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Medical School Letter of Recommendation Template – with Samples

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Medical School Letter of Recommendation Template – with Samples

Updated February 21, 2024

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The medical school recommendation letter is a document that is written in support of a particular student’s application for enrollment in medical school.  The people recommending the candidate will ideally describe them as being well-suited to having a career as a healthcare provider. Medicine is an incredibly competitive field, so beyond the candidate’s academic record, letters of recommendation will be a deciding factor in whether they will be admitted to a medical school or not. Every medical school has its own set of standards and formats for securing letters, so it is important to research the specific schools that are being applied to in order to learn how to write and submit your letter.

Number (#) of Recommendations – Most medical schools will require at least 3 letters from professors of undergraduate classes to accompany each candidate’s application.

Table of Contents

What to Include

  • Name and information regarding Medical School Applicant
  • Date letter was written
  • Provide an explanation of the relationship
  • Lists accomplishments of the individual that provides context
  • Contributions the individual can make to the program
  • Unique characteristics and credentials
  • Results of their prior work
  • Information regarding their collaborative relationships
  • Reasons the individual will succeed

Who to Select?

If you are applying for medical school, you will often be required to secure 3 letters of recommendation from undergraduate professors: 2 science professors and 1 non-science professor. If your college or university has a pre-medical advisory committee, a reference letter from them must be included. The academic letters should come from professors of classes in which you maintained very high grades. In larger classes, a professor may not have enough one-on-one interaction with the student, or the time to write a letter of recommendation. In such cases, it is important to develop a rapport with a Teacher’s Assistant (T.A.), because they may be called upon to assist your professor in writing your letter. It is also recommended that students meet with their professors during office hours in order to form a bond so an honest and subjective letter of recommendation can be asked of them.

To fulfill your number of required letters of recommendation, depending on your experience and level of study, you could also petition any of the following people to write on your behalf: research directors, principal investigators, representatives from volunteer programs, and graduate program directors. If you are reapplying to medical school, you should include a letter of recommendation that describes your activities, credentials, and successes in the interim period since your last application.

When asking someone to write a letter of recommendation on your behalf, you should always provide them with the necessary guidelines and information regarding the program(s) that you are applying for so that they may better tool their letter of support to match what the school is looking for. Also, provide the letter-writer with your personal statement and a short resume of relevant accomplishments. By preparing your recommenders, you make their job easier and enable them to write the best references possible.

Making sure that your letters are submitted properly and on time cannot be stressed enough. You can find most of the information that you need by consulting the latest Medical School Admissions Requirements (MSAR) guide on the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) website. For osteopathic medicine programs, you will need to navigate to the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) website and read through the Osteopathic Medical College Information Book. Many universities require that your reference letters be submitted through the AMCAS website. In order to meet submission deadlines and secure your required letters of reference, you must to be familiar with the application process, requirements, and deadlines for each program that you are applying for. 


How to Write (Format)

A letter of recommendation for medical school should fill at least one entire page (usually 400 – 600 words) and contain an introduction, up to 4 body paragraphs, and a conclusion. If the letter is being submitted by mail or fax, it should also include a standard letterhead.

If you are writing a recommendation letter on behalf of a student, use specific examples and anecdotes to illustrate the candidate’s unique qualities which you wish to highlight. Comparing the applicant to other students or to the class average is a good way to demonstrate that the student’s performance is noteworthy. Your letter should describe the student as having the necessary qualities to succeed not only in medical school, but as a physician as well. Your letter could provide the competitive edge which will render your candidate’s application successful, so make your letter as detailed, specific, and as thoughtful as possible.


If you are submitting your letter by fax or by mail delivery, or if the medical school requires a letterhead, the following information should be provided at the top of the page:

  1. Date of Writing
  2. Full Name
  3. Title
  4. School/Business Name
  5. Street Address
  6. City, State, Zip Code
  7. Preferred Contact (optional)


The introduction to your letter can be fairly short. You should write a former salutation, state your recommendation, introduce yourself and your position, and briefly introduce the person that you are recommending. Here, you can also describe how you know the candidate and for what length of time.

