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
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.
Letter of intent samples:
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.