Letters of Interest During Interview Season
If you are concerned about the number of interviews you have received or if there is a program that you are really interested in that you have not heard from, you can contact the program.
- Email the Program Director and copy the coordinator
- Express sincere interest in the program and let them know their program is one you are really excited about
- Add in a few tidbits about why you are interested in that program. Be specific!
- Mention something about the training that piqued your interest or a faculty member who is doing research in an area you are passionate about
- Let them know if you have ties to the program, institution, or area
- Tell them you would be honored to receive an opportunity to interview with them and thank them for their time
- Do not ask questions and do not be disappointed if you don’t receive a reply
Thank You Notes
Should you send a thank you note after your interview? If the program specifically told you not to send thank you notes, then do not. Some programs do not welcome any post interview correspondence and will let you know. There is no consensus on whether to send a thank you note, so we recommend doing so.
Be sure to send a thank you note to the program director and the coordinator. It is probably even better, but not absolutely necessary, to send one to everyone with whom you have a meaningful interaction during the virtual interview day. This would include anyone who interviewed you. Be sure to address each person with their formal title (i.e., Dear Dr. Rusk, or Dear Dean Hess) and tell them “Thank You!” Make them all different and try to personalize each one with something you discussed during the day. This is a great time to provide any personal updates, or pitch why you would be a great fit for the program. Be sure to express your interest in their residency program! End with a final line thanking them again (i.e., “Thank you again for the opportunity to learn more about your program and share my experiences, skills, and interest.”)
Should I send cards, emails, or e-thank you notes?
Traditionally, handwritten cards are the gold standard and can make you stand out. In the age of technology, emails are perfectly acceptable, and e-cards are great options. Several e-card platforms are available. Most can be saved digitally or printed. Many sites offer free options (look at www.paperlesspost.com for some examples). If you do not have addresses (physical or email) for everyone, send your “thank you” notes to the coordinator and they will take care of distributing them.
Love Letters to your Top Program(s) While Ranking
How much communication and what is the right type of communication with residency programs are questions medical students frequently ask during the interview process. Honestly, there are no hard and fast rules around this. Studies have shown that the vast majority of students (>85%) report some communication with programs, and that more competitive specialties are less likely to communicate with applicants.
Communication from a program may tell an applicant that they are “ranked to match,” or “would be a great fit”. What does this really mean? Not much. While it is nice to hear, do not read too much into this. It is not a promise that you will match there. About 20% of students surveyed reported feeling like they would match with a program based on these communications, but ultimately failed to match to that program. Remember, programs cannot ask you where they will be on your rank list and cannot tell you where you are on theirs. Programs cannot solicit a commitment from you! This is a Match violation.
Should you send letters to your top programs telling them you are very interested? Unless the program has a strict no-contact rule, I believe it is fine to send a note to your top few programs expressing an interest in them! However, these communications are not required. If you do decide to send a note, email is acceptable. Send it to the PD and copy the program coordinator. Wording like “Your program has everything I am looking for in a training program!”, or “I would be thrilled to open my envelope on match day and have it say (insert program name)!” expresses an interest and lets them know they will be tops on your list. Do not say, “you are my #1” to more than 1 program. It is risky to tell more than one program that they are your #1 choice as the medical community is small and programs receive a list of where every applicant on their rank list matched after Match Day.
The bottom line is that communication between applicants and programs is common but not universal. Don’t panic if you don’t get one. Make sure that your rank list is based on where you really want to go and not on how much you think a program wants you.