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Doctor recommendation, professor or shadowed?


New Member
Jul 5, 2020
  1. Pre-Medical
Hi everybody,
In the process of applying and wondering if a letter of rec from an MD that I've shadowed is more important than an MD who was my grad school ethics professor. I know the rec from the ethics professor is going to be strong, but the letter from the MD I shadowed might speak to my patient interaction skills more. I hate having to choose between them but I'm afraid I'm at my letter limit so I need to make a choice.
Here's who's writing letters:
1. Science faculty from undergrad
2. Science faculty from grad school
3. Science faculty from grad school/PI
4. Former supervisor for my work as a teacher abroad
5. Non-science faculty from grad school (research methods professor)

I've been agonizing over this and I just want to get it done and not worry so much about the optics, but unfortunately students have to worry about that for med school admissions.


Full Member
May 23, 2020
  1. Pre-Medical
I think it is really good to have a letter that speaks to your aptitude to provide patient care so I would include the shadowed physician one. Have you considered dropping your undergrad science faculty letter for the ethics one? You already have 2 science from grad school that can speak to your scientific curiosity and learning capability, not sure if you need 3.
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Full Member
7+ Year Member
Mar 30, 2014
  1. Medical Student
You have 4 academic letter writers so far. How will having 5 improve your application? Go with the shadowing letter. That being said, don’t agonize over this decision, it is unlikely to impact your application.
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Alta California
Staff member
Volunteer Staff
7+ Year Member
Nov 4, 2011
  1. Attending Physician
For MD, shadowing letters are the weakest form of endorsement.
Some schools request a "clinical" letter. It's apparently fine for that.
Whatever you do, check the MSAR before blasting all those letters out!
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