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When should I tell a doctor I shadowed to have a letter of recommendation ready?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by dtepper, Jun 12, 2008.

  1. dtepper

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    I am about to send in my application on the 20th (that's still early right?). When should I tell the doctor that I shadowed to have the LOR he is writing ready by so that it is ready for secondaries? Also, in the same respect, when is the earliest I should expect secondaries (if I get any) if I submit my primary around the 20th of June? Thanks a lot.

    p.s. - any mdapps comments are hugely appreciated!
     
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  3. Bacchus

    Administrator Moderator Physician 10+ Year Member

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    I think verification, with the transcript already at the AAMC, is probably 2-3 weeks. It is still early. You'll get secondaries after verification, when AMCAS forwards the apps to your schools. Make sure you know which schools, if any, you are applying to that use the application letter service.
     
  4. Maxwell Edison

    Maxwell Edison Majoring In Medicine
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    As soon as it is possible and convenient. There is no need to wait.
     
  5. HigHal320

    HigHal320 Junior Member
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    Try to set an early deadline for your letter writers and send them periodic friendly reminders (ie. asking if they need any additional info/help from you). One of my letter writers dragged but b/c i set an early deadline date (around may), I still got the letter in June reaedy for AMCAs.

    Good Luck!
     
  6. flip26

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    Your question begs another question/comment: nobody cares about LORs from docs you shadowed - LORs come from profs, employers, and anybody who can evaluate your work - your accomplishments - your fitness and preparedness for the rigors of med school.

    Why do you think you need a LOR from a doc you shadowed? These fall into the category of useless letters like ones from a neighbor, or from a relative, or an MD friend of the family, etc.
     
  7. chad5871

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    I think it completely depends on the situation. I got a LOR from a doc I shadowed, but I have also known her for many many years. She knows me really well and can evaluate my potential fitness as a doctor from a practicing physician's perspective.
     
  8. flip26

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    You should run that by LizzyM or one of the other adcoms on SDN. My take on it is that that adcoms do not give any weight to any letter from a doc someone has shadowed, or a doc who is a neighbor or family friend, or someone's personal physician, etc.

    Think about it: what could the letter writer you describe actually say about you that is of any value to an adcom? That you are enthusiastic and attentive, paid attention while shadowing, have always wanted to be a doctor? Honestly, these observations, especially from a "friend," are not only not very insightful, but they are usually viewed as lacking any objectivity and thus of little probative value for the purposes of med school admissions.

    And in the extreme, these letters can be viewed negatively, say in the case of someone who really doesn't have any strong letters from the desired sources: committees, profs and employers (to include research supervisors and volunteer coordinators).

    For the vast majority of med schools, if you have the usually requested prof letters (2 science, 1 other), or a committee letter, and/or a letter from a research or volunteer supervisor/employer, that is all that you need and all that you should submit.
     
  9. ACSurgeon

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    the 20th is still early to submit your application. You should have already discussed recommendation "due dates" with your recommenders. I would say early August should be good enough, as long as your school doesn't take for ever to compile and send the letters out. Put it this way, if you are complete at schools by mid august (includes having secondaries and LOR on file), then you are still early enough. Hope that helps.
     
  10. schismal

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    Before my school will write a composite letter, they require three faculty recommendations and two "personal recommendations" from sources similar to those you mentioned.
     
  11. flip26

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    While I have never heard of that (and don't have a committee at my school), and I am pretty sure that your school is quite unique in this request, nonetheless I still don't think that individuals should be obtaining and sending these kinds of letters from "friends" to med schools.

    I attend a post bacc, and when I applied to it, in addition to a letter from a prof or employer they also asked for a letter from "someone who knows you and your abilities and interests well," but I would never include such a letter to a med school adcom. Just check out the requirements for med school LORs - there may be some weird exceptions, but the vast majority of med schools say nothing about these kinds of letters being desired.

    There is a convenient PDF floating around that lists LOR reqs for all med schools.
     
  12. cavalier329

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    uhh, im gonna have to disagree with the LOR from the doctor thing here. If you are shadowing a doctor who is chief of surgery or chair of his department, or in some other high position at a medical center I am pretty sure his opinion of character and maturity means something...
     
  13. chad5871

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    flip26,

    Thanks for your advice. This is not a personal physician or family friend - it's someone that I have volunteered with through church for many years and have shadowed her on numerous occasions. I have two science professors, one non-science letter, a letter from my PI and a committee letter in addition to the letter from the MD. I don't see how the LOR from this person could hurt my application in any way. I guess it depends on what the letter actually says, and I consider it supplemental anyway - I'm not counting on her letter "making the difference" between an acceptance or rejection. It's just an additional evaluation from another perspective that I thought could add a bit of depth to my letters. It was by no means required but it's something I wanted to add to my app.
     
  14. cavalier329

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    yea chad, i wouldnt worry about that LOR...idk why people are putting up a big fuss about it.

