Letters of Recommendation Questions
When should I have my letters of recommendation sent to UMMSM?
Do not, under any circumstances, have letters sent to the UM Miller School of Medicine. All letters must be submitted through AMCAS.
How many letters of recommendation do I need?
You need to submit either:
- A composite evaluation from your schools premed advisory committee, or
- Three letters from individual faculty members, two of whom must be science faculty who have taught you.
Admissions committees greatly prefer composite letters because they are arrived at by consensus and are often more thorough and insightful.
What sorts of information should be included in letters of recommendation?
The best letters are from faculty members (and others) who know you well enough to comment in some depth not only on your academic performance, but also on your personal qualities for a career in medicine. Both things are equally important. They should mention how long they have known you and in what capacity, and how well they know you. They should also put their remarks about you into some kind of comparative context with others for whom they have written letters.
I plan to send letters from the governor, several alumni of the medical school, and physicians whom I have known. Will that help my application?
There are few letters that are more disadvantageous than letters from elected officials who do not know you personally. It looks like you are trying to pull strings and impress the committee with whom you or your parents might know. Letters from physicians you have shadowed have a tendency to be uniformly positive and do not offer the committee any really solid way of distinguishing among applicants. Letters from alumni can be helpful, especially if the alumni is known to members of the admissions committee.
I have been out of school for five years and I can not get letters from my old professors. Are there any substitutes for these required letters?
Contact each medical school to which you are applying. Some may accept substitute letters, some may not. Military commanders (for military personnel) and immediate supervisors (for applicants with lengthy employment histories) may be good people to write such letters. But contact each school to see if such letters are acceptable.