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Applying w/o a physician recommendation?

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kaim10

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I have very good stats (GPA and MCAT), leadership positions, some clinical shadowing, lots of research, come from a "prestigious" undergrad school. I am going to have at least 4 very solid reccs from professors and my lab PI. However, I do not have a personal relationship with a physician. I have shadowed, but I didn't really get to know the doctors (I politely and quietly stayed out of their way!). Is it a bad idea to apply to DO schools that "recommend" but don't require a physician recc? Will they even consider me?
 

JDunc

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It's like when my wife says "I recommend you do the dishes tonight." It is not required but that does not mean I will be sleeping in the bed that night! Lol I'd get a DO recommendation if I were you. But this is coming from a guy going to graduate school and not professional school. So I could be wrong!
 
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OrdinaryDO

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I cannot speak with certainty when I say this, but I do believe almost all (if not all) medical schools are going to require a LOR from a physician, sometimes requiring a D.O. letter specifically. I think your chances are cut down to the bare minimum without a physician letter just because of how many schools you will have to exclude when applying.
 
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DrMikeP

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Get one! Is it worth the risk of not getting in???? for something that requires getting to know a dr and you showing a little motivation/interest. You put in this much effort already so dont handicap yourself and if you told me you shadowed but didn't get a letter that would raise a red flag.

You might be surprised as one of the docs you shadowed might be happy to write one. Just ask what it would take for her or him to write you a strong letter.

Best of luck
 

Azete

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For most DO schools this is a pretty standard requirement now -- and personally I think it's silly. The logic behind it is good, but in reality 99% of physicians hate having pre-meds shadow them. Hell I couldn't even find one to shadow AFTER I was already accepted; I ended up traveling 800 miles to get a damn letter and he made his wife write it for him!

On the other side it's pretty unfair to the doctors that are willing to have shadows, because they end up inundated with requests due to their colleagues not participating. It's a major inconvenience to explain things all day to someone that knows literally nothing, and most likely won't even get into medical school, so I understand their point-of-view. But either bite the bullet or do away with the requirement.
 

Moose A Moose

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A prestigious undergrad?! Shoe in. Don't even bother with a personal statement, brah.
 
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mathnerd88

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Apply MD if you come from a prestigious undergrad and have good stats.
 
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DrMikeP

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For most DO schools this is a pretty standard requirement now -- and personally I think it's silly. The logic behind it is good, but in reality 99% of physicians hate having pre-meds shadow them. Hell I couldn't even find one to shadow AFTER I was already accepted; I ended up traveling 800 miles to get a damn letter and he made his wife write it for him!

On the other side it's pretty unfair to the doctors that are willing to have shadows, because they end up inundated with requests due to their colleagues not participating. It's a major inconvenience to explain things all day to someone that knows literally nothing, and most likely won't even get into medical school, so I understand their point-of-view. But either bite the bullet or do away with the requirement.
Odd, I found most DOs and MDs very happy to have someone shadow them as long as the person appears serious and is respectful. It's helpful to get to know your pcp and nicely ask if he would be willing or knows someone. Name dropping goes a long way. 800 miles? You live in Alaska?

I think shadowing is invaluable as you really need to see what it's like. Many premed progs even have a clinical course to promote shadowing.
 

OrdinaryDO

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For most DO schools this is a pretty standard requirement now -- and personally I think it's silly. The logic behind it is good, but in reality 99% of physicians hate having pre-meds shadow them. Hell I couldn't even find one to shadow AFTER I was already accepted; I ended up traveling 800 miles to get a damn letter and he made his wife write it for him!

On the other side it's pretty unfair to the doctors that are willing to have shadows, because they end up inundated with requests due to their colleagues not participating. It's a major inconvenience to explain things all day to someone that knows literally nothing, and most likely won't even get into medical school, so I understand their point-of-view. But either bite the bullet or do away with the requirement.

