Following the residency interview, I’m often asked if there is anything that residency applicants can do to influence their position on the program’s rank order list.
And the answer is “Yes!” You can write a letter of intent.
What is a letter of intent? A letter of intent is communication that you send to a residency program expressing your deep interest in their training program.
Do these letters really work? In one study, 29% of program directors indicated that they would rank an applicant higher if they received communication from the applicant expressing interest in their program. Of note, in this study, this meant going beyond a thank-you note.
Please note that sending a letter of intent does not break any NRMP rules. But you should not send this letter if a residency program specifically states that they do not wish to receive post-interview communication.
AVOID ERRORS THAT APPLICANTS MAKE
Once you decide to send a letter of intent, your next step is to ensure that the letter you create makes the impression you seek. Too often, these letters fail to make an impact.
Letters of intent can fail to make an impact for many reasons. Chief among these reasons is the lack of specific content. When content is not specific to the residency program, it can easily make the program director feel that this letter is being sent to every residency program. To avoid this, you need to be very specific about what you write, focusing heavily on the fit between you and the program.
Equally important is to avoid the poorly written letter. Since this is the final impression you will make on a residency program, it should be written very well, reinforcing the image you have already made on the program through your other written applications documents.
We have considerable experience editing letters of intent, and we can ensure that your draft letter highlights the type of information that will resonate with program directors.