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!


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Article Contents
8 min read

Who Can Write Your Medical School Recommendation Letters How Many Medical School Recommendation Letters Do You Need? How to Ask for Medical School Recommendation Letters (Including Email Templates) When to Ask for a Medical School Recommendation Letter Can You Store Your Medical School Recommendation Letters? How to Make Sure You Get the Perfect Medical School Recommendation Letters How to Write Your Own Medical School Recommendation Can You Reuse Your Medical School Recommendation Letters? 2 Medical School Recommendation Letter Samples That Got Accepted Other FAQs

Who Can Write Your Medical School Recommendation Letters

  1. Former science (biology, chemistry, and physics) and non-science professors
  2. Physician you’ve shadowed/worked with
  3. Research supervisors
  4. Employers
  5. 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.

How to Ask for Medical School Recommendation Letters (Including Email Templates)

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.  

How to Write Your Own Medical School Recommendation

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

Letterhead

Name of writer and contact information if not included in letterhead

Date

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.

Sincerely,

Dr. Name of Writer

Medical School Recommendation Letter from a Research Supervisor

Letterhead

Name of writer and contact information if not included in letterhead

Date

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.

Sincerely,

Dr. Name of Writer

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Other FAQs

1. What kind of medical school recommendation letters should non-traditional applicants have?

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.

2. What kind of medical school recommendation letters should DO school applicants have?

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

3. Will I be able to see my medical school letters of recommendation?

Make sure to waive your right to see the recommendations.

4. Should I address medical school recommendation letters to specific schools?

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

5. Can I send different recommendation letters to different school?

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

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting


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1 Comments

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?

Reply

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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