BxC

Aug 21, 2016
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Hello all,

For the programs that ask for 3 letters, I am at a conundrum of which letter would be best to use for my 3rd. My first is from my home chair (which I assume is a must), the second from a very well known person. That only leaves room for 1 more letter, which I am unsure if I should fill with a letter from another well known person that did not get to know me well but supposedly writes good letters, or from a person who is not as well known but wrote me an amazing letter for sure. I guess the bottom line is which is worth more: the name of the writer or the quality of letter? I know this has been a repeating topic but wanted to ask for some advice. I am slightly leaning toward the better quality letter, considering that I already have a well known letter writer included and the 3rd letter could serve as very good insight to my positive personal qualities. But honestly for the most part, I am on the fence.

Thank you in advance for those who reply.
 

asmallchild

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Hello all,

For the programs that ask for 3 letters, I am at a conundrum of which letter would be best to use for my 3rd. My first is from my home chair (which I assume is a must), the second from a very well known person. That only leaves room for 1 more letter, which I am unsure if I should fill with a letter from another well known person that did not get to know me well but supposedly writes good letters, or from a person who is not as well known but wrote me an amazing letter for sure. I guess the bottom line is which is worth more: the name of the writer or the quality of letter? I know this has been a repeating topic but wanted to ask for some advice. I am slightly leaning toward the better quality letter, considering that I already have a well known letter writer included and the 3rd letter could serve as very good insight to my positive personal qualities. But honestly for the most part, I am on the fence.

Thank you in advance for those who reply.
In an ideal world, you would get a high quality letter from a well known dermatologist. If you have to pick between the two, I would go with the bigger name.
 
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BxC

Aug 21, 2016
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Medical Student
@BxC how can you tell which programs ask for 3 letters?

To anyone: What would happen if I sent 4?
If you go to their individual websites it says their requirements. Some say 3, some say 3 minimum, and some don't even specify.

In an ideal world, you would get a high quality letter from a well known dermatologist. If you have to pick between the two, I would go with the bigger name.
I actually had another question if you don't mind @asmallchild or anyone else: is it an unspoken requirement for one of the letters to be from the chair at your school?
 

asmallchild

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If you go to their individual websites it says their requirements. Some say 3, some say 3 minimum, and some don't even specify.



I actually had another question if you don't mind @asmallchild or anyone else: is it an unspoken requirement for one of the letters to be from the chair at your school?
Pretty much. If you have a home department and you don't have a LOR from your chair or your PD (sometimes they are separate roles), it looks funny.

Of course, if you have 3 bigger names that you have letters from, then you can skip your chair or PD.

For most students, your home chairperson or home PD will likely be the biggest name that you know well (and hopefully your biggest advocate)
 

blackblue

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Feb 26, 2016
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Is it a red flag if you have a letter from the chair but not the PD?

Pretty much. If you have a home department and you don't have a LOR from your chair or your PD (sometimes they are separate roles), it looks funny.

Of course, if you have 3 bigger names that you have letters from, then you can skip your chair or PD.

For most students, your home chairperson or home PD will likely be the biggest name that you know well (and hopefully your biggest advocate)
 

asmallchild

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Is it a red flag if you have a letter from the chair but not the PD?
If you have enough letters, then I would pick the bigger name between your chair and your PD. For most students, your chair and your PD should hopefully be writing the best letters for you as they theoretically should be the ones to know you best. If you are fortunate enough to have that many good letters from well-known dermatologists, just pick the better letter from your home department. But yes, if you have a home department, you'll probably want a letter from someone influential within your home department.
 
Jul 31, 2011
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Anyone have any thoughts on whether schools that state 3 letters of recommendation on the website will be annoyed if I send four?
 
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DermResident

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Mar 29, 2016
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Anyone have any thoughts on whether schools that state 3 letters of recommendation on the website will be annoyed if I send four?
If they state 3, send 3. Unless they specify 4 (which a handful do), send 3. Dermatologists combing through hundreds of apps have short attention spans and a 4th letter generally wont add anything to your application. 3 derm-only letters from big names is the ideal situation.
 
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asmallchild

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Anyone have any thoughts on whether schools that state 3 letters of recommendation on the website will be annoyed if I send four?
I have seen petty programs place a candidate in the reject pile because of this. Yes, it's petty. But they very clearly asked for 3. I'd follow DermResident's advice for best results.
 
Jun 30, 2016
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Help! I'm about to pull my hair out. I guess despite everything - I'm stupid - because I assigned an internal medicine letter to my dermatology programs, thinking that this was what I should do. Of course, ERAS doesn't let you un-assign letters, so I can't fix my mistake. Can I still send my THREE very strong dermatology letters, or do I have to sacrifice one now because of my mistake, out of fear these programs will give me the chop? Basically, it would suck if now I could only send two dermatology letters, when my medicine letter will get thrown away by programs anyway.
 

username456789

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Help! I'm about to pull my hair out. I guess despite everything - I'm stupid - because I assigned an internal medicine letter to my dermatology programs, thinking that this was what I should do. Of course, ERAS doesn't let you un-assign letters, so I can't fix my mistake. Can I still send my THREE very strong dermatology letters, or do I have to sacrifice one now because of my mistake, out of fear these programs will give me the chop? Basically, it would suck if now I could only send two dermatology letters, when my medicine letter will get thrown away by programs anyway.
Those letters definitely don't get thrown out.

I sent two derm letters, a medicine letter, and an ortho research letter (i published with him a good bit prior to my switch to derm). I forget which letter (medicine or research) that i left out of programs said only 3.

My two derm letters were strong by big names, but almost universally the letter my interviewers talked about was my research ortho letter. Several people commented on how great it was to see a strong endorsement from someone who basically said "this applicant did a great job and would be an asset to my field, but our loss is your gain."

YMMV but I had 15 or 16 interviews and was otherwise a pretty run of the mill derm applicant.
 
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DermResident

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Help! I'm about to pull my hair out. I guess despite everything - I'm stupid - because I assigned an internal medicine letter to my dermatology programs, thinking that this was what I should do. Of course, ERAS doesn't let you un-assign letters, so I can't fix my mistake. Can I still send my THREE very strong dermatology letters, or do I have to sacrifice one now because of my mistake, out of fear these programs will give me the chop? Basically, it would suck if now I could only send two dermatology letters, when my medicine letter will get thrown away by programs anyway.
Don't worry about it. They will read the letter still.
 
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