Letters of recommendation are an important aspect of medical school. But when you have so much going on, collecting them can be time-consuming and challenging.
You may be wondering, how can I ask professors or doctors for med school letters of recommendation via email? Is that even a thing?
Yes, emailing professors and doctors asking for letters of recommendation is a thing. Pretty much every premed student does this.
In this article, I’ll walk you through the steps of asking for that letter by email so that you come across as professional and receive the best recommendation possible.
What To Include In Your Email When Requesting A Letter Of Recommendation
When requesting a medical school letter of recommendation via email, there are certain things you always want to include.
And don’t worry, I’ll also give you a template you can copy (See below). But first I want to explain what needs to be in that email and why.
- Recap: Professors and doctors are busy people. Remind them of who you are and what you did with them. Maybe that was taking a couple of classes or maybe you shadowed them.
- The ask: Get straight to the point and politely ask them for the letter.
- Your Goals: Explain why you are wanting to go to medical school and when you are planning on applying.
- Offer to meet in person: Meeting your letter writer in person is an extra step but always helpful. During an in-person meeting, you can go more in-depth on your accomplishments and your desire to go to medical school.
If they agree to meet in person, you will bring your resume, grades, and your personal statement to the meeting. If they say the meeting is not necessary, include those items as an attachment in the reply email.
What To Bring And Discuss In Your Follow-Up Meeting
As mentioned above, you will want to bring in your resume/CV, a copy of your transcript, and your personal statement.
During this meeting, you want to discuss your motivations for wanting to go into medicine.
You want to come across as competent and knowledgeable about what you are getting yourself into. In addition to this, you want to bring up your accomplishments and how they will help with your success in med school.
Make sure to thank the professor for writing the letter and explain the process for submitting it to AMCAS.
How Many Professors Should I Reach Out To When Asking For Letters Of Recommendation?
This depends on how well you know your professors. This also depends on how big your university is.
I went to a small undergrad and a large graduate school. So I have experience asking for letters of recommendation from both sides of the equation.
If you are going to a small university and you know your professors fairly well, you only want to email the professors you need a letter from. 99% of the time they will say yes so a spray and pray method is not necessary.
At a large university where the professor may not recognize you, it’s better to use the shotgun approach. Reach out to about triple the amount of letters you need. Chances are a third of the professors you contacted will reply.
Further Reading: Is It Possible To Send Too Many Letters Of Recommendation?
Requesting Letter Of Recommendation Sample Template:
As promised here is an example of an email requesting a letter of recommendation for med school:
I hope this email finds you well. My name is (YOUR NAME) and I have taken several of your science courses in the last couple of years.
I was wondering if you would be willing to write me a strong letter of recommendation for medical school.
My plan is to apply to medical school and the application cycle opens up (INSERT DATE). I am very passionate about medicine and I believe I would thrive in medical school.
I’m happy to meet in person to discuss the letter and provide a copy of my resume and transcript. Thanks for your consideration!
How Do You Ask A Doctor For A Letter Of Recommendation Via Email?
Asking a doctor for a letter of recommendation is a little different than asking a professor.
First of all, physicians are extremely busy so don’t expect to get an in-person meeting unless you just show up when they are not busy.
But honestly, just sending an email is fine. I mentioned setting up a meeting with a professor because there is a lot of value in getting some one-on-one time with them. Professors have hundreds and sometimes thousands of students.
If you shadowed a physician, it is not necessary to meet with them in person again. Just send an email and ask for it.
Further Reading: Which D.O. Med Schools Require A D.O. Letter Of Recommendation
Here is what I would send to a physician you are asking for a letter from:
Dear Dr. ______,
Thank you so much for the opportunity to shadow you. I found the experience exhilarating and informative.
My plan is to apply to medical school this year and I’m needing letters of recommendation. Could you write me a letter of recommendation that highlights my enthusiasm for the medical profession, work ethic, and character?
All of my letters of recommendation are compiled by my premed department. If you agree, please email the letter to _____ and please send a signed copy to:
Thank you again for the amazing shadowing experience. I’m happy to jump on the phone with you if you had any questions about this process.
Is It Better To Ask For A Letter Of Recommendation In Person or by Email?
It may seem like a good idea to just ask a professor or physician you shadowed for a letter in person. But honestly, asking via email is better.
The reason for this is that physicians and professors will forget if you ask in person.
Everyone in academia and medicine is glued to their emails. If you send an email, chances are a professor or physician will read it and put the task in their calendar.
Make Sure To Ask Far In Advance
The process of requesting a letter of recommendation and having it uploaded to a committee letter or AMCAS can be quick or very very long. I’ve had letters take months to be completed.
You must ask at least 3 months before the med school application cycle begins.
This gives your letter writers plenty of time to write the letters and it gives you time to send reminders.
This brings me to my next point…
Sending Reminders To Your Letter Writers Is Fine
Oftentimes, your letter of recommendation writers will forget about your letter. Don’t take it personally, they’re very busy people.
It’s totally fine to send a reminder or two. Sometimes they need it!
Just don’t spam their inboxes with requests because that might piss them off.
Always Send A Thank You Email After The Letter Of Recommendation Is Written
Finally, after your letter of recommendation has been written and submitted, make sure you send a follow-up thank you email.
It’s a small but important gesture.
It’s always good to act professionally with everyone you encounter on your med school journey. You never know when you will need their help again in the future.