runthedream13

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I've heard mixed advice on whether shadowing your own doctor is okay or not; assuming it is, is it appropriate to ask him or her to write a letter of recommendation?

If said doctor knows about my mental health history (eating disorder that led to two hospitalizations and other fun stuff) could I still shadow and/or receive a letter?
 

gyngyn

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I've heard mixed advice on whether shadowing your own doctor is okay or not; assuming it is, is it appropriate to ask him or her to write a letter of recommendation?

If said doctor knows about my mental health history (eating disorder that led to two hospitalizations and other fun stuff) could I still shadow and/or receive a letter?
Please don't ask your own doctor for a letter. In fact, please don't ask for a shadowing letter (except for DO schools or the few MD schools that ask for a "clinical" letter).
How about asking them for a referral to another doctor to shadow?
 
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Please don't ask your own doctor for a letter. In fact, please don't ask for a shadowing letter (except for DO schools or the few MD schools that ask for a "clinical" letter).
How about asking them for a referral to another doctor to shadow?
Don't waste his time, yours, or the Adcoms.
Okay, maybe I'm just being dense, but why does a letter from a medical professional who potentially watched you grow up, maybe allowed you to shadow, and has observed you over an extended period of years, both as a premed and well before then, have less value than a letter from a random person in a clinical or non-clinical environment whose butt you might have been kissing during a much shorter period of time in preparation for an application cycle?

Is one really more objective, and less invested in your success, than the other? Does a letter from a respected member of the profession who has a personal connection to a candidate really have little to no value to an adcom? What if that person happens to be a significant donor to a school you are applying to? Would this make it better, or worse?

You guys certainly know better than me, but this seems a little counter intuitive, although I guess I realize all letters (other than the negative ones) are probably taken with a huge grain of salt by adcoms.
 
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LizzyM

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We don't want a letter from someone who is invested in your success. I'm still laughing about the letter I read 10 years ago from someone who wrote, "I hope that someday he will be my son-in-law."

We certainly don't want a letter from a "significant donor". Yes, I have seen such a letter, and I rolled my eyes so hard they are still stuck up near my eyebrows, but it makes us very uncomfortable and perhaps even more critical of the applicant.

And when it comes to letters from the faculty, there are few universally beloved faculty members. You may think your doc walks on water but there well may be adcom members who think that doc is a pompous putz.
 
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We don't want a letter from someone who is invested in your success. I'm still laughing about the letter I read 10 years ago from someone who wrote, "I hope that someday he will be my son-in-law."

We certainly don't want a letter from a "significant donor". Yes, I have seen such a letter, and I rolled my eyes so hard they are still stuck up near my eyebrows, but it makes us very uncomfortable and perhaps even more critical of the applicant.

And when it comes to letters from the faculty, there are few universally beloved faculty members. You may think your doc walks on water but there well may be adcom members who think that doc is a pompous putz.
Thanks for the reality check!!! :)
 

gyngyn

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Okay, maybe I'm just being dense, but why does a letter from a medical professional who potentially watched you grow up, maybe allowed you to shadow, and has observed you over an extended period of years, both as a premed and well before then, have less value than a letter from a random person in a clinical or non-clinical environment whose butt you might have been kissing during a much shorter period of time in preparation for an application cycle?

Is one really more objective, and less invested in your success, than the other? Does a letter from a respected member of the profession who has a personal connection to a candidate really have little to no value to an adcom? What if that person happens to be a significant donor to a school you are applying to? Would this make it better, or worse?

You guys certainly know better than me, but this seems a little counter intuitive, although I guess I realize all letters (other than the negative ones) are probably taken with a huge grain of salt by adcoms.
It's like getting a letter from your Mom.
 
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It's like getting a letter from your Mom.
But can't you say that about a letter from anyone with whom you've built a personal relationship and who has indicated a willingness to take the time to write a letter on your behalf? Moms are truly an exception, but is a family doctor really that different from a PI who likes you and your work, or a professor who has grown fond of you?

I get that the latter two can speak to work, but someone who has seen a person over an extended period of years, and who is a member of the profession, and who has observed the candidate in a shadowing environment certainly has something to offer an adcom, no? I'm sure all of these letters are used more to screen for red flags than to weigh whose PI liked them the most, so why is a letter from a physician who has known a candidate for 20 years less valuable than one from a volunteer coordinator who has known a candidate for two?
 

gyngyn

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But can't you say that about a letter from anyone with whom you've built a personal relationship and who has indicated a willingness to take the time to write a letter on your behalf? Moms are truly an exception, but is a family doctor really that different from a PI who likes you and your work, or a professor who has grown fond of you?

I get that the latter two can speak to work, but someone who has seen a person over an extended period of years, and who is a member of the profession, and who has observed the candidate in a shadowing environment certainly has something to offer an adcom, no? I'm sure all of these letters are used more to screen for red flags than to weigh whose PI liked them the most, so why is a letter from a physician who has known a candidate for 20 years less valuable than one from a volunteer coordinator who has known a candidate for two?
Any letter that begins: "I've watched little KnightDoc grow from a child into a fine young man" betrays an investment in the applicant that blinds them to their deficiencies. Everyone should have supporters who see their strengths and overlook their faults. They write testimonials, though, not letters of evaluation. A professional relationship is different.
 
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LizzyM

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But can't you say that about a letter from anyone with whom you've built a personal relationship and who has indicated a willingness to take the time to write a letter on your behalf? Moms are truly an exception, but is a family doctor really that different from a PI who likes you and your work, or a professor who has grown fond of you?

I get that the latter two can speak to work, but someone who has seen a person over an extended period of years, and who is a member of the profession, and who has observed the candidate in a shadowing environment certainly has something to offer an adcom, no? I'm sure all of these letters are used more to screen for red flags than to weigh whose PI liked them the most, so why is a letter from a physician who has known a candidate for 20 years less valuable than one from a volunteer coordinator who has known a candidate for two?

Far better to have a letter from someone who has paid you for your professional work or who has assessed your work to assign you a grade than someone who has been paid to look after your health or a friendly neighbor who has watched you grow up and let you shadow him for a few afternoons. Frankly, and we've said this before, shadowing letters are really useless. They don't tell us anything we won't glean from our own interview of you.
 
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runthedream13

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Frankly, and we've said this before, shadowing letters are really useless. They don't tell us anything we won't glean from our own interview of you.

Unfortunately, some of the schools I am going to apply to require them. Go figure
 

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