The Anatomy of a Letters to Medical School Admission

How to update medical schools, express continued interest, and write a letter of intent.

By: Tyler E. Callese, M.D.

Resident Physician, University of California, Los Angeles

Objectives: After reading this article, medical school applicants will be able to confidently author letters to medical school admissions committees and describe the three most common types of communications and their purposes.

It’s the fall and you’ve worked hard to make yourself the best medical school applicant. Applications are submitted. Secondaries are completed. Now what? The period between application submission and when medical school contact you can be a time of great stress. For the past several years you have been working towards accomplishing your goal of being accepted to medical school and now you must avoid a common trap!

Your work is not done once you have submitted your application. In fact, the interview season is when most successful applicants are the most active in their communications with admissions offices. Consider that each medical school receives thousands of applications per year. No matter how unique your application may be, at the end of the day, it is still on paper and looks exactly like all of the others. This is your opportunity to change that.

There are three types of letters commonly sent to medical school admissions offices: (1) Update Letter, (2) Letter of Continued Interest, and (3) Letter of Intent. Each of these letters is an explicit effort on your part to communicate your interest in a medical school with the goal of increasing the chances that your application is switched from the “Do Not Interview” stack to the “Interview” stack – or even from the “Waitlist” pile to the “Accepted” pile.

1.    Update Letter.  

What is the purpose? The purpose of an application update letter is to say to a medical school, “Hi! I applied to XXX medical school and I am such an awesome applicant that I am still continuing all of these awesome projects/research/extracurriculars that I included in my application.”

When to write? This letter should be sent to medical schools about 6-10 weeks after you submitted your application to their office and if you have not yet heard back from them.

Who do I send this to? This letter can be sent to every school you have applied to and have not heard back from.

Anatomy of an Update Letter:

Dear [Dr. Dean of Admissions]:

Paragraph 1 . My name is [Awesome Applicant], AAMC ID 12345678, and I am writing to provide an additional update to my medical school application for the Fall of 2018.

  • Keep this first line simple and to the Let them know exactly why you are contacting them  

Paragraph 2. I would like to update the status of [current research, extracurricular projects, presentations].

  • Keep this section to 3-5 sentences and provide concise details summarizing what has changed between when you submitted your application and No fluff, only concrete updates, i.e. XYX paper has been accepted, I was elected to this leadership position, etc.

  Paragraph 3 . Use this section to provide further updates that can be listed as bullet points that are not included in paragraph 2 . In this section you can list new committees or programs you are involved in, list updates to any publications you have, or abstracts and presentations.

M.D. Applicant

AMCAS ID 12345678

Read More:  Tips for the Medical School Interview Trail

2.    Letter of Continued Interest  

What is the purpose? The purpose of a letter of continued interest is to communicate to a medical school that you are interested in them and that they are a perfect fit for you. This is a heartfelt and sincere letter that focuses on exactly why this school is a perfect fit.

When to write? Letters of continued interest are most commonly sent to medical schools after update letters have been sent and you have still not heard from a particular medical school.

This time period is usually in the late winter: mid-January to February. This is when schools have already sifted and sorted most applications and when a personal, sincere letter stating why this school is the perfect fit for you may have the most impact if your application is on the bubble.

Who do I send this to? Unlike update letters, letters of continued interest require you to really take some time to think about why a particular school is a great fit for you. This does take some time and so these letters should only be sent to the schools that you think would honestly be a great fit for you. An insincere letter is a great way to be end up in the denied pile.

Anatomy of a Letter of Continued Interest:

Dear [Dr. Dean of Admissions],

Paragraph 1. My name is [Awesome Applicant], AAMC 12345678, and I would like to express my continued interest in [Dr. Dean of Admissions Medical School Name].

Paragraph 2. Take 1-2 sentences summarizing what efforts you have previously taken to reach out to the school. This can include previous update letters or that you have requested an updated transcript be sent, etc.

Paragraph 3. Share the exact reasons why this medical school is a great fit. Find 4-5 concrete and meaningful reasons. What about the school attracts you to it? Is it the location, reputation for research/service/primary care, opportunity to pursue dual degrees, learning environment, philosophy towards medical education, etc. This is the meat-and-potatoes of your letter and where you can really have an impact.

Read More:  Acing your medical school interviews

3.    Letter of Intent

  What is the purpose? Finally, you are here! It is the end of interview season and you have decided that XYZ medical school is the perfect school for you. Now tell them! This letter is short and sweet and tells a medical school admissions committee that when they accept you, that you will come there.

When to write? Write this letter after you have finished or are nearing the end of the interview season and have found the school that you want to go to. If that happens in January? Perfect. If that doesn’t happen until the end of February? Perfect. No matter the time, this is your opportunity to tell a school that you are committing to them.

Who do I send this to? Send this to your number one school. The world of Medical school admissions is small and sending multiple letters of intent is a gamble not worth taking.

Anatomy of a Letter of Intent:

  Dear [Dr. Dean of Admissions],

Paragraph 1. My name is [Awesome Applicant], AAMC 12345678, and I interviewed at [Dr. Dean of Admissions Medical School Name] on [Date of interview]. I am writing to express my intent to attend [Dr. Dean of Admissions Medical School Name] if accepted and explain why [Dr. Dean of Admissions Medical School Name] is an excellent fit for me.

Paragraph 2. If accepted, I will attend [Dr. Dean of Admissions Medical School Name]. I believe that [Dr. Dean of Admissions Medical School Name] is an excellent fit for me for several reasons.

–    Unlike your letter of continued interest, your letter of intent is sent after your interview, therefore, you will have much more information about the program and have a much better feel for the school – this paragraph is your opportunity to share with the admissions committee why it is the perfect fit.  

Paragraph 3. If accepted to [Dr. Dean of Admissions Medical School Name], I will attend. I believe that [Dr. Dean of Admissions Medical School Name] is an excellent institution and I would be honored to have the opportunity to complete my medical education there. Thank you for your consideration of my application.

Conclusion: Remember! Interview season is when you should be the most active in your communication with medical schools. Be proactive and engage them. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Your letters and active communication can make all of the difference!

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How to craft the perfect medical school letter of intent.

cover letter for medical school admission

Introduction

Medical school letters of intent are important documents in the medical school admissions process. They allow you to demonstrate your eagerness to be admitted to a particular medical program. A strong, well-written medical school letter of intent can influence an admissions committee to extend an offer of admission to you.

This article will explain what a medical school letter of intent is, its purpose, what to include and what to leave out, and address some of the most commonly asked questions about medical school letters of intent.

Infographic explaining what is a medical school letter of intent, how to write it, and when to send it

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What is a Medical School Letter of Intent?

A medical school letter of intent is a document written by you that states you will accept an admissions offer should one be made to you. It expresses your interest in that particular medical school over all other schools, so you should only send one of these letters to your top choice of school. 

A letter of intent consists of a few basic components, such as a clear statement of interest, why you want to attend the school, and your interest in faculty research or other work opportunities available through the medical school. As Princeton University noted , a letter of intent is also generally a short, one-page document, so you must consider carefully what is most pertinent to include.

Purpose of a Medical School Letter of Intent

The purpose of a medical school letter of intent is to very clearly express your intention to attend your #1 choice medical school, should they send you an offer of admission. It should also reiterate why you want to attend the school.

A letter of intent can be a strong addition to your application at your top choice of medical school. Not only does it express your interest in a particular school over all others, but it also demonstrates to the admissions committee your dedication to the school and desire to contribute to the program in a positive manner.

Although writing a letter of intent to your first choice of school will not necessarily give you a shoe-in, it could make your application more competitive and help it to stand out. Medical schools want to be able to predict their yield rates; meaning, out of all the applicants they admit, how many will actually end up attending (matriculating) the school.

This is easiest to do when they admit applicants who express a strong interest in the school. Predicting matriculation rates allows medical schools to adjust their tuition depending on whether their yield rates increase or decrease. High yield rates also make medical schools more competitive, and therefore more selective about who they choose to admit.

That said, every little bit helps when it comes to getting into highly competitive schools, especially when you consider that roughly only 41% of applicants get into the prestigious American medical schools. A letter of intent can help you stand out among the other people who also applied to your top choice of school.

A letter of intent can be sent when one of two scenarios happens during your medical school application process. You can send a letter of intent when you have finished all or most of your medical school interviews, including your interview at your #1 choice of school.

You can also send a letter of intent when you have been waitlisted at your top school after completing your interview.

What to Include in a Letter of Intent

According to Dr. Yoo Jung Kim , a letter of intent should begin with a clearly articulated statement of your intent to attend the medical school should they accept you. This is what should be in the opening paragraph of your letter of intent. Accompanying this statement should be a short introduction of yourself and the date of your interview, so the admissions committee member(s) reading it can locate your file.

The second section of your letter of intent should outline the main reasons why this school is your top choice. What about the school makes you want to go there? What sets it apart from other medical schools? Why would attending this program set you up for success, both academically and professionally? Your answers to these questions will provide the details you need to craft this section of your letter of intent.

Dr. Kim also recommends including your interest in the research and work opportunities the medical school offers to its students. If there is a faculty member conducting research that interests you and you would like to work with them, or if there are on-campus work opportunities in medical settings you want to work in, this should be included in this section. As with the previous section, explain why you want to be involved in the opportunity or opportunities offered by the medical school.

Lastly, describe what you will bring to the program. As Dr. Kim wrote, this can include your research and leadership experience . New publications you are lead author or co-author on and new volunteer work experiences are key pieces of information you should be sure to include in the letter of intent you write to your dream medical school.

According to Dr. Sarah Carlson , a vascular surgery resident at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, volunteer work is especially impressive to admissions committees, so if you have started volunteering at a new organization since your interview, it is a good idea to mention that in your letter of intent.

A medical school letter of intent is also a space for you to provide relevant updates about your personal, academic, and professional life since your interview. As previously stated by Dr. Kim and Dr. Carlson, these can include new research or volunteer experiences .

Be sure to only include experiences that are relevant and will bolster your application. These should also be relevant to what you wrote about in your primary and secondary applications, and what you discussed in your interview .

Top medical schools such as Harvard , Case Western, UC Davis, Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine and many more view your community work and lived experiences as fundamentally important as academic performance has always been viewed. This makes it all the more important to include new work experiences and its relevance to the medical school in your letter of intent.

The letter of intent is another opportunity for you to make a good impression on the medical school admissions committee, so it is crucial to display your professionalism throughout your letter. However, refrain from going into a ton of detail in this letter — again, it should only be a page long, so concision is key.

Your letter should also be addressed to the head of the admissions committee, so be sure to do your research to find out who you should send it to. One way to find the correct individual’s name and title(s) is through MSAR . If you connected well with one of your interviewers, Princeton says you may also include them when you send your letter of intent.

What to Avoid in a Letter of Intent

There are a few things to avoid when writing your letter of intent. To reiterate, a letter of intent should only be sent to a school if it is truly your top choice. Do not send multiple letters to multiple schools with the intention to receive multiple offers of admission. Doing so will reflect badly on you, and as Dr. Kim pointed out, medical schools talk to each other and it could be found out that you sent out letters of intent to more than one school. 

Additionally, sending multiple letters of intent is viewed as a dishonest and unethical practice. A letter of intent is you making a promise to attend a school, and it is not possible for you to fulfill that promise if you send a letter of intent to more than one school. A letter of intent demonstrates your commitment to a school and you cannot be committed to multiple medical schools.

As a general rule of thumb, a letter of intent should be about one page in length. Avoid stuffing your letter with information the admissions committee will have already learned about you from your interview. You want your letter of intent to be short and to the point.

The letter of intent will leave an impression on the admissions committee, and therefore should be free of grammatical, punctuational, and syntactical errors. It would be beneficial to you to have a trained professional review your completed letter of intent before you send it.

Though letters of intent are common, it is important to look into the specific policy of the school to which you wish to send them. As Johns Hopkins University notes , some schools do not want applicants to send letters of intent at all, and if your school is one of them, do not send them an unwanted letter as it may do more harm than good to your application.

Medical schools who do accept letters of intent sometimes have different methods of accepting them. Some schools may request letters of intent be sent through traditional mail, via email to a specific address, or may even have a space to upload them to the application portal. t is important to look into where you should send your letter of intent. Incorrectly sending your letter may reflect poorly on you.

The format of your letter also matters. Written text may be the only requirement for a letter of intent that you upload to the school’s portal, but emailed letters require additional considerations. Emailed letters should be added as an attachment to the email. PDF is the safest file type to use for your letter, as they are easy to open on all types of devices and your formatting won’t change.

If, for example, you write your letter using the newest version of Microsoft Office but the Dean of Admissions opens your doc. formatted letter in an older version of Microsoft Office, some elements may shift around and your letter won’t appear the way you thought it would.

Medical School Letter of Intent Example

This is Dr. Kim’s example of a sample letter of intent

Dear [name of the dean of admission]:

My name is Yoo Jung Kim. I am a medical school applicant who interviewed at the Stanford University School of Medicine this past October, and now that I have completed my interview season, I would like to express that Stanford is my No. 1 choice.

Stanford will allow me to pursue my goal of becoming a skilled physician-investigator through its resources in biomedical research and patient care. I am particularly drawn to Dr. X’s work on pancreatic cancer, and I hope to contribute my experience in pathway analysis to further the field of cancer development research by taking a research year through Stanford's MedScholars program. Furthermore, the Stanford Cardinal Free Clinics and the educational opportunities at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center will give me the skills to take care of underserved patients. Ultimately, I hope to become an academic physician that Stanford will be proud to call its own.

Finally, I would like to provide a list of peer-reviewed publications to which I have been accepted since I submitted my medical school application:

Julia M. Chandler, Yoo Jung Kim, Justin L. Bauer, Irene L. Wapnir "Dilemma in Management of Hemorrhagic Myositis in Dermatomyositis,” Rheumatology International, 12/23/2019.

Yoo Jung Kim, Gun Ho Lee, Bernice Y. Kwong, Kathryn J. Martires, "Evidence-based, Skin-directed Treatments for Cutaneous Chronic Graft-versus-host Disease," Cureus, 12/25/2019.

Thank you very much for your time and consideration.

Best wishes,

Yoo Jung Kim

AAMC ID: [#######]

1. At what point in the application process should I send a letter of intent?

It is best to send a letter of intent after you have had your interview with your first choice of school, and have completed the majority of your interviews with other medical schools. This way, you can be sure your #1 choice is still at the top of your list.

Alternatively, you can also send a letter of intent when your top school has notified you that you have been waitlisted. Demonstrating interest in that particular school may improve your chance of receiving an offer of admission should other applicants choose to decline their admissions offers.

Medical schools are more receptive to letters of intent that are sent closer to the end of the interview season because it better demonstrates the interest a student has in attending a specific school and the careful consideration the student has taken in making this decision. Sending it too soon after your interview or after you have been waitlisted can come across as you seeming desperate rather than genuinely interested, and will not make an admissions committee more likely to accept you. ‍

2. Can I send a letter of intent before I’ve had my interview?

It’s best to wait until after your interview to send a letter of intent. Your interview experience will give you a very good idea of whether the program is still your top choice.

If you have a poor experience with your interviewers but have already sent a letter of intent, you may end up in a position where you have to decline an admission offer that you previously said you would accept. This will not reflect well on you, so it’s best to wait until you have at least had your interview. ‍

3. If my top choice of school does not want a letter of intent, should I send one anyway to show I want to go there?

No, it is unwise to send a letter of intent to a school that states they do not want to receive this type of correspondence. It would reflect badly on you in the same way that sending out multiple letters of intent would. ‍

4. Why should I send a letter of intent if I am on a waitlist?

Sending a letter of intent after being placed on the waitlist of your top school will demonstrate your ongoing interest in attending that school. If you send a letter of intent after being waitlisted, it will show the school you still want to go there, and may increase your chance of receiving an offer of admission later on. ‍

5. Can I email my letter of intent, or should it be sent via snail mail?

Normally letters of intent are sent using the postal service, but email submissions of letters of intent are becoming more common, so it is important to check with the school prior to sending your letter. ‍

6. Should I go into detail about all the reasons that make me a strong candidate for their medical school in my letter of intent?

No. The letter of intent is not an appropriate space to recap all of your achievements and all the reasons why the school should accept you. Only include new updates that have occurred since your interview and since you submitted your primary and secondary applications, along with a concise statement of why you are a good fit for the school.

Conclusion ‍

Letters of intent are important documents that, if crafted thoughtfully and with care, can have a positive impact on your application to your dream medical school. A letter of intent should be short and only contain the most pertinent information that will set you apart from other applicants.

If you have questions about medical school letters of intent, contact us here and we can help.

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Writing a Letter of Interest or Intent in Medical School

cover letter for medical school admission

By Eric Eng

student in front of university building looking at camera

If you plan to apply to medical school, a critical aspect of your application is the letter of interest or intent. This document allows you to showcase your qualifications and passion for medicine, giving admissions committees a glimpse into who you are as a potential student. In this article, we will explore the purpose of a letter of interest, discuss its role in the application process, and provide tips on how to write an effective letter.

Understanding the Purpose of a Letter of Interest

Before we delve into writing a letter of interest, let’s first understand its purpose. A letter of interest serves as an initial introduction to the medical school of your choice. It lets you express your interest in their program and highlight why you believe you would be a valuable addition to their student body. This letter aims to create a positive impression and grab the admissions committee’s attention.

When writing a letter of interest, it is essential to remember that you are not just another applicant. You are an individual with unique experiences, skills, and aspirations. This letter lets you showcase your personality and demonstrate your passion for medicine.

One way to make your letter of interest stand out is by conducting thorough research on the medical school. Please familiarize yourself with their mission, values, and any unique programs they offer. This will allow you to tailor your letter to their institution and demonstrate your genuine interest in joining their community.

Differentiating Between a Letter of Interest and a Letter of Intent

It’s essential to differentiate between a letter of interest and a letter of intent. While they may serve similar purposes, the two have a crucial difference. A letter of intent is typically written when you have already been accepted into a medical school, whereas a letter of interest is sent as part of your initial application. For this article, we will focus on writing a letter of interest.

When writing a letter of interest, it is essential to balance showcasing your enthusiasm for the medical school and maintaining a professional tone. You want to convey your passion without sounding overly desperate or insincere. Remember to be authentic and genuine in your writing.

The Role of the Letter in the Medical School Application Process

The letter of interest is crucial to your overall medical school application. It allows you to showcase your personality, experiences, and motivations beyond what can be conveyed through grades and test scores alone. Medical schools receive numerous applications, and a well-crafted letter of interest can help you stand out from the crowd and make a memorable impression on the admissions committee.

a college student looking at her laptop

When writing your letter of interest, you must highlight the unique qualities and experiences that make you a strong candidate for their program. This could include any relevant research projects, volunteer work, or leadership roles you have undertaken. Additionally, you can discuss any personal experiences that have shaped your desire to pursue a medical career.

Remember to keep your letter concise and focused. Avoid including unnecessary details or repeating information that can be found in other parts of your application. Instead, use this opportunity to provide additional context and insight into your journey toward becoming a medical professional.

Essential Components of a Successful Letter

Now that we understand the purpose of a letter of interest let’s explore its essential components. To write a successful letter, you should focus on personalization, highlighting your qualifications and achievements, and expressing your genuine interest in medicine.

The Importance of Personalization

Personalization is critical when writing a letter of interest. Address the letter specifically to the admissions committee or the person in charge of admissions. Avoid generic salutations like “To Whom It May Concern.” Research the program thoroughly and mention why you are interested in attending their medical school. This will show that you have taken the time to understand their institution and are genuinely interested.

For example, if the medical school strongly emphasizes community outreach programs, you can mention how your passion for medicine aligns with their commitment to serving underserved populations. Additionally, if the school has a renowned research department, you can express your interest in contributing to groundbreaking medical research at their institution.

Furthermore, personalization can extend beyond addressing the letter to the correct recipient and mentioning specific aspects of the program. You can also include personal anecdotes or experiences that have influenced your decision to pursue a career in medicine. Sharing these stories will help connect you and the admissions committee, making your letter more memorable and impactful.

Highlighting Your Qualifications and Achievements

In your letter of interest, it’s essential to highlight your qualifications and achievements relevant to your pursuit of a medical career. Discuss any research experience, internships, volunteer work, or leadership roles shaping your passion for medicine.

For instance, if you have conducted research in a laboratory setting, you can elaborate on the projects you have worked on and the skills you acquired. You can also mention any publications or presentations resulting from your research. This will demonstrate your ability to contribute to the scientific community and your commitment to advancing medical knowledge.

