Medical school recommendation letters are an important part of your medical school application  for both DO and MD programs. They are meant to present an external, objective evaluation of your suitability for a career in medicine to admissions committees. Although there are some medical schools that don’t require letters of recommendation, such as Dalhousie University Faculty of Medicine and Rush Medical School, there are more schools that do require them so learning how to get one is a skill you should learn This article will teach you how to get stellar recommendation letters from referees,  and answer some questions you may have about this intricate process. Plus, we provide you with email templates you can use to send requests for reference letters, as well as templates for deadline reminders and thank you letters!

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Article Contents
22 min read

Medical School Recommendation Letters: Tips for How to Ask from Real MDs How Many Recommendation Letters Do You Need? Medical School Recommendation Letters: Who You Should Ask How to Ask for Medical School Recommendation Letters Medical School Recommendation Letters: How to Choose Your Recommendation Writers Medical School Recommendation Letters: Do’s and Don’ts When to Ask for Recommendation Letters Medical School Recommendation Letter Samples FAQs

Medical School Recommendation Letters: Tips for How to Ask from Real MDs 

Asking for a medical school recommendation letter makes a lot of people nervous, but there are ways to do it – recommended by physicians themselves – that can make the whole process easier. In this article, we’ll talk about the types of people you should ask for medical school recommendation letters, but here we’ll talk about the ways you can approach a practicing physician, or other professionals, such as research and work supervisors, who you can also ask for medical school recommendation letters.

Dr. Neel Mistry, MD, outlines a few of the things that all students should do to approach physicians and other colleagues for LORs. These include:

  • Being polite and friendly in your initial approach (email or in-person)
  • Explaining to the person why they are the ideal letter writer for you
  • Providing concrete examples where you excelled that warrant a LOR

These are the things you should do when asking for medical school recommendation letters. Dr. Mistry has also volunteered what you should avoid when asking for medical school recommendation letters that could end up in rejection. Dr. Mistry advises you don’t:

  • Act as if you’re entitled to an LOR (counter this by pointing to specific examples in your history)
  • Ask someone you barely know and who barely knows you
  • Asking for an LOR even though you have average or below-average stats/performance (MCAT and GPA)

Using these guidelines, we’ll give you a small example of what a request letter or email should look like when asking for a medical school recommendation letter. There’s two ways most people use to ask for a medical school recommendation letter, which are in-person and email. Let’s say you want to ask via email to only meet with your writer, well, you’d write something like this:

But if you want to ask directly and via email for a letter – without meeting in-person – you'd write something like this:

You can adjust these templates accordingly based on who you ask and who you are, but they check all of the boxes put forth by Dr. Mistry for how you should approach a letter writer; they’re polite; they mention why you’re asking them; and they offer to provide concrete examples of why you are worthy of a letter of recommendation. 

How Many Recommendation Letters Do You Need?

Most medical schools in the US and medical schools in Canada ask for at least three medical school letters of recommendation. Some schools may ask for four or five, so you have more leeway. But you should talk to a medical school advisor about how many medical school recommendation letters to send. A lot depends on your choice of schools, whether you are a traditional or non-traditional medical school applicant and whether you need to send more than two or three to make up for other parts of your application (average MCAT scores or average GPA). Be sure to check this information with the school to which you’re applying. Keep in mind that some medical schools are quite strict with their numbers, so if they ask for exactly 4 letters and let you know that they will not review any more than 4, do not send fewer or more recommendations. 

Medical School Recommendation Letters: Who You Should Ask 

Check out who you can ask to be a letter writer for your medical school application:

  1. Former science or non-science faculty
  2. Physician
  3. Research Supervisor
  4. Employer
  5. Volunteer or EC Supervisor

If the school’s requirements allow for it, a physician you volunteered with or shadowed can write you a medical school recommendation letter. This physician should know you very well. You should not ask someone with whom you spent a few hours sporadically. If you haven't participated in any shadowing yet, make sure you understand how to ask to shadow a doctor and how many hours of shadowing are required for medical school.

