- October 1, 2016
- Posted by: Sahil Mehta
- Category: Applying
We wanted to find out from a former admissions committee member about letters of recommendation. This is certainly an area of trepidation for may premed students! Who to ask, when to ask, how to ask are all questions that come up all the time!
We wanted you to keep a few things in mind when you are looking for letters of recommendation for medical school.
It s important to ask early, and by that I mean at least two months ahead of time. Make sure to word the question to ensure that it’s a good letter and not just any letter. Very frequently students will ask a professor for a recommendation and then later on realize you’re not sure whether it is going to be a strong one or not. One way to get around that is to ask a professor to write a strong letter upfront so you can see whether they’re willing to vouch for you to that extent. I think it’s important to have your materials ready to go such as your resume and also to have a good sense of why you are interested in medicine, and things that you want to be in the letter. If you’re not prepared, it will be hard for you to come up with. Depending on the relationship with the professor, there is an appropriate way in which to ask somebody to address something that is maybe of concern on your application, for example, a semester of bad grades for which there was a particular reason such as a loss in the family. You could ask them to mention that in the letter; it is appropriate depending on how well you know the letter writer.
Overall, for medical school you will need at least the following:
- 2 science professor letters of recommendation (LOR)
- 1 non-science professor letter of recommendation
In addition to these three letters, I recommend have an additional 2-3 letters that include the following:
- LOR from a community leader or somewhere you volunteered
- LOR from a physician you have shadowed or worked with
- LOR from a research principal investigator
For athletes, a letter of rec from a coach for your medical school application can go a long way as well! For those of you who are looking for osteopathic schools, you should certainly have an osteopathic physician (DO) write you a letter of recommendation for medical school!