If you’re applying to medical school, you may have heard of a medical school letter of intent. This blog will help you understand what this document is, what its purpose is, and the fundamentals of writing a letter of intent that is persuasive, specific, and eye-catching. A letter of intent is a specific type of document that can absolutely (positively) impact your application, even if you’ve been waitlisted. With the challenges presented by , every student wants to maximize their chances of admission. A medical school letter of intent is a key tool for doing precisely that.
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Sample #1 (545 words)
Dear Dr. John Smith, Director of Admissions, XYZ University,
My name is Sally Sparrow, and I am currently applying to XYZ University’s ABC DEF School of Medicine. It was my great honor to visit your campus, learn more about your osteopathy program, and discuss my career goals with Dr. Clara Oswald during my interview on October XX, 20XX. I am writing to inform you that ABC DEF is my first choice for medical school and to provide an update to my application.
After the interview on your campus, I reached out to Dr. Sarah Jane from your Primary Care department to establish correspondence about my paper on the effects of nutritional deficiencies in postpartum care. She expressed interest in my research and shared some of her own findings from her on-going study about dietary changes to treat postpartum muscular distention. This fruitful dialogue, and the insight she provided into the kind of research facilities your school offers, consolidated my intention to accept a place at your program, if I am offered one. I would love the chance to work under Dr. Sarah Jane and integrate my bio-medical research with her study, an opportunity I can only avail at your school. I also deeply appreciate your school’s emphasis on student-based learning, exemplified with your state-of-the-art simulation labs and nutritional cooking kitchens. These facilities will provide the means to develop hands-on skills and receive specialized training that no other medical school offers.
Moreover, your school’s emphasis on nutrition as a treatment method and the use of innovative technologies to advance medical treatments perfectly aligns with my own background in cutting-edge bio-medical research in the area of medical nutrition therapy. I spent two years as a research assistant for a research project investigating the long-term effects of nutritional deficiencies on infertility and hormonal imbalances in post-pubescent females, led by Dr. Harvey Mendoza. This experience helped me develop my research skills, as I completed literature reviews, catalogued samples, interviewed subjects, and implemented data analysis models for the innovative medical treatments Dr. Harvey Mendoza was researching. Given my experience in working with the new treatment methodologies and my passionate interest in using the latest technological developments to address holistic patient care, I think I am a perfect candidate for your DO program.
I would also like to communicate a small update to my application materials. In addition to the 2 months of shadowing experience at a psychiatric facility that I mentioned in my primary application, I recently completed 3 months of shadowing experience at the NML Osteopathic Medical Center. While there, I shadowed Dr. Donna Goldberg, an osteopathic physician specializing in internal medicine. I got the chance to closely observe Dr. Goldberg’s implementation of non-invasive treatment therapies and her exemplary use of innovative diagnostic methods to prevent illnesses. The experience of shadowing her confirmed my desire to practice and research osteopathic medicine that prioritizes prevention, as well as cure, of illnesses.
Thank you for taking the time to review this letter. I hope that my application is favorably reviewed, and I can soon become a member of your excellent DO program. If offered a place at your school, I will accept without hesitation. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you need further information from me.
After acing your , you might still find that you have been waitlisted. A medical school letter of intent is a document that specifically states that you will accept an offer of admission to a particular school, if one is extended, over and above any other schools to which you’ve applied or at which you’ve interviewed (or even accepted). This is a single letter sent to one – and only one – school: your Top Choice. 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.
A medical school letter of intent and a letter of interest are both accepted means to communicate your continued interest in a medical school, after you have submitted your primary and secondary medical school applications through the relevant portal and interviewed at your chosen school. There is a lot of overlap in terms of what is included in each of these letters. However, there are some key differences that every medical school applicant should know.
A letter of intent is generally written after applying to med school and about a month after your interviews, especially if you’ve been put on a at your top choice school (though you may certainly write a letter of intent even if you haven't been waitlisted). As the letter of intent is meant to declare that this school is your #1 choice, this must be sincere, and the reasoning behind it must be clear, yet concise. It’s best to write a bit later in the admissions season, after you’ve interviewed at multiple schools (if you have done so), so that you can demonstrate that you’ve legitimately considered all the options available to you, and that you are certain that THIS school is the one for you. Declaring your intentions to those making the admissions decisions indicates that you have given full consideration to the options in front of you, and demonstrates that you will be an eager contributor to their program and campus community.
