Strong letters of recommendation are essential for supporting your residency or medical school application. In this article, I provided some tips to help you get some great letters of recommendations!
Start thinking about your letters of recommendation early. Ideally, you want to give your letter writers at least a month or two to write your letter. Also, before you ask for one, have your CV and personal statement prepared!
Schedule a meeting
Once you’ve decided who you want to write your letter, email them and ask to schedule an in-person meeting to discuss a letter of recommendation. This ensures time for you to ask for a letter without interruptions from the doctors/professor’s busy day. Having a meeting scheduled will also allow the letter writer to review your CV and personal statement before you meet with them.
Help them help you
Help your letter writers by providing them with the following documents in your email.
Include in initial email
- CV or resume
Include in subsequent email after they agree to writing you a letter
- Personal Statement
- Transcript or remind them of what grade you got in their class
- Instructions for uploading the letter
This will show that you’re prepared and helps expedites the completion of your letter. If the doctor/professor knows you well enough and if you provided the necessary documents, they may just write your letter without meeting with you. Providing them with your personal statement will also improve your letter because they will get a better picture of you and your reasons for pursuing medicine.
Frame the conversation
When asking for a letter, explain why you enjoyed their class, what you learned from them and why you are requesting a letter.
Most importantly, you should ask them, “Do you feel that you can write me a strong letter of recommendation?”
This may seem like an awkward question to ask, but it’s an extremely valid one. Your letter writer will be thankful you gave them the opportunity to honestly tell you if they can or can’t. If they say no, this benefits you because when you apply, you can be confident all your letters are strong!
Express your gratitude
The physician who wrote your letter took time out of their busy day to help you get to the next step in your career. Make sure you send them a thank you note after they complete your letter and after you get accepted.
If you don’t get into medical school, you should still keep in touch with them. Send them an update and let them know what you’re planning to do next. If you’re going to reapply to medical school, you may have to get them to update the letter or resubmit it. So, it’s best to keep them in the loop!
Check out my free template for asking for a LOR!