I don't think you could be wrong about everything I have put in bold. Don't take this as an attack on your personal self, but here on SDN myself and many others try to put forth the most up-to-date and accurate advice we possibly can. While your experience may have been terrible, this is by no means how most D.O.s feel. Every single physician that is practicing today has been in our shoes and each and every one of them know the struggle that goes on with trying to obtain good LORs. The physicians who wrote me my letter literally jumped to the opportunity to write me a letter before I even had a chance to ask. Also, I find it almost laughable when you say "It's a major inconvenience to explain things all day to someone that knows literally nothing, and most likely won't even get into medical school.." Physicians are life long scholars who are skilled in the ways of teaching. Everyday a physician goes to work they are almost guaranteed to spend at least some minuscule amount of time teaching a resident new techniques or teaching a patient about an illness, etc. Also, if you are taking it upon yourself to shadow and you are actually taking it seriously, I would be willing to bet the odds are in your favor for a medical school acceptance. I highly doubt a physician would discount a pre-med student so easily.

My opinion: When I first found my passion for medicine I was lucky enough to know a nurse whom was very good friends with an osteopathic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon. This surgeon was one of the nicest ladies I have ever met and after I finished shadowing her for a full day she reached out to me and gave me her number just in case I felt the desire to shadow her or some of the other doctors she was in contact with. Osteopathic physicians, heck, every physician I have came in contact with while shadowing basically took me under their wing to show and teach to me as much as they possibly could in the short period of time I was around. Like I said above, when I was shadowing another D.O. he was telling me about his experience with applying to medical school and before I knew it he was jumping at offering to write me a LOR. It is ignorant to believe that every physician thinks pre-meds are annoying, set-up to fail, and "literally know nothing," but if this is how you feel then I am sorry you had to drive a whopping 800 miles for a letter. That is insane and I would never do that. What school did you get accepted in to?
 
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Azete

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I don't think you could be wrong about everything I have put in bold. Don't take this as an attack on your personal self, but here on SDN myself and many others try to put forth the most up-to-date and accurate advice we possibly can. While your experience may have been terrible, this is by no means how most D.O.s feel. Every single physician that is practicing today has been in our shoes and each and every one of them know the struggle that goes on with trying to obtain good LORs. The physicians who wrote me my letter literally jumped to the opportunity to write me a letter before I even had a chance to ask. Also, I find it almost laughable when you say "It's a major inconvenience to explain things all day to someone that knows literally nothing, and most likely won't even get into medical school.." Physicians are life long scholars who are skilled in the ways of teaching. Everyday a physician goes to work they are almost guaranteed to spend at least some minuscule amount of time teaching a resident new techniques or teaching a patient about an illness, etc. Also, if you are taking it upon yourself to shadow and you are actually taking it seriously, I would be willing to bet the odds are in your favor for a medical school acceptance. I highly doubt a physician would discount a pre-med student so easily.

My opinion: When I first found my passion for medicine I was lucky enough to know a nurse whom was very good friends with an osteopathic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon. This surgeon was one of the nicest ladies I have ever met and after I finished shadowing her for a full day she reached out to me and gave me her number just in case I felt the desire to shadow her or some of the other doctors she was in contact with. Osteopathic physicians, heck, every physician I have came in contact with while shadowing basically took me under their wing to show and teach to me as much as they possibly could in the short period of time I was around. Like I said above, when I was shadowing another D.O. he was telling me about his experience with applying to medical school and before I knew it he was jumping at offering to write me a LOR. It is ignorant to believe that every physician thinks pre-meds are annoying, set-up to fail, and "literally know nothing," but if this is how you feel then I am sorry you had to drive a whopping 800 miles for a letter. That is insane and I would never do that. What school did you get accepted in to?

Not to discredit your point-of-view, but you had a connection that led to a shadowing experience. Without a connection, at best you will find 5% of physicians you contact willing to allow observers, if you don't believe me then try cold-calling offices, or even showing up in person, and see what the success rate is.