Moreover, suppose you have volunteered at a healthcare facility or participated in medical mission trips . In that case, you can describe these experiences’ impact on your understanding of patient care and the importance of empathy in medicine. Highlight your significant contributions during these experiences, such as organizing health education workshops or providing direct patient support.

Additionally, don’t forget to mention any academic honors or awards you have received. Whether on the Dean’s List or receiving a scholarship, these achievements showcase your dedication to academic excellence and can set you apart from other applicants.

Expressing Your Interest and Passion for Medicine

Admissions committees are interested in students who are genuinely passionate about medicine. Use your letter of interest to convey your enthusiasm and dedication to the field.

Group of medical students in college hallway

One way to express your interest is by discussing why you are drawn to a medical career. Share any personal experiences or encounters that have inspired you to pursue this path. Whether witnessing medical professionals’ impact on your community or overcoming a unique health challenge, these stories can showcase your genuine motivation.

Furthermore, reflect on how your experiences have shaped your understanding of the medical profession. Discuss the lessons you have learned and the skills you have developed through your various encounters with healthcare. This will demonstrate your ability to reflect critically and adapt to different situations, qualities that are essential for success in the medical field.

Lastly, don’t forget to mention your long-term goals. Admissions committees want to see that you have a clear vision for your medical future. Whether it’s specializing in a specific field, conducting groundbreaking research, or advocating for healthcare policy changes, articulate your aspirations and how attending their medical school will help you achieve them.

Structuring Your Letter Effectively

Now that we have covered the essential components of a successful letter, it’s crucial to consider the structure of your letter. A well-structured letter will capture the reader’s attention and keep them engaged.

When structuring your letter effectively, remember a few key points. First and foremost, you want to begin with a strong introduction that immediately grabs the reader’s attention. This is your chance to make a memorable first impression and pique their interest in what you say.

Beginning with a Strong Introduction

Your introduction should grab readers’ attention and encourage them to continue reading. Start with a compelling anecdote, a thought-provoking question, or a captivating personal experience related to your medical interest.

For example, you could share a story about a patient you encountered during your clinical rotations who inspired you to pursue a medical career. This will make your letter more memorable and leave a solid first impression.

Furthermore, it’s essential to establish your credibility and highlight your qualifications right from the beginning. You can briefly mention any relevant academic achievements, research experiences, or extracurricular activities demonstrating your commitment to medicine.

Crafting a Compelling Body

The body of your letter should provide more depth and detail about your qualifications, experiences, and motivations. Organize your thoughts into paragraphs, each focusing on a specific aspect or accomplishment. This will make your letter more organized and more accessible for the reader to follow.

cover letter for medical school admission

When writing the body of your letter, it’s essential to balance providing enough information and being concise. Use clear and concise language to convey your points effectively. Avoid using overly technical jargon or complex language that may confuse the reader. Instead, focus on explaining your experiences and achievements in a way anyone can understand.

Additionally, including specific examples and anecdotes can make your letter more relatable and engaging. For instance, you could describe a challenging situation you encountered while volunteering at a local hospital and how you overcame it. This will demonstrate your problem-solving skills and ability to handle difficult situations gracefully and resiliently.

Concluding Your Letter on a Positive Note

End your letter with a firm conclusion that leaves a lasting impression on the reader. Express your gratitude for their time and consideration, reiterate your interest in their program, and mention your hope of receiving a positive response. Keep your closing paragraph concise and upbeat, giving the reader a positive overall impression of you as an applicant.

Remember, the conclusion is your final opportunity to leave a lasting impression on the reader. Therefore, it’s essential to end your letter positively and restate your enthusiasm for the chance to join their program. You can also briefly summarize the main points you discussed in the body of your letter to reinforce your qualifications and commitment to medicine.

Common Mistakes to Avoid in Your Letter

While it’s essential to focus on what to include in your letter, it’s equally important to be aware of common mistakes to avoid. You can ensure that your letter is strong and impactful by steering clear of these pitfalls.

Avoiding Generic Statements

Avoid using generic statements that could apply to any medical school. Admissions committees can see through impersonal letters sent to multiple institutions. Instead, tailor your letter to the school you are applying to, mentioning why their program stands out and how you believe it aligns with your goals.

Steering Clear of Exaggerations and False Claims

While it’s important to highlight your accomplishments and qualifications, it’s vital to avoid exaggerating or making false claims. Admissions committees have years of experience and can quickly detect inconsistencies or misleading information. Be genuine and honest in presenting your achievements and experiences.

Overcoming the Challenge of Being Too Modest

Being humble when discussing your accomplishments is natural, but striking the right balance is essential. Make sure to effectively communicate your achievements without sounding boastful. Provide evidence and specific examples to support your claims, and let your accomplishments speak for themselves.

guy in plaid shirt contemplating with pen and notebook

Writing a letter of interest or intent for medical school can be daunting. Still, with careful planning and attention to detail, you can create a compelling letter that showcases your qualifications and passion.

Remember to personalize your letter, highlight your achievements, express your genuine interest, and structure your letter effectively. By avoiding common mistakes, you can create a letter that leaves a lasting impression on the admissions committee and increases your chances of securing a spot in your desired medical school.

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2024 Medical School Letters of Recommendation Guide

  • By Med School Insiders
  • January 10, 2024
  • Medical Student , Pre-med
  • Letters of Recommendation , Medical School Application

Medical school letters of recommendation are often under-appreciated. Not giving your letters the respect and attention they deserve is extremely detrimental to your application and could be the difference between being accepted or rejected.

Letters of recommendation are vital to an effective and successful medical school application. They provide a respected professional’s opinion of you, as opposed to your own claims or the opinion of a biased friend or relative. A quality letter from a professor at an academic institution or someone who works with students through extracurriculars holds a lot of weight.

Letters of recommendation offer an impartial summary of your unique skills from a qualified professional—so they have a big impact on admissions committees.

Learn why letters of recommendation are so important, how to ask, and common mistakes to avoid. In this post, we’ll cover the Why, Who, What, Where, When, and How of letters of recommendation.

Applying through TMDSAS or AACOMAS? We have a guide dedicated to TMDSAS Letters of Recommendation and AACOMAS Letters of Recommendation .

Why Letters of Recommendation Are So Important

Letters of recommendation are a crucial piece of the medical school application. Some argue they’re even more important than the personal statement since the personal statement is naturally biased. After all, a personal statement is all about trying to paint yourself in the absolute best light.

Read our free Step-by-Step Guide: How to Write a Medical School Personal Statement for tips on getting started, what to include, and common mistakes to avoid.

On the other hand, letters of recommendation are written by respected professionals, such as mentors, professors, and physicians. An admissions committee is very likely going to take their word over yours. If the person you ask to write your letter of recommendation has worked closely with you and speaks very highly of you, it’s a big deal.

A negative letter of recommendation is a huge problem. A poor or lukewarm letter of recommendation could do irreparable harm to your application. You must approach this process in advance with plenty of organization, taking care to choose your letters wisely.

Who to Ask For Letters of Recommendation

Letter writer options - professors and professionals

You’ll need to include a total of four to five letters with your medical school application.

Three of these must be academic letters written by undergraduate professors—two science letters and one non-science letter. The two remaining letters are from your extracurriculars, typically research and clinical experience.

While it may be tempting to secure a respected, recognizable name to write your letters, it’s much more important that you choose someone who knows you well and thinks very highly of you. If you’ve only had a few conversations with the person you’re asking to write your letter, it won’t be effective. They simply won’t have that much to say about you and can’t offer much insight into who you really are.

Choose someone who can speak about your strengths on a deep level. The letter will have a much greater impact on the admissions committee.

Use our framework to maximize your chances of success: How to Choose Medical School Letters of Recommendation Writers .

What to Provide to Letter of Recommendation Writers

The people you’re asking to write a letter are busy with their own careers and lives. It’s up to you to make the process as smooth and simple as possible. In order to do so, there are a number of key pieces you need to provide.

  • Submission instructions —Provide the writers of your letters of recommendation with all of the information they need to submit your letter to the submission service. Typically, this is the AMCAS Letter Service (for allopathic medical schools.) Your letter writer won’t be submitting the letter to you; they will need to submit it directly to the service. Provide your letter writer with a Letter Request Form, available in the Main Menu of the Letters of Evaluation section. This form is a PDF generated in the AMCAS application for each of your designated letter authors, and it includes your mailing address, AAMC ID, the Letter ID, and information about how to submit letters to AMCAS. The Letter ID is a unique seven-digit code assigned to each letter entry on your AMCAS application. It must be provided to each letter writer in order to correctly match their letter with the letter entry you created in your application.
  • Updated CV —A comprehensive, organized, and professional summary of your academic, work, and extracurricular achievements to date. If you need any assistance crafting your CV, consider our advising services .
  • Academic transcript.
  • Personal Statement —If available. Ideally, you should have at least a first draft of your personal statement prepared by the time you request a letter, but you may ask for academic letters early in your undergrad. If you don’t have a draft yet, write a brief summary of the reasons you are pursuing medicine, including what makes you a unique and qualified candidate.
  • MCAT score —This should be included in your CV, but it’s possible the letter writer will ask for a more verifiable source, such as a score printout. If you haven’t taken the MCAT, don’t delay asking for a letter just because you don’t have your MCAT score yet.
  • Submission deadline —Include the date in writing, either through email or printed with the materials you provide to the letter writer. Make sure the date is at least a week in advance of when you actually need to submit the letter. We recommend giving letter writers six to eight weeks to complete a letter after receiving the materials listed above. This means it’s important to start the process two to three months before you plan to submit your application.
  • A printed copy of materials —Even though the LOR submission process is completely digital, you may have letter writers who prefer to read and review physical materials. Ask them if they would like you to deliver or mail a printed packet of all of the above. It’s up to you to make this process as simple as possible for them and a crisp manila envelope with all of your materials and submission information is a nice touch for those less digitally inclined.

Where — Asking for Letters of Recommendation Virtually

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Asking for a letter of recommendation in-person may not be possible, which means you will need to request a letter via email or possibly over Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams, and so on. While this may not feel as personal as you intended, all of us need to adapt to our new virtual world.

Virtual meetings are our new normal, so it’s important to cultivate relationships with potential letter writers and mentors online. A mentor could be someone you worked with, someone you met through a mutual contact, or you might find one through professional networks like LinkedIn.

For more advice on how to build relationships with mentors and letter writers online, read our article: Connecting with Mentors Over Zoom .

When to Ask For Letters of Recommendation

Start thinking about your letters of recommendation as soon as possible. It will take time to figure out who to ask and even longer to build strong relationships. If you have someone in mind, they may not have the time or feel they know you well enough, so make sure you have a backup plan and budget extra time in case a letter falls through.

Ask toward the end of your time working together or shortly after the conclusion of a class. Don’t wait months or years. You want the letter writer to have you on their mind so they can write a genuine letter full of fresh enthusiasm.

How to Ask For Letters of Recommendation

Letters of Recommendation envelopes

If you are requesting a letter of recommendation virtually, you can use our sample request template. Be sure to personalize the request with a sentence or two about your relationship. This could include involvement in their class/organization, the time you spent working together, what you enjoyed or learned, or how they inspired you.

1 | Think About Your Letters Well in Advance

Letters of recommendation can make or break your medical school application. Who you ask can make all the difference. Approach relationships with professors and mentors with the idea that they could potentially be one of your letters of recommendation.

2 | Work to Develop Strong Relationships

Relationships take time. Cultivate your relationships with professors and prospective mentors as soon as possible, and mark how often you check-in with them using a calendar. Share your goals and successes with them so they can clearly see your progress and watch you grow. Express gratitude, and be sure to help them in whatever way you can. Relationships are two-way streets, after all.

If in-person office hours are difficult, be diligent about scheduling virtual meetings . You still need to build strong relationships even if you are unable to meet in person.

3 | Only Ask People Who Will Give You a Strong Letter

This is crucial. If you don’t know a professor all that well or scored anywhere under an A- in their class, do not ask that professor for a letter. Ask someone who you have worked with closely, knows you well, and thinks highly of you.

If the person you ask expresses any hesitation, don’t pursue the letter further. Their hesitation is a sign that they either don’t know you well enough, don’t have positive things to say, or simply don’t have the time. It’s better to catch that hesitation early on as opposed to ending up with a late or lukewarm letter.

More tips: How to Get Strong Medical School Letters of Recommendation .

4 | Make the Process as Simple as Possible

Provide all of the necessary materials to make writing and submitting the letter as smooth as possible. See what to provide in the above section, and ask them if they need anything else ahead of time.

5 | Provide a Deadline to Ensure You Receive Letters on Time

The best letter in the world won’t matter if it’s late. Provide a clear deadline to ensure you receive your letters on time.

Give your letter writers as much time as possible, as they are extremely busy and have likely received plenty of other requests. We recommend two-three months. Set a reminder two weeks out from the due date.

For more tips, check out our advice on How to Ask For Medical School Letters of Recommendation .

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Avoid the following common letter of recommendation mistakes.

  • Asking someone who doesn’t know you well.
  • Asking for a letter when you haven’t thoroughly prepared.
  • Forgetting to provide the writer with the necessary materials.
  • Asking people who don’t know you well enough to provide real insight into who you are.
  • Not obtaining a variety of letters across science, non-science, and extracurriculars.
  • Asking the professor of a class you scored below A- in.
  • Coming across as overly-friendly or unprofessional when asking for a letter.
  • Waiting too long after working with someone to ask for a letter.
  • Getting a letter from someone who was reluctant when you asked.
  • Not thinking about letters of recommendation early in your application preparation.

Letters of Recommendation FAQs

How many letters of recommendation do i need.

The medical school letter of recommendation requirements vary from school to school. Most schools require at least three letters, but some may ask for four or five. Make sure you check the specific requirements of each school you hope to apply to.

Since the number varies based on the school, we recommend all applicants plan to have four to five letters of recommendation spread across science professors, non-science professors, and extracurriculars.

How Many Letters of Recommendation for Medical School Are Required?

How do I submit letters of recommendation?

Your letter writers must submit their letter electronically through the AMCAS Letter Writer Application or Interfolio . You do not review or submit your own letters of recommendation.

You will need to provide each of your letter authors with submission information, including your AAMC ID, and a unique seven-digit Letter ID. Each letter writer will be assigned an individual Letter ID when you add them to your AMCAS application, which is needed in order to upload your letter(s).

If you are applying through multiple services, AMCAS, TMDSAS, AACOMAS, etc., Interfolio acts as a go-between so that writers only need to upload once. They will still need their unique seven-digit Letter ID for your letter to be matched to your application. There is a small yearly fee to use Interfolio’s Dossier Deliver service .

Letters submitted through either process will be marked as received—immediately with AMCAS, or within three days with Interfolio. Contact your letter writer and ask them to submit the letter again, if a letter is not marked as received by the deadline you provided.

When are letters of recommendation due?

Include your letters with your medical school application. You can also add letters of recommendation up until you submit your secondary application, though you shouldn’t procrastinate. They are a key piece of your application that shouldn’t be left to the last minute. It takes time to ask for letters, and you need to give the letter writer adequate time to complete it.

Secondary applications are due between July and January, but it’s best to submit yours, along with your letters, by the end of the summer.

Read our Medical School Application Timeline to ensure you plan ahead and don’t miss any important deadlines.

What if a letter writer doesn’t submit a recommendation?

If a letter is not marked as received through the electronic portal you are using, contact your letter writer and ask them to submit the letter again.

In rare circumstances, a letter writer may disappear or stop responding. They are people too, and emergencies happen. This is why it’s so important to have more letters planned than the bare minimum required for your application.

What if a potential letter writer says no?

If a potential letter writer says no, it means they do not feel they know you well enough, they’re already swamped with other requests, or they don’t have confidence in you. Whatever the reason, it’s important to move on and look for another option.

Even if they hesitate before saying yes, it may be better to find someone else. A poor or even lukewarm letter can jeopardize an otherwise excellent medical school application.

Who can write a letter besides professors?

You should have letters from two science professors and one non-science professor. In addition to professors, you may choose to ask a research PI or mentor, a physician you shadowed or worked closely with, or a volunteer activity supervisor.

You could also ask a TA or an employer for a letter of recommendation if they know you better than your other options. What’s most important is that you choose letter writers who know you very well and will speak highly of you.

Are extracurricular letters required?

While not required, we recommend securing letters of recommendation from extracurriculars that were particularly significant. This may include research mentors or principal investigators (PI), physicians that you shadowed, or leadership from other volunteer organizations. If appropriate, aim to secure a letter from each of your three most meaningful activities on your AMCAS.

Who shouldn’t give me a recommendation?

Don’t ask someone who is positively biased towards you, such as a friend or family member. Your letters should come from people who can provide an honest and impartial recommendation.

If the person you ask seems hesitant or unenthusiastic about submitting a letter of recommendation on your behalf, don’t push it; instead, find someone else. A poor or even neutral letter can jeopardize an otherwise excellent medical school application.

Can I add additional letters after I submit my application?

Yes, you can add additional letters after your application is submitted, but you cannot delete or change the letters your writers submit.

Although you can add letters of recommendation after submitting your application, we do not recommend it. Strong letters take time, so give your letter writers as much time as possible to compose thoughtful, detailed letters. You should choose four to five strong letter writers—having more won’t increase your chances, but it can dilute your positive recommendations with ones that aren’t as strong.

What types of letters does AMCAS accept?

AMCAS accepts Committee Letters, Letter Packets, and Individual Letters. Committee Letters are authored by a prehealth committee or prehealth advisor representing an evaluation of you by your institution. A Letter Packet is a set of letters assembled by your institution, often including a cover sheet from your prehealth committee or advisor. Individual Letters are written by, and represent, the opinions of one letter writer. All three letter types count as one letter entry.

Can I see my letter of recommendation?

Letters of recommendation are submitted confidentially, and you do not get to see them. Don’t ask letter writers what they have written, as they are under no obligation to show you. You should have absolute confidence that the person you ask knows you well and will speak highly of you.

How should I thank letter writers?

Don’t forget about your letter writers as soon as your application is submitted. Send a thank you email once they submit their letter and consider sending them a handwritten card by physical mail when you are accepted to medical school.

What If You’re Asked to Write Your Own Letter?

You may be asked to write your own letter by people who don’t typically write medical school letters of recommendation, such as those who are not part of the medical school world.

While it does mean more work, it’s important to remember that this is as much a win as earning a strong letter of recommendation. If the person you asked to write you a strong letter asks you to write it yourself, it means you just secured a yes . You have a letter writer, even if you have to write the letter yourself. They want to support you, but you’ve got to do the leg work.

Learn How to Write Your Own Letter of Recommendation , including 7 mistakes to avoid.

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Med School Insiders offers Comprehensive Medical School Admissions Packages that will help you with every step of the application process. Our team of doctors has years of experience serving on admissions committees, so you’ll receive key insights from people who have been intimately involved with the selection process.

Read our Guide to Understanding the Medical School Application Process , which includes an application timeline, what you need to include in your application, mistakes to avoid, and what happens next.

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How to Submit a Strong Medical School Letter of Recommendation

  • Cracking Med School Admissions Team

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:

  • Tips to obtain strong letter of recommendation
  • 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 [email protected]  or fill out the contact form below .

Tips For Obtaining a Strong Letter of Recommendation For Medical School

  • 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.

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:

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

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FAQ's About Medical School Letters of Recommendation

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.

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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Letters of Recommendation Examples and Samples

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It may seem like a lone endeavor to apply for medical school . However, you have to do almost everything. 

You must attain high academic standing, do well on the MCAT , complete enough clinical hours, and produce an outstanding collection of personal statements and secondary essays . 

Therefore, it makes sense that you might be eager to delegate the writing of your recommendations, one application component, to another person. 

Both DO and MD programs require letters of recommendation from medical schools as a crucial component of the admission process. They are intended to give admissions committees a third-party, unbiased assessment of your suitability for a career in medicine.

This article is here to give you letters of recommendation samples. If you want to know what a strong letter of recommendation looks like, please keep reading. 

How to Get an Excellent and Strong Letter of Recommendation for Medical Schools

Your letters of recommendation could be the deciding factor for you to get admitted to the medical school of your choice. 

The tricky part, however, is that you will not be writing these letters of recommendation. 

How do you get a strong letter of recommendation and know who to ask to write them for you? 

Below are some tips that will help you get a great letter of recommendation worthy of acceptance:

  • Request an OUTSTANDING or STRONG letter of recommendation. Consider consulting someone else if your letter writer appears uncertain. On the other hand, you may determine if your letter will be poor, average, or outstanding by requesting solid advice.
  • To jog the writer's memory and draw attention to accomplishments you want to discuss, highlight extraordinary qualities or interactions you have had with them.
  • Suppose you have a draft of your medical school personal statement, fellowship essays, and summer internship application. You are not required to have the final manuscript prepared. However, this will make it clearer to your recommendation writers WHY you wish to pursue a particular opportunity.
  • Provide a CV for reference purposes.