Your recommender must be able to speak to your personal characteristics, such as professionalism and maturity. The letter must outline why you would be a good doctor, your professional strengths, your passion for medicine, and any other memorable skills and characteristics that make you stand out. For example, if a physician observed your excellent interactions with patients, this should be mentioned in the letter. Your cooperation, teamwork, ability to follow instructions, and other professional qualities can be sources of inspiration for the physician's recommendation letter. Any examples describing your superb qualifications and suitability for medicine are encouraged. Check out the AAMC Core Competencies for an overview of the ideal characteristics that should be highlighted.

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

What are the Different Types of Medical School Recommendation Letters?

Most common types of medical school recommendation letters:

In the US, Committee Letters are common. A Committee Letter is written by your university’s premed advising committee, which represents your school’s evaluation of you as a candidate. This type of letter is not offered at every school, even though many medical schools prefer a committee letter. The Letter Packet is also an option at some schools. The letters from your referees are assembled and sent out by your school’s career center, but there is no letter from your premed advisor or committee. Individual Letters are exactly as they sound and are also quite common.

How to Ask for Medical School Recommendation Letters

Asking for a medical school recommendation letter is what most people struggle with. They either feel shy or are afraid of being rejected, but you have to remember how normal asking for any recommendation letter is within academia. Writing a medical school recommendation letter is regular part of being a professor or supervisor, so you shouldn’t be afraid to ask, but you have to know how to ask the right way. Being too direct and forward can be too impersonal. Being too familiar and informal can be inappropriate

Typically, most people either ask for a medical school letter of recommendation by either:

  • Email
  • In-person

You can ask in whichever format feels most comfortable for you, because there are pros and cons to both. For example, if you approach a referee directly, this cuts down on the response time. But writing an email may be better if it makes you feel more confident and you’re not ready to ask in-person.

If the answer is yes, in either case, you should arrange for a second meeting, where you will provide all the necessary information for your recommender: your medical school application timeline and important deadlines, information on how to submit their letter of recommendation, your transcripts, medical school CV, a list of awards or medical school scholarships you’ve won or have applied for, and so on. If you are asking through email, wait for them to respond with a yes before sending them all your supporting documents and submission details.

Check out these top strategies for securing strong medical school recommendation letters!

How to Ask as a Non-Traditional Applicant

If it’s been a while since you have taken your professor’s class, or if you’ve been out of school for a few years, it’s a good idea to approach your professor through email. You can remind them of who you are and what class you took with them to get them to remember you. You don’t want to waste time and effort by finding them to ask in-person, as they might not remember you, but writing an short email explaining who you are, why you are writing and what you are asking for would be the best course of action.

Whenever you’re asking someone to be your referee for medical school, always approach with professionalism and enthusiasm. If they agree to write a letter of recommendation for you, you may choose to share your motivation for applying to medical school, your goals, and any helpful information on writing a letter of recommendation for referees who are new to the task. While medical school recommendation letters are written by someone else, the process requires you to be involved, at least in the beginning.

Can You Reuse Your Medical School Recommendation Letters?

The short answer is yes, you can reuse them, as long as you verify with your referees that this is okay and ask them to change the date on the letterhead before you resubmit an application. Dr. Mistry says “If you do decide to resubmit a medical school application, consider updating your letters of recommendation and submitting new ones anyway, since you may have stronger referees now or some letters of recommendation might be outdated.

Things might be a little different for a DO school application. If you’re applying to a DO program, you may also be required to submit a minimum of 3 letters of recommendation. The first needs to come from a physician, preferably a DO and not an MD, though both are acceptable. The other two letters must be written by either a pre-professional committee member or physical science faculty member from your university.

Do Some Medical Schools Require Different Recommendation Letters?

