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Recommendation Letter

Discussion in 'Nontraditional Students' started by travelbug73, Jun 3, 2008.

  1. travelbug73

    travelbug73 Member
    10+ Year Member

    Oct 31, 2003
    Likes Received:
    I'm sure it has been asked before but I don't know what key words to use to search for this question.

    One of referees is my Volunteer Program Director. She has agreed to write me a letter but has never written one for a medical school applicant. She would like me to guide her.

    So, what should I ask her to include in the letter? How long should it be? Any pointers?

    Thank you,
  2. Mobius1985

    7+ Year Member

    Apr 4, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Fellow [Any Field]
    Copied from a previous SDN Post:

    Preprofessional Advising

    University of Virginia
    Letters of recommendation are an important and required component of a student's application to
    medical school. The application process has become increasingly competitive, and a persuasive
    recommendation letter can have a significant impact on an applicant's candidacy. As one of a
    group of letters written on behalf of UVa applicants to medical school, yours is essential to the
    admissions process. The Preprofessional Advising office is aware of the substantial time
    commitment involved in writing letters of recommendation. After reading this material, if you
    have questions about letter-writing or the medical school application process, contact us at
    924-8900. We are located inside University Career Services at Bryant Hall.
    The Basics
    Think carefully about how well you know the student who is requesting a recommendation
    letter. Do you know him/her well enough to write an endorsement for medical school? If
    for any reason you do not feel that you can write positively on a student's behalf, be
    honest with him/her and decline to write the letter.
    We advise prehealth students to give recommenders information about their academic
    studies, employment history, extracurricular activities, volunteer work, and research. Ask
    for this material if it is not provided.
    Sit down with the student and discuss his/her interest in the field of medicine and reasons
    for pursuing a medical education.
    Confidentiality. It is the student's right to decide if the letter will remain confidential or
    non-confidential. Confidential letters are taken much more seriously than non-confidential
    letters, and we strongly encourage students to keep their letters confidential. The
    Interfolio cover sheet, provided by the individual you are recommending, indicates if
    he/she has waived access to your letter.
    All letters should be on official letterhead. Sign your letter. Make sure to use your full
    name and professional title.
    A student may provide you with a school-specific recommendation form, including a chart
    or grid where you are asked to rank students. You are not required to complete this form,
    but you may staple the blank form behind your letter if you are submitting it by mail. All
    U.S. medical schools accept the collection of letters our prehealth students send from their
    Interfolio account.
    What to Include
    An author's personal style influences the format for his/her letters. However, many writers follow
    a composition similar to the following:
    Express your pleasure at having the opportunity to recommend the applicant.
    Indicate how long and in what capacity you have known the applicant.
    Note that you would recommend this student specifically for medical school.
    Explore how this applicant compares in intellectual ability to other students you have
    encountered this year or in previous years.
    Evaluate the student's potential in the field of medicine. How has the student
    demonstrated a commitment to medicine? Does he/she strike you as a compassionate
    individual who will make a good doctor some day? Does the student seem familiar with
    health care?
    Discuss the student's coursework, including the nature of the course(s), difficulty of
    coursework/major, grades received, notable work assignments, etc. This may be a good
    Our thanks to Heather Bois, Graduate Intern, for her work on this project.
    opportunity to reflect on the student's academic ability, including communication skills
    (oral and written), listening and observational abilities, attention to detail, capacity for
    hard work, foreign language skills, organizational ability, originality, and resourcefulness.
    Discuss a few of the student's strengths that you know well and wish to highlight.
    _ Intellectual ability, such as capacity for critical thinking, the ability to understand,
    analyze, and synthesize information, problem-solving skills, and teaching or research
    _ Interpersonal skills, including ability to collaborate and get along with peers, response
    to criticism, leadership, and attitude toward supervision.
    _ Personal qualities, such as maturity, compassion, responsibility, empathy, creativity,
    self-awareness, demonstrated judgment, and initiative.
    _ Extracurricular activities, including depth of involvement and achievements.
    _ Special attributes, assets, or circumstances. All UVa students applying to medical
    school have a formal interview with the prehealth advisor, who writes an evaluative
    letter. One purpose of this letter is to explain anomalies in a candidate's academic
    record or circumstances contributing to a dip in grades. However, should you feel
    qualified to do so, you are welcome to discuss such situations in your letter as well.
    There might also be special strengths or abilities that warrant mention; while not
    obviously relevant to the student's interest in medicine, such talents make the
    candidate unique and help medical schools distinguish between applicants.
    You may wish to conclude your letter with a reaffirmation of your endorsement of the
    student's application and an offer to answer follow-up questions if necessary.
    What to Avoid
    Don't speculate. Be as specific and factual as possible. Give concrete examples to
    illustrate your characterizations of the student. Base your statements on observations and
    information obtained through direct contact with the student or their school record.
    Avoid discussing an individual's race, color, religion, national origin, age, disability, sexual
    orientation, citizenship status, or marital status. Also avoid commenting on a student's
    appearance, family background, health, or other personal circumstances unless they are
    immediately relative to their application.
    Students should not be asked to write their own letters of recommendation. In addition, if
    another person assists you in writing the letter, the pronoun "we" should be used
    throughout the letter and it should be co-signed. This pertains especially to situations
    where teaching assistants are writing letters. We advise students to request letters signed
    by both professor and TA, although in certain situations a letter from only a TA is
    acceptable to medical schools.
  3. calcalcal

    5+ Year Member

    Jul 23, 2009
    Likes Received:
    Medical Student
    Does anyone know whether schools care for a letter of recommendation which includes a ranking grid like the one mentioned above or if it is unnecessary? My school's letter service has templates for both which faculty members can use, but does anyone know if it makes a big difference? Thanks in advance.

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