Example #1

Dear Admissions Committee:

As the head of Biology at Penn State University, I do not often take the time to write these letters of recommendation. However, when Stacey Lee petitioned me to write this letter on her behalf, I could not refuse. During the past 3 years, I have had the joy of having Stacey in my Introductory Physiology and Physiology Laboratory courses. After noticing her superior analysis skills, I also took her on as a paid assistant to edit freshman papers, a responsibility which she has delivered on in a very professional way.

In this example, the professor states their position as head of the biology department, describes the length of time that they have known the student, which classes they taught the student in, and how they even employed the student to help mark papers. They also begin by saying that they do not write these letters often, which implies that the student is truly noteworthy.

Example #2

To Whom It May Concern:

It has been my pleasure to have Aaryahi Bavarthi in my Literature of the Enlightenment course this past year and I write to you in support of her application to your medical school program. In the short time that I have had her in my class, it has become evident what a thoughtful and caring person she is. Through her attention in class and her written assignments, Aaryahi demonstrated a high level of commitment to her studies, something which she seems to apply to every aspect of her life.

Here, we have a non-science professor writing a letter on behalf of a student. Such letters are often required, and can serve as a good way of showing the full breadth of a student’s personality. The author in the above example highlights that the student is “thoughtful and caring” as well as committed to everything she does. An ideal physician will be personable and this professor has begun their letter by showing that this is the case in regard to their candidate.

Relationship to the Candidate

After completing your introduction, begin the body of your letter by describing your involvement with the student, their in-class performance, and provide one or two specific anecdotes or examples that support your assessment of them. You should also indicate the length of time that you have known the student if you did not do so in your introduction. This section of your letter should consist of 1 or 2 paragraphs.

Example #1

In my opinion, the factor that distinguishes a student as being truly suited to having a career as a physician is a profound obligation to assist others. A personal calling, if you will. I help run the Pre-Medical Society here at Horizon University, and Michelle is among the most driven students that I have ever encountered. She is certainly the most prepared student that I have dealt with as co-head of the Pre-Med Society. Such determination and focus is required of all students who aim to succeed in medical school.

Michelle was a welcome addition to my classroom during her freshman year, and she distinguished herself through her course and lab work. In one lab experiment, which was to determine the mass percent composition of a hydrogen peroxide solution, the students are asked a number of questions in their assignment. When asked what possible errors she could have made throughout the course of her experiment, Michelle methodically listed a host of possible affects, well in excess of the rote answers the experiment was designed to illicit. Her use of theory and reason demonstrates an interest that goes far beyond the classroom. She is not only able to navigate the academic field, she is also able to apply academic principles in both clinical and creative ways.

In the above example, the author uses their personal interaction with the student to illustrate a few defining qualities of the candidate: her determined focus, her ingenuity, and her talent. They also utilize comparison and a specific anecdote to support their positive assessment of the student.

Example #2

During his year and a half volunteering at the Center for Healthcare Innovation (CHI), Muthu proved himself to be a bright and hard-working team member. Here at CHI, we help patients and health providers increase their knowledge on the opportunities and challenges of maximizing healthcare value to improve health and quality of life. Volunteers’ duties are mostly clerical, however, they do get to interact closely with healthcare professionals and patients. Muthu was able to fully take advantage of his time with us, not only getting acquainted with a professional workplace, but using our staff and resources to further his understanding of healthcare. Physicians and care-takers should want the best for their patients, and during his time at CHI, Muthu has proven himself to be such a person.

This paragraph is written by a volunteer coordinator on behalf of a candidate. This kind of letter can serve to demonstrate how involved a student is within their community, as well as how dedicated they are towards their chosen field.

Candidate’s Attributes

This part of the body of your letter will expand upon the previous paragraph(s) by going into more detail when describing the student’s attributes that make them an ideal candidate for medical school and a career in medicine. Employ both quantitative evidence (grades, etc.) and qualitative evidence (performance, ability to work with peers) to support your recommendation and, again, use specific examples and anecdotes. After reading your letter, the Admissions Committee should be assured that your candidate is prepared to meet the challenges of medical school.