Medical schools may require a variety of recommendation letters based on your current situation or work history. If you’re a student, some schools may require a certain number of letters from science faculty, and some may ask for letters from employers or supervisors if you are in the workforce. The requirements may be completely different if you served in the military. As previously mentioned, be sure to check with your program as to what kind of recommendation letters you are expected to provide.

Medical School Recommendation Letters: How to Choose Your Recommendation Writers

There is not one type of medical school applicant. People apply to medical school at various points in their life, and don’t always take the traditional path. For this reason, we’ll break down each different type of medical school applicant and how you should go about asking for medical school recommendation letters if you fall into one of these categories. 

Recent Grads

Finding referees to ask for medical school recommendation letters can be a challenge. But premed students need not worry because there are many different avenues to explore to find strong medical school recommendation letter writers. If you’re a recent grad, you should choose from among the following:

  • Science and non-science faculty who’ve taught you 
  • Research supervisors you’ve worked with
  • Physicians you’ve shadowed for at least three months

When choosing from among your former professors, make sure to ask professors who taught classes you did well in by participating in class discussions, going to office hours, and who you’ve bonded with. University professors write letters of recommendation all the time so they won’t have a problem writing one for you, especially if you’ve been an outstanding student. But if a former professor seems reluctant to write you a letter or hesitant, you shouldn’t try to convince them. If you need to convince someone to write you a letter, they are not likely to give you a full-throated endorsement, which is what your medical school recommendation letter should be. 

Non-Traditional Applicants

Non-traditional applicants, such as mature medical school applicants, applicants who have taken a gap year before medical school or aren’t in touch with any of their university professors, and international students might have more questions about choosing medical school referees. Non-traditional medical school applicants or medical school applicants who have been out of school for a longer period may not be able to track down a science professor to fulfill the medical school application requirement or be unfamiliar with the entire medical school application process, such as Ranish, one of our students, who wanted to “gain guidance on the process of applying to medical school and getting admission.” Ranish took a gap year of two years, and was a little rusty on his essential skills, such as interviewing. He had to get professional medical school admissions consulting, who were to help Ranish “perfect how I presented myself and really relayed the importance of being a good interviewer.”

 Some medical schools make exceptions for non-traditional applicants, but there are other tricks to get the needed medical school referees. For example, you can ask:

  • Work supervisors or mentors you’ve known for years
  • Your former school for a committee letter if they provide the service
  • Professors or instructors from any post-bac or upgrading courses you’ve taken

Work supervisors and managers can speak to your real-world experiences and talents. They can also quantify your talents and mention specific examples where you worked to improve a problem or a solution you proposed was successful.

International Applicants

Getting a medical school recommendation letter if you’re an international students can be even more complicated. If you haven’t been educated in the US or Canada, who do you ask? Well, if you’re an international student, you should try to complete at least some education in the US or Canada, such as a postbacc course or a master’s degree in Canada for many reasons, among them having someone to ask for a medical school recommendation letter. But you can also get letters from your professors as long as they are translated to English, as long as they are accepted by your medical school. 

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

Medical School Recommendation Letters: Do’s and Don’ts

Dos for Getting Medical School Recommendation Letters

Tip #1: Do Choose Strategically Based on Academic Performance

Choose a professor who can speak to your performance. If you got a C in a class, that professor is probably not the best referee to choose. With that said, you don't necessarily have to pick a professor where you scored an A+. If for example, you got a B+ in chemistry, but you demonstrated significant improvement in the class by regularly getting extra help from your professor or getting a tutor, this can be a great way for admissions committees to see your motivation for self-improvement while also addressing the fact that you achieved a lower grade than you would have liked. Medical school GPA requirements are competitive, but addressing the gap in your application can be the key to how to get into medical school with a low GPA.