The reason you must wait a bit into the cycle is precisely to show that you have given this serious consideration. Sending a letter of intent before interviewing, or even right after interviewing, suggests that you may be making such a decision hastily, without fully and deeply considering all of your options, which can reflect poorly on their perception of your maturity. So, be sure to only send such a letter after you’ve interviewed (and don’t send a letter if you’ve not been invited to an interview) – if you haven’t yet had the opportunity to sit down with an interviewer, your letter will come off as disingenuous.
I can't emphasize this enough: You should not send letters of intent to multiple schools.
Medical schools want students who are eager to attend, and expressing your particular enthusiasm and the priority you assign their specific program can go a long way. But, this must be genuine. You cannot tell all the schools to which you apply that they are your “top choice”. Not only is this dishonest an unethical, it will make for a good deal of awkwardness if you are given multiple offers. A letter of intent isn’t a legally binding agreement, but it is a promise, and you must demonstrate integrity and stand by your word.
It may go without saying, but if there is anything from the school indicating that they do NOT want ongoing communication or updates from applicants, then do not send a letter of intent. Go through your past communications with the school, as well as any emails they’ve sent you, to see if there is anything indicating they do not want such letters. This is generally rare – most schools are open to receiving updates, but you need to make sure that this is the case, to avoid making a faux pas.
The letter of intent should be a well-thought out and formal letter, not a quick email. You must ensure your letter is grammatically impeccable, that you’ve spelled everyone’s names correctly, and that it is a polished, final product before sending it off. It must also be concise and backed by reasoning. If you’re currently enrolled in a pre-med undergraduate program, consider reaching out to your school’s Writing Centre for assistance in ensuring your letter is as clear, precise, and direct as possible. If you’re not currently enrolled as a student, consider calling around to local public libraries, as some may have services that can help you perfect your letter.
Your letter should be addressed to the Dean of Admissions or Director of Admissions – you’ll need to look this information up to ensure your letter is addressed appropriately and sent to the correct address. You should not send a letter of intent to the entire admissions committee or to your interviewer(s); rather, you need to write to the person actually making the decisions around admissions. Some online research and/or a phone call to the school will help you get the information you need.
Your letter of intent should be a maximum of one page, and should follow the formal structure of a proper letter. Do not send a letter that spans multiple pages. Remember, the person to whom you are writing has a hundred other duties and – in a sense – you are asking a favour of them in sending them this letter to review and consider. Do not monopolize their time. Be concise and to-the-point.
You can type your message into an email, or attach the letter as a PDF. Don’t use a specialized format like .pages – ensure it’s an attachment type anyone can open (PDF is the safest bet, and this will ensure your formatting stays exactly the way you want it). The email subject line should be your full name followed by “Letter of Intent”. In your letter, ensure you include the date of your interview, and – if possible – the name(s) of those with whom you interviewed (this won’t be possible with a or some types of ).
Finally, if an advisor, professor, research supervisor, etc., is willing to write or call to emphasize your “good fit” for the school, that is also helpful and usually welcomed.
Sample #2 (542 words)
Dear Dr. Samuel Jefferson, Director of Admissions, XYZ University,
My name is Sandra Student, and I am a current applicant to XYZ University’s ABC School of Medicine. It was a joy and a privilege to visit your school, to learn more about your campus community, and to discuss the intersection of my own goals and those of your medical program, during my interview with Dr. Sarah Parker on September 15, 2018. I write to you today to express my strong preference for attending your institution, and to provide an update to my submitted application materials. As someone passionate about bringing healthcare to underserved populations, and with my own background serving rural communities in my volunteer work and physician shadowing, the priority your school assigns such efforts has left me certain that your school is my top choice. If offered acceptance to your program, I can say without doubt that I will accept it. Though I have already received offers of acceptance from ABC University and MNO University, I feel strongly that the values, curriculum, and priorities of your institution match my own goals as an aspiring physician.
