Writing Your Medical School Letter of Intent: a Guide
It’s Spring! The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and you’re finishing up your medical school interviews. You’re in the home stretch! At the end lies your dream medical school. You (hopefully) have many schools to choose from. However, these schools have many applicants to choose from. How do you demonstrate your commitment to attending your dream school? One way to convey your commitment to attending a specific medical school is with a letter of intent.
A medical school letter of intent is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a communication to one school (yes, only one!) that you plan on attending if you are accepted. The jury is still out on whether or not writing a letter of intent for your dream medical school actually makes a difference. But, the way I see it, writing a respectful letter indicating your commitment can only help you.
Let’s talk about what you should (and shouldn’t) put in your letter of intent, some faux pax to avoid, and a note on the timing when you should send your letter. This guide will wrap up with an example letter of intent and some notes on how to structure your letter.
The Dos and Don’ts of The Medical School Letter of Intent
Do: What Should Be in Your Medical School Letter of Intent
- Say that you will go to their medical school if accepted in your letter! I can’t tell you how many letters of intent I’ve read who don’t actually say that they will go to that school.
- Talk about why you’re ranking this medical school above all the others. Was there a particular part of the curriculum you liked? Is there a specific thing drawing you to the school? Is it close to home and your support systems? Give them reasons to believe that you would go there should you be accepted.
- Talk about why you think you’d fit in well at that medical school. Your scores, research, volunteering, and letters will get you in the door and get you the interview, but the best way to prove that you’d fit in at your dream school is to demonstrate that you understand the culture of the school.
- Include your name and AMCAS ID in your signature.
Don’t: What Shouldn’t Be in Your Medical School Letter of Intent
- Don’t list your achievements or talk about your scores. If you got an interview, then they already think you’d succeed as a medical student.
- This is not a personal statement. Do not talk about your reasons for wanting to be a physician.
- Do not name drop. It comes across poorly. If a faculty member or dean is going to advocate on your behalf, they will do it independently of you name-dropping them in your letter of intent.
What Not to Do
- Do not be disrespectful. Refer to deans as Dr. and everyone else as Mr./Mrs. Respect can only help you at best, but a disrespectful letter will only hurt you.
- Do not be presumptuous. Applicants should not assume that they will be given preferential treatment because they know someone attending or teaching at the school. Using language that conveys that you think you deserve a spot or that you have already been selected in your medical school letter of intent shows admissions committees that you think you are entitled to a spot.
- Don’t use slang, profanity, jokes, or unprofessional language of any kind. Even if you think you’re being funny or charming, it rarely comes across that way.
- Do not send a letter with grammatical errors. A letter with grammatical errors demonstrates that you didn’t carefully proofread prior to sending your letter. Schools want to take careful and detail-oriented students and make them into careful and detail-oriented physicians.
- Do not send more than one medical school letter of intent. I know people who did this and had their acceptances rescinded when they were discovered. Please don’t do this.
- Do not plagiarize! Do not copy and paste! Make it your own. You should have your own reasons for wanting to go to your dream medical school.
- Do not send a letter of intent to a medical school that you didn’t interview at. If you are trying to get an interview at a specific medical school, then reach out to their office of medical education and ask them to review your application again. A letter of intent is meant to demonstrate that you would go to that school above all other schools after you’ve already interviewed at that school, not that you want the chance to go to that school.
- Don’t write a novel. Keep it short and sweet!
A Note on When to Send Your Letter
Submit your letter of intent as early as you feel comfortable doing so. A letter of intent is meant to try and convey to a medical school that you would go to that school, above all others, if you were accepted. Many schools rank applicants soon after their interview while those applicants are fresh in their minds. By sending your letter early, you may potentially sway their decision one way or another.
How to Structure Your Letter of Intent (with an example)
Dear Dr. [Dean],[GE(S1]
I am writing to convey my strong interest in [medical school]. I was genuinely impressed by your institution after my interview on [interview date]. Should I be accepted, I intend to attend your medical school this fall.[GE(S2]
As my interview season comes to a close, [medical school] is my first choice because it has many exciting qualities that stand out among my interviewed programs. Specifically, [what you like about the school]. Most importantly, [what you like about the school]. I feel assured that training at [medical school] would foster my love of learning and take an active role in my education. [GE(S3]
I am confident I would be an excellent fit at [medical school]. [Use this section to talk about why you feel like you’d fit in. Reference conversations you had with interviewers and your impressions from your interview day].[GE(S4]
For these reasons, [medical school] is my top choice, and I would be honored to attend your medical school.
Thank you again for your time and consideration,[GE(S5]
AMCAS/AAMC ID ##-###-####[GE(S7]
[GE(S2]Statement of intent
[GE(S3]Explain why this medical school is your top choice
[GE(S4]Talk about fit. Why would you fit in at this school?
[GE(S5]Thank you and closing
[GE(S6]A spot to sign if you want. I did this on mine to give it a more personal touch.
[GE(S7]Your personal information and signature