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kinkocopies3

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Hi everyone,

Alright,I did an REU with a professor in the Biomedical Engineering Department last summer at another university, and I emailed him asking him for a LOR. He e-mailed me back and said I should pursue grad school in his lab. Although I enjoyed working in the lab, I don't want to go to grad school for BME. I told him I am more interested in going to medical school. Do you think this will have an effect on his LOR? He was very willing to write one, but I am worried that his letter may not be as strong because I am not going back there for grad school.

Any Inputs/Suggestions or experiences like this with PI's in the past?

Thanks
 

Pinkertinkle

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I heard about this PI who wrote a bad letter of rec so he could keep a ugrad out of med school and herd him into grad school.
 

BerkeleyPremed

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Originally posted by Pinkertinkle
I heard about this PI who wrote a bad letter of rec so he could keep a ugrad out of med school and herd him into grad school.

Absolutely despicable. Eh, doesn't surprise me though. Professors can definitely be lowly, writhing pathetic creatures when it comes to these things. The level of arrogance exhibited by these people is absolutely astounding. It would make sense that the professor thinks he's knows what's better for the student moreso than the actual student. In addition, that is SO selfish. He let his own interests for his lab (probably full of grad student researchers and post-docs) supersede the med school dreams of the undergrad.
 
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pekq

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No, you shouldn't ask him for a letter. It'll probably talk about how your interest lies in PhD.

However, if your school has a pre-med council, they might screen the letter for you. Or even better, they'll take the best part of every LOR and compile them (Harvard does this, quite an unfair advantage for us who don't get such service). If your school has either options, ask for as many letters as you please.

Yeah, some LORs are completely backstabbing.
 

kinkocopies3

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Well, when students get a letter from a PI, isn't that whats expected though? The PI is going to place emphasis on how well you did research and stuff. If anyone has had the chance to read a letter from your PI's, how do they recommend you as a good medical student, assuming you are not thinking about doing MD/PhD? I guess they will write more about your research potential since thats how they know the student. Should you request them to not write as much about research?

Is it just not a good idea to get letters from a PI in general?

Thanks
 

pekq

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Originally posted by kinkocopies3
Well, when students get a letter from a PI, isn't that whats expected though? The PI is going to place emphasis on how well you did research and stuff. If anyone has had the chance to read a letter from your PI's, how do they recommend you as a good medical student, assuming you are not thinking about doing MD/PhD? I guess they will write more about your research potential since thats how they know the student. Should you request them to not write as much about research?

Is it just not a good idea to get letters from a PI in general?

Thanks

They will write about you as a person in regard to research. Responsible? diligent? intelligent? Despite what you've said, in the end, you are the best person to decide on whether he will write a positive letter or not. Some PIs have a very straightforward personality and will write both the good and bad. Those letters suck!!!! Anything bad in your LOR is gonna HURT. Also, some PI will give you the impression they like you to maintain cohesion but actually doesn't think highly of you. Find out from your school if they have any of the services I've mentioned.
 

ad_sharp

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I wouldn't get a letter from the guy if you have other people that you can ask. When I did research last summer, the Ph D in the lab next door always came over to talk to me and a medical student that I worked with. Everyday it was something like, "Ph Ds are the real scientist, medical doctors are just money-hungry pigs." Be weary of a Ph D that thinks that they know best for every member of the human race. Egos in academia are hard to get over. However, you might try telling him that you are thinking MD/PhD. This may get a better response. Just be careful who you get the LOR from because a couple of good letters is better than several good and one horrible letter.
 

edmadison

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Why not just act like and adult in this situation and talk to the guy.

Try something like, "Dr. X, I have greatly enjoyed working in your lab, it has been a tremendous experience for me. I am quite flattered that you want me to pursue graduate education in engineering, but my life's dream has been to become a physician so I can (a) serve my community, (b) heal people, (c) drive a great car (d) abuse nurses, or (e) get the chicks/dudes (pick your favorite). Do you feel that you would be able to write me a strong letter of recommendation to medical school?

Ed
 

Anka

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Any time you have doubts about whether the letter will be backstabbing, make sure you read it first (ask the PI, or have it screened by your pre-med council). Don't send in a letter you have reason to doubt. You've gotta trust your insticts on this one.

Anka
 

NontradICUdoc

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There appears to be some preconceived notions about PI's and LOR's. Depending on the research that you are doing, the PI might even make you.

Depending on the research that you conducted, the PI may suggest that do to your interest in the research you learned a great deal about the disease. FOr example, I am a Sr. Research Technician and am currently working on Breast Cancer after working on Colorectal Cancer genetics for 4 years. Now my boss is writing me an LOR, that may stress the fact that I have learned a great deal about cancer and have been exposed to the possible causes of cancer, I am be a good candidate to become an oncologist. Certainly oncology has picked my interest since I started working where I do.

If you conducted research on pancreatic cancer, your PI may see that you would also be a good oncologist or even an endocrinologist.

Since you have conducted the research and you know more about the disease this may prove to be the LOR that gets you in because you have been exposed to a particular field and truly shown an interest in it and in medicine.
 

marakah2

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i agree with the person who said that ultimately only you will know if the letter will be good or not. is he/she the type of person who would write you a negative letter to "keep you out of med school" - i would doubt it highly, but only you would know for sure.

i work for a pi who also thinks i should stay and start graduate school with him, he says so just about weekly. however, he is a true mentor and supports my decision to go to med school and i have no doubts that he will write me positive LORs.

i think it would seem strange to not ask him, especially if you have been working with him for awhile. and as i said, you can probably tell from your knowledge of his personality what kind of letter he will write. i seriously doubt he would sabotage your application if he likes you enough to want you in the lab. i also disagree with the person who said that he might not really like you, but just wants the continuity---that is total nonsense in my opinion because, no offense, research technicians are typically easily replaced.
 

docmemi

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im not sure what you did, but i think you should go talk to him about your plans...like interview style. make sure he knows about your life and goals. if hes far away, maybe you can do it over the phone.
 

group_theory

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Ask around ... does your PI have a reputation for writing excellent LORs for his/her people? Does your PI have former students/techs who later went to medical schools? Did your PI write LORs for them? Knowing the answers to these questions may help you decide whether to get a LOR from your PI or not.
 

DrBodacious

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The PI I worked with last summer was really pushing me to go into a PhD program or at least a MD/PhD. Fortunately, since we debated (lightheartedly) all summer about how he thought medicine is monotonous and repetitive compared to research and I spoke up about my motivations to be a MD, he ended up accepting my goals and aspirations. He wrote me a great letter (a couple of my interviewers commented about it).

So, I'd say go for the LOR from your PI. It sounds like they really like you since they want you to come to their lab. Just write them a letter or otherwise discuss your aspirations so that they understand why med school is important to you. If you get over that hump, and assuming your PI is a reasonable human being you should be able to, then you should have a really good LOR.
 
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