I am pursuing the medical profession largely based on my own experiences working with underserved rural communities in a healthcare context. As noted in my application, for the past 3 years, I have been doing extensive volunteer work in [geographical region] through a mobile clinic, which has exposed me to the existing gaps in care that currently leave many rural patients without the access to treatment they require. Working alongside a small staff, under the guidance and leadership of Dr. Sylvia Wong, and hearing about their experiences in this kind of clinical context, has given me a rare glimpse into the complexities and challenges of rural medicine. As well, speaking with rural patients and having the opportunity to regularly shadow Dr. Wong in her patient-physician interactions has given me a sense of mission and drive to devote my life to directly confronting the inequities of our existing system. After I have completed my education, it is my goal to establish a similar mobile clinic, to expand Dr. Wong’s vision of accessible care. With coursework, clinical opportunities, and campus organizations that all address these issues and challenges in various ways, the curriculum and vision of XYZ University’s ABC School of Medicine will help me pursue that goal in ways unmatched by other programs.
As a brief update to my existing application materials, I also wanted to inform you that I recently received notice that an essay I’ve co-authored with Professor Wilma Rice, Ana Chartres, and Asad Khan, [“Title of Essay”] has been accepted to [Journal Title], and will appear in their upcoming January 2019 issue. As well, next semester, I have been hired as a Research Assistant in Professor Rice’s lab, where we will be building further on the work detailed in the aforementioned publication.
Thank you for your time in reviewing this letter. I hope that you are able to review my application favorably, and that I am able to become a member of your campus community. If granted the opportunity, I will most certainly accept. Should there be any other information I can provide, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Want to see a video about writing a medical school letter of intent? Check out this one:
Sample #3 (465 words)
Dear Dr. X, Director of Admissions, XYZ University,
My name is Wendy and I am currently applying to the [name of university] School of Medicine. It was a privilege to discuss my goals and learn more about your DO program during my interview on [date of interview]. I am writing you this letter to express my intention to rank your program as my number-one choice and to provide you with a brief update to my application.
I am pursuing a career in osteopathic medicine because I strongly believe my life experience and cultural background resonate with the holistic approach of osteopathic medicine. During the time I volunteered in [name of countries], I witnessed how advancement in medical diagnosis technology helped medical providers fight healthcare disparities in rural communities. As well, as much as I enjoyed contributing to the research effort in advancing medical diagnosis methods, I felt that research lacks the humanistic component that I want to embrace in my career. During my discussion with [name of doctor], we talked about how [name of university] envisions graduates to practice medicine with humanity in mind. I agree wholeheartedly with the vision and I aspire to partner with my future patients to tackle their illnesses and to bear the burden of struggle together.
I am a strong believer in collaboration and have been very lucky to meet many mentors and colleagues who nurtured my growth and helped my career development through my upbringing. During my years at [name of institutions], I enjoyed working together with my colleagues for the common goal of making the world a better place. In fact, during my campus visit during the [name of conference] and throughout the application cycle, I am truly thankful for all the tips I got from [name of university] staff and students. I could not help but notice how genuinely staff, faculty and students care about each other in the effort to train competent graduates to serve the community. The type of collaborative environment is what I see myself striving in with my peers in the next few years of my career in medicine. One day, when I become more experienced as a practicing physician, I aspire to mentor younger medical students to pay it forward.
In conclusion, I would like to provide a brief update to my application materials. Back in [month, year], I was invited to give a presentation on [name of research] to an audience of approximately one hundred people at the annual conference of [name of conference].
Thank you so much for your consideration. I would be honored to become a member of your campus community. If granted the opportunity, I will most certainly accept the offer. I hope to see you and the rest of [name of university] community soon.
Sample #4 (598 words)
Dear Dr. Lily Jameson, Director of Admissions, XYZ University,
My name is Melanie Peters, and I am a current applicant to the ABC School of Medicine. I had the privilege of interviewing with Dr. Rebecca Hendrix on November XX, 20XX. I am writing this letter to confirm my commitment to the ABC School of Medicine, and to communicate a key update to my application.