I did several shadowing experiences (mostly with MDs), and all of them were outstanding -- I had to travel 800 miles for the DO letter and was speaking to that requirement specifically. I knew many MDs from my previous career, but I had no DO connections and cold called over 200 DOs listed on AOA before I found one willing to allow an observer. I also never said physicians don't enjoy teaching, not sure where you got that. Calling me ignorant and questioning my acceptance(s) because I said pre-meds know nothing -- which, relative to the physician they're observing, is accurate -- just feels like juvenile pomposity.
 

OrdinaryDO

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Not to discredit your point-of-view, but you had a connection that led to a shadowing experience. Without a connection, at best you will find 5% of physicians you contact willing to allow observers, if you don't believe me then try cold-calling offices, or even showing up in person, and see what the success rate is.

I did several shadowing experiences (mostly with MDs), and all of them were outstanding -- I had to travel 800 miles for the DO letter and was speaking to that requirement specifically. I knew many MDs from my previous career, but I had no DO connections and cold called over 200 DOs listed on AOA before I found one willing to allow an observer. I also never said physicians don't enjoy teaching, not sure where you got that. Calling me ignorant and questioning my acceptance(s) because I said pre-meds know nothing -- which, relative to the physician they're observing, is accurate -- just feels like juvenile pomposity.

No, I had ONE connection of MANY physicians I have shadowed. If you called over 200 offices and you only found one that would allow you to shadow them, then I would be quick to question how you went about approaching each physician, because that is certainly not the norm as most everyone on SDN can attest to. You are pulling statistics out of thin air, so yes, as a person who doesn't take pseudoscience lightly I am indeed questioning you. "It's a major inconvenience to explain things all day to someone that knows literally nothing" is that not considered teaching? Also, I never questioned your acceptances..I merely asked where you got accepted - is that not a valid question worth asking? You can call it what you like, but when people get on here and start spewing senseless remarks and labeling it as "advice" it doesn't sit well with me. People come here looking for advice, not made up statistics and opinions.
 

tunicaexterna

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I had a pretty hard time finding a DO that would let me shadow, despite living in a DO rich area. I had to call 40-50 before I found one that would take me. Many DO's in the area DID allow shadowing, but only for medical students.

If I were you, I would get a physician (preferably a DO) rec, but hey I'm just a premed, take what I say with a grain of salt. It can take quite a bit of cold calling but you'll get a letter that the schools really really want.
 

Azete

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No, I had ONE connection of MANY physicians I have shadowed. If you called over 200 offices and you only found one that would allow you to shadow them, then I would be quick to question how you went about approaching each physician, because that is certainly not the norm as most everyone on SDN can attest to. You are pulling statistics out of thin air, so yes, as a person who doesn't take pseudoscience lightly I am indeed questioning you. "It's a major inconvenience to explain things all day to someone that knows literally nothing" is that not considered teaching? Also, I never questioned your acceptances..I merely asked where you got accepted - is that not a valid question worth asking? You can call it what you like, but when people get on here and start spewing senseless remarks and labeling it as "advice" it doesn't sit well with me. People come here looking for advice, not made up statistics and opinions.

Good lord, the condescension here is pretty outrageous. I didn't give an uninformed opinion or made up statistics, these were my experiences and my opinion and certainly not baseless. It's fine to have a different opinion, that's the point of a message board, but questioning someone's intellect and labeling their views as pseudoscience because they disagree with your own is beyond unnecessary.
 
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IslandStyle808

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My experiences were in line with Azete's. I more recently called 8 DO physicians to shadow (very few DOs in my area), politely left my contact information and thanked the receptionist. Not one responded back. I did get DO letter previously from an acquaintance of my family's that I shadowed. I was lucky because I had that connection. It was the same for my MD letters as well, I was volunteering at the hospital they worked at.
 
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mathnerd88

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I also have to agree with others. It is hard to get a DO letter. I got mine through a connection at work.

It really depends on location. In Boston, there are very little DO's to find and shadow. They all seem to be busy and not respond to your calls or emails...

