Letters of Intent for the Residency Match Process | MedSchoolCoach

Letters of Intent for the Residency Match Process


Posted in: Residency

The residency match process can be grueling – between away rotations, the ERAS application, interviews and thank you letters, medical students have already put a tremendous amount of work into making their specialty of choice a dream. But there is still another hurdle before match day – letters of intent.

What is a Letter of Intent for Residency?

A letter of intent is an expression of intent from an individual who has interviewed at a particular program that they will be ranking the program #1 on their rank list. The letter serves as a notification to the program and program directors that the student is excited to match at the program for their specialty training.

Should You Send Letters of Intent to Multiple Residency Program?

No, not in an ideal world. Since only one program can be ranked in your number 1 position (and if that program ranks the student #1 or within the number of spots they have), that is where the student would match, sending letters of intent to two programs would actually be non-genuine. However, students could send strong letters of interest to programs that are ranked near the top of their list, but it is not a letter of intent. Since many programs get these types of letters, they don’t carry as much weight.

When Should You Send a Letter of Intent to Residency Programs?

The following is the residency application timeline:

  • Feb 1st – Ranking Opens
  • Mar 2nd – Rank Order List Certification Deadline
  • Mar 14th –  Match Week Begins
  • Mar 14th – Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program Begins
  • Mar 17th at 8 AM- Soap Round 1
  • Mar 17th at 11:55 AM – Soap Round 2
  • Mar 17th at 2:55 PM – Soap Round 3
  • Mar 17th at 5:55 PM – Soap Round 4
  • Mar 18th – Match Day Results Release

Because of the timeline, it’s important that students let programs know of their intent to rank a program in enough time for the program to potentially take that information into account. Typically, this is within the first 2 weeks of February. In reality, a program not only does not have to but should not take it into account. Why? Because if a program ranks their candidates in the order they want, regardless of where that student is on the match list, they will fill their program with the candidates. The rank list algorithm favors the student, so the student’s preference will always take priority.

What Else Can You Do Besides Sending a Letter of Intent?

If there is a program you absolutely want to match at, you can consider having your professors at medical school or other physicians who may know you well, place a call to the program director. These

Sample Letter of Intent for Residency

We recommend that students do not utilize a singular template for a letter of intent (as many letters of intent will then be very similar). However, we’ve provided below a general outline that one can follow:

Dear Doctor Smith,

Thank you so much for the opportunity to interview at your program this past December. I was so thrilled to have this opportunity, meet the faculty and residents and see the program in action. I am writing this letter to express my sincere interest in the program and that I will be ranking it as my top choice for residency.

Paragraph about why the program is a good fit from a clinical sense.

Paragraph about why the program is a good fit from a research sense (if appropriate).

Paragraph about the people you met as well as why the city is a great choice for you.

For all of these reasons, the program is my absolute top choice for residency. I would be absolutely thrilled to match here! If there is anything more I can provide the committee, please do let me know.


Suggested Read: Our Complete Guide to the Residency Match Process.

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