From all the schools I applied to, I can confidently affirm that your program is my number one choice. During my campus visit and interview, I got the opportunity to learn more about your unmatched program opportunities for psychiatric clinical experience and research, which I hope to utilize to refine my own clinical and research skills and advance my interest in the field of psychiatric diagnosis. Moreover, I concur completely with ABC School of Medicine’s focus on encouraging diversity, equal opportunity, and community service, especially the focus on transforming medical service systems in under-represented populations, a cause I strongly believe in. Talking to the faculty, current students, and alumni of the school, I was impressed by the level of dedication and commitment each of them demonstrated to advancing social justice via medicine, and I would love to gain my medical degree in an environment that encourages such values in its students.
I believe I am the perfect candidate for your program. I grew up in a lower-income household, which provided me with a different perspective on the gaps in our health system and how it serves those who need it most. As a result, my interest in medicine developed at a young age, and I completed my first-aid treatment certification while still in high school. This achievement was also motivated by a desire to serve my local community and address, in some small way, the injustices I saw all around me. I spent three and a half years volunteering at the local Mental Health Initiative Center, providing first-aid care to emergency patients, peer counselling trauma victims, and working with local free hospital clinics to provide medical care to undocumented immigrants.
While there, I noticed that while we took great care to address the physical health challenges of our patients, their mental health issues were both under-reported and under-treated. Eventually, I created and led a volunteer task force composed of student volunteers that coordinated pro-bono psychiatric and mental health treatments for our patients. This experience fueled my ambition to become a doctor, so I could continue to help others and use my abilities to investigate more efficient ways to provide high quality medical care to under-served communities. With my commitment to community service, and years of meaningful first-hand experience in providing medical service to under-served communities, I think I bring a unique perspective and skillset to your medical program.
I would also like to communicate an update to my application materials. In my primary application, I mentioned that I was a part of Dr. Mary Stuart’s research study on telepsychiatry and health technologies and under her guidance, I was working on a research paper about the impact of new health bio-technologies in serving undocumented and remote populations. In March of this year, I presented my paper at the New Horizons Annual Medical Conference. It was well-received by the panel and published in the New Horizons Spring Quarterly of this year.
Thank you for considering me as a candidate for your medical school program. I would be honored to accept a place at your university, if I am offered the opportunity. Please let me know if you need any further information from me.
Sample #5 (553 words)
Dear Dr. Mindy Ryerson, Director of Admissions, XYZ University,
My name is Alex Stevens, and I am currently applying to the [name of university] School of Medicine. It was my privilege to visit your campus, learn more about your program, and interview with Dr. Mark Shepherd on October XX, 20XX. I am writing to thank you for offering me a place on your waitlist and to confirm that your program is my number one choice for medical school. While I have received acceptances from the ABC School of Medicine and the XYZ Health Sciences Center, your program remains my top preference.
Touring your campus was a truly enlightening experience. Talking to your current students, I learned all about your excellent integrative learning practices and the scope of your world-class research facilities. Dr. Miriam Garner’s welcome address for prospective students was truly inspirational. Hearing her talk about your school’s focus on active education and student-centered learning affirmed my commitment to your program. As I am myself a self-directed learner with a keen interest in independent study, the breadth and scope of your curriculum particularly attracts me. I am especially interested in the PEARLS component of your curriculum, a unique learning experience offered only at your school. I have always thrived in a collaborative, small-group learning environments and the bi-weekly PEARL learning sessions, both classroom and laboratory, are the perfect way for me to cement my medical knowledge and hone my lab skills. I believe teamwork, leadership, and self-reflection are crucial to the successful practice of medicine and your school offers a curriculum developed around building these same values in future doctors. That, combined with your focus on patient-centric approach to medicine, makes your school my first choice.
My academic record and extracurricular experiences make me a great candidate for your program. Through my undergrad years, I maintained a high GPA and eventually achieved an excellent MCAT score, thus demonstrating my academic excellence and readiness for your rigorous med school curriculum. For three consecutive summers, I worked at Dr. Mistry’s research lab, where I gained experience as a research assistant in his study on the regulation of adrenaline production in smooth muscle cells by protothiazolidiones. I also completed two independent research projects under his guidance, one on the growth of malignant cancerous cells in smooth muscle tissues exposed to carcinogens, and the other replicating Dr. Hadley’s research on transplanting stem cells to treat T1 diabetes in adult gestating females. The cooperative nature of the cross-departmental research helped me hone my collaboration and teamwork skills and affirmed my desire to study medicine in a group-focused, learning-centered environment such as is offered at your school.
