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letters of rec....what if they ALL SUCK???

Discussion in 'General Residency Issues' started by flipflopsnsnow, Jul 22, 2006.

  1. flipflopsnsnow

    5+ Year Member

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    I just got a copy of a letter of rec from a doctor that i worked with, and i am pretty sure its awful. Basically it says, "Student doctor X worked under my supervision for 50 hours at The Clinic. She is dedicated, hardworking, blah blah some more thesaurus adjectives. She will be a good doctor." :(

    When I read postings about making sure to get REAL or GOOD letters of rec, I am pretty sure that this wouldnt qualify as one of them. But, the problem is I found one that was sent to me when I was interested in surgery and needed one for an externship, and it was just as generic. So, looking like there's a pattern here. :mad:

    I am now freaking out. Am I screwed? :scared: :scared: :scared:

    Other info: step 1 202, mostly passes, honors in that first letter writers clinic, going into peds, wanting to return to california or stay in chicago. :confused:
     
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  3. Jocomama

    Jocomama Make 'em bleed!
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    The letter is fine, what do you expect?
    Unless you are marrying their daughter - why freak out?
    SSRI is my advice
     
  4. Winged Scapula

    Winged Scapula Cougariffic!
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    After a few years of reading letters, believe me, they almost ALL sound the same. Unless you really sucked or were a superstar, its hard for the letter writer to come up with something original.

    If you feel you deserved a better letter (ie, perhaps you gave a talk which was well received during your rotation or he didn't mention your Honors) and the letter writer knows you've seen it (BTW, since you should be signing a form which states you haven't seen the letters, how is it you have? Not that this is uncommon, but you really shouldn't be seeing your LORs), there is nothing wrong with asking them to include X, Y or Z which you think would elevate the status of your letter. Of course, you could risk alientating the letter writer, but if its worth it to you...

    really, almost all letters are the same. Yours is no better or worse than the vast majority of them.
     
  5. flipflopsnsnow

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    I did sign one of those releases, but the letter writer sent this copy to my house, without me even asking. So....that's the deal with that. :)

    I was only freaking out because 1) that's kinda what i am good at sometimes and 2) because reading Isersons and FA for the match they say how a short, generic letter without examples that doesnt sound like they know you is bad and could be detrimental to your application. :oops: So, I just assumed that people wrote more. I guess my assumption was wrong.... :p

    thanks for the info!!
    and yes the ssri is working wonders!!! ;)
     
  6. chicamedica

    chicamedica 1K Member
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    well, that's cause you have to help your letter writers out by giving them some more info about yourself, like what kind of doctor you want to be (i.e. field, unique career path if any, etc) and why, as well as your general professional background (medical/scientific related efforts). Generally, a preceptor you've worked with for one month in clinic (much less on the floors) is not going to know you well enough to write you a letter that stands out, even if you performed at an honors level.

    When you ask for an LOR, you cant go empty handed. If possible, try to schedule a meeting in person, to ask officially for the LOR, not by email. I realize this might not be possible if, say, you are now at a long-distance from the prospective writer (in a different city), however, if you have to ask by email, I'd recommend that only if you've worked with that person long term (i.e. a few months at least) on a one-on-one basis and if that person knows you very well.

    Anyway, when you go for the meeting, treat it like an interview. Come prepared to give your writer a copy of your personal statement and CV at the very least. If you are asking by email, make sure to provide them to the writer as attachments or snail mail, etc. The in-person meeting in addition to those things has another advantage in that you can kind of gauge what kind of letter (positive vs avg vs negative) that writer might give you. . .so if the writer doesn't sound promising you can ask someone else right away.
     
  7. Winged Scapula

    Winged Scapula Cougariffic!
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    Sometimes they do write more. It really depends on how well the physician knows the student. If you were around, in the clinics, did well but didn't really stand out, you'll get the "generic" letter, which sounds like what you got. So does almost everyone. However, if you spent some time with this physician, talking about your career goals, what you've done in the past (as noted above, showing him/her your CV, talking about your extracurricular activities, etc.), then they can write a more specific letter. But you have to be motivated, on the ball and a bit pushy sometimes to get this done. No one should ask for a letter without having something prepared for the writer - ie, your personal statment, your CV, etc.
     
  8. mcindoe

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    not to say that this is a "bad" letter, but what do you expect someone to say about you who has only known you for 50 hours, and if those hours were spent supervising you in a clinic you probably weren't getting to know each other all that well cause you were working.

    i got letters from people who got to at least see me in more than one context other than as a med student doing clinical work....like having a meal together or doing something interesting together that will help make your letters less bland and more unique.
     

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