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Shadowing Thank You Card Now or Later?

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Icy14

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I recently shadowed a gastroenterologist for 3 days in a row. I have spoken with him about LORs and he has expressed that he'd be happy to write me one. I told him that I'd like to come back and shadow him several more times before I apply to medical school next summer.
I usually send the doctors that I shadow thank you cards, but should I send one to him now if I am going to shadow him again in a few months? Or should I just hold off until after he writes my LOR?
 

cj_cregg

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I'd wait til I was done but it's fine either way, I'm sure he'll appreciate it whenever it arrives

Also, somebody you've known for 3 days is not going to write you a strong LOR, even if you shadow him again in a few months. You don't need a LOR from a doctor unless you're applying for DO school (in which case it needs from a DO). Letters from professors, work/volunteering supervisors, etc. will be much more valuable. It should be somebody who knows you well and can speak to the specifics of your personality, academic performance, interpersonal skills, and/or professionalism.
 

Icy14

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I'd wait til I was done but it's fine either way, I'm sure he'll appreciate it whenever it arrives

Also, somebody you've known for 3 days is not going to write you a strong LOR, even if you shadow him again in a few months. You don't need a LOR from a doctor unless you're applying for DO school (in which case it needs from a DO). Letters from professors, work/volunteering supervisors, etc. will be much more valuable. It should be somebody who knows you well and can speak to the specifics of your personality, academic performance, interpersonal skills, and/or professionalism.

I definitely understand that letters from professors and supervisors are very important, and I have a couple solid authors lined up. However, I definitely could benefit from another strong LOR, and at the moment I don't have other prospects.

This doctor I'm shadowing actually reached out to me on LinkedIn and explained how he believes shadowing can lead to a solid LOR. He has done admissions work for Stanford, so he's very knowledgeable about the application process. He said believes that the main purpose of shadowing at the pre-med stage should be to get to know a physician and establish a professional relationship over time, with the goal of getting a meaningful LOR. Here are several elements that he said will strengthen an LOR:

1) Having an author with a strong academic background (which this doctor does) will give the letter more credence
2) Having an author that has worked with many other pre-meds and can compare you to them, because this is something adcoms look for. Obviously any doctor you shadow can say nice, generic things about you, but if the author can say, for example, that you are in the top 20% of all the pre-meds they've worked with, that carries much more weight. So for a strong LOR, you really need to impress them.
3) Obviously the more time you've spent with an author, the more weight their letter will hold. I know 3 days isn't enough time for a strong LOR, so I'll be going back to shadow several more times for 3-day blocks in the coming months. I should have at least 75-100 hours with him by the time he writes the letter, which I think is enough time for him to know me decently well, yes?

I think in many shadowing circumstances, you really don't get to know the physician, as you're just observing and trying to stay out of the way. But I do believe it's possible to get to know a physician well enough, if you can find time to talk with them and have spent enough hours with them. This doctor and I were able to discuss quite a lot about my background, experience, academics, and future goals. I was also able to impress him by asking questions and making observations that showed I had been reading up on gastroenterology and was eager to learn. I demonstrated that I am professional and possess excellent interpersonal skills through my interactions with patients and staff. I think if I keep it up, and shadow him long enough, I should have no problem getting a solid LOR from him.
 
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