I would also like to inform you about an update to my application materials. In January of this year, I joined the Dr. Danny Pierce Memorial Clinic in the role of volunteer clinical assistant in the Oncology unit. As part of my role, I observed surgical procedures and shadowed physicians on their pre-operative and post-operative rounds, giving me a first-hand glimpse into how medical students complete their rotations in hospital wards as part of their clinical experience.
Thank you for your consideration. It would be an honor to attend your medical school and if offered a place, I will most certainly accept. I hope to hear from you soon.
An honest letter of intent can absolutely influence your chances of acceptance – schools want students who are enthusiastic about being there. If you are certain that one particular program is the best program for your particular needs, interests, and passions, then consider reaching out and making your preference known!
1. When should I send my medical school letter of intent?
It's best to send your letter of intent approximately a month after your interview. You want to be able to show the Dean of Admissions that you have taken the time to really consider your options, and even though you may have interviewed elsewhere, you are still selecting their school as your number-one choice.
2. Why can’t I send it right after my interview?
Please note that schools do want to see that you have actually thought through which school is your number-one choice. Sending this right after your interview may show that you are being hasty and not really reflecting on the other schools you applied to and interviewed at. So, don’t feel you have to rush and send this in immediately after your interview; rather, really take the time and ask yourself what your number-one choice is and why.
3. How should I send my letter of intent?
Whether you are applying to schools, you can email your letter of intent to the Director or Dean of Admissions. In some cases, schools may provide a portal for students to upload their letters to instead. Ensure that you check program requirements beforehand. Don’t just send it to [email protected], as it may get lost in the countless emails a school receives every day; take your time to ensure you are sending it to the correct person.
4. Are there situations where it is not acceptable to send a letter of intent?
Yes, firstly, you should only be sending one letter of intent to your top choice school. If at the end of the interview season you're not really sure which school you want to attend most, then it's better to not send a letter to any school. Most importantly, do not send multiple letters of intent.
Secondly, it's important that you check your school's requirements before you decide to send a letter of intent. While most schools accept letters of intent, some schools do not wish to be contacted at all after the interview season. In this case, you must follow the school's instructions by refraining from sending any correspondence.
5. What is so bad about sending a letter of intent to multiple schools?
Everything you do as a medical school applicant will reveal who you are as a person, and whether or not you're suitable to become a doctor. Sending a letter of intent to multiple schools is both dishonest and unethical – remember you are giving your word that you will attend a program if you are accepted. Lying in any part of your application materials completely ruins your credibility, integrity and trustworthiness. Plus, you never know which admission committee members or Deans are connected and may find out what you did. Even if you're not caught, what will you do if you receive multiple offers of admission and don't uphold your promise to attend these schools? Take our strong advice here, do not send multiple letters of intent!
6. Will a letter of intent guarantee me a spot in my top choice school?
Unfortunately, no, but it can certainly improve your chances of admission, and isn't it important to do whatever you can to do just that? The purpose of a medical school letter of intent is to let your top choice school know that they're your top choice and therefore, will attend their school if given the opportunity.
It's very difficult for medical schools to determine which candidates will accept their offers of acceptance and which will not. Sometimes, even by accepting waitlisted applicants, schools are left with spots unfilled due to this very reason. So, sending a letter of intent may give you a competitive edge over other applicants because you're letting a school know that if accepted, you're a guaranteed student in their entering class.
7. Can I send a letter of intent if I haven't been waitlisted?
Of course! Medical school letters of intent are not only suitable to send if you're on a waitlist, but they can also be sent after your interviews, even before you have received a response regarding admission.
8. I was just about to send a letter of intent and received a rejection. What should I do now?
This can be upsetting, but receiving rejections are a normal part of the application process. First, scrap the draft you were about to send. If you have already received a rejection, you should not send a letter of intent to that school. Instead, you can follow up with the admissions office and seek feedback for why you did not get accepted; some schools provide written or verbal feedback while others do not.
Next, take the time to think through the other schools you have interviewed at and which one would be your first-choice program now; re-draft a letter of intent to that program and send it in a timely manner.