cozmopak

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How many should come from pathologists and how important are these? I feel like it's so difficult to prove yourself on pathology rotations as a medical student. Also, should I include letters from pathologists with whom I've done research but haven't worked with clinically?
 

KeratinPearls

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How many should come from pathologists and how important are these? I feel like it's so difficult to prove yourself on pathology rotations as a medical student. Also, should I include letters from pathologists with whom I've done research but haven't worked with clinically?
Very important. Very important to have your letters convey a strong interest in pathology.

Letters from research is fine too. If you can get all glowing letters of recommendation from pathologists I would do so. If you can only get two that's fine.
 
Jul 7, 2009
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i'm not super-clear on this either; i think the op has the same problem as me. so far my letters look like:
1. research advisor, who is a pathologist but i did not do clinical work with him
2. internal medicine clerkship director
3. pathology clerkship director
4. director of the md/phd program
do i/we need another clinical lor? my 4th letter will be a lot stronger than one from clinical faculty who barely ever spoke to me ...
 
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yaah

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I didn't even have a clinical letter. I suppose I could have gotten one but it wouldn't have been as strong as one from a pathologist, since i knew them better. I would say it is very important to have at least one letter from a pathologist, preferably one affiliated with a residency program. After that it's pretty much whoever can give you the best letter. A research advisor, if you are close to them, is generally a good bet too. A lot of people talk about 4 letters, I was always told three was plenty. Maybe that has changed. I think ERAS allows you up to four per program (not including deans letter) but that doesn't mean you have to have that many, particularly if they aren't adding anything.
 

BierstiefelAndy

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i'm not super-clear on this either; i think the op has the same problem as me. so far my letters look like:
1. research advisor, who is a pathologist but i did not do clinical work with him
2. internal medicine clerkship director
3. pathology clerkship director
4. director of the md/phd program
do i/we need another clinical lor? my 4th letter will be a lot stronger than one from clinical faculty who barely ever spoke to me ...
For an MD/PhD person, the letter from your research advisor carries the most weight regardless of his knowledge of your clinical skills...especially for residency programs that salivate over MD/PhD applications to begin with.

Letter #2 is optional...nice if you have it, but not essential (this is for other people who may not have this letter).

Letter #4 is standard for you...at some institutions, the director of the MD/PhD program writes a blurb about you in the Dean's Letter so that becomes redundant anyway.

Letter #3 is good to have. You need at least one letter from the pathology department. Usually they come from the directors of pathology rotations and these letters are pretty standard because they don't know you all that well. But this should not be a detriment to you.

Most of the applications I reviewed had one or two letters from pathology folks. So if you have at least one pathology LOR that you know is pretty good, that's fine. But as an MD/PhD such as yourself and the OP, the most important letter will be from your thesis advisor. This is the letter I would place most weight on because these letters were the lengthiest and most specific as to the applicant's capabilities and accomplishments. The other letters, including pathology letters, paled in comparison and we didn't look at this negatively at all. That is to be expected. Now, if your letter from your thesis advisor is similar to your other letters in length and depth, you have a problem.
 
Jul 18, 2009
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Hi! I'm new to this SDN thing but I am applying in path this year and saw this thread... I am also trying to decide what letters to use. I could get all pathologists letters, but do programs like to have at least one non-path one? or should i go for 3-4 path letters?
Thanks for any advice!!
:)
 

tig3r

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During my path rotation, we spent one week signing out with an attending before moving onto the next service. This happened for a month, so I had the opportunity to work with four excellent pathologists. For the most part, they understood that we don't have an enormous amount of time to spend with them and we need letters of reference for the application cycle. I think it is possible to make a positive impression in one week when you are spending around 4-5 hours/day around the attending. Asking questions, portaying a genuine interest in the field, reading, etc.
 
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