radiology and letters of rec

theonlytycrane

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For those going into radiology, any thoughts on letters of rec from radiologists?

I have one, but since radiology electives are so passive I almost wonder if it would be better to use my letters from IM that comment on my clinical performance.

Would it be "weird" to apply to a rads program with no rads letters?
 

efle

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I've asked about this and they said common to use both - like 1 rads letter, 1 letter from your medicine sub-I and then 1-2 others (research PI, any other rotation you impressed on, etc)

They also said that during COVID they know many rads departments are working remote as much as possible and that there will probably have to be some leniency with the quality and number of LORs as a result
 
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TheThirdLevel

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One rads letter is good to show that you did have some real exposure to someone the field. More than one is not needed, hard to assess a student on a DR rotation. An IR rotation can be nice because you can showcase your abilities a bit more, and an IR letter can be good even if you're only applying to DR. Otherwise I would use one solid clinical letter (med or surg usually) and then otherwise your strongest letters regardless of field.
 
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TheThirdLevel

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Wouldn't this absolutely scream "I am applying to your DR residency as a backup to categorical IR"?

No, and even if it did most places are aware that plenty of people dual apply. Plenty of people at my institution do an IR rotation to get rec letters even if they end up only applying DR. DR letters are really limited in assessing how good of a candidate someone is, you barely do anything on those rotations. If you can get a good DR letter, do it. But I don't think it's a red flag if you have an IR one instead.
 
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theonlytycrane

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They also said that during COVID they know many rads departments are working remote as much as possible and that there will probably have to be some leniency with the quality and number of LORs as a result

Yeah I was lucky to get one in-person DR elective done where I can get a letter from.

I have a second one coming up, but it has transitioned to 100% Zoom. I was originally going to ask for a letter from this one, but I feel silly asking for a letter after sitting quietly in the background on Zoom for a few weeks.

I guess rads letters aren't as big of a deal though, so I'll likely just go with 1 + clinical letters as you suggested.
 
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efle

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No, and even if it did most places are aware that plenty of people dual apply. Plenty of people at my institution do an IR rotation to get rec letters even if they end up only applying DR. DR letters are really limited in assessing how good of a candidate someone is, you barely do anything on those rotations. If you can get a good DR letter, do it. But I don't think it's a red flag if you have an IR one instead.
Interesting, this is pretty much dead opposite advice from what our match panels have discussed here. Did you also apply to DR and IR both at the same institution for a bunch of places? Our panel made it sound much more either/or and that most DR PDs are not cool with being blatantly used as a backup
 

TheThirdLevel

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Interesting, this is pretty much dead opposite advice from what our match panels have discussed here. Did you also apply to DR and IR both at the same institution for a bunch of places? Our panel made it sound much more either/or and that most DR PDs are not cool with being blatantly used as a backup

I only applied DR, not IR, and got interviews all over at solid DR programs with no DR letter, and I wasn't a superstar candidate in terms of scores either. I would say that your IR letter writer should mention your intention to do DR. I was honest about the fact that I didn't know if I wanted to do IR but wanted to keep options open, and not a single interviewer raised an eyebrow. I got a lot of good feedback about my IR letters, especially because I was able to get to work with my attendings enough for them to be strong letters. It's not always feasible to do that for DR.

In any case, YMMV based on the program. If you are worried, then get a DR letter. But I don't think having an IR letter is a red flag for most programs, many of them have ESIR anyway and are aware some people decide on IR later. There are some IR applicants who are rather blatant about being there as a DR backup. But most places are going to be fine with it, there's not enough IR spots for every IR applicant anyway.
 
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efle

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I only applied DR, not IR, and got interviews all over at solid DR programs with no DR letter, and I wasn't a superstar candidate in terms of scores either. I would say that your IR letter writer should mention your intention to do DR. I was honest about the fact that I didn't know if I wanted to do IR but wanted to keep options open, and not a single interviewer raised an eyebrow. I got a lot of good feedback about my IR letters, especially because I was able to get to work with my attendings enough for them to be strong letters. It's not always feasible to do that for DR.

In any case, YMMV based on the program. If you are worried, then get a DR letter. But I don't think having an IR letter is a red flag for most programs, many of them have ESIR anyway and are aware some people decide on IR later. There are some IR applicants who are rather blatant about being there as a DR backup. But most places are going to be fine with it, there's not enough IR spots for every IR applicant anyway.
That makes a lot more sense, one of my advisors did recommend an IR sub-I as my backup plan for a letter if my upcoming DR clerkship is as awful as it sounds like it will be (nearly everyone is working remote). I'm also planning to apply DR only so I'd just be totally upfront like you were
 

TheThirdLevel

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@TheThirdLevel Just to clarify, did you not worry about having a DR letter since you knew you were gonna have an IR letter? Or was it more that you felt the DR rotations are straight shadowing so those letters can only say so much. Thanks for the help.

Both. Depending on how your DR rotation is set up you may work with the same radiologist only a couple of times. If you can do a subspecialty DR rotation where you are with the same group you might have better luck in getting a stronger letter. IR is effectively like that, you're likely to work (and scrub) with the same 4-5 attendings and you can show more of your general ability to play nice and think on your feet. Foundation of being a good IR is to be a good DR and most programs shouldn't be giving you crap for doing an IR rotation.
 
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piii

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Interesting, this is pretty much dead opposite advice from what our match panels have discussed here. Did you also apply to DR and IR both at the same institution for a bunch of places? Our panel made it sound much more either/or and that most DR PDs are not cool with being blatantly used as a backup

I got invites from many top tier DR programs who were very aware of my desire for IR. It in no way held me back from DR interviews. Who ever told you that is very wrong.
 
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efle

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I got invites from many top tier DR programs who were very aware of my desire for IR. It in no way held me back from DR interviews. Who ever told you that is very wrong.
As in you applied to both DR and IR programs at the top handful of places and got interviewed by both PDs at the same institution?

Maybe the person I talked to just didn't get the interviews they wanted and blamed it on that
 

piii

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As in you applied to both DR and IR programs at the top handful of places and got interviewed by both PDs at the same institution?

Maybe the person I talked to just didn't get the interviews they wanted and blamed it on that

I got DR interviews to all the places I got IR interviews at. And I got a significant amount of DR only interviews to great places. I went 14 for 15 for netting DR interviews out of the T20 ones I applied to. I had good interactions and feedback with the DR leadership on my combined interviews. The vast majority of programs, the DR and IR PDs are working together, not in opposition.
 
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