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What is the purpose of a Letter of Intent?

A Letter of Intent is a one page document that expresses your interest in completing a particular

residency program. After reading your letter, a residency director understands:

  • Why you are pursuing residency

  • Why their specific residency program is a top choice

  • Your goals during residency

  • Which of your skills and experiences will help you be successful in the program

  • Your future plans after residency (and how the training and experiences in this program                                                                                   will help you achieve your goals.



What is a Personal Statement?

A personal statement is typically a 1-2 page document that demonstrates to the selection committee

who you are as a person. While your resume lists some of your work history,  extra-curricular activities

and accomplishments, your personal statement should demonstrate your personal characteristics and

your passion for the field. 

Your audience is typically a selection committee that is made up of faculty, students, and members of

the community.

What the selection committee looks for:

  • Sincerity: if your personal statement sounds contrived because you wrote what you think your                                                                       audience wants to hear, you will most likely get downgrad.

  • Motivation and Commitment – Your reader wants to know why you are applying to graduate school                                                                    and your future goals in the field.

  • Writing Ability – Written communication is vital both in graduate school and your future work

  • environment. Your audience needs to know that you can express yourself clearly and concisely

  • in writing, so that they can feel confident you will be successful in the program.

  • Personal Qualities –Your reader wants to know the “real” you, so emphasize your personal traits and                                                    qualities. Make sure that you use clear examples to back up your statements. Don’t just say that you                                                            are good with patients, talk about a time when you worked with a patient and the impact that the                                                             situation had both on you and the patient.


Some questions to think about when brainstorming:
 What are your future goals and how will this program help you reach them?
 Why do you want to enter the field?
 Why did you choose this program in particular?
 What personal or professional challenges have you overcome?
 Think about a time where you helped someone? How did this impact you and your goals?
 What types of academic, professional, or personal activities have you spent most of your time on in the

    last few years? How are these related to your goals?
 What personal qualities do you have that would make you successful in the field?
 What is most important to you and how do these values fit with your field of choice?
 What are some significant moments in your life that impacted your career/field choice?


What is a cover letter?

A cover letter is a document that should accompany each resume you send to a prospective employer. 

  • A cover letter explains who you are and why you are sending your resume. 

  • A well-written cover letter will enhance your resume because you will provide a more                                                                        detailed description of the skills you have developed through the experiences that relate to                                                                     the position you seek.

  • Your cover letter must be targeted to the particular organization position. Make sure you read the                                                          job description carefully and take common language that they use and include it on your cover letter.   


Things to highlight in a cover letter

Before you start writing your cover letter, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What are the must have qualifications for this job?

  • What direct experience and transferable skills do I have?

  • How do my values and goals align with those of the organization?


General cover letter guidelines

  • Emphasize how you can fulfill the companies' needs

  • Write clearly and concisely and watch grammar and spelling. 

  • Limit your letter to one page. 

  • Proofread and ask someone to proofread after you. 





Personal Statement samples:

Personal statement samples

Personal statement pwpt



Cover Letter samples:

Cover Letter Handbook


Cover Letter 101


Cover Letter Checklist 


Cover Letter Sample





Letter of Intent differ from Cover Letters in terms of focus:

For example, a retail pharmacy or hospital position (who are employers who want Cover Letters) hiring a new pharmacist will want to know how your training, skills and experience will benefit their organizations and patients. They will be less interested in how their pharmacy position will help you develop as a professional.

Letters of Intent differ from Personal Statement in terms of format:

A graduate program, (which often requests a Personal Statement) will want a one page document in an essay format, rather than a business letter format. But like Personal Statements, a Letter of Intent will include (a paragraph) about experiences and interests that led you to pursuing a professional field, why the organization’s focus will help you achieve your goals, how your skills and experience prepared you to succeed in the program and your long term professional goals will be met by attending the program.


Additionally, Personal Statements have chronological narrative format, while Letters of Intent use a more structured ‘argument’ format. Chronological narratives can sometimes begin with your childhood, or a story, and weave its way around to illustrate who you are and what is important to you. Letters of Intent usually have a tighter format, where you clearly articulate your goals after residency, and how your skills and experiences have prepared you for the clinical, research, teaching, or interpersonal challenges you will face in residency.

Letter of Intent, Cover Letter & Personal Statement 

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