Sep 12, 2014
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Medical Student
So after sending several polite passive-aggressive emails to my letter writer, I finally got him to submit the LOR today. He even sent me a copy for me to read, and told me to let him know if I want any changes. I know that LOR readers/writers have "codes" that they use (i.e. Outstanding - top 10%, Excellent - top 25%, Very Good - top 50%, Good - bottom 50%, recommend without reservation vs. highly recommend vs. recommend, etc.). His letter was overall very nice, but I had concerns about how he ended it. He concluded his letter with "I hope that [my name] chooses to stay [my med school] for training, but he will be an excellent housestaff, with chief resident potential, at any program lucky enough to match him."

1) I am just wondering about the use of the term "excellent" here. I am applying to the top programs in pediatrics (Boston Children's, CHOP, etc.). Would PDs reading this letter be concerned about how he didn't use the term "Outstanding"?

2) While he is saying nice stuffs about me, he doesn't use the lingo "I recommend without reservation" or "I highly recommend" - would this matter?

3) What is the nuiance of the phrase "chief resident potential"? I mean, everybody has "potential".....

4) Does the phrase "any program lucky enough to match him" come off as too cocky? I mean, I'm flattered that my letter writer thinks that, but I'm sure CHOP and Boston Children's would get thousands of great applicants... I just wonder what LOR readers would think.

5) If I do want my letter writer to change something in the letter, how should I tell him?

I know that I may be overthinking about this (and being super paranoid), but hey, it's the Friday before ERAS!! I'd appreciate any comments/advices.
 

Raryn

Infernal Internist / Enigmatic Endocrinologist
10+ Year Member
Apr 25, 2008
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Attending Physician
So after sending several polite passive-aggressive emails to my letter writer, I finally got him to submit the LOR today. He even sent me a copy for me to read, and told me to let him know if I want any changes. I know that LOR readers/writers have "codes" that they use (i.e. Outstanding - top 10%, Excellent - top 25%, Very Good - top 50%, Good - bottom 50%, recommend without reservation vs. highly recommend vs. recommend, etc.). His letter was overall very nice, but I had concerns about how he ended it. He concluded his letter with "I hope that [my name] chooses to stay [my med school] for training, but he will be an excellent housestaff, with chief resident potential, at any program lucky enough to match him."

1) I am just wondering about the use of the term "excellent" here. I am applying to the top programs in pediatrics (Boston Children's, CHOP, etc.). Would PDs reading this letter be concerned about how he didn't use the term "Outstanding"?

2) While he is saying nice stuffs about me, he doesn't use the lingo "I recommend without reservation" or "I highly recommend" - would this matter?

3) What is the nuiance of the phrase "chief resident potential"? I mean, everybody has "potential".....

4) Does the phrase "any program lucky enough to match him" come off as too cocky? I mean, I'm flattered that my letter writer thinks that, but I'm sure CHOP and Boston Children's would get thousands of great applicants... I just wonder what LOR readers would think.

5) If I do want my letter writer to change something in the letter, how should I tell him?

I know that I may be overthinking about this (and being super paranoid), but hey, it's the Friday before ERAS!! I'd appreciate any comments/advices.
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My god.

Are you kidding me?

This is the most ridiculous thing I've read on SDN this year.

The coded lingo is for deans letters. Maybe for chairmans letters too, but I actually doubt it. It has ****-all to do with your average letter of rec. That is a stellar ending to a letter, and you are worrying about nothing. For ****'s sake.
 
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M
Sep 12, 2014
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Status
Medical Student
Good to know, but you didn't have to say the way you did. I know it may look all trivial looking back from the other side, but I honestly didn't know. Thanks for the reply though.
 

inmyslumber

ASA Member
10+ Year Member
Jan 8, 2007
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Attending Physician
The coded lingo is for deans letters. Maybe for chairmans letters too, but I actually doubt it. It has ****-all to do with your average letter of rec. That is a stellar ending to a letter, and you are worrying about nothing. For ****'s sake.
I am in an academic setting (not a Chair or PD) and I use the "coded lingo" for the LORs I write. Not everyone can be outstanding/ highest recommendation with no reservations. To give everyone the highest praise would make LOR meaningless.

-Inmyslumber
 
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mvenus929

10+ Year Member
Jul 6, 2006
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You're overthinking it. The writer is saying he would like to train you, and that you have good leadership potential.

One of my letter writers switched institutions after he wrote my letter, and I applied to both my home program and the institution he moved to for residency. I think every single one of my interviewers at the second place brought up the fact that he said in his letter that he hoped I would stay to train under him, which meant that clearly I should come to their program.