Letters of Recommendation Samples 

Letters of recommendation are a crucial part of your application to medical school. While you will not be the one writing it, it is also vital that you are aware of what a good recommendation letter looks like. 

Below are letters of recommendation samples from different kinds of authors for your reference:

Letter of Recommendation Sample from a Science Professor: 

Dear Members of the Admissions Committee,

Amanda Smith was a student of mine in the fourth-year seminar "Advanced Embryology and Developmental Biology" in the fall of 2018. It is a joy for me to write this reference letter for Amanda. She is a remarkable student. She has been among the best students I have ever taught in my ten years at X University.

Amanda excelled in my class thanks to her strong analytical and problem-solving abilities. Her other instructors, with whom I have spoken, concur that she possesses outstanding analytical skills. I had frequently observed her ability to monitor and draw enlightening conclusions, mainly when working in the lab. Even outside the allotted lab time, Amanda seemed to spend much time diligently working on her studies.

Amanda displayed exceptional levels of technical knowledge and advancements in embryological systems. Her thoughtful queries revealed her interest in the unknown and her desire to broaden her knowledge. She is a great teammate who is always willing to assist her colleagues.

In the classroom and as a tutor after class, I have seen Amanda assist her peers with challenging lab experiments. She is happy and compassionate in her contact with teachers, students, and faculty members. Amanda completed all lab and tutorial tasks on time and to the highest standard. She offered to lead a student study group ahead of my course's final lab and exam. She dedicated much of his time and effort to ensuring she and her classmates were ready.

Amanda spent extra time explaining concepts to an international student who struggled to grasp them. She listened to the student's worries and gradually deconstructed the idea until he was confident the student had a firm grasp of the subject. Her compassion moved me deeply.

Amanda's professionalism and maturity also made an impression on me. She developed polite connections with my assistants, peers, and myself throughout her stay in my class. 

Amanda Smith is an ideal candidate for your medical school program, and I wholeheartedly recommend her. I can only think of a select handful of students throughout my teaching career that merits such high praise and endorsement. Amanda is a talented scientist who is also very intelligent and caring. She would make a fantastic doctor in the future. Her commitment to greatness is admirable.

Please get in touch with me if there is anything else I can say to convince you of Amanda Smith's sterling character.

Dr. Writer's Name

Letter of Recommendation Sample from a Non-Science Professor

It gives me great pleasure to endorse Oscar Sanchez for medical school. Oscar was genuinely interested in and applied to the subject during the previous term, so I welcomed him as a student in my Sociology course. 

Oscar and I have met frequently during my office hours throughout the two semesters I have taught him. I consider him an up-and-coming student. He consistently outperformed my top sociology majors regarding homework quality and academic performance.

When reading through the course materials, I ask my students to create brainstorming sheets to gauge their preparation and participation in class. I can make sure my pupils consider and reflect on what they are learning in this way. Oscar undoubtedly spent the most time in his style, honing his ability to understand new ideas by taking notes. Mr. Sanchez was always prepared for class and provided very constructive in-class involvement due to his effort.

Oscar wrote about the challenges doctors encounter when providing care to low-income neighborhoods for his final-term project in Sociology. He conducted in-depth research into elite doctors' tendency to serve wealthy communities and the lack of incentives for highly qualified healthcare professionals to work in underserved areas. 

The conclusions he made to show the cost of medical school vs. the types of salaries offered by institutions that get government financing were included in his article as visual aids. His ability to describe and combine several issues into a single argument and how he integrated sociological theory into his analysis were highly outstanding.

Oscar has several characteristics that constitute a good learner. He is equally adept at independently thinking and conducting research as he is at skillfully integrating and applying new ideas. He is a brilliant student who efficiently manages the pressure and demands of academic work.

Oscar can succeed in medical school; therefore, I sincerely hope you will carefully consider allowing him to enroll in your course.

Please contact me if there is anything further I can do to support Oscar's candidacy.

Letter of Recommendation Sample from a Research Supervisor:

It gives me great pleasure to endorse Priya Gupta, who worked as my research assistant over the summer of 2018 in the Minority Health Disparities Undergraduate Summer Research Program. Priya has proven to be one of the top research assistants I have enjoyed working with in my five years as the summer research program's director.

Priya excelled throughout the summer research program, showcasing outstanding analytical and problem-solving abilities. She has fulfilled her duty as a research assistant, offering to work overtime or assist with lab tasks with flying colors. She constantly seeks clarification, double-checks her data, and requests input on her work, all signs of her attention to detail. I've confirmed with my colleagues that other program supervisors have taken notice of her work ethic.

Priya consistently displayed a high caliber and grade of work while participating in the summer research program, in addition to a high degree of empathy and comprehension. She volunteered to assist another research assistant who made a mistake, apologize to the offended colleague, and reassure the other student after the issue was fixed.

To prevent the error from occurring again and help the other student regain her confidence, Priya worked with her after that. After receiving Priya's help and coaching, the other student's confidence and work quality significantly improved. Priya assisted another student without dominating or being intrusive, handling the problem with empathy and adept interpersonal skills. I was struck by how she treated the other research assistant with consideration and kindness.

Priya was a delight to have in the program, especially when out in the field. When undertaking fieldwork, she acted with the utmost professionalism and politeness toward her coworkers, her bosses, and outside consultants. Priya treated every participant in the study with the utmost respect. She even made friends with some of our colleagues, who told me they were impressed by Priya's zeal and excitement. She consistently displayed enthusiasm and passion for the endeavor, regardless of the circumstance.

Priya Gupta is the top applicant for your medical school program, in my opinion. No other research assistant that I can think of has had such a positive impact on my colleagues and me. Thanks to her excellent work ethic, kind heart, and keen mind, Priya will make a fantastic doctor.

Should there be anything I can do to support Priya's candidacy, please contact me.

Letter of Recommendation Sample from an Extracurricular Advisor:

I've had the pleasure of coaching Peter Johnson for the last four years as a member of the X University Pandas basketball team, so I'm writing this letter of recommendation for him.

Peter has consistently turned up and proved why he is a great athlete and teammate, from his initial tryouts to his final successes with our team. When he graduates this spring, the other coaches, me, and the squad will miss having him on the floor.

Peter immediately made an impression on me during freshmen auditions because of his athleticism, excitement, contagious optimism, and unwavering dedication to consistently turning up, getting better, and enduring.

No matter the obstacles he encountered due to injury, illness, game cancellations, or personal issues, his energy and tireless optimism never faltered once he had made the team. He could juggle his academic schedule with our workouts and games while maintaining a positive attitude on the court.

Clearly, Peter also impacted his teammates because they looked up to him as a buddy, mentor, and natural leader. Peter never criticizes others or assigns responsibility for errors; instead, he is eager to encourage, congratulate, and assist. His colleagues have picked up this mindset because he keeps his head up and is focused on the future.

But because of his medical background, he contributed to the team's most notable success. First aid training is something that Peter has, and it came in handy when a teammate passed out on the court during a routine practice. Immediately starting first aid after rushing to his teammate's side, Peter guided the other players on what to do while maintaining everyone's composure and keeping them updated on the situation.

Thankfully, the teammate made a full recovery, but Peter's heroics inspired not only the squad but also me. Peter was essential in organizing a series of first aid and sports injury first aid lessons that I would host with the team.

Without a doubt, Peter will succeed in becoming a top-notch doctor. His enthusiasm, ambition, and nature are boundless, and he succeeds at anything he sets his mind to. Peter's Pandas teammates have nothing but affection and respect for him. We are all eager to see where his next step in life leads him. I can't express how much I think Peter deserves a seat in your program.

Name of Author

Letter of Recommendation from a Physician/Employer Sample:

I'm sending this letter on Lee Hong's behalf as he applies to medical school. I've known Lee for the past two years. He has worked as a medical assistant under my direct supervision in my internal medicine practice. He has observed me as I conduct patient evaluations. 

Lee's primary duties in my office were to welcome clients, record visits in our electronic medical record, and assist clients with check-out. Six months ago, Lee completed his EMS certification and assisted our clinical assistants and nurses with the initial vital sign collection during patient visits. When the patients were willing, Lee watched me as I provided care as a shadow student.

I think Lee possesses numerous strengths that will help him succeed as a medical professional and student. He is, first and foremost, independent and intellectually curious since he reads about the patient's diagnosis independently. He would also pose inquiries that showed intelligence and a swift ability to assemble data. Our occasional discussions on his college coursework were exciting and demonstrated his academic dedication.

Lee possesses the understanding and compassion that all medical professionals ought to have. His kindness, compassion, and attentive listening were frequently complimented by patients. Lee received a lot of holiday gifts from his appreciative patients. He is the first young student I have worked with who received this recognition. In addition, I observed that he had an exceptional capacity for relating to patients due to her openness, authenticity, honesty, and respect for everyone.

Finally, Lee had exceptional interpersonal abilities. He worked excellently with my diverse staff, respecting everyone in my office and adding to the productive work environment. Lee was an outstanding team member who was constantly conscious of when someone needed assistance or was having a difficult day. I have never seen someone his age have the maturity and respect for others that he demonstrates.

Lee has my highest possible recommendation. Of all the students I've worked with, Lee is the most intelligent, responsible, and fit for a medical career. I commend the medical school that was successful in choosing him to enroll.

Contact us if you have any questions.

Dr. Writer’s Name

Follow-up Letter Samples 

A strong letter of recommendation will better your chances of being admitted into the medical school of your choice…if your writer submits them on time. 

That is why it is essential to follow up on them, especially if the due date is approaching and you have not heard from them. 

Here are a few samples of follow-up letters:

Dear (Name of Referee),

I trust all is well with you.

I just wanted to check in to see if you needed any additional aid to help you create a strong letter of recommendation on my behalf as the application season for medical school is approaching. Do you require any other information to help you with your writing?

In addition, I wanted to inform you that the letter submission deadline is (insert date). I appreciate your decision to help me with my medical school application.

If you require anything else, don't hesitate to let me know.

Sincerely, 

Sample 2: 

I appreciate your recommending me for medical education so much. I've attached a draft of a letter of reference for you to review and edit as necessary, as we discussed last week.

My interests are global medicine and public health. Since I cannot speak to myself, I have left room for you to fill in a paragraph that places me in the context of other students you have worked with.

Please inform me if there is anything else I can do to assist you with this letter or if you need any additional information. I’d be more than willing and happy to do so.

I sincerely appreciate your help throughout this procedure.

Thank You Letter Samples 

Lastly, sending a thank you note to those who have supported your candidacy means a lot to your referees. It shows that you are grateful for their time and effort in writing your recommendation letter.

Here are a couple of thank you letter samples for your reference.

Thank you so much for composing a recommendation for me to support my medical school application. 

Thank you for making an effort to do this for me. Being your student was an incredible honor, and I appreciate the letter you wrote to support my academic aspirations.

As the application season develops, I will inform you of any updates.

I want to express my gratitude for composing a letter of recommendation for my medical school application. I appreciate you for supporting my candidacy.

As the entry period for medical school develops, I'll keep you informed.

Have a great summer with your family!

Additional FAQs – Letters of Recommendation Samples

Can i submit a non-science letter of recommendation to medical schools, when should my letters of recommendation be sent, how long should my letters of recommendation be, you're no longer alone on your journey to becoming a physician.

  • Medical School Application

Medical School Recommendation Letters Ultimate Guide

+ 2 real medical school recommendation letter samples.

Featured Expert: Dr. Neel Mistry, MD

Medical School Recommendation Letter Sample

In this guide, I'll tell you everything about medical school recommendation letters, and answer some of the most common questions about this medical school requirement . Plus, I have 2 medical school recommendation letters that got accepted! Let’s dive in!

>> Want us to help you get accepted? Schedule a free initial consultation here <<

Article Contents 8 min read

Who can write your medical school recommendation letters.

  • Former science (biology, chemistry, and physics) and non-science professors
  • Physician you’ve shadowed /worked with
  • Research supervisors
  • Volunteer or extracurricular supervisors

Key takeaway : your writers should know you very well . You should not ask someone with whom you spent a few hours sporadically. The letter must outline in detail why you are a good applicant, your professional strengths, your passion for medicine, and any other memorable skills and characteristics. 

Here's an overview of the different types of medical school referees.

How Many Medical School Recommendation Letters Do You Need?

Most  medical schools in the US  and  medical schools in Canada  ask for at least 3 letters of recommendation. Some schools may ask for 4 or 5. The number will depend on your choice of schools, whether you are a non-traditional applicant ,  and other factors. Be sure to check this information with each school.

Important note: Keep in mind that medical schools are quite strict with their recommendation requirements, so make sure to send the exact number of recommendations they require.

We strongly recommend setting up an appointment with your potential writer via email. Not only will this demonstrate your dedication to this process, but it will also make the request more personal. An in-person meeting may also jog the writer’s memory (after all, they are busy people who work with thousands of students or patients!) so they will remember more details about working with you. Here’s a sample email to your potential referee asking for an in-person meeting:

Click here to download the email template.

However, if there is no possibility for you to meet your potential writer in person, it is totally normal to ask for a recommendation via email. Here’s a quick email template:

Click to download the email template.

When to ask for a medical school recommendation letter.

You should aim to ask at least two months before the application deadline. But do not be afraid to ask for a letter much earlier! For example, if you participate in a research project earlier in your undergrad, you should approach your research supervisor about a recommendation letter as soon as the project is over. This will ensure that your accomplishments and strengths are fresh in your supervisor’s mind. The same for letters from your professors. If you do particularly well in a second- or third-year class during your undergrad and get to know the instructor, don’t hesitate to ask for a letter when the class ends.

Can You Store Your Medical School Recommendation Letters?

To store your early letters, you can ask your writer to send the letters to your school's career center, or any similar office. Once the application process begins, simply remind your writer about the letter, where it is stored, and the submission deadline. Most universities will be happy to store your recommendation letters for you.

How to Make Sure You Get the Perfect Medical School Recommendation Letters

Firstly, make sure to ask your potential recommendation writers for a strong recommendation. Be very clear with this request. If you see that your potential writer is hesitant, consider asking someone else because this person will not provide you the strongest recommendation possible.

Once your writer agrees to provide you a strong letter of recommendation, provide them with your medical school application timeline and important deadlines, information on how to submit their recommendation, your transcripts, medical school resume , a list of awards or scholarships you’ve won, a draft of your personal statement , and so on. Important tip : wait for them to respond with a yes before sending all your supporting documents and submission details.   

There may be an opportunity to write your own recommendation letter. Some referees will ask you to provide them with a draft of the recommendation letter. Take a quick look at our thorough guide that will help you writer your own recommendation letter . 

Have you been asked to write your own recommendation letter? Here's how to get started:

Can You Reuse Your Medical School Recommendation Letters?

Yes, you can reuse them, as long as you ask your referees to change the date on the letterhead before you resubmit. However, keep in mind the reason why you are re-applying. It may be possible that your original references were not very strong or not relevant, so think twice before you resubmit. Our admissions expert Dr. Neel Mistry shares his advice regarding this:

“If you do decide to reapply to medical school, consider updating your letters of recommendation and submitting new ones, since you may have stronger referees now or some letters of recommendation might be outdated.” – Dr. Neel Mistry, MD

2 medical school recommendation letter samples that got accepted, medical school recommendation letter from a science professor.

Name of writer and contact information if not included in letterhead

Dear Admission Committee Members,

It is a pleasure for me to write this recommendation letter for Scott Johnson, who was my student in the fourth-year seminar "Advanced Embryology and Developmental Biology" in the fall of 2018. Scott is an exceptional person. He is one of the best students I have ever had the chance to teach in my 10 years at X University.

Scott has impressive critical thinking and problem-solving skills, which served him well during my class. I have spoken with his other instructors, and they have also noted his extraordinary analytical abilities. His capacity to observe and develop insightful and reflective conclusions has been noted by me on many occasions, especially during his laboratory work. I noticed that Scott spent a lot of his time diligently working on his laboratory experiments, even outside of the scheduled lab time.

Scott demonstrated outstanding levels of understanding techniques and developments of embryological systems. His insightful questions demonstrated his curiosity into unknowns and his motivation to increase his knowledge base. He is an excellent collaborator who is always ready to help his peers. I have witnessed Scott help his classmates with complex lab experiments inside the classroom, as well as outside of classroom hours as a tutor. He is joyful and kind during his interactions with students, professors, and other faculty. Aside from submitting his assignments on time to the highest quality, completing all lab and tutorial work, he volunteered to organize a student study group before the final lab and exam in my course. He was very generous with his time and energy to make sure that he and his classmates were well prepared. I remember Scott taking extra time to explain material to an international student who was struggling to understand a difficult concept. He listened to the student’s concerns, broke down the concept one step at a time until he was sure the student understood the material. His empathy truly touched me.

Scott also impressed me with his maturity and professionalism. During his time in my class, he formed courteous relationships with everyone: assistants, peers, and myself. He is great in conflict resolution scenarios, as I have had the chance to see that he solves problems quickly and efficiently. During a confrontation with a peer who was experiencing anxiety about his grades, Scott was able to diffuse the tension and offered his help. His peer ended up excelling in the next assignment due to Scott's mentoring.

I wholeheartedly recommend Scott Johnson as a perfect candidate for your medical school program. Over the years of my teaching career, I can think of few students who deserve such high praise and recommendation. Scott is a skilled scientist, a highly intellectual and compassionate individual, who would make a great doctor in the future. His dedication to excellence is inspiring. Please contact me if there is anything else I can add to impress upon the high caliber of character that is Scott Johnson.

Dr. Name of Writer

Medical School Recommendation Letter from a Research Supervisor

It is a pleasure for me to write this recommendation letter for Cecelia Guantes, who was my research assistant in the Minority Health Disparities Undergraduate Summer Research Program in the summer of 2018. In my 5 years of leading the summer research program, Cecelia has proven to be one of the best research assistants I have had the pleasure of working with.

Cecelia excelled throughout the summer research program, demonstrating impressive problem-solving and analytical skills. She has gone above and beyond in her duties as a research assistant, volunteering to cover additional hours or help with laboratory work. I have noticed her attention to detail, as she frequently asks questions to clarify, double check her facts and figures and asks for feedback on her work. Her work ethic has not gone unnoticed by other supervisors in the program, either, as I have verified with my colleagues.

Throughout her time with the summer research program, Cecilia demonstrated not only a high quality and standard of work, but a high level of compassion and understanding. When a fellow research assistant made a mistake, she took it upon herself to help the other student to correct the mistake, apologize to the affected colleague and reassure the other student. Afterwards, Cecilia worked with the other student to ensure the mistake did not happen again and rebuild her confidence. There was a noticeable difference in the other student after Cecilia’s assistance and coaching, in both her confidence and quality of work. Cecilia handled the situation with compassion and skilled interpersonal abilities, assisting another student without taking over or being overbearing. Her careful and kind treatment of her fellow research assistant made an impression on me.

Cecilia was a pleasure to have in the program and particularly during field work. She acted with the utmost professionalism and courteousness both with her fellows, her superiors and outside consultants when conducting field work. She treated everyone involved in the study with great respect and even formed friendly relationships with some of our colleagues, who mentioned to me their great impressions of Cecilia’s passion and enthusiasm. No matter the situation, she demonstrated excitement and passion for the project.

I wholeheartedly recommend Cecilia Guantes as the best candidate for your medical school program. I can think of no other research assistant who has made such a fantastic impression on me and my colleagues. Cecilia will surely make a superior physician thanks to her strong work ethic, compassionate nature and sharp mind. Please contact me if there is anything else I can add to Cecilia’s candidacy.

Would you rather watch a video?

You will still need to submit letters from science and non-science instructors. If it’s been a long time since you’ve been in school (more than 3 years), consider enrolling in some science and non-science courses.

DO school applicants should have at least 1 medical school recommendation letter from a DO physician.

Make sure to waive your right to see the recommendations.

No, do not address any medical schools in your letters. Keep them general.

You can send different letters to different schools in AMCAS, but not in AACOMAS or TMDSAS. 

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Have a question ask our admissions experts below and we'll answer your questions.

Hi! I’m requesting a letter of recommendation from the principal of the school that I work at! He has never written a letter of recommendation for medical school before. What should I tell him about what to put in the letter to make it easier for him?

BeMo Academic Consulting

Hi Naoma. Thanks for your question. You can provide him with a few samples from our blog. Additionally, provide him with the mission statement and values of the schools you are applying to, so he will know what kind of qualities and experiences he should highlight in his praise of you. Then, provide him with your CV, draft of your personal letter, your transcripts, etc., so he can refer back to your achievements when he writes. 

