Like many parts of the medical school admissions process, thank you letters are challenging. Applicants wonder if they’re necessary, to whom they should be sent, and what they should say. Thank you notes, for the most part, don’t have to be a source of anxiety, however. Like most parts of the medical school application process, with a little bit of clarity, writing thank you letters can become an easy, clarifying part of your admissions journey.
A medical school thank you note is a short letter or email that applicants send to indicate gratitude for the opportunity to interview. It’s a chance to thank specific people who made your interview day meaningful. It helps them understand what you liked about the school, the program, and the people you met along the way.
On their face, thank you letters have a very simple purpose—to say thanks! Just like your birthday thank you notes, they’re a respectful gesture to communicate gratitude to people who have done something nice for you on your application journey.
But there’s actually another valuable part of writing thank you notes that you might not have considered. When writing thank you letters, you have to consider carefully the interactions and experiences you had during your interview day. What did you appreciate? What were you excited about? Detailing these aspects are not only respectful when thanking folks who took the time to meet with you, but it’s also crucial to understanding what you valued about the interview days that you had. This can help you figure out which programs you like the most! That’s certainly something to be thankful for!
This is always an interesting question for editors and advisors. Do thank you letters work—ask yourself what that question means. Do thank you letters work in terms of getting you into medical school? Thank you notes tend to be one of those elements that don’t really tip the balance one way or the other. Thank you notes are typically expected (unless a school says not to send them!) so not sending them may be a red flag. But…you’re not necessarily going to make it from the waitlist to the acceptance pile just because you sent a thoughtful note. A thank you letter will not make up for other less-than-stellar parts of your application. The bottom line—send medical school thank you letters. It’s the right thing to do, but don’t bank on it as the thing that will change your application for better or worse.
As soon as possible after your medical school interview! Some people will say that letters must be sent exactly within 24-hours. Ideally, your thank you note arrives within a few days of your interview; 24 hours is NOT a dealbreaker. There are practical reasons to send a letter quickly though–the sooner you write it, the stronger your memory and your ability to write compellingly about the day.
Short! Especially sending via email, letters must be short and to the point. Express your thanks and wrap up. No need to be any longer than that!
The best thank you notes start with a greeting. Greet the person you’re writing to by name, with their professional title. Then express thanks for the chance to interview. Remind the reader of a specific anecdote that will remind them of your conversation. You can share something you appreciated about their perspective and connect it to something important to you as well. Sign off professionally. Remember–short and personal is key! Do not copy a template of a letter that you see online. Use your own words and your own experiences–that’s what will make any thank-you note a stand-out.
Dear Dr. Smith,
Thank you so much for taking the time to interview me earlier today. It was a pleasure to meet you and have the chance to connect. I especially appreciated learning about your experience working in Diabetes research: it’s one of the things about X Medical School that I’m most excited about!
Thank you again and please take care.