NNguyenMD

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Any of you guys know how the Dean of your medical schools write their Dean's Letter for you? No Dean can possibly have meaningful relationships with that many students, so what do they put in there thats not already on your transcript?
 

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NNguyenMD said:
Any of you guys know how the Dean of your medical schools write their Dean's Letter for you? No Dean can possibly have meaningful relationships with that many students, so what do they put in there thats not already on your transcript?

The Dean's Letter is essentially a form letter. It is used to give a rough sketch of your first three years in medical school and is mostly "boilerplate." It also includes code phrases that alert program directors to any obvious problems.

Additionally, the Dean's Letter contains excerpts from your third year evaluations. No Dean of Students will put any negative comments in your letter but unless you were a superlative third year medical student the comments will be of the usual, bland, unremarkable variety. "So-and-so is a hard worker and appears interested during rounds." "John Doe has good patient skills." Etc. etc.

Unless it is very,very bad or very,very good (both rare occurences) the Dean's Letter will have only a minor impact on your residency interviews. I am a fairly decent student, well liked and respected, but my Dean's letter "damned me with faint praise" more than anything else.

And I am know the Dean of Student's pretty well.

Your letters of reccomendation from your early fourth year rotations are your big money-makers as they are written, ideally, by respected academic physicians who know you well enough to say meaningful positive things about you.

If I am wrong about the Dean's Letter than I am willing to be corrected.
 
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NNguyenMD

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Panda Bear said:
The Dean's Letter is essentially a form letter. It is used to give a rough sketch of your first three years in medical school and is mostly "boilerplate." It also includes code phrases that alert program directors to any obvious problems.

Additionally, the Dean's Letter contains excerpts from your third year evaluations. No Dean of Students will put any negative comments in your letter but unless you were a superlative third year medical student the comments will be of the usual, bland, unremarkable variety. "So-and-so is a hard worker and appears interested during rounds." "John Doe has good patient skills." Etc. etc.

Unless it is very,very bad or very,very good (both rare occurences) the Dean's Letter will have only a minor impact on your residency interviews. I am a fairly decent student, well liked and respected, but my Dean's letter "damned me with faint praise" more than anything else.

And I am know the Dean of Student's pretty well.

Your letters of reccomendation from your early fourth year rotations are your big money-makers as they are written, ideally, by respected academic physicians who know you well enough to say meaningful positive things about you.

If I am wrong about the Dean's Letter than I am willing to be corrected.
My basic science years have been pretty rocky, I haven't failed anything but I've passed with minimum scores, and have been flagged by departments warning me to bring up my grades because I found myself in the danger zone of failing class on more occassions than I'm proud of. But I still haven't failed anything, *knock on wood. Do you think the Dean's knowledge of my lackluster basic science years will hurt a lot?
 
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8744

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NNguyenMD said:
My basic science years have been pretty rocky, I haven't failed anything but I've passed with minimum scores, and have been flagged by departments warning me to bring up my grades because I found myself in the danger zone of failing class on more occassions than I'm proud of. But I still haven't failed anything, *knock on wood. Do you think the Dean's knowledge of my lackluster basic science years will hurt a lot?
No, at least not from the perspective of anything bad being in your letter. But since most Dean's Letters either explicitly state your class rank or put you into class rank groups ("Joe Smith is in the top third of his class") your low grades will be apparent (I also had low-passing grades but I wouldn't say I was in the "danger zone." I studied as hard as I needed to pass.)

Most of the Dean's letter deals with third year so if you get good clinical grades and good evaluations you will be all right. Hell, even if you don't you will still be all right in regards to the Dean's letter.

Somebody told me that the Dean's Letter was basically your school's way of assuring Program Directors that you aren't the triple-breasted, one-eyed ***** of Omicron Theta.

Letters of reccomendation are several orders of magnitude more important than the Dean's letter. I had already got four interviews before our Dean of Students even sent out the letter.

I would say, and again I am open to correction, that Step 1 scores, letters, and grades are much more important than the Dean's letter, extracurricular activities, or other intangibles.
 