Example #1

Although it is difficult to stand out in classes as large as mine, Pierre made himself memorable by meeting with me several times during my office hours to discuss course work and his goal to attend medical school. After our first meeting, I became fully aware of what a fine student he is. Pierre works extremely well in group projects, as well as independently, consistently achieving high grades. His class participation during lessons was marked by the way he exemplified his comprehension of course material and in his ability to explain complex concepts in front of the class. I was most impressed by the group lab presentation that he was involved with. During the presentation, he proved himself to be capable of public speaking, as well as being a great team leader.

Example #2

As her grades will attest, Yvonne achieved top marks in my course from start to finish. All of her submitted work was in the top 5 percent in terms of quality and she earned near perfect scores on all her course exams. However, if she were only a bright student, I might not be able to write this letter on her behalf. Yvonne is the sort of student whose presence in class can inspire the other students to pay more attention and demand more of themselves. She has always been attentive, organized, and although quiet, not too shy to ask a pertinent question or to engage in debate.

For her end of term project, Yvonne did a presentation on the marketing of pharmaceuticals and the conflicts of interest involved. Speaking in front of the class with great poise, her reporting was extremely objective and thorough. What impressed me most about Yvonne’s presentation, was her breadth of knowledge in regard to pharmacology and the pharmaceutical industry. It is very clear that she has set out clear goals for her future and is on the path towards achieving them.

 In the above examples, you can see how the authors use examples, anecdotes, comparison, as well as qualitative and quantitative evidence to show that the student is a worthy candidate for medical school.


In the conclusion, you should restate your recommendation, provide an invitation for further contact, and end with a sign off and signature.

Example #1

In conclusion, I highly recommend Edward Mitchell as a medical student. I believe that he will continue to be an outstanding pupil at whichever medical school recruits him and that someday he will make a great doctor. I would be happy to answer any further questions that you may have regarding Edward’s application. You may reach me by telephone at (555) 555-5555.


Ms. Ellen Foster
Associate Professor of Biology
Richter University

Example #2

Darshana is a remarkable student, and I am confident that she is more than capable of realizing her goals to succeed in medical school and begin a medical profession. She has already proven that she is genuinely interested in helping others and looking out for their well-being. I cannot think of a better candidate for your medical school.

Feel free to contact me by phone or email if you have any further questions.

Thank you for your time.

Sincere Regards,

Dr. Allen Robson

Sample 1

Dear Admissions Committee: It is my pleasure to recommend Carlos Mendoca in his application for medical school. I accepted Carlos as a student in my Sociology of Health and Medicine class this past term because he showed a sincere interest and application to the subject. Having taught him in my Sociology I class during the Winter 2016 semester, and knowing that he would be applying to medical school, I thought it was a great idea for him to take this course to deepen his understanding of the social factors which account for health disparities across socially defined groups.During the two semesters that I have taught Carlos, I have come to know him personally through our many meetings during my office hours and I find him to be an extremely promising student. His academic performance and coursework have consistently been of equal quality to that of my best Sociology majors. As a method of monitoring my students’ preparation and involvement in class, I ask them to make brainstorming sheets when reading through course materials. This way I can make sure that my students are truly thinking and reflecting upon what is being taught. Of all the students in his class, Carlos clearly spent the most time developing his ability to comprehend new concepts through note-taking. Due to this effort, Mr. Mendoca was always well-prepared for class and offered extremely construction in-class participation.

For his end-of-term paper in Sociology of Health and Medicine, Carlos wrote about the difficulties that physicians face when serving low-income communities. Through intensive research, he investigated the trend of top physicians serving wealthier communities and the lack of incentives for well-trained healthcare workers to work in poor areas. Included in his paper were visual aids which he drew to illustrate the cost of education to become a physician versus the kinds of wages provided by institutions that rely on government funding. His integration of sociological theory in making his analysis, along with his ability to describe multiple problems and unify them into a single argument, was truly impressive.

Carlos demonstrates many qualities that make an ideal student. He is as capable of skillfully assimilating and using new concepts, as he is of independent thought and research. He is an incredibly bright student and expertly handles the demand and stress of academic work.

Carlos is more than capable of succeeding in medical school and I hope that you will seriously consider admitting him to your program. If you have any questions or require more information, contact me by email at: profadams@email.org.