I suspect in areas where physicians don't have as many patients are easier to shadow than others. Of course, YMMV.
 
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OrdinaryDO

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Good lord, the condescension here is pretty outrageous. I didn't give an uninformed opinion or made up statistics, these were my experiences and my opinion and certainly not baseless. It's fine to have a different opinion, that's the point of a message board, but questioning someone's intellect and labeling their views as pseudoscience because they disagree with your own is beyond unnecessary.
No, the text format we use doesn't allow for a tone which is what makes what I am saying seem rude. I tried to clarify earlier this was not how I meant it to come off, but it's not as easy as just saying so. I understand what you are saying, but I think your case is one of the more extreme cases and it felt like you were trying to push this off as the norm. There are a lot of people who silently read these boards, therefore I was trying to point out that this is not always the case, nor do I think this is normal at all. My apologies.
 

DrMikeP

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For those looking to find a DO to shadow, some tips to make it infinitely easier:

1. Cold calls might be what many recommend BUT drs get cold calls about useless to them crap all the time and if you're a dr in the middle of 30 patients you aren't likely to place much priority in them. So yes try calls but be ready to call 20-100 before you get lucky. Tell them you are passionate and ask if there is ANYTHING you could do (be ethical about it tho) to shadow them.
2. CHECK WITH your university!
- Many many many pre-med programs have a professional class, externship, etc that guarantees shadowing and sometimes even real clinical experience.
- Many programs also have lists of drs who are willing to have someone shadow and are ok with sharing that list.
- On occasion your premed advisor actually can be helpful in this, even if you aren't in a traditional premed program.
3. Go to your PCP and during your exam mention you are premed in 2nd/3rd year and plan on applying next cycle and ask nicely is he/she knows anyone willing to let you shadow. Offer to buy lunch/dinner (not at McDonalds, but doesn't have to be $100/meal either) if he or she would be willing to just answer some questions while you eat. The dr may at the end actually pay for your meal if you are nice.
4. Volunteer in a hospital/clinic and get to KNOW PEOPLE! Networking does work and as a volunteer it makes the HIPAA stuff much easier to deal with.
5. Older docs nearing retirement and younger ones just out of residency are often more receptive. Contrary to some statements made, many drs do enjoy teaching and showing even mundane tricks like how to adjust the stethoscope to fit into your ears properly, but they are busy and every high school student wants to shadow.
6. Volunteer in a free/low income clinic or get to know people through medically related charity events. Networking!!!!
7. Attend the pre-soma events in your area or join/start a pre-soma group (or other med student group) at your university. Many times drs will be invited to speak and will refer you to someone for shadowing.
8. Call public (especially teaching) hospitals and ask if they have a program that allows shadowing. You'll get passed around but some actually do or will connect you with a dr who is interested.
9. Get a job as a "patient sitter" in a hospital. You'll get to know everyone that sees a patient.

From personal experience in psych, people call up with I'm blah pre-blah blah and looking for someone to shadow, if you are willing call me back at _____. I never call those people back as I don't have time to sit on a phone for hours a week. Some people are just arrogant and rude or even worse is whiney! It's never good to tell a doc they are the 80th person you called and no one has called you back ... ... ... . Now if a student calls and says dr XYZ gave them my number I (and most colleagues I work with) will call them back.

There are dozens of ways to find a dr to shadow, but most people seem to get stuck on #1 above because it's the one that is a no-brainer to implement. Look through SDN and there are dozens of threads with tips! Will not having a physician rec letter keep you out of medical school? For many places probably not, but it's a factor greatly within your control. Why would you not want to do everything possible to make you the best candidate? Part of success in any graduate/professional training is being able to work through challenges.

Best of luck!
 
