Letters of Recommendation

M.D. Admissions

An important part of the medical school admissions process is the Admissions Committee review of letters of recommendations.


  • Each applicant should arrange for three letters be sent to the school. Letters must be signed and on letterhead.
  • Applicants should include two academic letters from professors or others who have first-hand knowledge of the student's academic performance. The Admissions Committee requires one letter be from a physician or other healthcare provider familiar with the applicant's clinical exposure.
  • Pre-Professional Committee Letters: The School of Medicine encourages students who have access to a Pre-Professional Committee at their undergraduate school to use this process. If your pre-professional letter is submitted alone, up to two additional letters may be submitted. You are strongly encouraged to include a letter from a physician or healthcare professional in addition to your Pre-Professional Committee letter.
  • The University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine will only accept electronic letters of recommendation from letter writers using the AMCAS letter service or VirtualEvals. Students are encouraged to provide letter writers with the waiver so letters are completely confidential. Please note: Letters of recommendation submitted via mail, fax, or email, or any other method than AMCAS or VirtualEvals will not be included in your file or considered in your application.
  • First time applicants: All letters must be current, dated within the year you are applying.
  • Re-Applicants: Two letters from the immediate past application cycle may be submitted. The third letter must be new and dated for the current admission cycle year. Letters two-years or older will not be accepted.

Guidelines for Students when talking with prospective letter writers:

Time and type of contact with student

It helps to know the writer's relationship with the student and how long you both have had that relationship.

Interests of the student

This should add to the information the admissions committee already has about the student's background, not a restatement. Does the letter writer have knowledge about a meaningful event in the student's life, which influenced them to enter medicine? This is the place for this type of information. Employment, extra-curricular, or vocational activities such as community service, personal talents, outside interests, should also be included here. Knowledge and experience in medicine and research is also important.

Strengths and areas for improvements

This can be a difficult area for letter writers however, the letters most helpful to the committee provide a realistic view of the student's past performance and future aptitudes, both strengths and weaknesses. The committee isn't looking for perfection, but does want to get to know "real" students. Do you have knowledge about how a student overcame a difficult situation? Honors received, academic or non-academic. Specify the competition or degree of selectivity of such awards, i.e. how many were awarded in what student population?

Academic performance

This need only be addressed by letter writers with direct knowledge of the students' academic record as a professor. This section should amplify information available on the applicant's application.

Personal Attributes

What special characteristics has the writer observed in the student that make them qualified to become a physician? Comments may include:

  • Interpersonal skills
  • Evidence of psychological maturity and stability
  • Imagination, initiative, creativity, perseverance, and enthusiasm
  • Problem solving skills
  • Honest, integrity
  • Empathy
  • Social and ethical issues