FrankMD

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I have a dilemma...

I have 3 letter on hand. One from a research year I spent at National Eye Institute, one from Neurology and one from Pediatrics.

The thing is that I'm getting mixed advising from my ophtho chair and my student affairs dean. Ophtho chair is saying that 1 ophtho letter from NEI will suffice since the last time I had any contact with my own school's ophtho department is over a year ago and I didn't really get a chance to work with anyone closely. His argument is that it won't be a spectacular letter and since I have an ophtho letter alrady, it won't really matter. My dean is saying that not having an ophtho "department letter" will raise a "red flag" in my application...

It would be great if you or anyone you know have an opinion from the inside regarding this issue.

Thanks for your help!!
 

Olddog1

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Dr. I Bleed Blue and Gold said:
I have a dilemma...

I have 3 letter on hand. One from a research year I spent at National Eye Institute, one from Neurology and one from Pediatrics.

The thing is that I'm getting mixed advising from my ophtho chair and my student affairs dean. Ophtho chair is saying that 1 ophtho letter from NEI will suffice since the last time I had any contact with my own school's ophtho department is over a year ago and I didn't really get a chance to work with anyone closely. His argument is that it won't be a spectacular letter and since I have an ophtho letter alrady, it won't really matter. My dean is saying that not having an ophtho "department letter" will raise a "red flag" in my application...

It would be great if you or anyone you know have an opinion from the inside regarding this issue.

Thanks for your help!!
Both are correct. You want the strongest letters you can get. However, if I were you I would get a letter from your department and send all 4 (possibly dc the peds rec). There are no absolutes, but when I read an application if there are no letters of rec from your department the first thing I think of is why don't they like you. Who did you piss off? Did you never show up for the rotation? Rightly or wrongly that is what I do, and when you are looking at hundreds of apps where everybody on paper is essentially the same you are looking for reasons to move an applicant to the do not interview or do not rank list. An easy way to get the letter from your chair without looking like you are ignoring their advice is to tell them some departments require a chair's letter (some do), but look into which ones before you go asking for the letter.
 

speyeder

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Jul 24, 2004
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Dr. I Bleed Blue and Gold said:
I have a dilemma...

I have 3 letter on hand. One from a research year I spent at National Eye Institute, one from Neurology and one from Pediatrics.

The thing is that I'm getting mixed advising from my ophtho chair and my student affairs dean. Ophtho chair is saying that 1 ophtho letter from NEI will suffice since the last time I had any contact with my own school's ophtho department is over a year ago and I didn't really get a chance to work with anyone closely. His argument is that it won't be a spectacular letter and since I have an ophtho letter alrady, it won't really matter. My dean is saying that not having an ophtho "department letter" will raise a "red flag" in my application...

It would be great if you or anyone you know have an opinion from the inside regarding this issue.

Thanks for your help!!


I lean towards what your dean says. Most applicants with an ophtho department end up sending a letter from their their chairman or program director. Not having one may seem a little odd. As long as it's a good to pretty good letter, it should be fine. However, if it's just a so-so letter I would not send it. Sending a mediocre letter is worse than not having a departmental letter at all. In the end you have to judge for yourself whether you think your program can write you a strong letter. If you haven't really worked with the faculty at your program, maybe you can start now. See if you can help a faculty member with a research project on the side, set up another meeting or two with the chairman or PD so they get to know you a little better. The more they see of you & know of you, the better your chances are for a good letter.
 
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Paulie

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There's no manual on how to put together the perfect application. I really don't think not having a letter from your chairman / program director will raise a red flag (I didn't have one from my department).

I think you should get the best letters possible from the people who know your work best. My only concern is the ophtho letter from the NEI--did you do any clinical work with this letter writer? I know you did in Neurology and Peds, buy maybe programs would like to know about your clinical skills in terms of ophtho. Even so, a letter from the NEI ain't too bad.

I would go ahead with your original plan. Good luck.
 

Olddog1

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Jul 18, 2006
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Paulie said:
There's no manual on how to put together the perfect application. I really don't think not having a letter from your chairman / program director will raise a red flag (I didn't have one from my department).

I think you should get the best letters possible from the people who know your work best. My only concern is the ophtho letter from the NEI--did you do any clinical work with this letter writer? I know you did in Neurology and Peds, buy maybe programs would like to know about your clinical skills in terms of ophtho. Even so, a letter from the NEI ain't too bad.

I would go ahead with your original plan. Good luck.
I stand by what I wrote earlier, but I need to emphasize some programs require a chairman's letter. Look at the applications at your top choices to make sure this isn't the case (if you decide not to obtain the chair's letter). Good luck.
 
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FrankMD

Ophthalmologist Wanna Be
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Olddog1 said:
I stand by what I wrote earlier, but I need to emphasize some programs require a chairman's letter. Look at the applications at your top choices to make sure this isn't the case (if you decide not to obtain the chair's letter). Good luck.
Olddog,

How would I be able to find out programs that require this letter? Should I just email the PDs of the programs directly or is there a list I'm missing?
 

Pastrami King

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Dr. I Bleed Blue and Gold said:
Olddog,

How would I be able to find out programs that require this letter? Should I just email the PDs of the programs directly or is there a list I'm missing?
I applied to many programs and looked at the application requirements of many more. I do not recall a single one requesting a "chairman's letter."
 

Olddog1

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Jul 18, 2006
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Pastrami King said:
I applied to many programs and looked at the application requirements of many more. I do not recall a single one requesting a "chariman's letter."
It has been a few years since I applied, but I do know some programs wanted one because I needed to jump through a bunch of hoops to get it and then overnight it to CAS at the deadline (lots of fun). Things may have changed.
 
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