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LOR writers that haven't known you're pre-med?


10+ Year Member
Feb 13, 2008
  1. Medical Student
Alright, so this particular problem is a bit complicated, so I'll state my question outright and allow people to read on...

Does anybody have any advice for dealing with non-science LOR authors that may not know anything about med school, or haven't known that you're pre-med? Are there any areas/topics their letters should focus on aside from what science LOR's usually go over?


Over the past three years I've managed to get to know a prof in a social science department, and last time we spoke of my career goals I had indicated to him that I wasn't still considering med school (stretching the truth a bit, I'd just been second-guessing my decision recently)

I ultimately decided that it was right for me after all, went and gained clinical experience/shadowed, did some serious GPA repair, and pulled off an MCAT in the mid 30's.

Now I find myself in the position of having to ask him for an LOR (He knows me best, I've known him for the longest, and he's my only decent non-science prospect). How do I tell him not only that I've decided on med school after all, but that I now need a recomendation endorsing my entry into a field he knows nothing about?

I'm primarily concerned that I'll seem capricious/insincere. Also, I'm not really sure he'll know what type of info to include to make the letter really shine like I know it can (he writes awesome pre-law LOR's apparently, and he supervised my 3 month internship overseas..)

...So again, how does one go about getting a strong letter out of a (potentially) inexperienced non-science writer?
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Full Member
10+ Year Member
Mar 23, 2008
Kansas City, MO
  1. Attending Physician
Have him indicate your work ethic, your place in whatever class you had him for, your propensity for academic excellence, and all that. I doubt most professors really know exactly what med schools are looking for, so it shouldn't be too much different than most. If he knew you were considering med school at some point in the past, the fact that you've turned back to that shouldn't be a surprise. College students aren't expected to have their affairs completely in order as far as future plans are concerned, you know.
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Full Member
10+ Year Member
Oct 2, 2008
  1. Medical Student
I don't think there will be a problem. Tell him that you changed your mind, and you're sure that you're interested in medicine and demonstrate that you really thought this through and are committed to it (talk about your shadowing, clinical experience, MCAT).
As someone who writes many good pre-law LORs, I'm sure he can do a good pre-med one, since he probably has written them before and seems to know you well. Many non-science professors write LORs for med school and little knowledge of the field is required. Medical schools probably value a lot of the same personal, professional and academic traits as law schools
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Full Member
10+ Year Member
Oct 22, 2008
Nashville, TN
  1. Medical Student
I think it shouldn't be a problem at all. Approach him and let him know that you have now decided to pursue medicine. I think this prof could be a great strength for your application. I had an English prof I knew well write me one, and he showed me the letter before he sent it, and wow it was a great one. Science LOR-writers attest to your ability to perform well in a rigorous science setting, while I think the non-science rec letters can really recommend you as a person. I know mine commented heavily on my character, qualities, etc., with some mention of my academic performance (which mostly speaks for itself through grades, MCAT, etc.).

I definitely think you want to use him as a great asset for your application. I'm sure if he knows you as well as you describe he will have no problem writing a great LOR for you..hopefully one that really addresses your personality, character, etc.
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