Medical School Letter of Recommendation Submission Process and Professional Letter Services

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As mentioned in the Letters of Recommendation section you will need to collect letters of recommendation (LOR) to submit with your application to medical school. The process of actually storing and submitting the LORs is slightly different depending on whether you are applying to allopathic (M.D.) or osteopathic (D.O.) medical schools. The LORs are required to be submitted at the time the secondary application is submitted. Most medical schools will not review your secondary application until your LORs are submitted.

FOR ALLOPATHIC (M.D.) MEDICAL SCHOOLS

For allopathic (M.D.) medical schools in the United States you will apply using the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS).  Once the application service begins (on May 1st) you can begin submitting your LORs to AMCAS. AMCAS has a Letter Service that most medical schools (all but 5 medical schools [Duke University, Louisiana State University Shreveport, Universidad Central Del Caribe, University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine]) accept as a valid means to receive your LORs. You will submit your primary application through AMCAS and your LORs do not need to be submitted by this time. Either before or after your primary application is submitted you can create a slot for each LOR within the AMCAS application by entering information about the letter writer. AMCAS will give each LOR a Letter ID#. The AMCAS Letter Service is the only way that medical schools will receive your LORs (other than the 5 schools not participating).

  • Click here to read more about the AMCAS Letter Service

There are four ways to store your LORs prior to sending them to AMCAS Letter Service:

1. Use a private letter service like InterFolio to store and manage your letters of recommendation. When you ask a professor for a LOR, you will ask him or her to send the letter to Interfolio. When you are ready to submit the LOR to AMCAS you will enter the Letter ID and your AAMC ID into Interfolio. Then you will submit the letters to the AMCAS letter service. InterFolio is a private letter service that any individual student can sign up to use.

  • Click here for instructions from AAMC regarding using Interfolio
  • Click here for more information about Interfolio

2. Use your school’s letter service (if available) to store and manage your letters of recommendation. When you ask a professor for a LOR, you will ask him or her to send the letter to your school’s letter service. When you are ready to submit the LOR to AMCAS you will enter the Letter ID and your AMCAS ID on your school’s letter service interface (if possible). You should clarify with the letter service that they will allow you to add the Letter ID and the AAMC ID to the LOR at a later time. Otherwise your letter writer will need to include this on his or her letter. If this is the case, your letter will become obsolete after this one year. We would recommend using Interfolio if this were the case.

3. Your school may have purchased letter services from Virtual Evals. Virtual Evals is a private letter service that any school or institution can purchase services from. The individual student cannot purchase letter services from Virtual Evals if their school is not participating. If your school is participating in Virtual Evals, when you ask a professor for a LOR, you will ask him or her to send the letter to Virtual Evals. When you are ready to submit the LOR to AMCAS you will give the Letter ID and AAMC ID to your school advisor to submit with the Virtual Eval LORs.

  • Click here for intstructions from AAMC regarding using Virtual Evals
  • Click here for more information about Virtual Evals

4. Have your letter writers send their LORs directly to AMCAS Letter Service. They will need to include the Letter ID and AAMC ID with the LOR. The letter will not be stored anywhere other than the AMCAS server for use during one application cycle only. This means that if you need to reapply the following year, you will need to re-submit your LORs by asking your letter writers to write/send another LOR. We do not recommend this method of storing/managing your LORs.

Once your letters are received by the AMCAS Letter Service you can select which LORs you would like AMCAS to send to specific medical schools by assigning LORs to schools. Every time you make a change in this section you must “resubmit” your application. This is to verify and formalize your changes. Then schools you have assigned to certain LORs will be able to see these LORs. Any time during the application cycle you can add additional LORs (as long as you don’t exceed the 10 LOR slots AMCAS provides) and assign them to specific medical schools.

Some general tips to keep in mind regarding LORs for Allopathic Medical Schools via AMCAS

  • You must include the Letter ID and your AAMC ID with your LORs or else they may not be connected to your application
  • You do not have to complete the LOR section of the AMCAS prior to submitting your primary application. This part of the application can be altered later.
  • Once you assign a LOR to a specific school you will not be able to unassign it
  • Your LOR should be signed and written on official letterhead
  • Your LORs must be submitted before most schools will actually review your secondary application
  • When prompted, you should waive your right to see the LORs, otherwise your letters will be viewed as less strong.

FOR OSTEOPATHIC (D.O.) MEDICAL SCHOOLS

For osteopathic (D.O.) medical schools you will be sending LORs directly to medical schools at the time you send in your secondary (supplemental) application materials. The American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service (AACOMAS) does NOT have a letter service that will distribute your LORs to specific medical schools.

There are four ways to send your LORs to the specific Osteopathic medical schools:

1. Use a private letter service like InterFolio to store and manage your letters of recommendation. When you ask a professor for a LOR, you will ask him or her to send the letter to Interfolio. When you are ready to submit the LOR to the osteopathic medical school you will enter the your AACOMAS ID into Interfolio. Then you will submit the letters to the individual medical school(s) you are applying to. InterFolio is a private letter service that any individual student can sign up to use. All but one osteopathic medical school accept LORs via InterFolio (Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine – has their own school-specific form for evaluators).

2. Use your school’s letter service (if available) to store and manage your letters of recommendation. When you ask a professor for a LOR, you will ask him or her to send the letter to your school’s letter service. When you are ready to submit the LOR to the osteopathic medical school you will enter your AACOMAS ID on your school’s letter service interface (if possible). You should clarify with the letter service that they will allow you to add your AACOMAS ID to the LOR at a later time. Otherwise your letter writer will need to include this on his or her letter. If this is the case, your letter will become obsolete after this one year. We would recommend using Interfolio if this were the case.

3. Your school may have purchased letter services from Virtual Evals. Virtual Evals is a private letter service that any school or institution can purchase services from. The individual student cannot purchase letter services from Virtual Evals if their school is not participating. If your school is participating in Virtual Evals, when you ask a professor for a LOR, you will ask him or her to send the letter to Virtual Evals. When you are ready to submit the LOR to an osteopathic medical school you will give your AACOMAS ID to your school advisor to submit with the Virtual Eval LORs. All but one osteopathic medical school accept LORs via Virtual Evals (Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine – has their own school-specific form for evaluators).

  • Click here for more information about Virtual Evals

4. Have your letter writers send their LORs directly to each osteopathic medical school you are applying to. They will need to include your AACOMAS ID with the LOR. The letter will not be stored anywhere and will be available for use during one application cycle only. This means that if you need to reapply the following year, you will need to re-submit your LORs by asking your letter writers to write/send another LOR. We do not recommend this method of storing/managing your LORs.

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