Crafting a Follow Up Letter

ERAS and residency programs are under no obligation to communicate with you after you have submitted an application. If time is passing and you haven’t received any word from programs, you may be left wondering if it’s beneficial for you to reach out to programs.

First, be sure to wait the appropriate amount of time before making any contact with programs. You need to give them time to look through the many applications they received. If you applied in September, wait four to six weeks after sending out your application. If you apply later than mid-November, wait 2 weeks.

Then, there is the question of how to contact programs. Emails often get skimmed or ignored and a phone call may come off as too pushy. Therefore, a letter sent in the mail is preferred.

A Follow Up Letter is a letter of intent sent to programs you really like but have not heard back from. This letter will express to these programs you did not apply to them randomly and will demonstrate your dedication. It’s your way of conveying the message “I picked you because…”

The Format

  1. Typed or handwritten (if your handwriting is legible)
  1. Emailed or mailed in an envelope with the address handwritten.
  1. 1-2 paragraphs talking about the program.

The Content

There are three topics you should focus on in letter: the program itself, their faculty, and the surrounding region.

When you talk about the program you should mention specific facts about them you like. Don’t just copy and paste information you learn from their website, see if you can dig up something unique. An example of this may be a program’s new facility or their cancer research focus. This is only a couple of examples of the many attributes a program may have that you can pinpoint.  

Showing familiarity with the faculty will also show how much you know and care about the program. For example, you may mention you would love to work with the prestigious Dr. Smith.

Finally, expressing interest in the region the program is located in will tell programs you aren’t just going to receive their training and leave. Programs want to know they are spending their time and money on someone who is going to stay. This holds true even more for undeserved areas that are inner city, rural or remote.

The Organization

Follow Up Letters are organized much like a Cover Letter for job applications. Begin by briefly introducing yourself. Then, talk about the items listed above. End the letter by thanking the reader for their time or consideration and express the hope you will hear from them again.

Once you are done writing the letter, you have the option of emailing the letter but a letter in the mail makes much more of an impact than an email. If you choose to mail it, it is good to hand sign the letter if it is typed and put it in an envelope with the address handwritten as well.

Send as many as you have time to write and personalize. Do not use a generic letter you are copying and pasting. By putting in the extra work to create and send Follow Up Letters you are sending a strong and positive message to residency programs about the type of candidate you are.

Please note, Match A Resident does not have any examples of Follow Up Letters nor do we assist in drafting letters. Your Follow Up Letter is personal and should be completely unique to you.


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