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  • Cover Letter For Admission To Medical School- College

"I am writing to express my strong and genuine interest in gaining admission to [Medical School Name] for the upcoming academic year. My lifelong passion for medicine, coupled with my [unique background/experiences], has led me to pursue a career in healthcare, and I believe that [Medical School Name] offers the ideal environment for me to achieve my goal of becoming a dedicated and compassionate physician. Throughout my academic journey and practical experiences, I have developed a deep appreciation for the complexities of medicine, and I am excited about the opportunity to contribute to the vibrant medical community at [Medical School Name]."

Template Enthusiastic Applicant

[Your Name] [Your Address] [City, State, ZIP Code] [Your Email Address] [Today's Date]

[Admissions Committee] [Medical School Name] [Medical School Address] [City, State, ZIP Code]

Dear Admissions Committee,

I am writing to express my sincere interest in gaining admission to [Medical School Name] for the upcoming academic year. With a lifelong passion for medicine and a commitment to serving the community, I am excited to embark on this journey towards becoming a compassionate and skilled medical professional.

Throughout my academic career, I have maintained a strong focus on the sciences, excelling in biology, chemistry, and physics. These courses have not only solidified my foundation but have also fueled my curiosity to explore the intricacies of the human body and the art of healing. My dedication to learning is evident in my [mention any relevant academic achievements or honors].

What truly sets me apart, however, is my hands-on experience in healthcare. I have volunteered at [mention relevant healthcare organizations or clinics], where I have had the privilege to interact with patients from diverse backgrounds. These experiences have allowed me to develop empathy, communication skills, and a deep understanding of the challenges facing the healthcare system.

I am confident that [Medical School Name] is the ideal place for me to further cultivate my passion for medicine. The school's reputation for excellence in medical education and its commitment to community service align perfectly with my aspirations. I am excited about the opportunity to contribute to the vibrant medical community at [Medical School Name].

Thank you for considering my application. I look forward to the possibility of joining the [Medical School Name] family and working towards my goal of becoming a dedicated and compassionate physician.

[Your Name]

Template Research-Oriented Applicant

I am writing to express my strong interest in admission to the [Medical School Name] for the upcoming academic year. As an aspiring physician-scientist, I am deeply committed to advancing medical knowledge through research and translating scientific discoveries into innovative patient care.

My academic journey has been characterized by a relentless pursuit of knowledge in the biological and medical sciences. I have had the privilege to conduct research at [mention any research institutions or labs], where I contributed to [mention specific research projects or findings]. These experiences have instilled in me a profound appreciation for the intersection of research and clinical practice.

I am particularly drawn to [Medical School Name] because of its renowned faculty members and cutting-edge research opportunities in [mention specific research areas of interest]. The prospect of collaborating with esteemed researchers and contributing to groundbreaking studies motivates me greatly.

Furthermore, I am eager to participate in [mention any relevant extracurricular activities or initiatives at the medical school], which align perfectly with my passion for scientific exploration and innovation.

I believe that my dedication to research, combined with the comprehensive medical education provided by [Medical School Name], will enable me to make a significant impact in the field of medicine. I am excited about the possibility of joining your esteemed institution and becoming a part of the dynamic medical community at [Medical School Name].

Thank you for considering my application. I look forward to the opportunity to contribute to the future of medicine as a student at [Medical School Name].

Template 3: Non-Traditional Applicant

I am writing to express my sincere interest in gaining admission to [Medical School Name] for the upcoming academic year. My journey to medicine has been unconventional, but it has equipped me with a unique set of skills and experiences that I believe will make me a valuable addition to your diverse student body.

After completing my undergraduate degree in [mention your undergraduate major], I embarked on a career in [mention your career field], where I [mention your relevant career achievements or experiences]. While my career has been fulfilling, I have always felt a deep calling to medicine and a desire to make a direct impact on patient care.

Over the past [mention the number of years] years, I have taken the necessary steps to transition into a medical career. I have completed pre-medical coursework and gained clinical experience through [mention relevant healthcare experience]. These experiences have reaffirmed my commitment to medicine and my eagerness to embrace the challenges of medical education.

I am drawn to [Medical School Name] because of its commitment to fostering a diverse and inclusive learning environment. I believe that my unique background and perspective will contribute to the richness of the student community at [Medical School Name], and I am excited about the opportunity to learn from and collaborate with my future peers.

Thank you for considering my application. I am eager to embark on this transformative journey into medicine and am hopeful for the opportunity to do so at [Medical School Name].

Template Gap Year Applicant

I am writing to apply for admission to [Medical School Name] for the upcoming academic year. After completing my undergraduate degree in [mention your undergraduate major], I chose to take a gap year to further develop my skills and experiences to become a well-rounded and dedicated medical student.

During my gap year, I have pursued opportunities that have reinforced my commitment to a career in medicine. I have worked as a [mention your relevant gap year experiences, such as medical scribe, medical assistant, or healthcare volunteer], where I have had the privilege of witnessing the positive impact that healthcare professionals can have on patients' lives.

My gap year has also afforded me the time to strengthen my academic foundation through post-baccalaureate coursework and prepare diligently for the MCAT, achieving a score of [mention your MCAT score]. I am confident that these experiences have prepared me for the rigor of medical school.

I am particularly drawn to [Medical School Name] because of its reputation for fostering a supportive learning environment and its commitment to producing compassionate and competent healthcare providers. I am eager to contribute to this legacy and continue my journey toward becoming a physician.

Thank you for considering my application. I am excited about the opportunity to study at [Medical School Name] and am confident that my gap year experiences have prepared me to excel in your program.

We are delighted to extend our professional proofreading and writing services to cater to all your business and professional requirements, absolutely free of charge. Should you need any email, letter, or application templates, please do not hesitate to reach out to us at englishtemplates.com. Kindly leave a comment stating your request, and we will ensure to provide the necessary template at the earliest.

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ACCEPTED

Which program are you applying to?

Medical school personal statement examples.

Get accepted to your top choice medical school with your compelling essay.

THE TOP 10 MEDICAL SCHOOLS

HAVE AN AVERAGE ACCEPTANCE RATE OF 5.3%

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A GREAT MEDICAL SCHOOL PERSONAL STATEMENT IS KEY IN THE APPLICATION PROCESS

If you want to get into the best school, you need to stand out from other applicants.  

U.S. News   reports the average medical school acceptance rate at the top 100 med schools at 6.35% , but our med school clients enjoy an 85% ACCEPTANCE RATE .

How can you separate yourself from the competition successfully? By creating a great personal statement.

body:nth-child(2) > div.body-wrapper > main:nth-child(3) > div:nth-child(1) > div:nth-child(1) > div:nth-child(1) > div:nth-child(1) > div.row-fluid-wrapper.row-depth-1.row-number-6 > div:nth-child(1) > div:nth-child(1) > div.row-fluid-wrapper.row-depth-1.row-number-7 > div:nth-child(1) > div:nth-child(1) > #hs_cos_wrapper_dnd_area-module-12 > #hs_cos_wrapper_dnd_area-module-12_ > h2:nth-child(2)">Medical School Sample Personal Statements and Essays

Here we present medical school personal statement examples to give you ideas for your own essay.

Pay close attention to the consistent format of these effective personal statements:

ENGAGING INTRODUCTION / UNIFYING THEME / COMPELLING CONCLUSION

Give the admissions committee readers a clear picture of you as an individual, a student, and a future medical professional. Make them want to meet you after they finish reading your essay.

Here's what you'll find on this page:

  • How Sample Med School Essays Can Help You
  • Before you Start Writing
  • Writing Your Opening Paragraph
  • Writing Your Body Paragraphs
  • Writing Transitions
  • Writing Your Conclusion
  • Common Elements Between Personal Statements

Five Don'ts for Your Medical School Personal Statement

  • Personal Statement Examples & Analysis
  • Frequently Asked Questions

How can these sample med school essays help you?

You plan to become a physician, a highly respected professional who will have great responsibility over the health and well being of your future patients. How can you prove to the admissions committee that you have the intelligence, the maturity, the compassion, and the dedication needed to succeed in your goal? 

The medical school personal statement examples below are all arguments in favor of top med schools accepting these applicants. And they worked. The applicants who wrote these essays were all accepted to top medical schools - most to multiple schools. They show a variety of experiences and thought processes that all led to the same outcome. However, while the paths to this decision point vary widely, these winning essays share several things in common. 

As you read them, take note of how the stories are built sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph, adding to the evidence that the writer is worthy of acceptance. This evidence includes showing a sustained focus, mature self-reflection, and professional and educational experiences that have helped prepare the applicant to succeed. 

As you write your medical school personal statement , include your most compelling, memorable and meaningful experiences that are relevant to your decision to become a doctor. Each sentence should add to the reader’s understanding of who you are, what your strengths are, and why you will make an outstanding physician. Your resulting essay will help the adcom appreciate your intellectual and psychological strengths as well as your motivations, and conclude that you are worthy of acceptance into a top medical school. 

Techniques for creating successful medical school personal statements

Before you start writing your med school personal statement.

Before you start writing your medical school personal statement you will need to choose a topic that will reflect who you are and engage the reader. There are a few strong ways to proceed. Try freewriting with a few of the following topic ideas.

Why medicine? Do you have a personal experience that made you certain about being a physician? How, when, did you know this was the right career for you? Is there a doctor you know (or knew) who emulates an altruistic moral character, someone who won your deepest respect? Can you show this person in action or describe them as they model inherent qualities, those for which you will strive as a physician?

How has a clinical experience been a real growth moment for you? Can you tell that story? Sometimes a clinical experience is deeply personal, something experienced by you or by someone in your family. Sometimes a clinical experience is about a patient whose situation taught you something deeply valuable, something honestly insightful about what good care means, about humanity, about empathy, about compassion, about community, about advantage and disadvantage, about equity and inclusion. 

Choose an experience outside the comfort of your own community, an experience where you were the outsider (uncertain, facing ambiguity) and this experience brought about a fresh, resonant understanding of yourself and others, an understanding that made you grow as a person, and perhaps brought about humility or joy in light of this geographical or cultural dislocation. Often this prompt includes traveling to other countries. Yet, it could work just as beautifully discovering people in close places that were previously unfamiliar to you – the shelter in the next town over, a foster home for medically unstable children, the day you witnessed food insecurity firsthand at a local church and decided to do something about disparity.

Read other successful personal statements in guides and publications. You can read sample personal statements that work here: medical school personal statement examples

The prompts above have great possibilities to be successful because they locate experiences that require better than average human understanding and insight. When we re-convey a moving human experience well, we tell a story that aims to bring us together, unite us in our common humanity. Telling powerful stories about humanity, in the end, presents your deeper attributes to others and demonstrates your capacity to feel deeply about the human condition. 

Be careful how often you use the first person pronoun, though you may use it. Revise for clarity many more times than you might do in other writing moments. Choose precise vocabulary that sounds like you, and, of course, revise so that you present to your readers the most pristinely grammatical you. 

Once you’ve looked at the sample medical school personal statements in the link above, try freewriting again according to one of the themes listed that applies to you. For instance, perhaps your prior freewriting aimed to describe a moment in your life that seeded your interest in medicine. Great. Save that file. Now, start again with a different topic, perhaps one from the linked page of sample personal statements. For instance, let your freewriting explore the time you traveled to another country to participate in a public health mission. What person immediately comes to mind? Hopefully this person is quite different from you in identity and culture. Make sure this comes across. Describe the scene when you first encountered this person. What happened? Tell that story. Why do you think you remember this person so vividly? Did the experience challenge you? Did you learn something deeper and perhaps more complex about humanity, about culture, about your own assumptions about humanity? Hopefully, you grew from this experience. How did you grow? What do you now understand that you did not understand before having had this experience? Hindsight may very well bring about perspective that demonstrates that you now understand the value of that human encounter. 

Here is a cautionary bit of advice about writing about childhood. Yes, it is relatively common to have had a formidable experience in childhood about illness, health, healthcare, medicine or doctors. Right? Most of us have had at least one critical health issue in our own family when still a child. Sometimes it is absolutely true that a moment in childhood began your interest in healthcare. 

One may have had a diagnosis as a child that turned one’s life path toward being health-aware. For instance, are you a juvenile-onset, Type I diabetic? Do you have a cognitive or physical disability? Were you raised in a home with someone who had a critical illness or disability? Did a sibling, parent or grandparent get gravely sick when you were young? 

Upon writing-up any of these situations for your personal statement, there is a catch-22. For medical school application activities, the rule of thumb is “nothing from high school.” So why then is it sometimes a good idea to write about a childhood situation in a personal statement? The answer has to do with the uniqueness of your story and the quality of hindsight through which you narrate it.

Let us slow down for a moment on the issue of writing about childhood. Typically, traditional applicants to medical school are steadfastly dedicated to their academic and pre-professional aims. Science curriculum, especially pre-med curriculum, is demanding and rigorous, and it trains science students to excel in empirical thinking and assessment. 

Sometimes, when asked to write a personal essay, hard core science students feel the rug pulled out from under them. Are you more confident and meticulous about action steps and future plans than you are confident about being a sage looking back on your life? Chances are your answer is “yes.” 

Of course you can write; you’re a smart person and a very good student. Yet, writing a heartfelt, perceptive essay about yourself or an aspect of your life for an application to medical school is unnerving even as you understand why your application might benefit from story-telling. Yes, your application should benefit from your engaging, authorial presence in the essay. An application that lacks this is wholly at a disadvantage. 

Perhaps you are gravitating to the choice to share a story about your childhood. 

For instance, what if you sat down to free-write the following prompt:

Draft an essay about a childhood experience that ingrained medicine as one of your inherent interests. Do so in a manner that demonstrates the value of hindsight while telling it.

Is it hard to stay calm about this prompt right now even though this prompt is precisely what could make your personal statement successful? The idea of this prompt is what many successful applicants have written well, and you can too. Why not seek professional guidance for your personal essay? Accepted has consultants who advise applicants through this process. We advise you on the whole process of developing a successful idea for an essay, help you mine your experiences, outline your strongest ideas, and after you’ve written them up, edit your drafts. You can view these personal statement services here: Essay Package

Back to tips. The key to writing a personal statement that frames a moment in childhood well is to stand firmly in the present and stay descriptive and perceptive. Write up that experience trusting you have insight. Quite a bit of time has passed since then, and that distance has given you the opportunity to see things a little differently now. 

Let’s presume you want to write about how as a child you had an older sibling with a cognitive impairment. You and your family witnessed time and again doors being shut, so to speak, on his ability to be included in school events or community events.

Free writing A: My older brother, G, had moderate cognitive impairment. He was never given field time in soccer games. When this happened, G cried. When this happened, I cried and felt hurt by how much time my parents spent trying to calm him down, eventually leaving the field, holding him close and bringing us back home, another Saturday wrecked. 

Example A has no benefit of hindsight.

Free writing B (with some hindsight): My older brother, G, had moderate cognitive impairment. Most of the time, kids were kind to him. “Hey G, how are you, man?,” they would say and high-five him. Most kids greeted him, offered him snacks and a seat on the sideline blanket. It was touching to see him included and seen at soccer games.

Further hindsight: G was rarely played in the game. 

Reflective comment: No harm would have been done in letting him play. It’s clear to me now how much more work we each need to do about inclusion. Community-based team sports are pretty good about extending kindness at the sidelines, but that is not the same thing as letting all kids play in the game. I am still grateful for every kindness extended to my brother, but perhaps letting him play in the game would have demonstrated to kids and parents alike a deeper message about the importance of inclusion over winning. The coaches meant no harm, but that is precisely how unconscious bias plays. Afterall, community by its very definition is about inclusion.

Standing tall on this matter brings out a maturity and vocabulary to master this kind of personal writing that Free Writing A lacks. You don’t want to go back in time and join your younger self and narrate from that perspective. The “return” to your former child typically results in replicating a childlike emotional capacity – and chances are, that’s not you anymore. You’ve seen more. You’ve grown more. You’re now formally educated. You’re more skilled at making connections between ideas and experiences. You can narrate a scene or circumstance and attach awareness of what you realize now it means – like the over-narratives of documentaries where the author sheds true insight about the meaning of past events. 

Most traditional applicants to medical school are just a few years older than teenagers. 

When hindsight brings great clarity and insight to the significance of an experience, we demonstrate a keener maturity and an understanding that in authoring an experience we have a responsibility to demonstrate how a personal experience becomes a valuable portal to understanding the situation of others. Hindsight done well can be a stunningly beautiful and engaging narrative skill.

Perhaps you would rather write about a clinical experience? If you write about patients, change names, change gender, change some context to assure anonymity. Nearly all healthcare workers are concerned about telling patient stories because we worry about appropriating someone else’s experience, or feel we may not have the right, literally since HIPAA set rules on patients’ privacy rights in 1996. We should be concerned about telling patients’ stories; however, how we tell them is key in honoring them. When we honor patients and convey their stories to others we demonstrate the reciprocity of the professional relationship. Physicians no longer have a prescriptive, patrician role. Physicians are no longer sole authorities. Physicians and patients establish a reciprocal relationship, a two way street wherein a physician steps into a space of illness with the patient and walks with them, with the goal of healing, curing and advocating for them. When doctors tell stories, they establish that patients matter, that these encounters matter, that doctors think about patients and often learn from them. 

How we write patient stories is best done humbly, of course. We can narrate a story that becomes exemplary for its insight and empathy – after all, insight and empathy are desirable traits of a physician. Be sure to show rather than tell, most of the time. Be sure to capture the sensory detail of people and place. For instance, is the patient sitting on a blue plastic chair under ultraviolet lights in the waiting room of a free clinic? Is a woman with her gray hair twisted in a bun wearing a cotton hospital gown, waiting against a concrete wall in a tiny examination room with the door open? (Setting makes a character more real.) 

Finally, your story perspective, what you see and understand, becomes another way of revealing who you are. 

How to write your opening paragraph:

A strong opening paragraph for a story begins “several pages in.” A strong story begins with you, the narrator, already standing in the ocean with water splashing at your knees. This is called a hook: “D began to bleed after the second attempt to start an intravenous line.” 

Then, get the basic narrative facts down, the 5 W’s, the who, what, where, when and why, so your readers will not be confused: “She was a patient in the infusion clinic in the cancer pavilion of a major Boston hospital. She came to the clinic for her first round of chemotherapy.”

What else about this moment engaged you? Did D come to her appointment alone via an Uber ride? Why wasn’t anyone with her? How did that make you feel? Did the two of you hold a conversation while you were trying to start an IV? Why do you think she started to bleed? How did she respond when she saw you were having trouble starting this IV? Why didn’t she have a Medi-port yet? Here, you are building fuller context for her story. Don’t race through the scene; rather, build it, slowing down time, using images and sensory details to “paint” with your words. Smaller details, necessary ones, help you portray D as an individual. 

“Semper Fidelis was tattooed on her forearm. ‘Thank you for your service,’ I said.” 

“‘This cancer thing,’ she said, ‘this is nothing.’”

“D’s comment set me back. She had triple-negative breast cancer. She had blood running down her arm to her hand, between her fingers and onto a stiff, white pillow case on which she rested her arm. Triple-negative breast cancer was much more than nothing. In fact, it was very serious.” 

What questions came to mind that provide several ways of reading this moment? Write them down. For instance,

  • Did D not know about the gravity of her diagnosis?
  • Was she steely and tough yet informed?
  • Did she live through something much worse while enlisted as a Marine?

The questions themselves may wander too much to serve your personal statement as a succinct essay, which it needs to be. However, the answers to those questions may be exactly the additional content you need to develop this story’s acumen and perception as you demonstrate how getting to know the patient is a critical skill in order to help her. And now a theme is starting to come through: a doctor treats a patient, not a diagnosis. Voilà!

Moving forward: How does a doctor reframe clinical assumptions in this instance? What does a future doctor learn from a circumstance like this? 

Notice in the example above that the writing is active, uses details, and vivid language.

This writer has a palpable connection to the moment. One key to choosing one experience over another for your personal statement is how visual and vivid your recollection is. Often, moments worth mining for meaning are easy to recollect because they still have unresolved messages that need to be understood. Writing experiences helps us find their meaning, their sense. 

Notice as well, the scene above captures a moment of ambiguity, a concept particularly difficult for many health science professionals to embrace because there are multiple ways of looking at and understanding something. Stories send empiricism into the wind. People are not solely empirical. There is the self that is the body, which can be understood empirically, but there’s also the self that inhabits the body, the thinking/feeling/being and perceiving self. Stories are not about right answers. Stories attend to sentience and explore humanity. Patients’ lives are rife with uncertain moments, uncertain decisions, uncertain treatments, uncertain consequences, and uncertain outcomes. How does a physician engage with health uncertainty, understand it, and navigate it through pathways of humanity rather than pathways of diagnosis?

