Health Career Advisement Program

Request for Letters of Recommendation

Letters of Recommendation

Letters of recommendation are an important part of your health profession application. Medical, Physician Assistant, Dental or any health professional schools value the perspectives of people who can objectively judge, observed ability to work well with others and skills (no family members or friends of family). However, schools may vary in what type of letter and who they want a letter written from. For example, medical schools want students who can work collaboratively and contribute to their community. Visit school websites to learn of specific requirements. Quality over quantity goes far!

How do I ask for a letter of recommendation?

How well does the person you ask know you? For example, did you have multiple classes, do research or TA for them? The best scenario is someone you worked closely with. The best way to ask is by email and not during a class, passing someone in hallway or during their office hours.

Things to keep in mind:

  • 24-48 hours is not enough time to reply—give a week or two before politely asking again
  • If letters are sent from outside sources (i.e. volunteer work) provide name/date & follow up
  • Faculty may not be able to write letters during breaks in academic calendar

Provide the following in email request:

  • Your N# (provides correct transcript)
  • Up to date resume
  • Describe your interaction with professor including skills learned/challenges overcome
  • Provide personal statement or cover letter you are submitting
  • Describe why you are pursuing medical/PA/Dentistry or other Pre-health profession


Give the letter recommender the option to say, “no thank you”. The recommender may be busy and not have time. The goal is to get a strong letter with time to write. It’s okay if they decline. A letter written with few details or in haste will not look good on an application. Always be polite as the recommender is giving you the option to find someone who will provide an honest letter for your application. 


Professional Interactions:

Be patient and professional. A gentle reminder, thanking anyone involved in the process is always a good idea!