Tip #2: Do Have a Good Relationship with Your Referees

Many undergraduate classes have hundreds of students, and it is difficult to get to know your instructor on a personal level. However, you must have a good relationship with the faculty member who will write your recommendation. Attend their office hours, ask them questions after class, or volunteer to help with their research. Clinical research as a premed or virtual research as a premed can provide not only excellent referees, but also strengthen your application to medical school. By forging good relationships with your professors, you allow for personal interactions and experiences with you that they can draw on when they describe you as a worthy applicant. Keep in mind that if you have a fantastic relationship with a teaching assistant (TA) but you hardly know your professor, it’s best to ask for a recommendation letter from your TA, who will be better suited to discuss your particular strengths and speak to your suitability for a career in medicine.

Don’ts for Getting Medical School Recommendation Letters

#1 Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For A Strong Recommendation Letter

Take time to explain why a letter from this writer would be valuable and important for your application to medical school. It can be intimidating to ask for recommendation letters, but don’t be shy: professionals, university faculty, and employers know what such letters entail and often consider them part of their job. Most will have written these kinds of letters before. If you don't ask, you won't get! Be confident, but not forceful.

#2 Don’t Annoy Your Writers By Constantly Asking Them How The Writing Process Is Going

Once your referees commit to writing you a letter, be sure to provide them with deadlines for submission. It’s perfectly acceptable to send them an email as the deadline approaches to remind them about submission. If they do not respond, you can follow up with a phone call. If you do not hear back from them at all, you should assume this person is no longer your recommender.

#3 Don’t Forget Your Plan B

It’s vitally important to have back-ups. It is always better to ask for recommendation letters from more people than is required. In case one of your referees backs out or is no longer available as a reference, you will still have enough references to fulfill medical school requirements. Most medical schools will accept external sections of your application, like recommendation letters late, provided your application package was submitted before the deadline.

 #4 Don’t Write Counterfeit Letters

This goes without saying, but no amount of plagiarism is acceptable on your recommendation letters, or for any of your other materials for that matter. You will not get away with fraudulent letters. The admissions committee will detect them easily and automatically disqualify you from admission.

#5 Do Not Ask To Read Your Recommendation Letter

You should trust the person you chose to write you a glowing reference and waive your right to review the letter. The general rule of thumb is that letters of recommendation should be confidential. This allows your referee to provide a truthful review about your performance and provides medical schools with confidence in the review. Of course, this doesn't apply if you are writing your own letter of recommendation.

Note: Most Canadian schools do not give students the option to waive or not waive the right to review your letter and require confidentiality, as they want referees to be honest.

#6 Don't Forget A Thank You Letter

Do not forget to send a genuine thank you letter to demonstrate your appreciation for the writer's support, just as you would send a thank you for a medical school interview. It’s a common professional courtesy and it shows you appreciate your recommendation letter writers. Send it right after the letter is received in the application system.

When to Ask for Recommendation Letters

Be sure to ask your referees to write a recommendation letter well in advance. One student, Sherry, who recently got into the University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine, says that “I think I had different challenges for the application.” Sherry was a reapplicant, as her first attempts were rejected. But she took lessons from the first time and applied them to her subsequent applications. She says, “I think it was the first time around it was a lot more than I had expected and just being on top of those it was a little challenging at first.” Those “things” included asking for references and letter-writers, but she also learned something important about when to ask for medical school recommendation letters. Sherry learned that she had to “start early on all those different processes.”

Using Sherry’s example, you should aim to ask them at least one month before the application deadline. It is sometimes beneficial to ask for a letter much earlier. For example, if you participate in a research project during summer between sophomore and junior year, and you plan to finish working on it when summer ends, you should approach your research supervisor about a recommendation letter that summer. This will ensure that your accomplishments and strengths are fresh in your supervisor’s mind. The same can be said 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.

To store these early letters, you can ask your writer to send the letters to your school's career center, your career counselor or advisor, or any similar office. Once the application process begins, simply remind your recommender about the letter, where it is stored, and its deadline. Most universities will be happy to store your recommendation letters for you. Alternatively, you can use an online letter storage service or online dossier service to store your letters.