How does health care challenge you to grow in humanistic ways?

How to write your body paragraphs:

Once you have written a compelling scene, it might be a good idea to reflect upon why you were drawn to write about this experience in particular before your proceed. How does this scene illustrate meaningfully something worth explaining about becoming a physician? For instance, D’s scene was illustrative of an unexpected shift in perception that mattered when treating a patient with a serious cancer diagnosis. This unexpected shift happened to you, not to her. D’s been living with herself aplenty. Her point of view surprised you, not her, and reveals an incongruence between her perspective on her illness and yours.

Brief moments of ambiguity like this one can make us talk to each other, make us want to do something, can bring us to explore some further niche, specialty or research. Perhaps D brought you to peruse PubMed to research “Issues in Clinical Practice when Caring for Veterans” to see if you could find articles to help you help D and other veterans. Perhaps D’s comment was so truthful that you now volunteer with a veterans’ organization to scribe their stories for a war history museum? This “call to action” is a worthy story in a personal statement. Tell D’s story and conclude it with empathy and action. (Taking action to help is a demonstration of empathy.) Mindfully showing the experience with D as a catalyst to a path of action to help those under duress -- in distress, in crisis, or adrift in inequity -- matters.

Perhaps, follow this conclusion with a brief explanation of what principles now guide your humanistic path to medical school as long as they are principles that matter to your choice schools. 

Here are a few things to avoid in writing your medical school personal statement. Avoid talking about your scholastic path in preparation for medical school in your essay. The essay is not a place to reiterate scholastic achievements, for instance, a high GPA, academic honors, academic awards, publications, or MCAT scores because they’re front and center in other areas of your application. 

Instead, frame your medical school personal statement around a formidable experience that directly or indirectly led you to pursue medicine. This could be a struggle that you’ve overcome that demonstrates your fortitude (the story of a sociocultural disadvantage or disability), the first time you deeply understood the ramifications of health care disparities you will not forget. Likely, this would be a personal story about yourself or a family member, a clinical story or a mission trip, or a story about a patient from some other volunteer work that you’ve done. 

Additional topic ideas for your personal statement: What is a successful doctor? What does a successful life as a doctor look like? What happens to your understanding of best practices when a patient’s situation makes a best practice unrealistic, and what is the remedy? What epiphany, small or large, resides in you now since having mined a critical, clinical experience? Do you see a difference in the way you respond to patients since having had this experience? How has clinical experience matured you, deepened your awareness of living? If a patient experience became a catalyst for you to branch out or deepen your healthcare exposure opportunities, talk about that too. What opportunities? Why?

Writing effective transitions:

You are now ready to proceed to a conclusion that leaves your readers, the admissions committee, with a lasting impression of you – your life, your mind, your character -- as a 21 st century physician. 

Chances are, you’ll need to transition from the previous discussion of a time in the past to squarely speak about yourself here and now or in a comment toward the future. 

Can you sum up your main idea for the past experience? Consider the benefit of using a word or phrase -- thus, just as, hence, accordingly, in the same way, correspondingly -- and present your central idea again but only in a few repetitive words (called parallelism) or with synonymous words, creating internal unity in the essay. 

Be careful how you do this. The phrasing should feel necessary and fluid rather than reductive or even worse, phrasing that sounds like filler. 

The shift you’re making is from then to now, or from then to now and to the future as in “all this is to say.” Would you benefit from a fact, a quote, a statistic, or an informed prediction on the state of medicine, public health, or the future of medicine? 

Grammar tips: 

Transitional words can indicate:

  • a process: first, second, next, finally…
  • time: by lunch time, that evening, two weeks later…
  • spatial sequences: down the block, two miles west, one bed over…
  • logic sequences: likewise, however, evidently, in other words…
  • meta-thought: as I say this, looking back, I have nothing left to say…

If grammar and idea flow are a concern, have a look at Accepted’s editing services: Med School Essay Package

A consultant will walk you through the inception of an essay, an outline, and editing from first through final drafts, including suggestions for idea development and transitions from one idea to another.

How to write your conclusion:

A strong conclusion for your medical school personal statement can highlight the relevance of a timely issue (for instance, the physician shortage in the U.S.), make broader inferences about something you’ve already discussed (for instance, the broader implications of a particular health care disparity), or a call to action that you now embrace (for instance, community-based work that you did during the pandemic that now has become a central interest). Altruism, or understanding another’s disadvantaged situation, should not be represented in your conclusion as “ideas alone.” Commitment to serve others is not solely aspirational (“As physicians, we must do everything we can about inequity"), but a strong conclusion puts ideals into action (“I have joined Dr. T’s research team to conduct qualitative research about how social strata paradigms impact health care inequity”). Action in the conclusion should be associated with an experience shown earlier in the essay and culminate as a demonstration that you have already begun shaping your path in medicine. You are not waiting to begin but have already begun facing the challenges and responsibilities of future physicians. This kind of conclusion shows vision, maturity, commitment and character.

If the story in the body of your personal statement is about an experience, the conclusion should show your growth since then and keep in alignment how you’ve grown with the medical school values and missions of the majority of schools on your list. So, if you’re applying to top-tier allopathic schools, your growth may be in the depth and orientation of your recent research, or in having established a tighter link between your clinical experience and research. 

If you’re applying to osteopathic schools, your growth should be in keeping with the osteopathic schools’ values and missions on your list and include recent hands-on experience, something with specific tasks and responsibilities, rather than shadowing, since shadowing is often seen as passive experience. It may be that you’ve become a licensed EMT and will work as an EMT in a relevant region or state during the gap year. It may be that you’ve been certified and now work as a harm reduction specialist for a particular organization in a particular city or county. 

If you’re applying to both allopathic and osteopathic schools, each personal statement should align with the academic orientation of each pathway. Using the same personal statement for both AMCAS and AACOMAS applications is rarely a good idea. 

Accepted offers help with the whole application process: Primary Application Package

Other elements that each essay below have in common:

Accepted provides sample medical school personal statements with titles classifying types of narratives that have potential for success. Applicants do have some freedom of choice in what topic will serve their essay best. Why only “some” freedom in topic for this personal essay? Because this essay is one tool you will use to reach a professional goal. 

Not all essays help us reach professional goals. Writers of effective essays must take into account who will read them. Think about who your audience is. In this case, it’s a medical school admissions committee – not a friend, not a parent, not a peer. How will you write an essay on the same topic, let’s say a lab experience that went from bad to revelatory? You’d tell this story quite differently to your lab mates than you would to your professor, than you would to the president of your university, than you would in a grant application. 

Here’s what can happen when the “audience” isn’t considered sufficiently when writing about a passion. Let’s say you love playing soccer, and played on a Division 3 team as an undergraduate. Let’s say it didn’t matter to you that the team was Division 3 as long as it meant you could get on the field and play through your undergraduate years. It’s quite possible that one can write well about playing soccer, but one must do so in such a way that the reader really believes and understands the parallel between doing what you love and a future in medicine. Otherwise, the writer may very well convey that they love soccer. However, when written without the focus that medical school admissions committees will be readers, the essay could end up conveying that the narrator really wants to be a soccer coach, not a doctor. 

So, there’s only some freedom in topic and some freedom in writing approach - and the two must make sense together in order to facilitate accomplishing your goal. 

There is no “one-size-fits-all” to writing a successful medical school personal statement. There are, however, aspects to the sample essays on this site that stand out. 

First, each personal statement example is authored by someone who knows exactly what story they’re telling. No matter what their first draft looked like, by the time the final draft is ready to go, all fuzzy draft moments have been made lucid and engaging. All sections of the essay should have the polish and the same goals. 

  • Why am I telling this in this way? 
  • To what ends does each scene or moment speak?
  • Have I revised enough to make every sentence demonstrate strong writing skills?

Each sample personal statement emphasizes narrative control, engages with a direct voice, has conclusive things to show and say, demonstrates logical steps in idea development, and presents effective framing of the composition as a well-written form that displays strong writing skills. 

Even when an essay includes a “bookend” structure (a narrative structure that begins and ends with X, with middle content about Y), the story of Y (i.e. a mission trip in Mexico) is the primary story framed by the X bookend story (i.e. the love of running) to give ballast to the context in which this writer wants us to understand the mission trip as well, as a parallel story of challenge, commitment, exhilaration, exhaustion and necessity.

The same is true for stories that contain contrasts. If you’ve traveled ten mile or ten thousand miles, it is quite possible you’ve encountered different assumptions than your own about health care, health care access, trust, understanding of middle-class or first-world beliefs about health, understanding beliefs from poor and disadvantaged communities, illness, health care in contrast with a different cultural standard than what you’re used to, different beliefs about health care access, and a lack of or cautious trust in deference to doctors. (See the “Nontraditional Applicant” and “The Traveler.”) The key to this kind of essay is first demonstrating the contrasts between the two realities (yours and the patient’s reality) and their relative assumptions. Second, demonstrate an understanding of beliefs amid the two experiences and aim to reconcile their adverse assumptions.

However you proceed with the paragraph by paragraph progression of your medical school personal statement, be sure to see how there’s deeper intuition or knowledge associated with how the ideas progress. Do not repeat yourself, or reiterate a statement or idea unless you are clearly doing so for rhetorical emphasis.

Then, kiss your draft goodnight. Let it sit for two or three days, and return to it time and again with fresh eyes – to trim, tighten, clarify, improve tone and intention, and importantly, to make sure you have direct regard for your audience, who it is, what they’re looking for, and how you are the person whom they seek, as you maintain a tone and direction consistent with your goals and what you’re seeking from an admissions committee. 

Many students focus on their own or family members’ medical conditions in their personal statements. The essay sometimes reads like a medical history. Taking this approach can hurt your application for several reasons: It may alert them to conditions that could impact your ability to perform in medical school,   indicate that you lack boundaries by oversharing , or suggest a lack of maturity in focusing only on yourself and family – rather than on helping others or serving the community.

Anything you share in your personal statement can be brought up in your interview. If you share details of painful events, losses, or failures that you have not yet processed or come to terms with, that disclosure could come across as an invitation for the reader to pity you. Accepting long-term changes in our lives transforms us; we are constantly evolving through our experiences. Until you have integrated this information into your identity, depending on how impactful it was, you may not be able to use the experience to shed insight on yourself quite yet. Use negative experiences that are at least a year or older depending on how long it takes you to process and reflect. Most importantly,   use them to show growth and resilience , not to create pity.

  • DON’T demonstrate a lack of compassion or empathy. One of the creepiest essays I’ve ever read – it still sends shivers down my spine just thinking about it – was a student’s description of how much she enjoyed anesthetizing and removing the brains of mice. Her intention was to share her love of science, research, and learning but the feverish glee with which she described these procedures lacked compassion for the creatures that lost their lives for her research project. This lack of respect for the sacredness of life made it an easy decision to reject her application. Research was probably a better path for her, especially since she wasn’t able to gauge the reaction her statements would have on her audience.
  • DON’T bargain. The least fun essays to read are those that contain more promises than a politician’s speech. They include statements like, “If accepted into this program, I will….” The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. If you really want to demonstrate what you are capable of achieving during your medical education,  give examples of what you have already accomplished . This approach is far stronger than making hollow promises.
  • DON’T complain. Criticizing or pointing out the failures of healthcare professionals who have treated you or whom you have observed in the past will only reflect negatively on you. Since your application will be reviewed by doctors, as well as admissions professionals, it’s critical that you do not insult those from whom you are seeking acceptance. While it is true that medical mistakes and lack of access to care have devastating consequences for patients, their families and communities, identifying ways to improve in these areas without pointing any fingers would be more effective. By demonstrating your realistic knowledge of patient needs and sharing potential solutions, you can present yourself as an asset to their team.

Be careful what you write. Create a personal statement that is honest (not bitter), reveals your personality (not your medical history), and delivers a compelling explanation for your motivations for entering medicine (not empty promises). 

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Med School Personal Statement Consultant Dr. Mary Mahoney

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Med School Personal Statement Examples and Analysis

Now let’s explore what you can learn from some of these outstanding sample med school essays.

Medical school personal statement example  #1: Emergency 911 

“Call 911!” I shouted to my friend as I sprinted down the street. The young Caucasian male had been thrown fifteen yards from the site of impact and surprisingly was still conscious upon my arrival. “My name is Michael. Can you tell me your name?” In his late twenties, he gasped in response as his eyes searched desperately in every direction for help, for comfort, for assurance, for loved ones, for death, until his eyes met mine. “Flail chest,” I thought to myself as I unbuttoned his shirt and placed my backpack upon his right side. “Pulse 98, respiration 28 short and quick. Help is on the way. Hang in there, buddy,” I urged.

After assessing the patient, the gravity of the situation struck me into sobriety. The adrenaline was no longer running through my veins — this was real. His right leg was mangled with a compound fracture; his left leg was also obviously broken. The tow-truck that had hit him looked as though it had run into a telephone pole. Traffic had ceased on the six-lane road, and a large crowd had gathered. However, no one was by my side to help. “Get me some blankets from that motel!” I yelled to a bystander and three people immediately fled. I was in charge.

But my patient was no longer conscious; his pulse was faint and respiration was low. “Stay with me, man!” I yelled. “15 to 1, 15 to 1,” I thought as I rehearsed CPR in my mind. Suddenly he stopped breathing. Without hesitation, I removed my T-shirt and created a makeshift barrier between his mouth and mine through which I proceeded to administer two breaths. No response. And furthermore, there was no pulse. I began CPR. I continued for approximately five minutes until the paramedics arrived, but it was too late. I had lost my first patient.

Medicine. I had always imagined it as saving lives, curing ailments, alleviating pain, overall making life better for everyone. However, as I watched the paramedics pull the sheets over the victim’s head, I began to tremble. I had learned my first lesson of medicine: for all its power, medicine cannot always prevail. I had experienced one of the most disheartening and demoralizing aspects of medicine and faced it. I also demonstrated then that I know how to cope with a life-and-death emergency with confidence, a confidence instilled in me by my certification as an Emergency Medical Technician, a confidence that I had the ability to take charge of a desperate situation and help someone in critical need. This pivotal incident confirmed my decision to pursue medicine as a career. 

Of course healing, curing, and saving is much more rewarding than trying and failing. As an EMT I was exposed to these satisfying aspects of medicine in a setting very new to me — urban medicine. I spent most of a summer doing ride-alongs with the Ambulance Company in Houston. Every call we received dealt with Latino patients either speaking only Spanish or very little broken English. I suddenly realized the importance of understanding a foreign culture and language in the practice of medicine, particularly when serving an underserved majority. In transporting patients from the field to the hospitals I saw the community’s reduced access to medical care due to a lack of physicians able to communicate with and understand their patients. I decided to minor in Spanish. Having almost completed my minor, I have not only expanded my academic horizons, I have gained a cultural awareness I feel is indispensable in today’s diverse society.

Throughout my undergraduate years at Berkeley I have combined my scientific interests with my passion for the Hispanic culture and language. I have even blended the two with my interests in medicine. During my sophomore year I volunteered at a medical clinic in the rural town of Chacala, Mexico. In Mexico for one month, I shadowed a doctor in the clinic and was concurrently enrolled in classes for medical Spanish. It was in Chacala, hundreds of miles away from home, that I witnessed medicine practiced as I imagined it should be. Seeing the doctor treat his patients with skill and compassion as fellow human beings rather than simply diseases to be outsmarted, I realized he was truly helping the people of Chacala in a manner unique to medicine. Fascinated by this exposure to clinical medicine, I saw medicine’s ability to make a difference in people’s lives. For me the disciplines of Spanish and science have become inseparable, and I plan to pursue a career in urban medicine that allows me to integrate them.

Having seen medicine’s different sides, I view this as a multifaceted profession. I have witnessed its power as a healing agent in rural Chacala, and I have seen its weakness when I met death face-to-face as an EMT. Inspired by the Latino community of Houston, I realize the benefits of viewing it from a holistic, culturally aware perspective. And whatever the outcome of the cry "Call 911!" I look forward as a physician to experiencing the satisfaction of saving lives, curing ailments, alleviating pain, and overall making life better for my patients.

Lessons From Med School Sample Essay #1: Emergency 911

This essay is one of our favorites. The applicant tells a story and weaves a lot of information into it about his background and interests. Note how the lead grabs one’s attention and the conclusion ties everything together.

What makes this essay work?

  • A dramatic opening paragraph

This essay has an unusually long opener, but not only is it dramatic, it also lays out the high-stakes situation of the writer desperately trying to save the life of a young man. As an EMT, the writer is safe in sharing so much detail, because they establish their bona fides as medically knowledgeable. With the urgent opening sentence (“Call 911!”) and the sad final sentence (“I had lost my first patient.”), the writer bookends a particularly transformative experience, one that confirmed their goal of becoming a doctor.  

  • A consistent theme

The theme of a med school essay in which the applicant first deals with the inevitable reality of seeing a patient die can become hackneyed through overuse. This essay is saved from that fate because after acknowledging the pain of this reality check, the writer reports that they immediately committed to expanding his knowledge and skills to better serve the local Hispanic community. While not an extraordinary story for an EMT, the substance, self-awareness, and focus the writer brings to the topic makes it a compelling read.

  • Evidence supporting the stated goal

This applicant is already a certified EMT, which serves as evidence of their serious interest in a medical career. In going on ambulance ride-alongs, the writer realized the barrier in communication between many doctors and their Spanish-speaking patients, which inspired the writer to take steps to both learn medical Spanish and shadow a doctor in a Mexican clinic. These concrete steps affirm that the applicant has serious intent.

Medical School Personal Statement Example #2: The Traveler

"On the first day that I walked into the Church Nursing Home, I was unsure of what to expect. A jumble of questions ran through my mind simultaneously: Is this the right job for me? Will I be capable of aiding the elderly residents? Will I enjoy what I do? A couple of hours later, these questions were largely forgotten as I slowly cut chicken pieces and fed them to Frau Meyer. Soon afterwards, I was strolling through the garden with Herr Schmidt, listening to him tell of his tour of duty in World War II. By the end of the day, I realized how much I enjoyed the whole experience and at the same time smiled at the irony of it all. I needed to travel to Heidelberg, Germany, to confirm my interest in clinical medicine.

Experiences like my volunteer work in the German nursing home illustrate the decisive role travel has played in my life. For instance, I had volunteered at a local hospital in New York but was not satisfied. Dreams of watching doctors in the ER or obstetricians in the maternity ward were soon replaced with the reality of carrying urine and feces samples to the lab. With virtually no patient contact, my exposure to clinical medicine in this setting was unenlightening and uninspiring. However, in Heidelberg, despite the fact that I frequently change diapers for the incontinent and deal with occasionally cantankerous elderly, I love my twice-weekly visits to the nursing home. Here, I feel that I am needed and wanted. That rewarding feeling of fulfillment attracts me to the practice of medicine.

My year abroad in Germany also enriched and diversified my experience with research. Although I had a tremendously valuable exposure to research as a summer intern investigating chemotherapeutic resistance in human carcinomas, I found disconcerting the constant cost-benefit analysis required in applied biomedical research. In contrast, my work at the University of Heidelberg gave me a broader view of basic research and demonstrated how it can expand knowledge – even without the promise of immediate profit. I am currently attempting to characterize the role of an enzyme during neural development. Even though the benefit of such research is not yet apparent, it will ultimately contribute to a vast body of information which will further medical science.

My different reactions to research and medicine just exemplify the intrinsically broadening impact of travel. For example, on a recent trip to Egypt, I visited a small village on the banks of the Nile. This impoverished hamlet boasted a large textile factory in its center where many children worked in clean, bright, and cheerful conditions weaving carpets and rugs. After a discussion with the foreman of the plant, I discovered that the children of the village learned trades at a young age to prepare them to enter the job market and to support their families. If I had just heard about this factory, I would have recoiled in horror with visions of sweatshops running through my head. However, watching the skill and precision each child displayed, in addition to his or her endless creativity, soon made me realize that it is impossible to judge this country’s attempts to deal with its poverty using American standards and experience.

Travel has not only had a formative and decisive impact on my decision to pursue a career in medicine, it has also broadened my horizons – whether in a prosperous city on the Rhine or an impoverished village on the Nile. In dealing with patients or addressing research puzzles, I intend to bring the inquiring mind fostered in school, lab, and volunteer experiences. But above all, I intend to bring the open mind formed through travel.

Lessons From Medical School Sample Essay #2: The Traveler

No boring repetition of itinerary from this seasoned traveler! This student ties their travels to their medical ambitions through the effective use of short anecdotes and vivid images. Can you sense the writer’s youthful disappointment during early clinical experiences and mature satisfaction working in the retirement home?

