Update Letter Recommendations and Template
This is your opportunity to highlight any key improvements to your resume since you submitted all your application materials. This is also an excellent way to express your interest in a program and get off a pre or post-interview waitlist. If you have been following the schedule, you will have completed your secondary's by September and should now be in the waiting phase. You are at the mercy of the medical schools and their will to grant you an interview or an acceptance. However, this period is not entirely passive, and you can submit an update letter to the programs of your choosing. Do your research and find out what schools on your list accept updates and find out how they accept them. The last thing you want to do is spend time creating a personalized update letter for a program that will reject your efforts.
Make sure the content you provide in the update letter is substantial and of the highest quality. Recent publications, an incredible patient experience, or a respectable new position in the hospital. This is a fantastic opportunity for a pharmacy student to broadcast their unique APPE rotations and demonstrate the clinical nature of their involvement. As you will see, some rotations will have you take on minimal responsibility, while others will have you work independently. These make for unique stories that the Admissions Committee will love to hear. Your PY4 year is also the time when much of your pharmacy related research will come to fruition. As pharmacy students, many of you will have been working towards presenting your work at the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) Mid-year Clinical Meeting. What is normally a showcase for residency and fellowship applicants can be a great opportunity for you to present a poster or give a stand-out presentation. This is yet another excellent opportunity to demonstrate your passion for research and the propagation of medicine, and certainly a worthy addition to your update letter.
Don’t send updates until you have given programs some time to process your application. You do not want to be that applicant who submits an update 20 minutes after completing the same school's secondary. They will wonder why you did not include that information on your recently submitted contents, and it may negatively impact you. Unfortunately, I cannot tell you how long that will be because everyone applies at different times, but generally November or December are reasonable times to submit. Here are a few examples of when you should consider sending an update letter.
If you have interviewed at the program and haven’t heard from them in a while.
If you have been placed on a Pre-Interview Waitlist, a letter may remind them that you still exist and are doing great things.
If you have had no updates about the status of your application since you finished your submission, an update letter might jolt them to look into your profile.
Lastly, even if you don’t have anything substantial to update your medical schools with (unlikely with your APPE Rotations), many programs will consider your letter a sign that you are still interested in their program. It will also serve as a touchpoint opportunity where you can contact the program again and let them know that you are “extremely excited to hear from them.” Sending update letters successfully moved me from at least one pre-interview waitlist. I think it was worth it!
Provided below is an example template of an update letter as well as a complete update letter that I produced and submitted during my application cycle. Feel free to use a similar style or this outline to get you started. Don’t forget to individualize the content to fit your personality and experiences.