For the above application services, you should request your letters of recommendation no later than 2-3 months before you plan on submitting your application. If you want to submit by May 31, then you should request your letters starting in March. Contact your referees to remind them of the deadline no later than 2 weeks in advance of the date you plan to submit your application.

For OMSAS, it’s best to adhere to the recommendation to send your reference requests by September 15 to ensure your referees have enough time to complete the request before the deadline. Send your reminders a week after this date if you don’t receive confirmation.

Medical School Recommendation Letter Samples

Sample 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

What makes this letter strong?

  1. It qualifies the relationship with the applicant right away: a strong letter will mention how the writer knows the applicant in the first paragraph. This is important information that will contextualize the supporting details in the letter.
  2. It gets right to the point: this letter is a great demonstration of the concept of efficient writing. There’s no exposition or unnecessary detail. The topic sentence of the second paragraph introduces the applicant’s important characteristics, such as critical thinking and problem-solving skills, which help transition into the subsequent paragraphs.
  3. Evidence is provided: all letters of recommendation need evidence of skills. The writer of this letter, who is a science professor, expounds on the list of skills mentioned by connecting them with course concepts that the student excelled at, for example, Scott’s understanding of embryological systems. 

Medical School Recommendation Letter from a Research Supervisor


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 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.


Dr. Name of Writer

What makes this letter strong?

The skills are specific to the candidate’s role as a research assistant: the traits that your referees mention shouldn’t be arbitrary. They need to be specific to you and your role. For this example, the referee mentioned attributes like analytical skills, which directly relate to the candidate’s performance as a research assistant.

  1. It proves the candidate goes above and beyond: the referee remarks on how Cecilia not only performed her duties with professionalism, attention to detail, etc., but how she took the initiative to support her colleagues. An apt example is given, which helps round out Cecilia’s applicant profile.
  2. It employs terse language: recommendation letters with flowery, unnecessary words and structure will debase the quality of the appraisal significantly. In this example, every sentence and word have a purpose. Don’t accept letters that are excessively praising, which typically sound contrived and possibly fraudulent.

Medical School Recommendation Letter from an Extracurricular Supervisor - Athletics Coach


Name of writer and contact information if not included in letterhead


Dear Admission Committee Members,

I am writing this recommendation letter for Kalvin Foster, whom I have had the pleasure of coaching for the last four years as a member of the X University Pandas basketball team. From his first tryouts to his final accomplishments with our team, Kalvin has consistently shown up and demonstrated why he is an excellent athlete and teammate. The other coaches, myself and the team will miss his presence on the court when he graduates this spring.

From the first day of tryouts in Kalvin’s freshman year, he made an impression on me, not only through his athleticism but his enthusiasm, infectious positivity and tireless commitment to showing up, improving and persevering. Once he had made the team, his energy and tireless optimism never wavered, no matter the final score on the board or the setbacks he experienced from injury, illness, game cancellations or personal troubles in four years of college basketball. He managed to balance his study schedule alongside our practices and games, always bringing a smile to the court.

Kalvin had an undeniable effect on his teammates as well, who looked up to him as a natural leader, mentor and friend. Kalvin is quick to praise, encourage and help, and has never been the type to put anyone down or blame others for mistakes. He is consistently focused on the future and keeping his head up, and this attitude has rubbed off on his teammates.

His most notable accomplishment with the team, however, was due to his medical training. Kalvin is certified in first aid, and this skill became critical when a teammate collapsed on the court during a regular practice. Rushing the to teammate’s side, Kalvin didn’t hesitate to begin first aid, directing other players on what to do and keeping everyone calm and informed on what was happening. Fortunately, the teammate recovered, but Kalvin’s act was inspiring to not only the team but myself. I made the decision to host a series of first aid and sports injury first aid instruction with the team, which Kalvin was instrumental in organizing.