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Blade28

Panda Bear said:
Additionally, the Dean's Letter contains excerpts from your third year evaluations. No Dean of Students will put any negative comments in your letter
Actually, all of your third-year rotations' evals go into your Dean's Letter, verbatim. They're not edited out to only include the "positive" comments (otherwise, what would be the point of writing them?). This is the only way the admission committees can see all your evals, in full.
 

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At my school, the Dean's letter does not include any negative comments. Only the positive stuff is included. I agree w/ Panda, but I also think the Dean tries to make every student seem like a superstar in the letter, so in the end I dont think many residencies pay much attention to the Deans Letter.

In fact one of my interviewers said, "I dont read the Dean's Letter. I can wipe my *** with it"

The thing that does differ from student to student is the last line of the letter which says "so and so is a _____ student and I highly recommend him to your program" where the blank has code words of good/very good/ excellent/ outstanding. Apparently this is how my school tries to informally rank the students for the PDs.
 
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NNguyenMD

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Panda Bear said:
No, at least not from the perspective of anything bad being in your letter. But since most Dean's Letters either explicitly state your class rank or put you into class rank groups ("Joe Smith is in the top third of his class") your low grades will be apparent (I also had low-passing grades but I wouldn't say I was in the "danger zone." I studied as hard as I needed to pass.)

Most of the Dean's letter deals with third year so if you get good clinical grades and good evaluations you will be all right. Hell, even if you don't you will still be all right in regards to the Dean's letter.

Somebody told me that the Dean's Letter was basically your school's way of assuring Program Directors that you aren't the triple-breasted, one-eyed ***** of Omicron Theta.

Letters of reccomendation are several orders of magnitude more important than the Dean's letter. I had already got four interviews before our Dean of Students even sent out the letter.

I would say, and again I am open to correction, that Step 1 scores, letters, and grades are much more important than the Dean's letter, extracurricular activities, or other intangibles.
That was very reassuring and helpful Panda, thanks to you and everyone else for the info on the Dean's letter.

Goodluck to you guys on match day!
 

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Blade28 said:
Actually, all of your third-year rotations' evals go into your Dean's Letter, verbatim. They're not edited out to only include the "positive" comments (otherwise, what would be the point of writing them?). This is the only way the admission committees can see all your evals, in full.
Like I was trying to say, there is no point to the Dean's Letter.

By the way, you should verify that your Dean of Students puts bad evaluation comments into his letter. If he does, he is handicapping you severely vis a vis the majority of Dean of Students who do not put bad comments in the letter. Are you sure about this? Like I said, usually the worst thing your Dean's letter does is damn you with faint praise.

I know for a fact that only positive comments were put in mine because we have a brief meeting with the Dean of Students early in fourth year to go over the letter. I only had a few bad comments from third year (it is inevitable that you will piss off somebody) but these were not included.
 

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Our Dean of Students has a computer program to help him write the letter if that puts it into perspective.
 

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Ruban said:
Do students get to see the letter before it goes out? Or is it secret?
At my school, you get to see it.

Rule of thumb: You want to read your letters. One of the people I asked for a letter wrote a very luke-warm, less than stirring endorsement. I didn't find out about it until one of my interviewers asked me about it. If I had known I wouldn't have sent it to the program at all.

Who knows what interviews I didn't get because of that letter.
 

debvz

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NNguyenMD said:
Any of you guys know how the Dean of your medical schools write their Dean's Letter for you? No Dean can possibly have meaningful relationships with that many students, so what do they put in there thats not already on your transcript?
This is from the ERAS site that is used for residency application.

Dean's Letter/ MSPE

I viewed mine after it was sent. The stuff in graphs was just presented numerically (eg class and rotation standing as 10/101, etc.) instead of graphically. It was in total a full typed page.

Hope that helps.
 

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our dean's letter has literally about 1 sentence about preclinical years, besides that, the clerkship director's comments, which are a "composite" of the evaluations for that rotation, go in for each rotation. At the beginning of the letter our dean wrote about 1/2 page on who we were and what was in our cv's that made us different than other students. At the end, he also wrote a little blurb on each student. besides that, it is really just a listing of clinical grades and comments.
Also, we have a meeting to make sure the letter is correct before it gets sent out.
 