This applicant effectively links the expansive benefits of travel to their medical ambitions. By sharing vivid anecdotes from and reflections on these experiences, the writer enables the reader to easily imagine them as a talented physician in the future.

  • An engaging opening that frames the storyline Many fine application essays open with imagery so vibrant that the writing could be mistaken for fiction. This essay is no different. We meet the writer in the setting of a nursing home overseas, where they question whether their volunteer experiences there will help them determine their career path. Notice how the first sentence reflects a worry, “I was unsure of what to expect,” but by the final sentence, the writer concludes with satisfaction, “I needed to travel to Heidelberg, Germany, to confirm my interest in clinical medicine.” With this framing, we appreciate the essay’s theme.
  • Reflections on and contrasts about varied experiences in medicine The writer’s reactions to various encounters reveal a maturing mind-set: the “unenlightening and uninspiring” experience volunteering in a New York hospital versus the feeling of being “needed and wanted” in the nursing home in Heidelberg; the “disconcerting . . . constant cost-benefit analysis required in applied biomedical research” versus the “broader view of basic research and . . . how it can expand knowledge – even without the promise of immediate profit” at the University of Heidelberg. These reflections demonstrate a thoughtfulness born of experience.
  • How traveling has expanded his potential as a physician Of the five tightly constructed paragraphs in this substantial essay, the final two paragraphs home in on how travel has had an “intrinsically broadening impact” and stimulated an “open mind” to people and situations. This kind of sophisticated view is a desirable trait to adcoms.
  • Out-of-the-box theme Although this essay’s foundation is built on the writer’s sincere and dedicated aspirations for a medical career, they allowed themselves the space to write about the broadening intellectual benefits of travel, linking those benefits to professional potential. Even when writing about children working in a factory in Egypt, this applicant brings an expanded mind-set and greater cross-cultural understanding that will no doubt benefit them in their career.

Medical School Personal Statement Example #3: The Non-Traditional Applicant

"Modest one-room houses lay scattered across the desert landscape, their rooftops a seemingly helpless shield against the intense heat generated by the mid-July sun. The steel security bars that guarded the windows and doors of every house seemed to belie the large welcome sign at the entrance to the ABC Indian Reservation. As a young civil engineer employed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, I was far removed from my cubicle in downtown Los Angeles.

However, I felt I was well-prepared to conduct my first project proposal. The project involved a $500,000 repair of an earthen levee surrounding an active Native American burial site. A fairly inexpensive and straightforward job by federal standards, but nonetheless, I could hardly contain my excitement. Strict federal construction guidelines laden with a generous portion of technical jargon danced through my head as I stepped up to the podium to greet the twelve tribal council members. My premature confidence quickly disappeared as they confronted me with a troubled ancient gaze. Their faces revealed centuries of distrust and broken government promises.

Suddenly, from a design based solely upon abstract engineering principles, an additional human dimension emerged – one for which I had not prepared. The calculations I had crunched over the past several months and the abstract engineering principles simply no longer applied. Their potential impact on this community was clearly evident in the faces before me. With perspiration forming on my brow, I decided I would need to take a new approach to salvage this meeting. So I discarded my rehearsed speech, stepped out from behind the safety of the podium, and began to solicit the council members’ questions and concerns. By the end of the afternoon, our efforts to establish a cooperative working relationship had resulted in a distinct shift in the mood of the meeting. Although I am not saying we erased centuries of mistrust in a single day, I feel certain our steps towards improved relations and trust produced a successful project.

I found this opportunity to humanize my engineering project both personally and professionally rewarding. Unfortunately, experiences like it were not common. I realized early in my career that I needed a profession where I could more frequently incorporate human interaction and my interests in science. After two years of working as a civil engineer, I enrolled in night school to explore a medical career and test my aptitude for pre-medical classes. I found my classes fascinating and became a more effective student. Today, I am proud of the 3.7 GPA I have achieved in competitive post-baccalaureate courses such as organic chemistry, biochemistry, and genetics.

Confident of my ability to succeed in the classroom, I proceeded to volunteer in the Preceptorship Program at the Los Angeles County/University of Southern California Medical Center. I acquired an understanding of the emotional demands and time commitment required of physicians by watching them schedule their personal lives around the needs of their patients. I also soon observed that the rewards of medicine stem from serving the needs of these same patients. I too found it personally gratifying to provide individuals with emotional support by holding an elderly woman’s hand as a physician drew a blood sample or befriending frightened patients with a smile and conversation.

To test my aptitude for a medical career further, I began a research project under the supervision of Dr. John Doe from the Orthopedic Department at Big University. The focus of my study was to determine the fate of abstracts presented at the American Society for Surgery of the Hand annual meeting. As primary author, I reported the results in an article for the Journal of Hand Surgery, a peer-reviewed publication. My contribution to medicine, albeit small, gave me much satisfaction. In the future, I would like to pursue an active role in scientific research.

My preparation for a career as a medical doctor started with my work as a professional engineer. From my experiences at the ABC Indian Reservation, I realized I need more direct personal interaction than engineering offers. The rewarding experiences I have had in my research, my volunteer work at the Los Angeles County Hospital, and my post-bac studies have focused my energies and prepared me for the new challenges and responsibilities that lie ahead in medicine."

Lessons From Med School Sample Essay #3: The Non-Traditional Applicant

Here, an older applicant takes advantage of their experience and maturity. Note how this engineer demonstrates their sensitivity and addresses possible stereotypes about engineers’ lack of communications skills.

What works well in this essay?

  • A compelling lead This story begins in a hot desert landscape, an unexpected and dramatic starting point. Can’t you just feel the heat and sense the loneliness of the remote Indian reservation? Equally powerful in this first paragraph is when the writer faces the need to suddenly and completely rethink their carefully planned approach to address the tribal leaders. Their excitement is dashed. Their confidence has plummeted. They are totally unprepared for the mistrust facing them and their plan, and they need to improvise –quickly. Who wouldn’t want to read on to see how they resolve this dramatic turn of events?
  • Solid storytelling that leads to a satisfying conclusion This nontraditional med school applicant reinvents themself in this essay. After realizing that they want more human involvement and interaction in their work, they take this self-knowledge and show us the steps they took to achieve their new goal. The steps are logical and well thought out, so the writer’s conclusion that they are well prepared in every way for med school makes perfect sense.
  • Evidence to support their theme Through taking prerequisite courses in medicine (and achieving high grades) to bedside hospital volunteering (which provides emotional satisfaction) to helping write a medical research paper (which provides a feeling that they are making a meaningful contribution), the writer offers evidence that they are well suited for their new goal of a career in medicine. Each experience shared is relevant to the writer’s story. Any reader will agree that the applicant’s future as a physician is promising.
  • A thoughtful perspective From the opening paragraph, the writer shows their ability to adapt to new situations and realities with quick thinking and psychological openness. They assess each stage of their journey, testing it for intellectual value and emotional satisfaction. Journeys of reflective self-discovery are something adcoms value.

Medical School Personal Statement Example #4: The Anthropology Student

"Crayfish tails in tarragon butter, galantine of rabbit with foie gras, oxtail in red wine, and apple tartelettes. The patient had this rich meal and complained of “liver upset” (crise de foie). Why a liver ache? I always associate indigestion with a stomach ache. In studying French culture in my Evolutionary Psychology class, I learned that when experiencing discomfort after a rich meal, the French assume their liver is the culprit. Understanding and dealing with the minor – sometimes major – cultural differences is a necessity in our shrinking world and diverse American society. Anthropology has prepared me to effectively communicate with an ethnically diverse population. My science classes, research, and clinical experience have prepared me to meet the demands of medical school.

I first became aware of the valuable service that physicians provide when I observed my father, a surgeon, working in his office. I gained practical experience assisting him and his staff perform various procedures in his outpatient center. This exposure increased my admiration for the restorative, technological, and artistic aspects of surgery. I also saw that the application of medical knowledge was most effective when combined with compassion and empathy from the health care provider.

While admiring my father’s role as a head and neck surgeon helping people after severe accidents, I also found a way to help those suffering from debilitating ailments. Working as a certified physical trainer, I became aware of the powerful recuperative effects of exercise. I was able to apply this knowledge in the case of Sharon, a 43-year-old client suffering from lupus. She reported a 200% increase in her strength tests after I trained her. This meant she could once again perform simple tasks like carrying groceries into her house. Unfortunately, this glimpse of improvement was followed by a further deterioration in her condition. On one occasion, she broke down and cried about her declining health and growing fears. It was then that I learned no physical prowess or application of kinesiology would alleviate her pain. I helped reduce her anxiety with a comforting embrace. Compassion and understanding were the only remedies available, temporary though they were.

To confirm that medicine is the best way for me to help others, I assisted a research team in the Emergency Room at University Medical Center (UMC). This experience brought me in direct contact with clinical care and provided me with the opportunity to witness and participate in the “behind-the-scenes” hospital operations. Specifically, we analyzed the therapeutic effects of two new drugs – Drug A and Drug B – in patients suffering from acute ischemic stroke. The purpose of this trial was to determine the efficacy and safety of these agents in improving functional outcome in patients who had sustained an acute cerebral infarction. My duties centered around the role of patient-physician liaison, determining patients’ eligibility, monitoring their conditions, and conducting patient histories.

I continued to advance my research experience at the VA Non-Human Primate Center. During the past year, I have been conducting independent research in endocrinology and biological aspects of anthropology. For this project, I am examining the correlation between captive vervet monkeys’ adrenal and androgen levels with age, gender, and various behavioral measures across different stress-level environments. I enjoy the discipline and responsibility which research requires, and I hope to incorporate it into my career.

Anthropology is the study of humans; medicine is the science and art of dealing with the maintenance of health and the prevention, alleviation, or cure of disease in humans. From my work at UMC and my observation of my father’s practice, I know medicine will allow me to pursue an art and science that is tremendously gratifying and contributes to the welfare of those around me. My anthropology classes have taught me to appreciate cross-cultural perspectives and their relationship to pathology and its etiology. Firsthand experience with exercise therapy and nutrition has taught me the invaluable role of prevention. Medical school will now provide me with the technical knowledge to alleviate a crise de foie."

[ Click here to view an excerpt from the original draft of this essay. ]

Lessons From Medical School Sample Essay #4: The Anthropology Student

With a diverse background that includes anthropology studies, work as a certified physical trainer, and experience in clinical medical research, this applicant builds a strong case for their logical and dedicated choice of a medical career.

  • An engaging opening that frames the storyline This writer cleverly uses an example from anthropology class, linking the description of a heavy, gourmet French meal to an appreciation for cross-cultural understanding that will be an asset during their medical career. Notice that the writer is not describing their own personal experience here but piggybacked on a class lesson to create a colorful, engaging opening.
  • A solid variety of relevant experiences In this six-paragraph essay, the writer links their lessons from anthropology studies to a firsthand understanding based on observing how their surgeon-father related to patients, to becoming a physical trainer directly helping others, and then to two different kinds of medical research. Each experience builds logically and chronologically on what came before, adding to the substance of the applicant’s preparation for medical school.
  • A powerful personal experience with a client In the third paragraph, the writer’s experience working with a patient with lupus is particularly strong and memorable. Their initial success with Sharon is followed by an almost immediate and radical decline in her condition. This is a moving anecdote that shows the applicant’s understanding of the limitations of medicine – and the power of compassion.
  • An excellent summary paragraph that ties everything together The final paragraph isn’t the place to offer new information, and this one doesn’t. Instead, it reminds the reader about the strong foundation the writer built from academics to career and medical research. Readers will be persuaded that after these experiences and reflections, the applicant truly appreciates “cross-cultural perspectives and their relationship to pathology and its etiology,” as well as the “firsthand experience with exercise therapy and nutrition teaching the invaluable role of prevention.”

Don’t Write Like This!

As the time approached for me to set my personal and professional goals, I made a conscientious decision to enter a field which would provide me with a sense of achievement and, at the same time, produce a positive impact on mankind. It became apparent to me that the practice of medicine would fulfill these objectives. In retrospect, my ever-growing commitment to medicine has been crystallizing for years. My intense interest in social issues, education, and athletics seems particularly appropriate to this field and has prepared me well for such a critical choice...

I’ve been asked many times why I wish to become a physician. Upon considerable reflection, the thought of possessing the ability to help others provides me with tremendous internal gratification and offers the feeling that my life’s efforts have been focused in a positive direction. Becoming a physician is the culmination of a lifelong dream, and I am prepared to dedicate myself, as I have in the past, to achieving this goal.

Lessons from Don’t Write Like This

This is an excerpt from the original draft of the Anthropology Student’s AMCAS essay. We are not including the whole thing because you can get the idea all too rapidly from just this brief portion. Note the abundant use of generalities that apply to the overwhelming majority of medical school applicants. Observe how the colorless platitudes and pomposity hide any personality. Can you imagine reading essays like this all day long? If so, then imagine your reaction to a good essay.

More sample essays

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Med school personal statement FAQs

1. when should i start writing my personal statement for medical school.

Typically, traditional applicants who have a goal of submitting their AMCAS or AACOMAS application in June write their personal statement after they take the MCAT in March. Starting the prewriting for the personal statement earlier than that is fine too; however, if an applicant plans to sit for the MCAT in the early spring, writing a compelling personal narrative while preparing for the MCAT can often be too much. Both require very different kinds of thinking. The intensity of studying for the MCAT, and the empirical thinking it requires, can interfere with the imaginative brainstorming needed to find your topic and develop it.  

Before focusing on the personal statement, look at all the elements of the primary application. As a whole, the personal statement, activities, MMEs, MCAT, transcript, biographical information and letters, will portray you. One element alone is not enough to bring out the whole you. It might help to strategize about how (and where) to highlight different elements of your background, experience, and character in the different parts of the primary application. Then work on the personal statement knowing what aspects of you are already represented in the other sections of the application. This way, each element adds value to the application and contributes to a more complete picture of you.

It makes sense to compartmentalize completing different parts of the application. Many applicants take the time they need to focus on one application component at a time, which seems to help them be thorough. 

Don’t underestimate how much time it takes to write well. Exploring ideas in writing, developing those ideas, showing rather than telling a story, staying clear, writing fluidly, surmising maturely and insightfully, takes much more time than most people anticipate. So, don’t wait until Memorial Day to write your essay and intend to submit on June 1. Give yourself the churn time writing well needs. Also, give yourself time to put a draft down for a day or two and return to it when you’re able to read it afresh. Sometimes, we revise over and over again in one sitting to the point that we can no longer hear the story or its sense because we have been rehearsing and revising a draft to beat the clock. Doing this is a risky way to go about the personal statement. Remember, this essay should be a very impressive part of your application, not merely one more part of the application to finish. At the end of the day, the medical school personal statement is a window that allows others to see you, know you as a person, know you better and beyond your achievements.

2. How do I find the perfect personal statement topic? Does one exist?

Certainly, some ideas are better than others, and one idea might work better for one person and not so well for someone else. However, there is no “perfect” topic. In fact, writing an essay with the approach of trying to out-psych this important application requirement is likely not the strongest way to find your best topic, nor is it the best way to engage your readers. 

Instead, consider the following approach. What is an experience you’ve had that matters greatly in helping others understand who you are as a future physician? Why medicine, not in general, but for you, demonstrated by way of a story about an experience that directly ties to being a physician or indirectly demonstrates your sound character as it corresponds with human qualities medical schools desire. When we read what kinds of people medical schools seek, it’s easy enough to identify quite a few character traits that appeal to many schools: compassion, resiliency, adaptability, selflessness, inclusivity, and altruism among them. What experience, when written with key details and description, reveals who you really are?

3. How do you choose the right amount of personal qualities to list?

A strong medical school personal statement should not replicate other parts of the application, with the exception of it being a specific story that stems from a particular experience associated with one of your activities. Otherwise, there’s no listing in this essay. Unfortunately, some applicants do treat the personal statement as an opportunity to list awards, accolades, and experiences, paragraph by paragraph. Meanwhile, medical school admissions officers can see these awards and experiences in the Experiences section of the application. Rarely, if ever, does this kind of writing bring out voice, vision and identity. Instead, tell a true story, revised with care and precision, that shines with voice, vision and identity.

4. Are there any topics I should avoid for my medical school personal statement?

Certainly, one idea might work better for one person and not so well for someone else. So, there’s a subjectivity in what to write and what not to write. Generally, however, there are some topics to avoid. Don’t write about a time you felt cheated, inconvenienced, frustrated or angry. Sometimes, secondary essay prompts will ask you about a struggle or a mistake, and for these answers, it’s best to show how you turned the situation around or keenly learned from it. Don’t get too caught in childhood. Many applicants do write about a time when they were not yet grown; however, don’t get swallowed by it. Write the scene and then stay in the present to demonstrate your maturity and worthwhile hindsight.

Remember -- no matter what the topic, tone matters. 

5. What kind of experience should I include in my personal statement?

6. can the experience i use on my med school personal statement be from outside of college.

Absolutely. It is relatively common for applicants to only portray themselves as students, and this can be a problem. Sometimes, when applicants write about themselves as excellent students the tone of such a personal statement can sound boastful or pleading. Neither quality is advantageous. 

Seeing oneself in any other light can result in a stronger “snapshot” of who you are, as long as the theme or topic of your personal statement still suits the intention of the application in the first place – demonstrating who you are as an appealing candidate for medical school. When we consider the writing task for the personal statement to be much more story-driven, readers go on a descriptive journey. What journey would you like to share?

7. Should I talk about challenges I’ve faced?

If other parts of your medical school application suggest a struggle – whether a lower MCAT score or a notable weak semester on a transcript – it might be advantageous to explain what happened and how you turned that situation around. Whether writing about a challenge in the personal statement or secondaries, the key is to demonstrate resilience. Applicants with physical or cognitive disabilities may choose to write about seeking assistance -- whether a doctor, therapist or a tutor -- and how learning alternative strategies helped them figure out how to attain higher academic achievement. 

Sometimes challenges are circumstantial. Sometimes families face financial hardship (did the family breadwinner become unemployed and therefore everyone else had to work more hours, including you?), emotional stress (due to an ongoing illness, Covid-19, or a divorce?) or trauma (a death of a loved one, a house fire, a veteran/sibling returning home with PTSD). Sometimes an applicant has been a caregiver for someone in the family. Sometimes an applicant has taken a leave from school because of someone else’s struggles, or the emotional fallout on the applicant from someone else’s struggle – the loss of a childhood friend, for instance. Self-care is reasonable. We might need to share a life moment in order to frame the context of a life struggle, showing it in the context of responsibility rather than recklessness or immaturity. Showing how you stepped up in a challenging time can show that you are accountable and caring, as long as the story is told to these ends, rather than suggesting resentment or self-pity. Again, neither of these tones is advantageous, nor is blame. 

Occasionally applicants have been challenged by a course or by a professor, a classmate or teammate and feel unduly subjected to bias. If there’s discrimination involved, that might be a story to tell. If there’s a personality clash, that might not be a good story to tell. 

Finally, as any story of challenge moves along, it’s important to demonstrate what you did, what you learned, how you adapted, or what you now value from having had this life experience that you did not understand before. 

Being a doctor is rife with challenges. In the end, your readers may come to understand how you are an insightful leader with great resilience or a compassionate, problem-solver.

8. How do I focus my personal statement to show that I want to go into medicine and not another field in healthcare?

Great question. On the one hand, it’s a good idea to demonstrate your compassion for others and empathy for people suffering from illness. On the other hand, these are favorable attributes for nearly all healthcare workers -- not only doctors -- but for physician assistants, nurses, respiratory therapists, social workers and psychologists too. Since most applicants have done some shadowing of physicians, it’s not unusual for these experiences to contain moments of learning about being a physician through shadowing or through work in a clinic. However, the more clinical the story, the better especially if you’re applying to osteopathic schools of medicine. If you’re applying to allopathic schools of medicine, it’s possible you have some interest in being a researcher, so telling a story about working in a physician’s lab might demonstrate your insights into the value of research in light of disease or patient care. If you already have an affinity for a specialty, telling how you came to know this could be the way to go.

9. Do I introduce my desired field of healthcare in my personal statement?

Maybe. If you’re very committed and have demonstrated a trend in your activities from general volunteer work (older listings) to more specialized experience in a field of medicine (more recent listings), it may be a good idea to write up how you came to know one field of medicine was really your passion. 

Bear in mind that announcing a deep interest in a particular field of medicine may make you “a good fit” or “not a good fit” for some schools. So, if you do write up a story about your desired field of medicine for your personal statement, be sure your list of schools corresponds with this. For instance, if you want to be an obstetrician and you convey this in your personal statement, be certain your schools have clinical exposure or better yet offer specializations in obstetrics, or a required rotation through a hospital for women, for instance.

