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Graduate students: who wrote your LOR?

Discussion in 'Nontraditional Students' started by SPTtoMD, Mar 11, 2012.

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  1. SPTtoMD

    SPTtoMD 2+ Year Member

    Mar 5, 2012
    This is mainly a question for you nontraditional medical students who had switched over from another graduate program: who wrote your letters of recommendation?

    I am in the first year of a three-year DPT program, and I'm worried about asking any of the instructors in PT school for a letter of recommendation to medical school. (I'll be applying during third year.) Although we get a lot of one-on-one contact with them, especially with our research advisers, it doesn't seem like they would be crazy about helping one of their students switching to a field that isn't physical therapy. Did any graduate students ask their graduate instructors to write their LOR's, or would it be best to find other options? I am employed and still remain in contact with instructors from undergrad, so those might be feasible.

    Thanks for the help, and sorry if this is a repeat thread.
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  3. abumblingbee

    abumblingbee bumbling along 5+ Year Member

    Sep 1, 2010
    I worked in industry for a couple of years before going back to school to do med school prereqs in a post-bac program. I'm getting my recommendation letters together right now, and I have one letter from a professor I worked closely with in undergrad, one from a mentor I had in industry, a committee letter from my pre-med adviser in my post-bac, and one from a professor who taught me in my post-bac (who barely knew me but my adviser required one from the program).

    The company I worked for after college was all about "company loyalty" and moving up the career ladder. They did not look too kindly on people who weren't in it for the long haul, so I kept my med school plans a secret. Once I had developed a close working relationship and a pretty good friendship with my mentor and knew I could trust her, I asked her for a letter of recommendation and she was happy to provide it because she knew me well and was supportive of me going after my dreams.

    You might have some professors who get their backs up if they find out you have higher ambitions, but if you develop a good relationship with someone you feel is really supportive, then by all means ask them for a letter.

    And if you have any undergrad professors who you think would make a good recommender, by all means include them too. I haven't gotten in to med school yet, but from what I've seen it's a good sign when an applicant can provide examples of academic and/or work success from all the major phases of their life (college and later)

    Good luck!

    Hope this helps! If not just ignore me ;D
  4. ChemMed

    ChemMed Curiosity is Fun! 5+ Year Member

    Apr 16, 2010
    Yes I did ask for LORs from my advisers. They're usually not excited about the subject to say the least. It may take some negotiating to convince them that this is what is best for you. My suggestion is to pick out the few who you know would have your best interest at heart and tell them why you want to change. Once they are convinced that this is what you believe is best for you they will most likely help you (as long as they know and trust you). It takes a bit of courage but I'm sure you have it. Good luck and PM me if you have any questions.
  5. DryHopped

    DryHopped 7+ Year Member

    Dec 30, 2009
    I got one of my letters fron a graduate school mentor that wanted me to do a PhD. The letter turned out to be strong even though I was going in a different direction then he wanted. The rest of my letters came from post-bacc professors that I only knew for about a semester but I aced their class. If you have any doubt about your letter writer's character (people who write intentional bad letters out of spite are scumbags IMO) then don't get one from that person.
  6. NES10111


    Nov 4, 2011
    I graduated from undergrad in 2008, grad school (Masters of Health Administration) in 2010, and have been working since in the Department of Pediatrics where I was applying to medical school. In graduate school, I also worked as an autism therapist. For my letters, I have one from a close biology professor from undergrad, one from my advisor in graduate school, 2 from MDs that I work with in the Dept of Pediatrics, and one from a mom of a little boy I did therapy with a few years ago and have stayed close with.