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Blade28

Panda Bear said:
By the way, you should verify that your Dean of Students puts bad evaluation comments into his letter. If he does, he is handicapping you severely vis a vis the majority of Dean of Students who do not put bad comments in the letter. Are you sure about this? Like I said, usually the worst thing your Dean's letter does is damn you with faint praise.
Hmmm...strange. Yes, at our school, I'm sure they include ALL your evals from third year, unedited - he kept stressing this point. My classmates and I have all had chances to read our own Dean's Letter, though I'm not sure how this helps them out after the fact. Fortunately, I didn't have anything negative in mine (at least, none that I could see!).
 

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The MPSP is a computer graph format that is being done at a lot of schools now to 'level the playing field' by nit having the letter be so subjective; menaing they compare you to your fellow classmates, etc. I would definately go to that website and check it out.
 

ultane123

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what if your grades are in the 50th percentile for your class, but you have publications up the a$$ and good activities and great clinical evals? does that help get you bumped from "very good" to "excellent" on the deans letter?
 

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ultane123 said:
what if your grades are in the 50th percentile for your class, but you have publications up the a$$ and good activities and great clinical evals? does that help get you bumped from "very good" to "excellent" on the deans letter?
i can only speak from my experience, but my dean's letter mentioned my class standing (quartile based) in addition to the other things. All of my clinical evaluations (word for word) were placed in the letter, in addition to any other activities, publications, jobs, etc. As far as the "code" they use (excellent, very good, etc) in summarizing your med school performance, that seems largely up to your dean, although your grades will probably be an important factor. good luck.
 

irlandesa

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Yeah, at my school pretty much as everyone here says.. 1 brief paragraph describing your undergrad accomplishments and current/past extracurriculars, 1 brief paragraph with a general synopsis of your pre-clinical years with 1-2 selected comments from your PBL, Interviewing, Physical Dx, or Patient/Doctor/Society class, followed by regurgitation of the positive/summative comments from third year rotations and first 2 rotations of 4th year ("negative comments included only if they are part of a general trend or are the only ones in the evaluation"), then summative paragraph alluding to class rank (I think we have the quartile system, but can't remember for sure) and a comment like "Student has been repeatedly praised for caring and concern for patients and her strong fund of knowledge."

The only thing that annoyed me in my Dean's Letter was their summation of my performance in pre-clinical vs. clinical years; it just wasn't accurate. Apparently, getting Honors in 2 classes (out of numerous classes) in the first 2 years, 1 a class that I had already taken at the graduate and undergraduate level, and the other class, 40% of ppl honored, and coming dangerously close to flunking several courses (P's in the rest) merits an evaluation of "she did very well in the first 2 years." Yet, I was described as "performed well" in the clinical years, where the majority of my grades were HP's (stupid surgery shelf exam brought me down to a P, and Peds just sucked) and I had super comments in Psych, FP, and Medicine. But, the letter doesn't appear to have hurt me, as I got my fair share of interviews in IM (after the Dean's Letter will be sent out), and am pretty sure that I matched at BU, Brown, UMass, Yale-New Haven, Maryland, or Maine Med. I don't mean to sound braggy or obnoxious, but am just really happy that my Dean's Letter appears to have made very little difference and wanted to quantitate for people just how little. GOOD LUCK!
 

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for what its worth, a different opinion...

my deans letter was sooo positive, i was embarrassed after reading it. it had the same basic format that the above people are describing, but if the dean likes you or determines that enough other people have liked you, they will flavor your letter with adjectives differently compared to somebody they don't like. I have friends who definitely did not feel as good as I did about their application after reading their deans letter and it showed in the interviews they got vs. the interviews i got. they were just like, yeah whatever, it didn't say much, and myself and other people who fared very well on the interview trail were like "wow" that was so ridiculously nice, etc. etc. Humbly i can say that i had numerous people tell me that they were very impressed with the things that people had to say about me including the deans letter and the personal letters. So I got lucky/worked hard/had the right people like me and it helped.

But its hard to separate out exactly how much it mattered compared to other things. it may just serve as an overall reflection of how all the other factors in your application panned out. its a piece of your application that your dean has the power to manipulate into helping you or hurting you or putting you in the middle of the pack (likely most people), but it is not a totally insignificant thing. some resdencies may only look for the buzz words, but others may take the time to read it thoroughly.
 
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