shinchan

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I think for the MD program part, I need 3 in addition to the HPAC advisor. Then MD-PhD program of most schools I know would want 3 more to vouch for my potential as a clinician scientist. So is it advisable to have 6 different people or can I have one person writing 2 of these?

On top of that issue to sort out, I am also ambivalent about my school's HPAC. I'll be out of school a full year when I apply, and I didn't feel my HPAC advisor know much about what I've done this past year, and not sure if he can be helpful writing my cover.

I appreciate in advance of your thoughts or sharing of your perspectives.
 

b&ierstiefel

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i had the following individuals write LORs on my behalf for my MSTP applications:

1. PI of the lab
2. Postdoc I worked with
3. Professor of a grad level Orgo course.
4. Bio dept professor who oversaw a grad level Biochem class.
5. Math professor (this counted as a non-science for me...yay!)
6. My undergrad adviser who taught almost all of the lab classes in the bio major.
7. Some random Humanities guy whose letter was dropped since it sucked.
 

Neuronix

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shinchan said:
I think for the MD program part, I need 3 in addition to the HPAC advisor. Then MD-PhD program of most schools I know would want 3 more to vouch for my potential as a clinician scientist. So is it advisable to have 6 different people or can I have one person writing 2 of these?
The general advice is the usual MD letters (class profs, volunteer/work letters) plus letters from the PIs you've worked with. If you've only worked in one lab, you could get a letter from the PI and a post-doc or something like that. You don't need 3 MD/PhD letters if you haven't had 3 PIs who've known you pretty well. I submitted like 10 letters, but that's because I worked in a couple labs, had alot of work/volunteer experience, and sort of a bizzaro story. Don't worry about quantity, it's quality that counts more.

On top of that issue to sort out, I am also ambivalent about my school's HPAC. I'll be out of school a full year when I apply, and I didn't feel my HPAC advisor know much about what I've done this past year, and not sure if he can be helpful writing my cover.
It's your committee's job to sell you. Have you talked to the secretary about these concerns? They'd probably be interested in including your year-out experiences. Quite honestly though, as long as you have a LOR from it and it's on your AMCAS, it's not gonna matter that it's not on your committee letter.
 

mac921

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Is it necessary to have two separate sets of letter writers for the MD and MSTP applications or can I submit the same group of letters for both programs? I feel that research has been a large part of my experience in college and my MD application would be lacking without the recommendations from the PIs I have worked with. Also, how important is the non-science letter when applying to MSTP programs?
 

b&ierstiefel

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mac921 said:
Is it necessary to have two separate sets of letter writers for the MD and MSTP applications or can I submit the same group of letters for both programs? I feel that research has been a large part of my experience in college and my MD application would be lacking without the recommendations from the PIs I have worked with. Also, how important is the non-science letter when applying to MSTP programs?
Yes, you can use the same sets of LORs for both MD and MSTP. The non-science letter requirements are more lax for MSTP but for MD applications, make sure you have 2 (when i applied, math counted as a non-science...i don't know what it is like now).
 

javert

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I asked the following people to write me LORs:

1. PI of the lab, who also taught several courses that I took and TAed.
2. Science Prof. who taught a grad course I took as well as another class that I took and TAed
3. Science Prof. who taught an advanced lab course that I took and TAed
4. Science Prof. who was my adviser, and taught several courses that I took and TAed.
5. Pre-med advisory committee letter
6. Humanities prof. who taught one of my courses and was my boss for a tutoring job I had for 3 years.
7. Director of Surgery, who I had both volunteered and worked under.

Note: I only had 1 PI letter because I've only worked in a single lab.

mac921 said:
how important is the non-science letter when applying to MSTP programs?
I think that depends. For the programs where you have to be accepted seperately by the MD and MSTP committees, they're probably more important than if the MSTP committee were to just decide. Just my guess, though.
 

Mitro

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mac921 said:
Also, how important is the non-science letter when applying to MSTP programs?
Tough to say, Javert I think hit it the nail on the head. For some schools, it's probably more important than others. I had zero non-science letters. I had four letters from people I did research for (3 PIs and one post-doc) and a committee letter from my school, that was it. In retrospect, I don't feel like missing a non-science letter hurt me at all. Sure I might have gotten one more interview, but I doubt it would have won me more acceptances. No one ever brought it up, even at schools that required a non-science letter. Still, I had more than my fair share of success. However, if I were to do it all over again, I would have one letter from a non-science person to compliment my four science letters - just to be on the safe side. Still, I don't think more than five letters will matter - chances are that they don't read them all anyway. Good luck.
 

tedrik

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mac921 said:
how important is the non-science letter when applying to MSTP programs?
I would go with Mitro's advice on trying to get a non-science letter, but since it's not entirely necessary, only if you can be sure it's a good one. By good, I don't only mean that they say nice things about you. I had a letter from the director of the undergrad research program at my school and it said lots of nice things about me, but most of the letter just talked about my involvement in stuff on campus. These topics were covered in my other letters, but in greater detail. I thought this recommender was a good choice because we had a close relationship, but it turns out that the letter ended up being a weaker summary of my other recommendations.

I ended up with 6 letters, but I didn't have anything for clinical volunteering. If I could do it over again, I would definitely replace the non-science letter with something clinical. Unfortunately, I changed my mind from PhD to MD/PhD late in the game and I couldn't rack up enough volunteer hours to meet the required amount to ask for a recommendation.
 

dave613

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tedrik said:
I would go with Mitro's advice on trying to get a non-science letter, but since it's not entirely necessary, only if you can be sure it's a good one. By good, I don't only mean that they say nice things about you. I had a letter from the director of the undergrad research program at my school and it said lots of nice things about me, but most of the letter just talked about my involvement in stuff on campus. These topics were covered in my other letters, but in greater detail. I thought this recommender was a good choice because we had a close relationship, but it turns out that the letter ended up being a weaker summary of my other recommendations.

I ended up with 6 letters, but I didn't have anything for clinical volunteering. If I could do it over again, I would definitely replace the non-science letter with something clinical. Unfortunately, I changed my mind from PhD to MD/PhD late in the game and I couldn't rack up enough volunteer hours to meet the required amount to ask for a recommendation.
How many volunteer hours do you need to get a recommendation?
 
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shinchan

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Yeh, I think it is hardest to get a good ROL from volunteer coordinators. Since I know I don't consider myself a blow-your-socks-away kind volunteer. Is a LOR from church pastor appropriate?
 

tedrik

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dave613 said:
How many volunteer hours do you need to get a recommendation?
well, I needed 50. My problem was that I started volunteering at one hospital, but the program wasn't very organized and I got an different offer to shadow a doctor. That sounded great at first, but then it didn't really pan out. So, I moved to a different hospital and I loved it, but by the time I got through all the orientation stuff and got some additional shots that they required a lot of time had passed. I don't remember how many hours I had accumulated when it was time to send in my recs, but it was somewhere around 25-30. Even if I would have had the 50, I wouldn't have wanted their standard letter anyways.
 

javert

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shinchan said:
Is a LOR from church pastor appropriate?
If you've been heavily involved in the church activities and if the pastor knows you well, then I would think so.