Guide to Residency Letters of Communication

While it may be tempting to take a break after submitting your ERAS Application for Residency, it is important you do not lose focus! Following up with residency programs using Residency Letters of Communication during the Match cycle is extremely important and can help garner more interviews, higher rankings, and ultimately, increase your chances at a successful Match. 

Generally speaking, there are three types of residency follow-up letters:

  1. Letters of Interest
  2. Thank You Letters
  3. Letters of Intent

Letters of Interest

Sent to programs you’ve applied to but have not yet heard back from to express your particular interest in their program. 

Thank You Letters 

Sent after completing your residency interview. Do NOT send Thank You Letters to programs that have explicitly told interviewees not to send them. This will be stated on the Program’s website.

Letters of Intent 

Sent during Rank Order season to those programs you intend on ranking highly and possibly expressing a number one rank choice. DO NOT tell a program you will be ranking them #1 if you are not doing so.

Every Residency Letter of Communication Signature Should Include: 

  • Your AAMC ID
  • Your ERAS Photograph 

Sending Letters of Interest to Residency Programs 

Letters of Interest are especially helpful for candidates who received few or no interview invitations. When employed thoughtfully, they can generate more invites.

The Goal: Generate interest in your candidacy from top programs you have not yet heard from. 

Send To: Residency Letters of Interest should be sent to approximately your top 5-20 programs.  

When to Send: Sends at least 2-3 weeks after applications have been released by ERAS. If applying late, be sure to give programs at least 1-2 weeks before sending follow up Letters of Interest. 

Sample Residency Letter of Interest Content 

Possible Letter of Interest Subject Lines: 

  • Letter of Interest from J. Doe
  • Letter of Interest from J. Doe for your {Specialty} Residency Program
  • Letter of Interest from J. Doe to {Program Name}
  • Letter of Interest from J. Doe to {Specialty + Program Name}

Addressed To: 

  • Program Coordinator 
  • Program Coordinator + Program Director 
  • Program Coordinator + Cc Program Director 

Residency Letter of Interest Content:

  1. The specific reasons for your interest in the program. This could include specific research projects, elective rotations, special training tracks, wellness initiatives, and geographic preferences. The Mission and Values of the program are also options, but typically come across as generic and non-informative to your specific interest. 

This is the most important part of the Letter of Interest. Sell the program to themselves. Make them understand ALL the reasons you are so excited to be a part of their program. 

Do not copy and paste information from the program’s website; it will be obvious to programs that you’ve done this.

  1. The most important strengths you’re bringing to the table. Look back at your Personal Statement and CV. Identify  2-3 points you can draw their attention to  that are most relevant to their program (which you’ve already discussed via your reasons for your interest).
  2. How you plan to contribute to/improve the program. Briefly summarize your intended involvement and attributes that will  add to their program. 

You can conclude by reiterating your sincere interest and hope for an opportunity to discuss further, also inviting them to look at your ERAS Application. 


Optional: Attach your ERAS CV or a separate professional CV to the email for quick reference. 

Sending Thank You Letters to Residency Programs 

While some programs do not like post-interview communication, there are many that appreciate a thoughtful Thank You letter to follow up after the interview. This will reinforce your interest and remind them of the strong points in your interview and application.

The Goal: Expressing thanks and reinforcing memorable aspects of your interview with key interviewers.

Send To: All residency programs that have interviewed you and do not have a policy against Thank You Letters. Send to as many key individuals that interviewed you as is possible and reasonable for each program. You can check the program website to see if they permit post-interview communication.

When to Send: Within 1 week of your interview. 

Sample Residency Thank You Letter Content 

Possible Letter of Interest Subject Lines: 

  • A Thank You from John Doe
  • A Sincere Thank You from John Doe 

Addressed To: 

  • Program Director 
  • Program Coordinator 
  • Each particular person who interviewed you (and you had memorable conversation with) 

Residency Thank You Letter Content:

  1. Thanks and gratitude for the interview opportunity. 
  2. Reminder of the date the interview took place. 
  3. Mentioning memorable moments from the interview (when addressing the Thank You to that particular interviewer). 
  4. Summarizing your reasons for interest in that particular program + why you are a good fit.  
  5. Hope and desire to potentially work together in the future. 

Remember, do NOT send Thank You Letters to programs who specifically tell you not to. Doing so implies you cannot follow directions, which is of course a bad thing. 

Sending Letters of Intent to Residency Programs 

The Goal: Confirm with top programs you’ve interviewed at that you intend on ranking them highly. Consider specifically signaling your number one program.

Send To: Top 3-7 programs appearing on your Rank Order List. Consider a special letter for your number one residency choice. 

When to Send: Send approximately 2 weeks before the Rank Order List opens to 2 weeks before the Rank Order List Deadline. 

Sample Residency Letter of Intent Content 

Possible Letter of Interest Subject Lines: 

  • Letter of Intent from John Doe
  • {Program Name} Will Be Ranked #1 – from John Doe 
  • Intent to Rank HIghly from John Doe

Addressed To: 

  • Program Coordinator + Program Director 

Residency Letter of Interest Content:

  1. A reminder of when you had your interview.
  2. An announcement of your intention to rank highly. 
  3. Specific details you like about the program that you have not mentioned in previous correspondence:
    1. ex. facilities, amenities, faculty, location
    2. Draw your details from your actual experience with the program, people you met with, and the things you saw during the interview  
    3. Don’t just tell the program you love them, demonstrate your knowledge and familiarity with concrete examples
  4. Any other reasons you are interested in the program.
  5. Any additional strengths you have as an applicant that you feel would benefit the program. 
  6. Close with your intention to rank highly and desire to work together in the near future. 

Should I Tell A Residency Program They Are My #1 Choice? 

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