Letters of Recommendation

Summary:

  • Letters from two science faculty, one non-science faculty, and one or two others
  • Remember while taking courses that you are going to need letters of recommendation. Get to know your profs.
  • Doing research with a professor helps him/her get to know you and write a more credible letter.
  • Have the letters on file the spring semester before you apply (April/May of junior year).
  • Most med schools use the AMCAS letter distribution service. They only accept letters from AMCAS.
  • You must provide each letter writer with your AMCAS Letter ID found on your AMCAS Letter Request Form, as well as your AAMC ID#.
  • Instruct the letter writer to either send your letter to AMCAS directly (with the AMCAS Letter Request Form), or to Ms. ElBendary in the Information Center (S1-136, (559) 278-7724). In the latter case, the letter must be accompanied with the Letter of Recommendation Request for CSUF Collection and Distribution. Click here for instructions and forms.
  • We shall send your letters electronically to AMCAS (or to non-AMCAS schools) on your instruction. If all are being sent to the same schools, they can be sent as a packet with the same Letter ID #.
  • Advantages of our service: we keep copies of your letters which may be needed for scholarship applications, for distribution to non-AMCAS med schools, and for AACOM (Osteopathic school) applications.

Three to five letters of recommendation are considered sufficient. Usually these letters include two from faculty in science, one from a non-science faculty and one or two letters from other people who know you well enough to write about your strengths. Note: Fresno State does not provide a committee letter, but rather a packet with individual letters.

When asking for letters of recommendation, approach anyone who may speak of you from personal knowledge and is willing to strongly support your application to medical school. Though the content of the letter will depend upon the capacity in which the individual knows you, there is no substitute for familiarity. Provide the individual with as much information as possible, such as an autobiography, personal statement, courses taken, hours worked while in school, and curriculum vitae. It is also helpful to include a "fact sheet" of items recalled from past encounters (informal discussions, office hours, etc.) that may aid and direct the individual writing the letter. It is best that the individual have a title suggesting experience in evaluating people (CEO of a company, doctors, lawyers, dentists, professors, etc.).

Because most medical schools now use the AMCAS Application Service and their letter distribution service, they will only accept letters from AMCAS. You can instruct your letter writers to send in their letters to AMCAS directly, or to send them to Ms. ElBendary in the Information Center, S1-136, (559) 278-7724, and we shall send them on to AMCAS on your instructions. Whichever way you decide, the letter on your behalf sent to AMCAS must be accompanied with your AAMC ID number and your AMCAS Letter ID number, which is on the AMCAS Letter Request Form. This is the way AMCAS associates the letter with your account.

If you ask your letter writers to write a letter before you can provide them with their AMCAS Letter ID numbers, they cannot send their letters directly to AMCAS. In this situation, have them send their letters to Ms. ElBendary in the Science and Health Careers Information Center, S1-136. She will hold them until you provide her with the ID numbers, and then your letters will be forwarded from the Center to AMCAS, the Letter ID number accompanying each letter.

If all your letters are going to the same schools, we will make a packet of them, that only needs one Letter ID#. However, if letters are going to different schools, each letter will need to have its own Letter ID. Where possible, we shall make pdf copies of your letters and send them electronically to AMCAS. For those letters that must be sent via the postal service, we ask that you please bring a mailing label with the destination name and address and three (3) stamps for each packet sent out.

Beyond the above advantage of using our in-house collection service, other benefits are:
  • We have copies of your letters to send to scholarship agencies, should you so direct.
  • We can send copies of your letters to Osteopathic schools, which may not yet have a centralized collection and distribution service.
  • We can send copies of your letters to the few med schools not using the AMCAS letter service.
  • If you decide to wait for the next year s application cycle but we have a file of your letters of recommendation, we can send (or re-send) them to AMCAS for the new application. AMCAS does not keep letters on file from applications in previous years. You also need to re-submit complete transcripts even if you did not take any new courses.

If you do use our in-house service, we ask that you download the Premedical Student Registration Form, which allows us to open a premed file for you. Fill it out and bring it to Ms. ElBendary in the Science and Health Information Center, Science 1 - Room 136. When you are ready to solicit letters of recommendation, please print out instructions and forms from this link and fill them out as well.

You will have to decide whether or not to waive your right to see the letters in your premedical file by signing in the appropriate place on the "Premedical Student Waiver Form". Letters within closed files (i.e., letters that you have waived your right to see) will carry more weight when evaluated by medical schools. Medical schools want to know if you have seen your letters and undoubtedly will take your letters more seriously if you have waived your right to access them. Waiving this right may permit the person writing a letter to be more candid in his/her evaluation. Give each person writing a letter for you a "Letter of Recommendation Request Form". The form tells the letter writer to send the letter directly to me or Ms. ElBendary. However, if you opt to have the letter writer send in his/her letter to AMCAS directly, they only need be given the AMCAS Letter Request form that the AMCAS online service will generate.

The letters will be kept in your file, and copies will be sent to AMCAS, to non-AMCAS schools (including osteopathic schools), and scholarship agencies at your request. Be sure to check with the chief premedical advisor (Dr. Frank) or with Ms. ElBendary to make sure that the letters you requested were actually received and are in your premedical file. All your letters should be in your file no later than the end of the spring semester, before you submit your primary application. Do not wait until the end of the semester to ask for letters of recommendation. Faculty get very busy at the end of the semester and tend to "disappear" when the semester is over. Tracking them down and getting them to actually write and submit their letters may become very difficult.

Upon receipt of secondary applications that you intend to complete, request Dr. Frank or Ms. ElBendary to send your letters on to AMCAS or to medical schools not using the AMCAS service. Provide mailing labels and three first class stamps for each packet being sent. Also provide a list of non-AMCAS medical schools to which the letters will be sent on the "Premedical Mailings Form", with information on which letters go to which schools. Please allow one week for the copying and mailing of your letter of recommendation packets.

Check with AMCAS or non-AMCAS medical schools to be sure the letters are in your file. Allow several weeks for this process to be completed.