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Letter of Recommendation (and another) question

Discussion in 'Physician Scientists' started by Ziggy08, Apr 15, 2007.

  1. Ziggy08

    Ziggy08 Junior Member
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    Hi,

    I worked for a professor the summer before my college freshman year in a molecular biology lab. This lab work is totally unrelated to the research I do now, but it is more similar to the type of research work I think I'd like to pursue as a MD/PhD.

    I've looked at MSTP websites at the med schools I want to apply to and some of them indicate that letters of recommendations are required from all research supervisors. So, would this include the professor I worked with after high school?

    I haven't talked to this professor for two years now, so I'm not sure if he
    remembers me well. So, I'm not sure how to approach him for a letter of recommendation. Any suggestions?

    On a different note, I think I'm going to apply both MSTP and MD-only to UT Southwestern, UTMB and UT Houston. If I submit my AMCAS application in early June and my Texas application in early July, how would interviews work? Are MSTP and MD interviews usually on the same day?
     
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  3. ThatOne

    ThatOne New Member
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    Hmmm... yes, you probably would want to get a rec letter from him, because you probably would want to include that experience on your list of research activities. Send a polite and friendly email, saying you loved working in his lab, that it helped inspire you towards an MD-PhD, that you now want to pursue the PhD in the same field that he is in, and that you're hoping he would able to write you a strong recommendation letter. Remember to offer any materials he might need to refresh his memory -- a C.V., an interview if you live nearby and if he has the time, etc. Profs. get these sorts of requests all the time, so it shouldn't be a major problem if you had a good relationship with him.
     
  4. OncDoc19

    OncDoc19 MS4
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    Is it really mandatory to have letters from ALL research supervisors? For example, I worked part time in a lab for one summer right after my sophomore year. I was working in cancer clinical trials at the time and needed extra hours over the summer and wanted some research experiance so the HR lady in the cancer center was nice enough to set me up in the lab of the cancer center director. I have met this man a couple of times but he was never in the lab and I worked with an RA. I had a great experiance and the RA gave me rave reviews, but compared to some of the other research experiances I have had, this is pretty insignificant. Would an LOR be expected from this lab? (See my mdapps for the list of my other research activities)
     
  5. solitude

    solitude Senior Member
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    I had a very similar experience: worked for a prof before I even started college (almost 3 years ago now), and it was my first time in the lab, so I was really just learning how to do grunt work like PCR, sequencing, etc. I asked my pre-med advisor whether I should solicit a recommendation from him, and she suggested that I do not. Her arguments:
    -the letter is not likely to be strong.
    -I already have 6 strong recommenders (her suggestion), and any more than that would just be absurd
    -as long as I can articulate why this research experience was important but that I did not have significant interaction with the PI, I should still include it on my application

    So, I would recommend not soliciting a letter from this prof. Just make sure you have strong letters from the PI's that actually interacted with you, and where you have significant work. And, be sure that you can explain why you didn't include a letter from this PI if an MSTP committee asks.
     
  6. mtlove

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    I second this question. How important are letters from short term research experiences? I have 5 years of research between three PIs, and all of these will write excellent letters. I also spent 2 months in a summer program for a PI that was gone the entire time. Is it important to include a letter from this short term project?

    Has anyone been able to not include letters like this at schools that specifically say to send all research letters? At schools that do not require all research letters, is a missing letter usually considered a negative?
     
  7. Ziggy08

    Ziggy08 Junior Member
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    But for me, unlike you all, I only have 1 other PI (and also a clinical research PI) writing me LORs...
     
  8. solitude

    solitude Senior Member
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    Actually, I only have 1 PI writing me a LOR. All of my other letters are from professors that taught me in classes, or know me through something other than my working in their lab.
     
  9. SpeakLittleB

    SpeakLittleB Member
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    If you have a ridiculous number of letters already, I think one more isn't necessary. I included summer research, just because the school requested it. I think when admissions looks at the letter and your length of experience, they'll realize the circumstances and judge accordingly. I personally feel like I'd rather just include the summer letter as an "insignificant letter", rather than have them wonder why I didn't ask that particular person. mine totalled to 3 long-term significant letters, and 2 summer PI's.
     
  10. OncDoc19

    OncDoc19 MS4
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    So can you submit more than 6 letters then if you need to have one from all research mentors? I already have 6 letters that I want to submit from people who know me a lot better than the RA/PI from the summer lab. Plus I am applying for a non-science MD/PhD so I need science and non-science letters. What should I do?
     
  11. SpeakLittleB

    SpeakLittleB Member
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    generally, if it all goes as a school packet, you can put as many letters as you want. in your case, it might be different, as ur science lab experience wouldn't really matter to your professed interest in the non-science phd. it sounds like if u already have 6 awesome letters, u should be fine without the one from the summer.
     
  12. Ziggy08

    Ziggy08 Junior Member
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    At my school, we put 3 (and only 3) in our committee packet, and then we interview withthe committee and they write another essay. So, the med school gets 4 essays, and everything else has to be submitted to individual schools seperately.

    So, I'll have 4 letters (without my summer PI). Only 1 will be from a laboratory PI. 1 other will be a clinical research doctor, and 1 is one of my professors. The last one is the committee letter.

    Still not sure what to do...
     
  13. ThatOne

    ThatOne New Member
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    It never hurts to call the MSTP administrators of the programs you are interested in and ask their opinion -- especially during the "off season" when they're not trying to keep track of several hundred apps while scheduling interviews and coordinating revisits. So, why not wait until after May 20th or so and drop them a line? None of them ever bit me too badly.
     
  14. hawkeey

    hawkeey Member
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    To be honest you might just want to focus on one degree.

    What are you contingency plans here? Would you take any MSTP over any MD program? Would a MD at UT Southwestern be better than MSTP at UTMB?

    Also, what happened to Baylor MSTP?

    Also why the regional constriction? If you are going MD/PhD you might as well apply all over the country.

    At UT Southwestern, most of the MSTP interviews are on Friday, whereas the medical school interviews are on Saturday. Normally, you would not do the medical school interviews if you were applying MSTP, but you would be doing other things such as meeting with the director.

    My advice for you is to pick what kind of program you want first and then apply far and wide.
     
  15. OncDoc19

    OncDoc19 MS4
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    Wrong thread?
     
  16. Dr.Watson

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  17. Ziggy08

    Ziggy08 Junior Member
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    hawkeey,

    If faced with that choice, I'd take MD-only at UTSW and try to apply MD/PhD as an internal applicant.

    I'm applying MSTP all over the US. I just listed the schools I'm applying using TMDSAS, which has a different procedure than AMCAS.

    And I can't do my TMDSAS application sooner because I'll be in Ghana in May/June and I can't mail in the application confirmation, check, photos... whatever they want mailed in.
     

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