I have no doubt that Kalvin will succeed in becoming an excellent physician. His nature, ambition and enthusiasm are endless, and once he sets his mind to something, he achieves it. Kalvin’s Pandas teammates have nothing but respect and admiration for him, and he will be dearly missed, but we are all excited to see where this next step of his journey takes him. I cannot recommend Kalvin more highly for a spot in your program.


Name of Writer

What makes this letter strong?

  1. Timeline: in the opening paragraph, an overview of the timeline of the coach’s relationship with Kalvin is provided. This not only establishes context, but it helps demonstrate growth and commitment. The writer goes on to mention an impression made on the first day of tryouts, as well as how he influenced the team once he earned his place.
  2. Stays relevant: this letter keeps the content relevant to medical school, despite the fact that the referee is the candidate’s coach. The anecdote about how Kalvin’s first aid training was critical in an urgent situation, and the exposition about how Kalvin was adept at balancing his studies with his team obligations, shows academic readiness and time management skills – two highly important traits for medical school success.
  3. Reveals attitude: this letter does a good job at revealing the attitude of the applicant, which is where many recommendation letters fall short. In reading about Kalvin’s infectious positivity and how that changed the team atmosphere, the admissions committee reviewing the letter will see that Kalvin has the right attitude to become a physician.


1. Who should write my medical school letters of recommendation?

Medical school recommendations are usually written by people from these five categories:

a) Science and non-science faculty

b) Physicians

c) Research supervisors

d) Employers

e) Volunteer or EC supervisors

2. How do I submit my medical school letters of recommendation?

Your recommenders must submit the letters electronically through the AMCAS Letter Writer Application or Interfolio. If a letter is uploaded through the AMCAS Letter Writer Application, it is immediately marked as received. A letter uploaded through Interfolio will take approximately three days to be marked as received.

Canadian schools have their own application procedures. Each school and the Ontario Medical School Application Service (OMSAS) has its own preferred way of submitting LORs. Although most prefer letters to be submitted online through a specific portal, make sure to check with the program and contact the admissions office directly to confirm.

3. How long should the medical school recommendation letter be?

Ideally, they should be two pages long. A one-page medical school recommendation letter can raise red flags for its brevity; a two-page letter shows that the writers have a lot to say about you, so while conciseness may work for other parts of your application, a longer medical school recommendation letter (at least two pages) is best. 

4. Can I ask my TA for a recommendation letter?

Absolutely! Due to the high volume of students in most undergraduate classes, you do not always have the opportunity to work directly with your professors. You will, on the other hand, most likely work with and get to know your teaching or lab assistant. It's more important to secure a letter from a TA who knows you best, compared with a professor you've never had a conversation with.

5. It’s been a while since I graduated from college, who can I ask for a medical school recommendation letter?

If you are worried about the quality of your recommendations from old professors, then it's best to ask another suitable individual for a letter. If you must send in a letter from a science faculty member, you'll have to contact the professor or TA you interacted with the most. More often than not, a little refresher will enable them to remember you, plus, you may be more memorable than you think!

6. What if my professor says “no”?

A professor will usually only refuse to write a letter if they truly feel that they don’t know you and your work well enough to write you the kind of recommendation you need to get into medical school. Don’t be discouraged if this is the case; you’ll simply need to search for someone else, which is better than a poor or ineffective letter of recommendation.

7. Why do medical schools even ask for letters of recommendation?

Medicine is a collaborative environment but also one where you will spend time learning from more senior practitioners for a long time. Medical schools do not just want to hear from you, they want to hear from people in supervisory positions who you have worked with. They want to learn about your potential to become a strong physician from people who you have collaborated with and learned from.

8. How can I help my med school recommendation letter writers?

You can help your writers by providing them with a draft of your medical school personal statement, your CV or resume, and even the spreadsheet of your extracurriculars for medical school you have prepared to fill out your AMCAS Work and Activities section. Essentially, you want to provide them with any document that can help them write a stronger letter for you.

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting

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Have a question? Ask our admissions experts below and we'll answer your questions!


Naoma Tow

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.