How to Write Letters of Recommendation for Medical School

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A recommendation letter for medical school should speak to the applicant’s unique personal traits. The letter should outline the applicant’s passion for medicine, professional strengths, and memorable qualities. The letter can also highlight the applicant’s ability to work well in a team, follow directions, and cooperate with others. Other important qualities can be mentioned in a physician’s letter of recommendation. For the purposes of the letter, you can also mention the applicant’s work experience, achievements, and community involvement.

Academic and nonacademic letters of recommendation

If you are applying to a medical school, it is important to get academic and nonacademic letters of recommendation. Nonacademic letters of recommendation are often referred to as character letters, and are meant to tell admissions panels about your personality and personal qualities. If you are not able to find professors from your undergraduate program, ask individuals with college-level appointments to write your letters.

Regardless of your chosen letter writing style, it is crucial to make sure your letters are signed and dated, and on official letterhead. You should ask a few different professors to write your letters so that you get a broader impression of your abilities and skills. Also, choose professors who will speak to your performance, not just your GPA. Avoid choosing professors who have a C or a D-.


When you ask people to write letters of recommendation for your medical school application, make sure to consider the impact each letter will have on your application. A professor’s letter, for example, may highlight your academic aptitude. A former employer’s letter can focus on your professional habits. The best way to organize your letters is to ask people to focus on the topics that are most relevant to medical school applicants. Listed below are some tips for writing the best letters.

First of all, remember that different medical schools may require different types and numbers of letters. Some require three or four letters, while others may ask for only two. Keep in mind that some schools don’t even read letters that aren’t written on official letterhead. Regardless of whether or not you receive a limit on the number of letters, it is still important to follow their requirements. You should aim to have three to five letters, though three to five is a good rule of thumb.

Avoiding cliches

When writing letters of recommendation for medical school, avoid using common cliches. For example, avoid using “so great” or “so hard.” These cliches are usually meaningless and will only serve to diminish the recommender’s credibility. Instead, focus on reaffirming the student’s qualities, highlighting any questions that may arise, and inviting the student to follow up with them if needed.

Don’t mention a student’s role in a volunteer organization that triggers unconscious bias. Rather, focus on the work the student does, as well as his or her achievements. Don’t include information about your own career, such as your school or volunteer experience. Instead, focus on demonstrating the applicant’s leadership qualities and other skills. In addition, don’t mention yourself or the organization you’re affiliated with.

Maximum number of letters of recommendation

In addition to personal letters, medical schools require a committee letter and three letters of recommendation. While three letters of recommendation are usually enough, some will accept four or five. In any case, it is important to check with each medical school to determine their specific requirements. Letters of recommendation should assess the candidate’s academic ability, motivation to study medicine, maturity and course work difficulty, and special qualities. It is not acceptable to ask a friend or family member to write your letters. While most programs require three letters, applicants can include a fourth letter of recommendation from a meaningful extracurricular experience.

Depending on the program and the type of school, medical schools may request different types of letters. In the US, committee letters are written by a pre-medical advisory committee from a university. These letters represent the school’s assessment of an applicant’s qualifications. Letter packets are another option, in which referees can submit individual letters to a medical school. Some medical schools accept as many as thirteen letters, though most limit applicants to six or seven letters, and some will accept no more than three.

Open or closed student file

You must consider the type of letter your recommender will write for you. Some schools require four or five letters of recommendation, while others allow more than four. Many medical schools require more than one letter of recommendation. For more information, visit the AAMC’s brochure on letter writing guidelines. Make sure your recommender knows you well. If possible, request copies of their biographical information, as well. This will give the letter writer a personal touch and give it a personalized touch.

For nontraditional applicants, if you did not receive a letter from a college professor, you may submit two letters from supervisors or faculty members in a health-related field. If you do not have a premedical adviser or committee, you will need three letters from individuals who know you well. These can be professors, research mentors, or professional supervisors. Those who have recently taught or mentored you may write a letter for you.


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