Lastly, by no means must you announce a desired field of healthcare in your personal statement. You may be asked about your specialized interests in medicine in a secondary or in an interview, so it’s a good idea to think this through, but no, you don’t have to tackle this in the personal statement.

10. What should my character limit be? 

The AMCAS and AACOMAS character limit for the personal statement is 5,300 characters with spaces. The TMDSAS character limit for the personal statement is 5,000 characters with spaces. It’s a good idea to use most if not all of this space for your personal statement. Also, try to avoid the temptation to use the same personal statement for AMCAS and AACOMAS. The osteopathic schools seek applicants who know and prefer an osteopathic orientation to medicine, so the AACOMAS personal statement should demonstrate your fit with osteopathic medicine, based on what story you choose to tell and how you tell it, or at the very least, in the conclusion.

11. How do I know when I’m ready to submit my med school personal statement?

I highly recommend getting feedback about this from a strong mentor, advisor or consultant. Accepted offers comprehensive consultation for every part of the writing process, from brainstorming, to outlining, to mentoring on ideas, and editing until a client has a solid final draft in hand, ready for submission. You can review these services here: Initial Essay Package

Generally speaking, when you’ve accomplished FAQ #2 and #3, avoided the pitfalls in #4, revised for clarity and quality of ideas, developed ideas engagingly, and meticulously revised for quality of writing, then, you may be done.

12. What if I don’t have enough space to discuss everything?

Then your topic is too large or unfocused, in which case you need to focus and narrow the scope of your essays. Or you have a bit of editing to do to eliminate wordiness, digressions, or overstatement Ultimately, you want your essay to be focused, clear, and engaging.

13. Should I personalize my personal statement to the med school I am applying to?

Only if you’re applying to one medical school. Otherwise, your personal statement will reach all schools listed in your AMCAS application or AACOMAS application. It is okay, however, to speak toward the ideals of your first choice, aspirational schools on your list. Other times, applicants choose to write toward the schools that are their safest bets. 

Your secondary/supplemental essays will give you plenty of opportunity to show you belong at an individual school.

14.  Can I talk about mental or physical health in my statement?

15. should i address any bad grades that i got in school.

Generally yes, as long as bad grades are truly bad grades. It’s likely that you do not need to address a rogue grade of B on a transcript. If you had a bad semester or two, the question becomes how and where to address them. The answer is an individual one dependent on the context. The one certainty: You definitely don’t want your entire application to be a rationalization of those bad grades. 

See FAQ #7. 

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Cover Letter for Admission to Medical School/ College

Sample Cover Letter for Admission to Medical School/ College/University. Application letter for medical school sample. Cover letter for medical school application.

Cover Letter for Admission to Medical School

To, The admission office, Kings medical college

Respected sir,

With due respect, I am writing this letter to inform you that I have successfully completed college with A+ grades, and my subjects were Sciences. I have applied to your college, and keeping in mind the previous merit I expect a seat in this year’s batch. Please find attached documents along with my result card.

I shall be highly overwhelmed to be a part of your prestigious college as it is my dire wish to become a doctor and serve the community. Thanks

Yours sincerely,

Mr. Foley Sam

Cover Letter for Admission to Medical College

To Cent Marry High School/ collage, New York, USA

I wanted to be a doctor. I was looking for admission to medical college, so I wanted to choose the best college in town. I read in the newspaper that this institute has an opening spot for medical students.

I have just completed my high school in sciences with biology, chemistry, and physics. I have achieved an A grade in all my subjects. I have won gold medals in my school and in all education departments.

It will be an honor for me to take admitted to your medical college. I have attached all my necessary documents at the end of this letter.

Hope you will find it achieve, and will also allow me to take admitted to this medical college.

Thank you for your time.

Sarah Mathew.

Application Letter for Admission into Medical School

Dear Head of School,

I am writing to you because I would love to be a student at your medical school. Your medical school is the best in the country, and I have the passion to become a doctor. I have just finished my medical course at my college, and I want to go into the science of medicine, and medical procedures in more depth, and detail.

Just like my mother, and my older sister became a doctor, and nurses it is in my blood. I like helping people, and what is better than helping people than saying to them “You are going to live” because you saved their life? I want to help, and if I could make a difference in one person’s life then I am happy.

So please give me the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in your school. Many thanks

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cover letter for medical school admission

Tips for Asking for a Medical School Letter of Recommendation

The following piece was written by Dr. Michelle Finkel. Michelle has been featured in our  Admissions Expert series  and is a former Harvard Medical School faculty member. She is the founder of Insider Medical Admissions.

This is my second blog entry in a series on actions you can take immediately to help you obtain strong letters of recommendation (LORs). The first entry describes two initial strategies for improving your medical school letter of recommendation process. Today I’ll pursue the LOR topic further, specifically advising you how to positively influence the content of your LORs.

As a Harvard Assistant Residency Director, I bore witness to how weak – or even mediocre – LORs had the potential to bomb an otherwise competitive candidacy. Once you’ve followed directions and asked the right people (see my previous entry), it’s time to influence the content of your letters by making the job of letter writing easy.  

Let's Give Them Something to Talk About -Bonnie Raitt  

When pre-meds, residents, nurses, and physician colleagues asked me to write them LORs when I was Assistant Residency Director, the first thing I requested was that they send me background information to make my letter robust…and my job easier. Accordingly, I strongly recommend you create a “LOR packet,” which can include the following: 1. A brief, well-written cover letter defining all of your important accomplishments 2. Your curriculum vitae (CV) 3. Your personal statement in its final form 4. Your transcripts.

With regard to the cover letter, keep it streamlined. No one will skip the beach or her two-year old’s birthday party to read your exhaustive biography, so you want to thank the writer and highlight your pre-professional achievements in one page. The point of the cover letter is to supplement a letter writer’s knowledge of your candidacy and offer flattering content for inclusion. A professor may know that you made the only A in an organic chemistry class, but her LOR will be more complete, and she will demonstrate a more intimate familiarity with you if she knows enough to write that you volunteer regularly at a homeless shelter. 

With regard to the CV and personal statement, these make useful supplements to the LOR packet only if they are in professional and final form. Don’t include rough drafts, as poorly organized background information leaves your writer the impression that you are a disorganized person. Also, only include the transcript if it bolsters your candidacy, demonstrating academic achievement. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot if you have some bad grades or an incomplete you’d rather not showcase.

Bottom line: An applicant who offered me a list of her accomplishments in a tidy, accessible package was more likely to get a strong, comprehensive letter that was submitted promptly. She also distinguished herself from the majority of candidates who requested letters without demonstrating a comparably sophisticated understanding of the demands this process made on my time. If you can make a letter writer's job easier, your forethought is likely to pay dividends in the letter your receive. This is not a court of law, so the savvy applicant can take subtle advantage of her ability to "lead the witness."

 Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I'm Yours - Stevie Wonder In addition to making your writer’s life easier with a LOR packet, you can improve your writer’s attitude and speed by making the process of submitting your letter easy: Ensure that you don’t leave your letter writer to figure out where to send the completed LOR.

Your medical school recommenders have several options for submitting their letters to the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS). You want to make the process as convenient as possible for the writers, and different faculty members may have different preferences, so offer each writer all feasible alternatives. If your letter writer plans to send the letter by postal service, provide her with a pre-addressed, stamped envelope. There is no worse party foul than asking someone to pick up the tab for the letter she is writing you as a favor. Below are the options. Note that your AAMC ID and AMCAS Letter ID (found on your Letter Request Form) are required, regardless of the means of submission: 1. AMCAS Letter Writer Application: This site enables letter writers to upload documents to AMCAS securely.

2. Interfolio: AMCAS can receive letters sent to Interfolio if the applicant is an Interfolio user or if the faculty member’s institution/organization uses the program.

3. Traditional post (i.e. snail mail):

AMCAS, attn: AMCAS Letters AAMC Medical School Application Services P.O. Box 18958 Washington, DC 20036

4. VirtualEvals (VE): VE is available to members of the National Association of Advisors for the Health Professions (NAAHP).

A savvy applicant recognizes that even the way in which one asks for a LOR has the potential to leave a favorable impression on the writer if performed tactfully. The candidate who submits organized materials, provides supplementary information about her extracurriculars ("I knew she was a star in my chemistry class; I had no idea she also captained the tennis team and coordinated medical interpreters at the community clinic, too!"), and demonstrates the foresight to provide a stamped, pre-addressed envelope or explicit directions on how to submit a letter online can turn even the most overburdened professor into an enthusiastic supporter.

Visit  Insider Medical Admissions  for more information, or check out Dr. Finkel on  Facebook  and  Twitter .

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Varsity Tutors.

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Medical Cover Letter Samples: Access Our Well-Edited Examples

This document is as important as your GPA and MCAT scores when it comes to getting accepted into a med school. Given that level of significance, as a med school applicant, you must learn how to craft it well.

We provide you with medical cover letter samples to use as learning resources. You can access our examples 24/7/365 and learn how to craft the perfect request document for various top US universities. If you need professional editing of your cover letter besides the samples, our editing service is here to help.

How You Can Use Our Medical Cover Letter Samples

Now that you know the benefits of using a medical assistant cover letter example is important, how can you utilize our samples to succeed? Given that it is probably your first time writing an application to med school, you are prone to make numerous mistakes. But you can leverage a sample cover letter for medical assistant to study the structure and writing style you should use. An example will help you figure out how to begin your essay, keep it going, and end it. And of course, what length to adhere to.

You can also use our example to get a better idea of what information the med admission committees look for. Given the limited space you have to sell yourself, you could use an example to figure out what to include or leave out in your application. All in all, our samples can help you understand what makes a picture-perfect piece beyond the structure and formatting. Using a sample cover letter for resume medical assistant as a reference will give you a better idea of even the tone and language to use.

The key thing to note is that our samples are meant to be used as a reference. That is, a guide to help you navigate through writing your own unique admission request document. As such, copying what’s in a template and pass it on as your own will definitely lead to a rejected application.

Medical Cover Letter Example: Why Are Samples Important?

A medical cover letter example is an essential document for several reasons. For one, it helps you learn how you can communicate your intention to join a particular med school unequivocally. Samples will show you how you can customize your attributes with the following aspects of a specific institution:

  • Academic life
  • Student fraternity

Besides, a template will prove invaluable in helping you explain the negative aspects of your application. For instance, if your undergraduate GPA was average, a template on our site will teach you how to show this score as a positive learning experience. This way, you can showcase essential attributes such as determination and resilience to the admission panel.

Last but not least, our examples and medical assistant cover letter samples will teach you how to be concise. See, you do not want to craft an application with a lot of words but no meaning. Most of the time, doing this will get your application ignored over those that go straight to the point. Importantly, if you struggle with brevity, use any example to learn how to be good at it.

Get Your Well-Crafted Samples Quick & Easy

If you are looking for inspiration, guidance, or just a general idea of what to put in your med school application, our samples can help. Review any example here and get inspired to create your own. Want your essay to look as good as the samples you’ve seen here? Try our professional editing service to polish up your application.

A cover letter is a vital document that can help you showcase why you are the perfect fit for the program. A well-structured cover letter should highlight your strong points, significant career and life accomplishments. A cover letter is an exclusive and personal summary of your achievements and goals. Make sure it has a catchy introduction, specific body paragraphs and succinct conclusion. Check our sample and perfect your own medical cover letter.

cover letter for medical school admission

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Medical School Requirements + Prerequisites: The Ultimate Guide (2024-2025)

How to get into medical school. Medical school requirements

What medical school requirements and prerequisites do you need?

Discover medical school requirements and medical school prerequisites, which scholarly and extracurricular activities you need, and how to fulfill your premed requirements while standing out in the 2024-2025 medical school application process..

While official medical school requirements for every medical school are listed in the Medical School Admissions Requirements , there are common scholarly and extracurricular activities that medical school admissions committees want to see — discover what those medical school “requirements” are in this article.

Because the study of medicine requires a fundamental understanding of the sciences and mathematics. Therefore, medical school requirements are focused primarily on biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics . However, many medical schools also want to see that you have taken math and English.

Medical school admissions committees also need to be convinced that you understand what it means to practice medicine, work with people from different backgrounds, and be an effective member of a team among other attributes.

By reading this article, you will understand the academic, scholarly, and extracurricular medical school requirements so you will be well-positioned when you apply to medical school.

And, believe it or not, you can actually enjoy the process because it is that interesting and fun. Yes. FUN!

Table of Contents

College Requirements

To be eligible for a medical degree in the United States, you must have earned an undergraduate college degree before you start medical school. Many students ask if the undergraduate college status or prestige matter when it comes to medical school admissions. There is no clear “yes” or “no” answer to this question.

Some undergraduate colleges are especially prestigious or notoriously difficult and medical schools might consider this when evaluating a student’s GPA. In the same way, if a student attends a college that is considered easy, the GPA will be considered within that context.

For example, let’s say Student A went to a very prestigious college which is notorious for grade deflation and gives out very few As. She has a GPA of 3.45 with an upward trend. Now, let’s say student B went to a less prestigious college and earned a 4.0 GPA. Student A, depending on other factors such as the MCAT score and activities, might be considered a more competitive applicant than Student B who went to a much less rigorous undergraduate college.

The MCAT is really the great equalizer in this process. So, if Student A and Student B both earned a great MCAT, let’s say a 523, they would both be equally competitive assuming all other factors were equal.

Many students attend less competitive colleges for good reason and medical schools know this! There are also many prestigious college honors programs that medical school admissions committees consider quite impressive. A high GPA earned at ANY college is impressive especially if it’s matched strong course rigor and a high MCAT score.

Equally important to understand is that attending an “elite” college will not be your ticket to medical school. In fact, sometimes medical schools seem to expect more from student who attend elite colleges. This is anecdotal information based on our work with students in the most recent application season. 

The bottom line? You can get into medical school from any undergraduate institution as long as you do well academically and take advantage of the opportunities available to you.

Premedical Course Requirements

Medical school prerequisites may vary from med school to med school. However, the vast majority of medical schools have the following prerequisites:

  • Biology with lab (two semester sequence or three quarter sequence)
  • General chemistry with lab (two semester sequence or two quarter sequence)
  • Organic chemistry with lab (two semester sequence or two quarter sequence)
  • Physics with lab (two semester sequence or three quarter sequence)

Some medical schools also require the following prerequisites:

  • Mathematics : Calculus or statistics or college mathematics (two semesters or three quarters). About 60 medical schools require math.
  • Biochemistry (one semester or two/three quarters – depends on the school). About 60 medical schools require biochemistry. This number will likely increase every year.
  • English (two semesters or three quarters)
  • Statistics.  About 20 medical schools require statistics.
  • Social sciences (psychology, sociology, two semesters)

Keep in mind that many medical schools will not accept AP credit to satisfy requirements.

Medical School Prerequisites: What Must You Take?

To be safe, we recommend taking all of the coursework listed above. Keep in mind that all courses must be taken before you matriculate to medical school rather than before you actually apply.

In addition to the courses listed above, we recommend students take upper level science classes in any discipline.

Since medical school prerequisites differ, it is important to review each medical school’s required courses before you apply. We recommend taking all required courses at a four year university in the United States or a community college if this was part of your education path.

For the most up to date listing for specific medical school’s requirements, refer to this document from the Association of American Medical Colleges .

What is “competency-based” admissions?

More medical schools are moving towards “competency-based” admissions meaning those schools don’t require specific prerequisite, but, prefer to see competency in certain disciplines including biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, and the humanities.

However, until all medical schools move towards competency-based admissions, we suggest taking all of the traditional medical school prerequisites.

Will medical schools accept advanced placement (AP) credit?

Many students who take AP classes in high school “place out” of some required prerequisites in college. Not all medical schools will accept this AP credit however many will.

Therefore, is important to check with individual medical schools regarding specific requirements. I suggest that students seek out this information before starting their freshman year. I have worked with clients who placed out of biology and took chemistry instead. Not only did this make their college course load demanding as took upper level science classes from the start of college, but, some medical schools would not accept the AP biology credit.

To find out definitively what each medical school requires, refer to Medical School Admissions Requirements updated annually by the Association of American Medical Colleges .

Do medical schools accept community college classes and credits?

The majority of medical schools will accept community college credits. We advise students check the MSAR for specific requirements from each medical school. Medical school admissions committees understand there are many reasons students enroll in community college classes and these choices will be viewed within the context of your entire application.

Medical School Requirements and Staying Organized

Medical school requirements can seem daunting and you may feel overwhelmed thinking about everything you need to do and accomplish to be a competitive medical school applicant.

The good news? If you stay organized, don’t rush to accomplish everything too quickly, and work hard, you can (and will) get it all done! I did it (years ago) and thousands of our students have as well.

Having a medical school timeline based on whether or not you plan on taking a gap year (or two) will help you to keep on track and get all of the prerequisite courses you need.

Medical School Admissions Consulting and medical school consultant

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Medical School Major Requirement

Medical school applicants can select any premed major !

Applicants often ask me what major “looks good” on an application. My response is always “the one that interests you the most.” Double majoring or earning a minor does not improve one’s candidacy, overall.

Students can major in non-science disciplines. In fact, medical schools are always seeking applicants who are intellectually curious and diverse; they don’t want an entire class of biology and chemistry majors.

Regardless of your major, take upper division science classes to prove that you can perform well in them. The bottom line is you can major in any discipline or disciplines you want as a premedical student.

However, since your GPA matters so much in medical school admissions, ideally you should try to major in the discipline where you can earn the highest GPA.

For example, a Spanish major with a 3.9 overall GPA and a 3.7 BCPM GPA, will be just as competitive as a Biology major with same stats assuming the Spanish major enrolled in upper level science courses.

By the same token, an Applied Math major with a 3.5 overall GPA and 3.4 BCPM GPA might not be as competitive as the Spanish major with higher metrics.

Interestingly, in the most recent data available, humanities majors have the highest acceptance rates to medical school with more than 50% matriculating!

RELATED ARTICLE: The Best Premed Major for Medical School Admissions (2023-2024)

The Ultimate Guide Getting into Medical School ebook

Medical School GPA Requirements

The majority of medical schools will not disclose minimum GPA requirements. The average GPA for all medical school matriculants in 2022-2023 was 3.75 overall and a 3.68 BCPM at MD-granting schools in the U.S.

Many students ask us what GPA is “good enough” to get into medical school and this is a tough question to answer. Some medical schools screen applications based on minimum GPA requirements.

Obviously, the higher your GPA , the better. However, the general ballpark cut-off that medical schools use is an overall GPA of 3.5.

That said, schools also pay attention to grade trends. Many students do poorly early in college simply because they are not prepared for the academic course load and don’t have the maturity and time management and study skills to do well.

If you have an upward grade trend, medical schools may be willing to forgive a poor performance early in college. But, for the really competitive schools, academic excellence throughout college is essential.

How can you figure out if your GPA is competitive for a given medical school? We suggest reviewing the MSAR data and ensuring your GPA is in the middle 50th percentile or higher for the schools in which you are most interested.

Average GPAs for accepted students varies from medical school to medical school. The overall average GPA for students accepted to allopathic medical schools always hovers around 3.7.

Medical School MCAT Score Requirement

As mentioned earlier, MCAT scores allow medical schools to compare applicants from different undergraduate colleges.

The higher you score on the MCAT® the better. A composite score of 511 on the MCAT® is generally considered the score needed to gain admission to allopathic medical schools in the United States.

If you are applying to DO (osteopathic) medical schools, your MCAT does not need to be as high; an MCAT of 506 is competitive for osteopathic medical schools.

The maximum score a student can earn on the MCAT is 528. An outstanding MCAT score is 518 or above.

The overall average MCAT score for matriculants to allopathic medical schools in the United States has been steadily increasing:

  • 511.2 in 2018/2019
  • 511.5 in 2019/2020
  • 511.5 in 2021/2201
  • 511.9 in 2021/2022
  • 511.9 in 2022/2023

The most recent data shows an average MCAT score of 511.9 for students accepted to allopathic medical school with the following breakdown: 127.9 CPBS, 127 CARS, 128.2 BBLS, and 128.9 PSBB.

Most college students take the MCAT the summer after junior or senior year. When planning on your MCAT date, keep in mind that most medical schools accept scores that are up to two or three years old.

RELATED ARTICLE:  What MCAT Score Do You Need to Get Into Medical School (2023-2024)?

Be sure to carefully plan your medical school admissions timeline when deciding when to take the MCAT.

Medical School Extracurricular Requirements

When seeking out experiences, keep in mind what medical school admissions committees want to see in your candidacy:.

