Evaluations are important. They are personal statements about you as well as about your work. Think carefully about the evaluations you solicit. Health professional school admissions committees are interested in a variety of competencies that include:
- Thinking & Reasoning Competencies
- Science Competencies
- Interpersonal Competencies (service orientation, social skills, cultural competence, teamwork, oral communication)
- Intrapersonal Competencies (ethical responsibility, reliability and dependability, resilience and adaptability, capacity for improvement)
There is no perfect number of evaluations. In general, an average of four recommendation letters is suggested, with a potential of more for MD/PhD programs depending on the number of research experiences one has obtained. When considering whom to ask:
- Think of those aspects of your work and activities you wish presented and who might do that best.
- Do not overlook areas outside the sciences.
- Your major field of study is especially important.
- Two science evaluations (preferably from course work or course laboratories) should be included, regardless of major.
- Letters from significant research supervisors are encouraged. Some medical schools require letters from all Research P.I.’s, so check each schools’ policies.
- Remember college deans, coaches, employers, volunteer activities, and summer experiences.
- The status of the writer is not as important as the content of the evaluation. You should ask those people who know you and your work best.
How to Request Letters
- Whenever possible, ask for an evaluation letter in person. It is recommended letters are submitted by early June.
- Provide the writer Guidelines for Writing a Letter of Evaluation for a Medical School Applicant. More information can be found on the AAMC page here.
- Ask the writer to include a statement in the letter that, “The applicant has waived his/her right to view this letter.”**
- Establish a firm deadline. Ask for your letters well in advance of when they are due. People will be much more willing to write a thoughtful letter if they have plenty of time in which to do so.
- Prepare a succinct and brief autobiographical statement and resume which helps the writer understand your background. Most people appreciate this aid to memory. You might include some discussion of the development of your professional goals and your extracurricular interests. Consider providing the writer your Health Professions Evaluation Profile Form.
- You should give the people writing your letters a sense of why you are asking them specifically and what perspective you think they can bring to your application file. Let them know what aspect of your work or what competency they can speak to that your other letter writers cannot.
- Evaluations must be submitted on letterhead and must have an original signature. It is the applicant’s responsibility to inform their writer(s) of this information.
- Let your writers know the outcome of your applications, and thank them again for their help. This simple communication shows you are mature, responsible, and appreciative of their time. Additionally, if you need them to write another letter for you in the future, keeping in touch with them will make them more willing to do so.
Drafting Your Own Recommendation
If a recommender asks you to provide a draft of your own recommendation, provide the recommender with this sample draft from the National Association of Colleges & Employers. You may also ethically provide a list of bullet points you would like the letter to address and/or a factual narrative of key achievements (avoid adjectives). Explain that you are unable to write a draft that provides the kind of judgment and comparative evaluation that only the recommender can provide and that helps make for a strong recommendation.
**In accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), applicants have the right to read letters of recommendation received and/or sent out about them. Admissions committees, however, view confidential evaluations much more seriously, and the applicant should consider this very carefully, since medical and other health professions schools will be informed if you have NOT waived your right to read the letters.
How to Collect Letters
Interfolio or PrivateFolio are the vendors that our office suggests for the collection and delivery of individual letters of recommendation/evaluation.
- Interfolio: The set-up of the account and collection of materials is free. Once you are ready to apply to graduate school, there is a subscription fee to send up to 50 applications per year (Dossier Deliver).
- PrivateFolio: By clicking the link to their site from this page, Yale students will receive a free one-year account (or a $10 discount on longer account options) when you register.
How to Transmit Letters
The application services (AMCAS, TMDSAS, AACOMAS, AADSAS, etc.) will open in May or June for the current application cycle.
- Submit your application to your intended application service (AMCAS, TMDSAS, AACOMAS, AADSAS, etc.)
- Follow the instructions on the vendor websites and the application services to transmit the letters.