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darkeon

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It's also a matter of timing. Some docs may not be in the mood to take in a premed at a particular time period during the year but may be more inclined to so at a much later point. Just keep at it, even if you can only find a DO who allows a day of shadowing.
fyi, few former classmates recently just got acceptances to a DO schools and they've never shadowed. Small sample nonetheless. I feel you can get by without a letter based with having either super high stats or super good ECs (or so I've observed from this small batch of individuals)
 

sancasm

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After about how many hours of shadowing did you guys ask for the letter?
 

Dr Tony T. Chopper

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After about how many hours of shadowing did you guys ask for the letter?
Really varies from person to person. I have colleagues who asked their physician after 30-50 hrs and have gotten perfectly great letters, and I know many who ask only after 200+ and over a year of getting to know them. It boils down to what kind of exposure you can get your hands on and how much time you are willing to devote to network with your doctor etc. You might also want to balance time spent per physician with whether or not you are getting a nice variety of shadowing experience in several specialties. Use your best judgement.
 
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Jinxapotato

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Hello OP, usually schools would want a physician's recommendation, either MD or DO. I have found that the majority of docs know what we are going through and would understand the reason behind you shadowing them. If you bring up that you need a rec, most of them will say yes, even if you don't know each other too too well. Usually they will just sit down with you to chat about your personality/hobby/experience, and ask for CV and write something out of it.

Frankly speaking, this is more of a "fill in the requirement" type of thing, unless your recommender is the #1 surgeon in the country or the president himself..
 

DrMikeP

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After about how many hours of shadowing did you guys ask for the letter?

I agree with other poster, it varies. I've seen some shadow a few days and actually get a really good letter and some a year plus. Lots depends on how you ask and it helps to bring up your need for letters and then ask in an unassuming way what you could do for them to write you a good rec letter. I worked with the docs that wrote mine so knew them for many years.

Don't be too surprised if the doc ask for a sample letter and tweaks it to make it about you/them, so have a sample ready (lots on SDN) that addresses all of the needed key points and make sure the writer has your vita and is aware of how you fit the key points. Older family practice docs may even request you help them with the AACOMAS upload process, as it does take a little computer knowledge. Also, mention to them that they MUST hand (not electronic/type) sign the letter and put it on official letterhead, as many DO schools require such.
 
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TallPreMed

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Just started working for a new hospice agency and I meet biweekly with our interdisciplinary team, which includes a team physician (who is also a D.O.) and I am chomping at the bit to ask for a letter of rec... not applying until 2017 though so I'm ok for now. Fingers crossed he will do so when I ask.
 

VagabondKing

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I applied to DO schools without a letter and my decision was held until I supplied one. Took some time but the DO I found to shadow was great and a well respected residency director, truly enjoyed the experience. I still got accepted ultimately but YMMV.

Honestly you can just e-mail a bunch of local DO's or call them, one will eventually get back to ya.
 

ClassicJandT

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I have very good stats (GPA and MCAT), leadership positions, some clinical shadowing, lots of research, come from a "prestigious" undergrad school. I am going to have at least 4 very solid reccs from professors and my lab PI. However, I do not have a personal relationship with a physician. I have shadowed, but I didn't really get to know the doctors (I politely and quietly stayed out of their way!). Is it a bad idea to apply to DO schools that "recommend" but don't require a physician recc? Will they even consider me?

You should definitely apply to the DO schools that recommend but don't require physician LOR.
LECOM-E/LECOM-SH, LECOM-B, PCOM, PCOM-GA, Rowan, UNECOM, NYITCOM, OUCOM, OSUCOM, and MSUCOM don't require physician letters and will absolutely consider you. Almost all of those schools are state schools and/or have heavy regional biases so keep that in mind, but missing a physician letter won't be the reason you don't get in.

I was able to get into a DO school without a physician letter so it possible. However, I only got in after reapplying so it definitely makes it a lot tougher. I would do everything possible to try and get physician letter if you are applying DO.

If you have good numbers and are applying MD then you don't really need to worry about physician letters at all on that side. MD schools don't require/care about physician LORs, they just want you to have at least some shadowing which you do have.
 
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