  • Work experience
  • Professionalism
  • Leadership skills
  • Management skills
  • Writing skills
  • Oral communication and presentation skills
  • Critical thinking
 

Remember, it’s important to have specific examples that highlight your talents, skills, character, and work ethic. Below are a list of personal characteristics and attributes your medical school letter of recommendation writer can write about. 

If you want more tips for submitting strong medical school letters of recommendation, read our Cracking Med School Admissions ebook, where we have an entire chapter dedicated to  letters of recommendation.  In the chapter, we discuss who each author asked for a recommendation and WHY each author asked each person for a recommendation letter. 

Remember, 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.

 

OUr Students Were Accepted at These Medical Schools the Past 2 Years!

In this section, we answer the most common questions applicants have regarding letters of recommendation for medical school. 

Q: How important are letters of recommendation for medical school?

Medical school letters of recommendation are extremely important, which is why we are writing multiple blog posts that cover: 1) how to ask for strong medical school letters of recommendation and 2) how to submit strong medical school letters of recommendation.

 
Q: 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.
 
Q: How many letters of recommendation should I submit for medical school?

At the minimum, we suggest you have 4 letters of recommendation. Be sure each letter of recommendation adds a different perspective about you. Remember, our goal is for you to have every single letter be a strong letter of recommendation for medical school.  

We have an entire blog post that covers how many letters of recommendation you should submit to medical schools as well as how to ask for strong letters of recommendation. Read more here.

 
Q: 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.

 

Q: How to address a letter of recommendation for medical school?

Your letter of recommendation writer might ask you this question. Typically, medical school letters of recommendation are addressed “To Whom It May Concern” or “Dear Medical School Admissions Committee.”

 
Q: 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.

As we said in our medical school letter of recommendation tips above, it is very important to have specific examples that show why you will be a great medical school student and future physician.  For example, the physician can write in his or her letter of recommendation about what follow-up questions you had while you shadowed the physician. If you have any questions about your medical school or internship letters of recommendation, be sure to contact us down below. 

 
Q: What should a recommendation letter from a professor contain?

Whether you are asking a science professor or a non science professor, a sample letter of recommendation for medical school from professor should include:

  • How you did in the class
  • Your intellectual abilities
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Writing and oral communication skills, if applicable
  • Logical thinking and intelligent questions you had
  • Your work ethic

If you worked with a professor in a research capacity or in a lab, the professor should also talk about how you did in the lab.

If you worked with a professor and were a TA for his or her course, then your professor should also talk about your communication skills, ability to educate, and commitment to other students learning.

 
Q: 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

Again, as we stated in the letter of recommendation for medical school tips above, SPECIFICITY is key. Make sure your employer or manager gives a story of why you were a great team player. Your employer can also talk about specific projects you led and what you your specific contributions while you were a leader. Finally, your employer can also mention in his or her letter of recommendation a time when you thought out-of-the-box.

If you have any questions about what your employers or managers should write, contact us below. 

 
Q: Can you reuse letters of recommendation for medical school?

If your letter of recommendation writer wrote a prior reference letter for you – say for a scholarship or postgraduate fellowship – you can reuse the same letter of recommendation. However, our Cracking Med School Admissions team recommends that your letter should be updated at least a little bit, to be geared more towards clinical medicine and medical school applications.

If you already applied to medical school once before, our Cracking Med School Admissions team highly recommends that you DO NOT reuse the same letters of recommendation for your upcoming medical school application. Contact us if you are re-applying to medical school so we can help you think through your next medical school application.

 

Q: 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! 

There’s a lot of strategy for asking for letters of recommendation. Be sure to buy our book here, in which we have an entire chapter dedicated to strong letters of recommendation for medical school. Additionally, the Cracking Med School Admissions book has 50 personal statements and secondaries from premeds who were successfully admitted to top medical schools. 

Q: Do I need a cover letter when I request somebody for a letter of recommendation? 

No, you do not unless your professor or recommendation write requires one. It is important to include a lot of specific information though. Read our other blog post about tips for How To Ask For Strong Medical School Letters of Recommendation

 
Q: What is a medical school committee letter?

We have an entire blog post about this. Read more about medical school committee letters here

The bottom line is this: if your university (undergraduate institution) writes committee members for its students applying to medical school, you should definitely submit one too. 

 
Q: 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.

 
Q: 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.

 

Q: Do medical schools require non-science letter of recommendation?

Not all medical schools require a non-science letter of recommendation. See our other blog post about asking for letters of recommendation to read more about requirements.

 

Q: What is the maximum letters of recommendation medical school?

The maximum letters of recommendation for medical schools are typically 5 or 6. Please check with each medical school you are applying to about maximum and minimum letters of recommendation requirements.

 

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Dr. Rachel Rizal

Author Dr. Rachel Rizal

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