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What does it take to get a great Dean's letter?

Discussion in 'Clinical Rotations' started by Aloha Kid, Apr 1, 2002.

  1. Aloha Kid

    Aloha Kid Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Mar 9, 2001
    I was wondering what exactly do most Deans write in their letters of rec. for each student trying to match. Of course there's stuff like USMLE score, course grades, etc. But what else does the Dean write about you if he can barely even recall who you are. Is there anything that will improve your chances of a great Dean letter?
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  3. arthur v

    arthur v Member 7+ Year Member

    Oct 29, 2001
    In the words of Linda Richmond, the dean's letter is neither a letter nor written by the dean. Discuss amongst yourselves.

    Seriously, the dean's letter usually isn't written by the dean him/herself. They have delegates who perform that task, and it is up to you to provide these individuals with all of the information they need to paint an flattering picture of you. The letter usually begins by detailing your undergraduate career and accomplishments then moves onto your residency goals, extracurricular activities, awards and honors, class standing, and any other pertinent details of your time in medical school. At the same time, they try to convey what sort of person you are to the residency program.

    Following this are narratives from each of your third year clerkships - brief snippets of quotes from attendings who can comment on your clinical abilities.

    Finally, the letter concludes with a few paragraphs summarizing all of your achievements and the final recommendation of the dean. Many residency directors just skip to the last line of the dean's letter which is coded to say what kind of student you really are: e.g. "my highest recommendation without reservation" = one of our best students, or "this student will do a capable job in your residency" = at the bottom of the class, etc. It's not really a letter of recommendation more than a way to convey your class rank, honors, and how the school feels about you to the programs.

  4. neutropeniaboy

    neutropeniaboy Blasted ENT Attending 10+ Year Member

    Feb 10, 2002
    I agree with the above. In fact at our school, we were asked to proof read the Dean's Letter for accuracy. If that doesn't state something about the confidentiality of the letter, I don't know what does.

    I think it's a letter of formality. It's completely impersonal.

    Nevertheless, every program to which I applied emphasized the need to have it before the application was considered complete.

    I suggest that if you want a superb Dean's Letter, get to know your dean well and ask him or her to write it specifically (if they would even do such a thing).
  5. tedsadoc2002

    tedsadoc2002 Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Hey Aloha Kid,

    If you go to AZCOM, you have input in the Dean's letter. You talk to Diane and she can edit it (to an extent) to your liking. Talk to any of the future MS-4's (or current, if you can find them) when they are getting their letters and see what they tell you. I didn't need too much editing for mine, it was great.
  6. edmadison

    edmadison 1K Member 10+ Year Member

    Feb 27, 2001
    Lactate > 15
    There is a movement afoot (by the AAMC, i think) to standardize the language in dean's letter's. For example, top 20% would excellent, next 20% would be very good, et cetera. Many schools already do this. I think its silly to have "codes" for class rank. Why not just come out and say it for pete's sake.

  7. Acinetobacter

    Acinetobacter Junior Member 7+ Year Member

    Mar 19, 2002
    At my school, each student writes their own dean's letter. The dean's office doesn't even modify it. They just take the letter you wrote and add the sentence: "We recommend/highly recommend/most highly recommend Acinetobacter." The adverb they use corresponds to your ranking in the class.

    That sentence is the most important part of the letter.
  8. johnM

    johnM Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    Bethesda, MD
    Do residency directors have access to your class rank, or percentile ranking? I thought that many schools just came out and said 'johnM is in the lowest 20%.' but this would take away the need for these 'codes.'
  9. Sound Stream

    Sound Stream New Member

    Mar 23, 2002
    Are the MCAT scores reflected in the Letter??

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