    I liked that (as someone above mentioned), I had shown academic/professional/relationship success going all the way back to 2004. I liked that I showed I can do science work, business/managerial work, and relate well to both MDs and parents/patients. I have no doubt whatsoever that my letters of recommendation were responsible for getting me in to med school. I had great stats, but my letters showed the narrative of my life.
  7. help2

    help2 5+ Year Member

    May 11, 2011
    Maybe it would help to let them know a few weeks before you ask for a letter that you will be applying to medical school. Have a "heart to heart" about why you want to go into medicine so that they fully understand where you're coming from. You can gauge their reaction to figure out how supportive you think they might be, and then ask for a letter after it's been a few weeks and the idea has sunk in.

    I am entering medical school from a grad program in public health, so faculty are typically very supportive of students wanting to continue their education in other fields.
  8. Freezer

    Freezer 7+ Year Member

    Mar 25, 2009
    Danville PA
    As a College Professor turned Medical Student (who happens to be using SDN to procrastinate studying, currently), here are some things to keep in mind. Most profs love writing letters of recommendation. Depending on the program, it is usually a nice bragging right to be able to claim that you had X number of students go onto professional degree programs (Medicine, Law, PhD, etc). In fact, those numbers are fantastic to have when going into a tenure and promotions meeting. Further, your typical professor has major self esteem issues and is usually flattered when asked for a LOR. However, your typical professor usually has 3 types of LORs that he/she will give you. The first LOR is very personalized to your accomplishments and yields high praise for you as a candidate. The second is a very positive LOR, but a form letter none the less that is used for most students and the only personalized thing about is is your name (however I have heard some humorous stories about profs who forgot to change the name before sending). The final type of letter is brief, non descriptive, and is usually sent because the prof has no idea what they are doing or they were encourage by the dean of faculty to write a letter for their kid (dont worry... even if you were the worst student in the world, your chances of getting this letter is rare).

    So, what do you need to do? First off, the thing that increases your chances of being well received when asking for an LOR is being VERY professional. Don't walk into your Profs office unannounced looking like a student casually asking for a LOR. The BEST letter request I have ever seen is when a student first emailed me using proper grammar and syntax(something I still struggle with), stated their interest in an LOR from me, stated what they liked about my curriculum/teaching and how it developed their career philosophy, stated what struggles that had in my class and how they have become a better student by learning how to rectify those deficits(turning perceived weakness into strength in any interview is a very great skill to develop!!!), and finally requesting to meet with me in person to further discuss any questions or concerns regarding the LOR request. We set a time, and they met me in business casual attire and approached the request in an almost formal job interview style. It seems tedious and unnecessary at first glance. But that student played to my self esteem. Their professionalism silently told me that I was a big fish... I liked feeling like a big fish... I don't get that feeling anymore, but I digress. Anyways, I SUNG THEIR PRAISES AND I DIDN'T EVEN REMEMBER HAVING THEM IN MY CLASS!!! Moral of the story, be professional, treat a LOR request like a job interview, turn your weaknesses into strengths, and realize that your success can be translated into program success for the instructor.

    oh some other practical stuff... many schools have a pre-med committee. Don't be afraid to approach them. I know non traditional med students who almost failed out of their undergrad years ago but found their committee motivated to show them in the best light possible. Again, sending former students to professional programs can be a bragging right for institutions.
  9. ChemMed

    ChemMed Curiosity is Fun! 5+ Year Member

    Apr 16, 2010
    In general, your right. I think that the OP should be aware of the cases where your professor/adviser may not be thrilled that you are leaving the career path that they envisioned you going into though. Graduate students can be academic children and their mentor may have ideas for them. This is a hard case and one that I was faced with. Its doesn't mean that the professor doesn't want you to pursue your interests, but it does mean that they thought your interests where with them in your career choice. Changing your mind mid program can come off as indecisive and may not look good. Its important to make sure that communication is clear between the adviser and the graduate student. This way explaining a change of heart may not be frowned upon and a good LOR can still be obtained.

    It is true that most advisers with not write a bad LOR, but I have seen the rare case where it occurred. Usually if an adviser does not wish to write an LOR they will simply refuse your request. If this happens to anyone just walk away and find someone else to help you.

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