  • Commitment to medicine and scientific inquiry
  • Experience working with diverse populations
  • A commitment to advocacy and social justice
  • Commitment to altruistic endeavors
  • Intellectual curiosity
  • Exposure to clinical medicine
  • Excellent intra and interpersonal skills

See Medical School Core Competencies

Most medical schools, even those that are not major academic medical centers, want applicants to have research experience .

Most students engage in basic science research (either for credit, during the summer, or for employment) or clinical research.

However, research in other disciplines will also allow you to learn how to think critically, analyze data, evaluate the literature, solve problems, and ask and then answer a question through experimentation.

If you can’t find a basic science or clinical research experience , consider research in another discipline of interest – psychology, art history, anthropology – or whatever else piques your curiosity.

What you learn through research in any discipline can be applied to future research endeavors and help you to practice evidence based medicine. You will also be able to evaluate current studies, which will be necessary throughout your medical education, training, and career.

Medical schools are placing more and more value on the importance of scientific inquiry, analytical skills, and the ability to apply knowledge practically. Therefore, significant research experience will be more, and not less, important in coming years.

Social Justice and Advocacy Work (KEY FOR 2024-2025)

We saw medical schools, in 2022/2023, start to value work in social justice or advocacy. What does this mean exactly? We suggest that students be involved in work that shows an interest in combating inequities that exist in our society whether that be health care inequities, educational inequities, environmental inequities, or anything else.

Understanding the social determinants of health is also essential in today’s climate.

Volunteering and Community Service

Lending your services to help others in need is always a worthwhile endeavor.

Medical schools are seeking people who are compassionate, caring, and empathetic. Demonstrating these traits through community service or volunteer work is important. Medical schools also seek applicants who want to help others in need, including the underserved.

Physicians also play significant roles in their communities. Therefore, medical schools value students who demonstrate a commitment to serve their communities.

Service work can be performed in medical and non-medical settings, and both are considered desirable. As mentioned above, medical schools value volunteering in a free clinic, nursing home, hospital, or hospice. Spending time in non-clinical settings, such as a soup kitchen, a tutoring program, or helping to build homes for those who are less fortunate, also demonstrates a commitment to serve.

Shadowing/Exposure to Clinical Medicine

All medical schools want to see that you have varied clinical exposure.

This can take the form of doctor shadowing , volunteering in a free clinic, or working abroad in some capacity. Some applicants have difficulty getting accepted to medical school because they have no exposure to patient care.

We have found that in recent years medical schools are valuing hands-on clinical experience more rather than passive experiences such as shadowing. Even if you aren’t taking a gap year , consider scribing, working as an EMT or as a certified nursing assistant. Hands-on clinical experience is valued much more highly than passive experience such as shadowing.

If you have never set foot in a doctor’s office or a hospital it is tough to convince someone that you want to be a doctor. Admissions committees want to be sure that you understand what it means to practice medicine in a variety of settings.

I often suggest that students seek out shadowing experiences in emergency departments (EDs). I don’t this because I am an emergency physician but because emergency departments are open 24/7, are always busy, and have a variety of patients with varied clinical presentations. The key is to shadow a spectrum of specialists in different settings.

Other Extracurricular Activities

To show you are an interesting, curious and engaged person, you should ideally demonstrate other passions in the admissions process.

Medical schools want to have a group of diverse medical students so having other passions can be appealing.

Medical School Letter of Recommendation Requirements

Each medical school’s official letter of recommendation requirements vary. However, we suggest asking for letters from the following people to make the strongest letter portfolio

  • Medical school committee letter. If your school offers a committee letter, include that in your profile
  • Science Professors: Have at least one letter from a science professor. However, we recommend two science letters.
  • Math Professors: If you have only one science letter, be sure to also receive at least one math letter.
  • Liberal Arts Professor: Ideally, your letter profile should include one liberal arts professor.
  • Research Principal Investigator (PI): If you did research, try to get a letter from your PI.
  • Shadowing or Community Service Letter: These letters serve mostly as character reference letters, but, can add to your overall profile.

How do you complete the medical school application?

Most medical schools extend interviews on a rolling basis so it is extremely important to submit your medical school application as close to the application opening date as possible.

Ideally you should start working on your personal statement and work and activities entries by April.

All three application systems open in early May. AMCAS can be submitted in very late May/early June. Also be aware that AMCAS won’t verify your application until it receives all documentation. Application processing and verification can take up to six weeks. But, if you submit early, this processing often takes much less time.

The AMCAS application opens in early May. At that time you can enter all of your application information, request transcripts, and have letters of reference sent to AMCAS.

Submitting the earliest applications possible is of the utmost importance.

RELATED ARTICLE:  Best Medical School Application Timeline (2023 -2024)

Final thoughts

We realize that all for the medical school requirements you need to be competitive are daunting. So, stay organized, take it one day at a time, and it will all get done! If you need support along the way, we are here to help you.

Frequently asked questions

Are paid volunteer clinical trips worthwhile.

We discourage applicants from paying for clinical experience and “voluntourism” is something that was in vogue years ago. Unless you have a connection to the foreign country at which you are doing work, this will not be viewed favorably by admissions committees and could be interpreted as gratuitous and privileged. 

What about paid shadowing programs like the Atlantis fellowship?

We discourage applicants from paying for shadowing or observerships such as the Atlantis study abroad fellowship unless you are looking for a work vacation and have extra cash on hand. Atlantis “fellowships” start at $4,800 according to their website. Programs such as Atlantis are not highly respected by admissions committees and you are better of shadowing doctors in your community and learning about challenges facing people in the United States.

How many volunteering hours do I need for medical school?

We discourage applicants from trying to accumulate hours for the sake of your medical school candidacy. How many hours you have often depends on the value of an experience and the opportunity you have to make an impact through that experience. Once an experience becomes boring or if the experience dead ends, meaning that you cannot find anyway to learn something valuable from it or contribute in a meaningful way, it’s time to consider dropping the activity. MedEdits student who have been accepted to medical have had between 30 – 1000 hours of volunteer experience.

What is the best major for medical school?

As we have mentioned in this article, there is no “best major” for medical school. You should major in what interests you most. That said, if you major in a non science, be sure you take upper level science classes in additional to traditional prerequisites to show you can do well and that you have a solid foundation for medical school. Medical school admissions committees want to see mastery in whatever discipline you are interested in. Some students see college as the last opportunity to study a non-science discipline in depth and take advantage of that opportunity. Medical schools, which value intellectual curiosity, appreciate this. Based on the data, no specific major will increase your chances of medical school admission.

MedEdits Medical Admissions Founder and Chairwoman, Jessica Freedman, MD

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cover letter for medical school admission

Medical School Letter Templates

Whether You’re on the Waitlist for the Acceptance or Rejection of Your Admission to Become a Doctor, This Free Medical School Letter Template from Template.net is Ideal for Use! Our Templates are Useful for Both the Student and the Admins as They Won’t Have to Start from Scratch. You Can Just Update the Sample Format Available on Our Templates!

School Sports Program Brochure Template

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Studying medicine to become a doctor is a long journey. However, that journey always starts with writing a letter to universities expressing your intent to study medicine. Earn a slot in the medical school of your choice by using our Medical School Letter Templates ! The templates have original suggestive content and are ready for instant download. It's printable in A4 and US Letter Sizes, so you don't have to worry about printing it in different sizes. The templates are 100% customizable too. Get better and more amazing deals by signing up for our subscription plans now!

How to Write a Medical School Letter?

A medical school letter is a letter that students write to express their intent to study at a particular medical university . The 2018 Medical School Enrollment Survey said that 21,622 students enrolled in medical schools for the school year 2018-2019. Not all who apply for med school become blessed with an acceptance letter. So if you want to pursue your studies in the field of medicine, you need to write a formal letter to convince a medical school that you are deserving of attaining an education from them. While writing one may not be easy, we have a few tips below for you to follow.

1. Introduce Yourself

State your name and give a little background about you. Include the reason why you chose the school in your pursuit to study medicine. Thank the recipient for putting you on the waitlist. Make them know that you'd accept their offer to study in their institution if granted.

2. Explain Your Choice

The second paragraph should back up your choice. You can reveal your connection to a doctor working in their institution or how their mission aligns with your values. What you write here is up to you, as long as you get the acceptance that you need.

3. State What You Do

This part should further support your university choice. You can update the recipient with what you're currently doing. State some notable achievements in your undergraduate program. You can include volunteer work.

End your sample letter by providing your contact information. Remember to include your time of availability for the higher-ups of the institution to contact you.

5. One More Tip

Keep the tone of your writing professional and formal. Your letter could end up in your admission or rejection if you fail to check beyond its format.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the requests for applying in medical school.

In the USA, the requirements for applying in medical school are:

1. Extracurricular activities 2. Volunteer work 3. High school diploma 4. Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) results 5. Undergraduate GPA of 3.0 (minimum requirement) 6. Pre-medical courses 7. Knowledge in biology, chemistry, general physics, and mathematics

Is it easy to be a medical student?

Most of the time, it's not. While people might look up at you as a med student, being one entails hard work, multiple failures, endless nights of studying, and many more. 

What should you expect if you go to medical school?

A degree in medicine takes 4 years to complete. In the first two years, expect a combination of classroom and laboratory classes. The last two years allow a med student to experience the hospital work scenario. They assist residents in various tasks and they do it in rotations. 

What happens after you finish medical school?

After graduating from med school, you have to take the board exam and pass to get a license. Now you have the initials MD (Doctor of Medicine) to attach after your name.   

How long is residency?

Residency is typically 3 to 7 years long. It takes place after you pass the board exam. 

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Cover Letter for Admission to Medical College

Cover Letter for Admission to Medical College

This is a sample Cover Letter format for Admission to Medical School or College. Medical cover letters differ in different institutes. You have to show educational and financial background before admission. You can modify these formats as your requirement.]

Date…

The admission office,

Institute name…

Institute Address…

I wanted to be a doctor. I was looking for admission to medical college, so I wanted to choose the best college in town. I read in the newspaper (News source) that this institute has an opening spot for medical students.

I have just completed my high school in sciences with biology, chemistry, and physics. I have achieved A grade in all my subjects. I have won a gold medal in my school and in all education department. (Show if you have achievements).

It will be an honor for me to take admission in your medical college. I have attached all my necessary documents at the end of this letter.

Hope you will find it achieving and will also allow me to take admission in this medical college.

Thank you for your time.

Name…

Address…

Contact no…

Signature…

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7 Essential Tips on How to Format a Cover Letter

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7 Essential Tips on How to Format a Cover Letter was originally published on Resume.io .

cover letter for medical school admission

When you come to writing one of the most important letters in your life, you may need a few ground rules to help you to get started with the format of your cover letter.

That blank page can look awfully daunting otherwise.

Here are some must-follow tips around the structure and content of your cover letter:

Well-designed header

The header section of the cover letter should be attractive and space efficient. Graduates might be tempted to select a header design that reduces the amount of space that they need to fill for their cover letter, but you will have more to say than you think.

The header should contain all essential contact details (in addition to those on your resume) – full name, email, and mobile. You don’t have to include your full address and you definitely don’t have to include the “inside address” of your employer.

Mouthwatering intro

The intro of a recent grad or early career cover letter should be far more than a “this is what I want out of my career.” The hiring manager understands that you want the job – applicants need to prove to them that they are worthy of it. Make a compelling case.

The cover letter introduction should lead with your most relevant accomplishment for the role in question, with a hint of personality around how you achieved it. Avoid a generic cover letter that you send to everyone – you might not have much experience, but you should still strive to be as selective as possible.

Only relevant career stories with context

The length and content of your cover letter should be dictated by the amount of relevant experience that you have to share. Do not feel that you need to fill a page by parroting the responsibilities of the role or long lists of skills and personality traits without evidence.

Empty space is better than empty words – employers will value quality over quantity for the early career professional. What they want to understand in the cover letter is that you understand the demands of the role and can justify why you think you will do a good job.

Conclusion with call-to-action

End the conclusion of the early-career cover letter with a final detail about your personality and motivation and share your interest in learning more about the role. Saying that you hope to have the opportunity of an interview to learn more about the role is a powerful call-to-action which demonstrates your belief in yourself. Remember to keep the tone hopeful.

After the raw content come the syntax and visual choices:

Powerful action verbs

When you only have a certain number of sentences to create a favorable impression, your choice of verb can have a surprising impact on how your messages are received. Insightful action verbs can add a new level of meaning. Did you “manage” or “orchestrate” a project?

A word of warning: sprinkle action verbs and other buzzwords liberally. The cover letter should read like a conversation starter, so ensure that it sounds natural enough.

Impactful fonts, sensible sizes, and shot paragraphs

Increasingly the font size to take up more space on the page will fool no one. Stick with a standard 10 or 12 size and choose a suitable professional font that is easy to read.

Use short 2-4-line non-indented paragraphs and leave a line between each one. Give the reader a natural break between each of your career stories and consider using bullet points for your greatest accomplishments (the ones that you can ideally quantify with numbers). The cover letter should be strictly no more than one page – ideally aim for 3/4 of a page.

Right choice of template

Finally, very few cover letters or resumes are send as a blank word document these days. There are a wide choice of resume and cover letter templates – it is a great idea to use the same visual look for both your cover letter and resume. When a hiring manager is viewing a large number of candidates, this association will stick in their minds.

There is a subtle art to writing a persuasive cover letter when you do not have experience.

Strike a balance between outlining hopes for the future and sharing the greatest hits from your past. Your future employer will want to understand both.

If you are curious to explore further (you should be), the following article from Resume.io provides substantial further food for thought: “ How to Format a Cover Letter in 2022: Examples and Tips ”

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COMMENTS

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    Part 1: Introduction to medical school letters of intent and letters of interest. You can find countless articles online discussing how to write a great medical school personal statement, how to ace your interviews, and pretty much every other medical school admissions topic.. However, very few of these articles address one of the hardest parts of the med school application process: waiting.

  2. How to Write a Medical School Letter of Intent

    Your medical school letter of intent needn't be verbose; it should be a brief (500-600 word, or roughly 1 page) document. If you've interviewed at a school that is truly your #1 school, writing a letter of this kind allows you to show the school that you are a serious and enthusiastic candidate. Typically, this type of document is prepared ...

  3. The Anatomy of a Letters to Medical School Admission

    Anatomy of an Update Letter: Dear [Dr. Dean of Admissions]: Paragraph 1. My name is [Awesome Applicant], AAMC ID 12345678, and I am writing to provide an additional update to my medical school application for the Fall of 2018. Keep this first line simple and to the Let them know exactly why you are contacting them.

  4. Letter of Intent for Medical School: Example & Guide

    432 Fleet Road. New York City, NY 10001. Dear Mrs. Acaster, My name is Emma Garfield, and I have applied to Hippocrates NY Medical School. After my interview that took place on October 2, 2022, with Mr Kevin Flint, I would like to communicate officially that your institution is a medical school of my first choice.

  5. How to Craft the Perfect Medical School Letter of Intent

    The purpose of a medical school letter of intent is to very clearly express your intention to attend your #1 choice medical school, should they send you an offer of admission. It should also reiterate why you want to attend the school. A letter of intent can be a strong addition to your application at your top choice of medical school.

  6. Writing a Letter of Interest or Intent in Medical School

    Personalization is critical when writing a letter of interest. Address the letter specifically to the admissions committee or the person in charge of admissions. Avoid generic salutations like "To Whom It May Concern.". Research the program thoroughly and mention why you are interested in attending their medical school.

  7. Pre Med Cover Letter: Tips & Example

    As a pre med student, you might find yourself applying to medical research or volunteer positions that ask you to submit a cover letter along with your pre med resume.. While writing a pre med cover letter may seem intimidating at first, they have a straightforward format and are a great opportunity for you to advocate for why you are the most qualified applicant to fill an organization's needs.

  8. 2024 Medical School Letters of Recommendation Guide

    Letters of recommendation are vital to an effective and successful medical school application. They provide a respected professional's opinion of you, as opposed to your own claims or the opinion of a biased friend or relative. A quality letter from a professor at an academic institution or someone who works with students through ...

  9. Medical School Letter of Recommendation: The Ultimate Guide ...

    Medical schools have slightly different requirements, but, generally speaking, you will need to have a minimum of three school recommendation letters which must include two science letters. Most medical school applicants send in four to five letters of evaluation. AMCAS allows students to send in a maximum of ten letters of reference.

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    2. Create a letterhead. Once you decide to write a recommendation letter, begin formatting the document. This includes creating a letterhead with your name and contact information. It's also helpful to include the date you are writing the article. If applicable, include the logo for the organization where you work.

  11. How to Submit a Strong Medical School Letter of Recommendation

    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.

  12. 3 Medical School Personal Statement Examples To Help You

    A medical school personal statement is a document that medical school applicants may use as a reference when writing to explain their desire to pursue medical school. Typically, the admission service provides a broad prompt ‌that applicants respond to in their statements. While some schools may request an additional essay detailing your ...

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    Letter of Recommendation Sample from a Non-Science Professor. Letter of Recommendation Sample from a Research Supervisor: Letter of Recommendation Sample from an Extracurricular Advisor: Letter of Recommendation from a Physician/Employer Sample: Follow-up Letter Samples. Sample 1: Sample 2: Thank You Letter Samples. Sample 1:

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  15. Medical School Recommendation Letters Ultimate Guide

    Most medical schools in the US and medical schools in Canada ask for at least 3 letters of recommendation. Some schools may ask for 4 or 5. The number will depend on your choice of schools, whether you are a non-traditional applicant, and other factors. Be sure to check this information with each school.

  16. Cover Letter For Admission To Medical School- College

    "I am writing to express my strong and genuine interest in gaining admission to [Medical School Name] for the upcoming academic year. My lifelong passion for medicine, coupled with my [unique background/experiences], has led me to pursue a career in healthcare, and I believe that [Medical School Name] offers the ideal environment for me to achieve my goal of becoming a dedicated and ...

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    Med School Personal Statement Consultant Dr. Mary Mahoney. T his med school essay advice is written by Dr. Mary Mahoney, Ph.D. who has over 20 years of experience as an advisor and essay reviewer for med school applicants. She is a tenured English Professor with an MFA in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College and a PhD in Literature and Writing from the University of Houston.

  18. Cover Letter for Admission to Medical School/ College

    Cover Letter for Admission to Medical School. To, The admission office, Kings medical college. Respected sir, With due respect, I am writing this letter to inform you that I have successfully completed college with A+ grades, and my subjects were Sciences. I have applied to your college, and keeping in mind the previous merit I expect a seat in ...

  19. Tips for Asking for a Medical School Letter of Recommendation

    The following piece was written by Dr. Michelle Finkel. Michelle has been featured in our Admissions Expert series and is a former Harvard Medical School faculty member. She is the founder of Insider Medical Admissions. This is my second blog entry in a series on actions you can take immediately to help you obtain strong letters of recommendation (LORs).

  20. Medical Cover Letter Samples: Access Our Well-Edited Examples

    Medical School Cover Letter. A cover letter is a vital document that can help you showcase why you are the perfect fit for the program. A well-structured cover letter should highlight your strong points, significant career and life accomplishments. A cover letter is an exclusive and personal summary of your achievements and goals.

  21. Medical School Requirements: The Ultimate Guide (2024-2025)

    The maximum score a student can earn on the MCAT is 528. An outstanding MCAT score is 518 or above. The overall average MCAT score for matriculants to allopathic medical schools in the United States has been steadily increasing: 511.2 in 2018/2019. 511.5 in 2019/2020. 511.5 in 2021/2201. 511.9 in 2021/2022.

  22. 10 Tips for a Successful Application to a Medical School

    Medical schools generally look for GPAs of 3.7 for MD programs, 3.5 for DO programs, and 3.4 for other health-related fields. ... The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is a critical component of your application. Aim for a score that meets or exceeds the average for accepted students, typically around 508. ... Seek Strong Letters of ...

  23. FREE Medical School Letter Templates

    The 2018 Medical School Enrollment Survey said that 21,622 students enrolled in medical schools for the school year 2018-2019. Not all who apply for med school become blessed with an acceptance letter. So if you want to pursue your studies in the field of medicine, you need to write a formal letter to convince a medical school that you are ...

  24. Cover Letter for Admission to Medical College

    This is a sample Cover Letter format for Admission to Medical School or College. Medical cover letters differ in different institutes. You have to show educational and financial background before admission. You can modify these formats as your requirement.] Date… The admission office, Institute name… Institute Address… Sir, I wanted to be ...

  25. 7 Essential Tips on How to Format a Cover Letter

    Finally, very few cover letters or resumes are send as a blank word document these days. There are a wide choice of resume and cover letter templates - it is a great idea to use the same visual look for both your cover letter and resume. When a hiring manager is viewing a large number of candidates, this association will stick in their minds.