03-03-2003, 11:39 PM
For those of you that did away rotations, how did you go about asking for letters? Did you state early on that you were interested in getting a LOR or did you wait until after the rotation was over? Did you blindly ask or say something like "can you write me a strong letter?" Did you ask the attendings or the PD? Did you ask for more than one letter? I know this is a lot of questions, but they're all related. Thanks for any insight.
03-04-2003, 04:37 AM
I was told by my home advisor and I think I read somewhere that if you do away early enough to have reasonable time to get a letter and you DONT get one, it would look odd - like you were trying to hide something. The other thing to keep in mind about away rotations is where you are doing it. The advice I was given was to either do an away at some place you really want to go - or if you have no preferences, do an away at one of the "really strong programs" (whatever your definition of those are) - ie one with a national reputation. I think the latter is especially true if you are coming from a place with NO academic EM department/no residency program of its own.
When I arrived for my away rotation, I talked to the medical student coordinator (administrative type - not physician) about who she thought would be able to write a strong letter. She juggled my schedule a tad and made sure that I had a few shifts with that person. Then, I worked my ass off during those shifts and other shifts for the first 2 weeks of the rotation and made sure that I was getting positive feedback.
Then, I made a separate appointment during office hours to go and talk to that attending who I had those shifts with and had developed a good relationship with (if you can really develop a relationship in 2-3 shifts). I asked his advice about whether I should obtain a letter from my month there. This was kind of a way to test the waters before having to officially ask for a letter. He said "Of course, and I would be happy to write it if you would like". So I really never asked for it directly. Then I immediately supplied him with my completed ERAS application, transcript, personal statement, CV and ERAS waiver cover sheet. (Had them in my bag with me at the time).
Finally, since I had made good friends with the student coordinator, I was able to "check" on the strength of my letter on the side in casual conversation (she was this person's secretary also and typed the letter for him).
Now this is the way I did it. Doesn't mean it is the only way or the correct way.
03-11-2003, 12:14 AM
Thanks for the reply futrEDdoc. Did anyone have a different approach or experience obtaining letters at away rotations?
03-11-2003, 12:29 AM
I just kind of went with my gut. Some attendings I never really clicked with while there were others that I felt I worked really well with. The attendings that seemed friendly and complementary I kept in mind for letters as the month progressed. In the end there was one attending that kept paying me complements about how well I was doing so I obviously asked her for a letter. There of course were some attendings I worked with that I felt like every time I presented a pt. to them I would say something incredibly stupid! I felt it was best not to ask them for a letter :D
One attending I worked with pretty much approached me and stated that I "could come there for residency if I wanted." When you are a neophyte 4th year student you don't know exactly how to take that statement. On the last day of my rotation I found a moment to tell him how much I enjoyed the rotation and asked him if he would write a letter for me. As it turned out he was named PD a month after I left.
My point is that you never know how things are going to go. One strategy would be to make your desire for a letter known the moment you walk in the door, but in my opinion that is kind of obvious since you are a 4th year student taking the time to do a rotation there. Of course you would want a letter! I would suggest just working the month, and trying to build relationships with some of the attendings, keeping in mind who is who. In the end if you work hard and refrain from saying things that are really stupid you should get some good letters.
03-11-2003, 07:07 AM
I agree with everything that has been said. In addition:
Ask "do you feel that you know me well enough to write me an OUTSTANDING LOR?"
On one of my away rotations, I asked the attending that I had worked the most with that question, and I got rejected. I then emailed each of the 5 or 6 other attendings that I worked with, and simply asked each for feedback. Only one said that he knew me well enough to give me feedback, and it was outstanding. Ended up getting a great letter from him.
Bottom line: 1. Dont do a rotation at a place with a residency program without doing everything you can to get a letter. 2. Dont settle for anything less than an outstanding letter