Letters of Recommendation
Most students will be required to submit letters of recommendation when applying to Health Profession programs. Some helpful links can be found below:
- AMCAS Letters of Evaluation
- AACOMAS Letters of Evaluation
- AADSAS Letters of Evaluation
- CASPA Letters of Evaluation
- PharmCAS Letters of Reference
- PTCAS References
- OTCAS Letters of Evaluation
- OptomCAS Letters of Evaluation
- AAMC Webinar: How to Select Letter Writers and What Admissions Committees Learn About You
The following letter types are common for applicants:
- Committee Letter: A letter authored by a pre-health committee or pre-health advisor are intended to represent your institution’s evaluation of you. A committee letter may or may not include additional letters written in support of your application. This is sometimes called a composite letter. The committee/composite letter provides a balanced assessment of the candidate and will not inflate candidate ratings, experiences or accomplishments. The USF Division of Health Professions Advising does NOT currently offer the committee or composite letter: While committee/composite letters are held in high esteem by many admission boards, they ARE NOT REQUIRED by any centralized application service. Some schools may require a committee/composite letter IF the university offers the service or may request explanation if you did not receive a letter. There is no disadvantage if your institution does not offer a committee letter.
- Letter Packet: A packet or set of letters assembled and distributed by your institution. A Letter Packet may include a cover sheet from your pre-health committee or advisor. However, unlike to a Committee Letter, a Letter Packet does not include an evaluative letter from your pre-health committee or advisor. The USF Division of Health Professions Advising does NOT currently offer the letter packet.
- Individual Letter: A letter written by, and representing, a single letter author. Professions and schools
vary in the number of letters required with your application. The number generally
varies from two to five although you may be able to upload more to your application.
The first step is to check with the schools to which you are applying as to the number
of letters required, and also the persons from whom those letters are required (i.e.
do they specify “science faculty”, “healthcare provider”, etc.).
Asking for Letters of Recommendation
First ask the individual whom you want to recieve a letter if they are able to write you a strong letter of recommendation to your intended health professional program. If they say yes, then please be sure to include all of the following when requesting a letter of recommendation:
- Photograph (so they can connect your name to your face)
- Personal Statement or paragraph explaining why you are interested in this position/program/etc.
- Any specific information regarding the program/ position that you think they should know
- Why you chose them, specifically, to write you a letter/ what you think I can tell the letter reader (i.e. the strengths and/or skills you think they can attest to)
- Who the letter should be addressed to (i.e. “Dear Admissions Committee”, “To whom it concerns”, etc.)
- Where they should send the letter upon completion (will they be contacted by the letter writer service, do you have an interfolio link you want to give them?)
- You may also wish to provide them with the AAMC Letter Writer Brochure.
- Additionally, as a courtesy, you will want to give them a minimum of four weeks to
write the letter.
- After those four weeks, feel free to follow-up with your letter writer if you have
not received a response yet.
- After those four weeks, feel free to follow-up with your letter writer if you have not received a response yet.
Collecting & Submitting Letters
Most health profession applications will NOT allow you to upload your own letters. Therefore, you will want to reivew the ways to collect and submit letters below:
- Electronic Upload within Application: Most programs use an electronic letter writer submission component as a part of the application process (meaning that letter writers cannot submit their letters until after the application has opened and you have created an account). This service allows you to enter the contact information for the individuals you wish to receive letters from. Once you save this information in your application, an e-mail is sent to the evaluator at the e-mail address you provided asking them to upload their evaluation. Please advise your evaluators to monitor their junk e-mail and spam folders as these e-mails are automated and therefore sometimes filtered as spam. It is your responsibility to confirm with your evaluator that they have received the notification.
- Interfolio: If you are applying to AMCAS, AACOMAS, AADSAS, or TMDSAS you can begin to collect your letters early through a fee-based dossier service called Interfolio. Interfolio allows you to begin collecting your letters before the application portal opens, for a nominal fee. You can read more about interfolio here and information about sending your letters stored in Interfolio is here.
- Other ways: If your application portal does not use the electronic upload within the application,
they will specify alternative ways to obtain letters within the instruction manual
for that application (these manuals should be available for all health profession
portals and can be found with a simple google search).
- Most health profession applications will ask students to waive their rights to the letters. Even if you have the option, you are encouraged to waive this right, as otherwise your letters may be viewed as less strong.
- Most health profession applications will allow you to submit your primary application BEFORE your letters are received. However, many individual schools will reqire that your letters be sbmitted before they will review your secondary application.