Yours Sincerely,

Prof. Lindsey Adams
Department of Sociology
Colorado College

Sample 2

June 12, 2017Dr. Wallis Greene
Physics Chair
77 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139
(555) 555-5555To Whom It May Concern: I am writing this letter to support Florence Desjardins in her application for medical school. I taught Florence during the Winter 2017 semester in Physics II: Electricity and Magnetism, as a part of her pre-med studies. Although I have more than one hundred students who enroll in this class each year, I always try to pay special attention to pre-med students. My Teacher’s Assistant Ms. Wanda Sykes, who worked more closely with Florence, was able to assist me in completing this letter. While it is difficult to assess a student based on a single semester of a freshmen year course, I have three criteria that I use to determine which students show the most promise: attendance and participation (many students who think highly of themselves perform poorly in this respect), the completeness of submitted work (a lack of need for revision demonstrates comprehension and academic ability), and last but not least, I look at the quality of their written answers on mid-term and final exams (these show the student’s clarity and understanding of scientific concepts). In all of these respects, Florence has proven herself to be a student of exceptional ability.Even in such a large class, it quickly becomes apparent which students are the most attentive and prepared. Before I formally met Florence, I was already familiar with her as being one of my more serious students. Preparing for the writing of this letter, I reviewed Ms. Sykes notes regarding Florence’s exams and written work, which were full of superlatives. Florence is able to clearly understand the concepts presented in class and expertly applied them to her problem-solving. This methodical mindset is necessary for success in a challenging academic setting such as medical school.

Florence’s lab work was outstanding due to her clarity and organization of notes and writing. While reviewing her work on an experiment she performed involving the magnetic fields of a bar magnet and Helmholtz coil, it was clear that she was able to expertly employ formula and explain her work. I should also mention that her sketching of “field lines” was very well done. This sort of excellent work covering all areas of application is rare. In regards to her academic ability, I would place her in the top 5% of the class.

Florence Desjardins will make a fine addition to any medical school program and she has my personal recommendation. Please contact me by mail or email if you have any further questions.


Dr. Wallis Greene

Sample 3

Dear Admissions Committee: It is with great pleasure that I write to you in recommendation of Shalise Williams now that she has completed the Premedicine Program at Penn State University. I taught Shalise in an introductory Biology course and I also served as her academic advisor for the past four years. This has given me ample opportunity to become familiar with her work ethic and potential as a med student. In my BIOL 11o course, Shalise maintained a near-perfect score throughout the Fall 2014 semester and impressed me with her unwavering positivity and mature work ethic. Ms. Williams holds herself to a very high standard and this is reflected in all of her work. When writing an assignment on “How Structure Determines Function”, it was clear that Shalise was already familiar with this concept, and she was able to expertly tie in what the class had covered regarding genetic variation to describe how this concept works in evolution. The best science students always have an interest in the subject that goes beyond what is covered in the classroom, and it is clear to me that Shalise has spent much time exploring the background of this field.

Through our advisory sessions, I have come to know Shalise as being a very focused and organized individual. Her ability to plan her time and remain on schedule has enabled her to keep a level head and progress through our Premed Program with great success. As she moves on to medical school, these skills will serve her well in facing the challenges she will inevitably face in grad school.

I’ve spoken with many of her other professors and I can attest that she is able to work as well in a group setting as she can independently, and that she is appreciated by all for her sincere dedication. Her oral and written communication skills are also excellent. I attended a presentation that she gave on behalf of the Red Cross as a volunteer for the Student Red Cross Club and her presesentation, as well as her use of visual aides, were well-realized and very informative. One goal of the Premed Program is to make students recognize the importance of behaving ethically and understand their ethical responsibility as future health care professionals; Shalise’s work with the Red Cross demonstrates her strong moral compass and a desire to affect positive change.

Many students come through our Premedicine Program and it is not uncommon to receive a large number of requests for letters of recommendation each semester. However, I am only able to write for a handful of students each year and only select the most promising candidates. Shalise is the most qualified student applying for medical school from Penn State that I know of this year and, therefore, she receives my highest recommendation.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you require further information regarding Ms. William’s application. I can be reached by telephone at: (555) 555-5555, or email at: lbridges@pennstate.com.

Thank you very much for your time.

Sincere Regards,

Prof. Lynn Bridges
Prof. of Biology and Academic Advisor
Penn State University