How To Write A Medical School Letter Of Intent And Get Off The Waitlist

You probably thought you would know for sure whether you would be getting into medical school or not by now. But alas, the waiting continues.


You’re still in a good spot though. Any one of the applicants on the waitlist would be considered to be a solid addition to their medical school.


But since it is such a tight race at this point, you have to stand out in some way to be pulled off that waitlist and into the big leagues.


And a great way to do that is by writing a letter of intent.

A Letter of Intent

A letter of intent basically says, “You are my top medical school and if you accept me, I will attend.”


It then elaborates on why they are your top medical school and updates them on what you have been doing since you applied (or anything else that they would not know from your application).


You should only send a “letter of intent” to one school. It is dishonest to say that all three schools you are waitlisted at are your “#1 school.” If the schools found out about it, they would not be very happy with you. In fact, students have gotten their application rejected from both schools for dishonest practices. Ethics is important in both life and medicine, so hold yourself to a higher character standard even if it seems like no one is watching.


You can still send letters to multiple schools! They should just be a “letter of interest.” This states that you are extremely interested in the school and would very likely attend.


Besides that detail, the way you write a letter of intent and a letter of interest is pretty much identical.

How To Write A Letter Of Intent

How you write the letter is up to you. But generally, letters of intent hit these 5 points.


  • A Direct Address To The Dean of Admissions
  • An Introduction To Who You Are And What This Letter Is About
  • A Personal Connection To The School/Why They Are Your Top Choice
  • Updates On What You Are Doing/Plan To Be Doing
  • Wrap Up and Give Contact Information

A Direct Address To The Dean Of Admissions

Pretty straightforward. You want to address the dean of admissions (they may have a different title like the “director of admissions” as well). If you want to make sure another person on the admissions committee sees it, you can CC them in the email. 


A formal greeting is best. For example: 


Dear Dr. Joe Smith,

An Introduction To Who You Are And What The Letter Is About

No need to waste time. These people are very busy, so get straight to the point. 


In the opening line, state your name and your decision that [insert medical school] is your top choice and that if accepted you will attend.


What you write immediately after that is up to you. You can outline what you are going to say in the rest of the letter, or quickly touch on the reasons why this school is for you before going into further detail. Or you can just dive directly into your next point.

A Personal Connection To The School/Why They Are Your Top Choice

You must be unique. A generic answer that doesn’t show anything besides the fact that you read what their values are on their website won’t cut it.


We are not saying, “don’t mention the school’s values.” We are just saying that you need to connect yourself to those values on a personal level in some way. 


Showing a personal connection shows that you truly care about the school and that you want to be educated there.


There are a bunch of ways that you can go about this. Writing about a personal connection to the school may come very easily to you. For others, maybe not so much.


Either way, here are a few different approaches to get you thinking.


  • Emphasize a connection to a doctor that went to this medical school and discuss how you want their values and expertise.
  • Tell a small story about yourself that shows you connect to the school’s mission.
  • Talk about a personal connection to the location and how you want to practice there. (This can be effective for schools that get a lot of state funding because they want good doctors to stay in the area.)
  • Talk about a meaningful conversation you had on your interview day and how it had an impact on you.


You can pick one of these approaches, or mix and match. You can even go a completely different route. Again, this is just to get you thinking.

Updates On What You Are Doing/Plan To Be Doing

This is roughly the other half of your letter. You give them information on the things that you have been doing that are not on your application. 


You could talk about your experiences with continuing undergraduate (maybe mention an upward trend in your GPA), talk about a research program that you were accepted to, and/or mention the continued volunteer work that you are doing.


You can throw a line or two in there about what you have gained/how you have grown out of each experience.

Wrap Up And Give Contact Information

When you are wrapping up, you can reiterate your interest in the school and give any information they may need to contact you.


You should finish your letter in the following format:


Sincerely,

[Your Full Name]

AAMC ID: [Your AAMC ID #]


Other Details That You Shouldn’t Miss

  • Your letter should be no more than a page long. There is probably a lot that you want to say, but they only have so much time in the day.
  • You should have your letter proofread by someone else. This could be another professor or another student.
  • Send the letter as a PDF attached to an email. This ensures that there are no formatting issues when they receive it.

A Steady Persistence

You can definitely send multiple letters to the same school. Just don’t become a bother. If you are sending something every two weeks, that is probably a bit much. 


Whenever you are thinking about writing a new letter, you should ask yourself if you actually have anything to update them with. Whenever that answer is yes (maybe you have new transcripts, or you have finished research), you can send another letter. If you completed another 8 hours of a volunteer activity that they already know about, probably best to be patient.


Continuing to stay in touch will help ingrain your name into the admissions team’s minds. And after a student withdraws their acceptance, that could help you be the next one in line.