    If another doctor has something good to say about you it will be considered. Lets be real here, medicine is a big fraternity, if your colleagues can trust you then that says something, despite what people on here say.
     
  15. 45408

    45408 aw buddy
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    Because some schools have lots of lame requirements for what your letter can or cannot be. I had several letters from science professors, one or two from non-science professors, and one from my research PI, and then Rush wanted one from my pre-med adviser, so she had to write one. Then another UWisc wanted one from a non-faculty, non-adviser, and there was no way I was asking one my employer to write one, so I asked the doc I shadowed several times. I got in. Was it useless? Yeah, probably. It's just another hoop to jump through.
     
  16. flip26

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    I always qualified my remarks for "the vast majority of schools."

    If a med school has an odd requirement, of course you do it.

    However, the OP is asking about an LOR from a doc he shadowed. I have NEVER seen a med school req for such a letter, even though you chose such a letter (over the more likely choice of a letter from an employer or supervisor or volunteer coordinator) for personal reasons.

    And before the DO people chime in, I have zero interest in DO, but I have read that a letter from a DO is important.
     
  17. cavalier329

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    like i said, I would imagine a letter from a chief of surgery, chair of a department is pretty significant, especially if he/she is from the university you are applying to
     
  18. cavalier329

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    although that isnt what the OP asked, that seems true to me. Agreed?
     
  19. 45408

    45408 aw buddy
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    I'm pretty sure my EMT employer had never written an LOR for grad/med school, and I'd rather not be the first. A physician is going to know to address the issues that a reviewer is going to be wondering, and s/he will know what not to say. Someone might mean well and accidentally stab you in the back by saying something that could be misinterpreted. Most of the time, I'd say that asking anyone other than an MD/PhD/adviser/committee for a letter is dicey. Maybe your TA if the prof will sign it too.
     
  20. flip26

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    Not really - it totally would depend on what capacity this person has supervised or taught you - if you have simply shadowed him, or he is your dad's golfing buddy, not really - but if you were in a class taught by him, or you performed research in his lab, then OK.

    I am wearing out my opinion here. Somebody ask LizzyM. I am just a lowly pre-med, but I think that most pre-meds ascribe way too much value to these kinds of letters...
     
  21. cavalier329

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    how do we ask LIZZYM...sorry Im new
     
  22. flip26

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    Whatever. I also offered the idea of a PI or a volunteer coordinator, and I think they are more clued in about these letters, but if you did not have such a relationship, then you made the best choice you could.

    The point is that no med school specifically asks for letters from docs you shadowed, and my opinion is that they don't want to see them unless it fulfills some off beat request they have made, such as in your case.
     
  23. flip26

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    Tap your heels together 3 times, and repeat after me...

    You could address a thread to his/her attention...he/she usually jumps in on these kinds of threads anyway...

    Could also send a PM to LizzyM...
     
  24. iduwanna

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    I wouldn't refer to her as a "he/she" though.
     
  25. flip26

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    You realize you are assuming LizzyM is a "she" based on the name, right?

    I have my doubts...
     
  26. iduwanna

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    She's mentioned instances when she was pregnant, etc.
     
  27. flip26

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    "She" also fights harder to conceal her identity on SDN than any of the moderators, and understandably so. For example, njbmd is pretty out there, and like some of the other mods, is pretty open about her identity.

    Again, you are assuming it is not all a ruse to conceal identity.

    Whatever...
     
  28. MilkmanAl

    MilkmanAl Al the Ass Mod
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    I'd tend to agree with flip about the usefulness of LOR's from shadowed doctors. I'd much rather have a letter from an employer or even an eloquent close personal friend if I needed additional letters.
     
  29. 45408

    45408 aw buddy
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    Nah, there are some people in the know. It's not like the Coke recipe; it's just not widely shared.

    It's Law2doc that's under wraps.
     
  30. dtepper

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    I originally didn't expect/want to get a letter from this doctor. Then, I started reading on here about how everyone has a ton of LORs. It just occurred to me, though, that these people probably don't have a committee letter. I have a committee letter from my school and a LOR from HUP(Hospital of University of Pennsylvania) Volunteer department. The Prowler is an example of a person I would look at and think I needed 8 LORs and I have 2, so I thought I would need 6 more. So, what you guys are saying is that I am fine with only 2, and I shouldn't ask him to write one, or should I ask him to write one and not take it unless a school has a specific requirement for one from him? (Thanks by the way for the responses)
     
  31. cavalier329

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    i dont think it can hurt at all...as long as you know hes going to say good things about you and write a strong letter.

    No one is going to say:

    guy1: "heres a letter from an MD he worked with"

    guy2: "eh, trash it, we don't care what the doctor has to say"
     
  32. flip26

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    "Worked with" is far different than "shadowed."

    Letters from docs you shadow, or your dad plays golf with, or lives next door to you, are worthless.

    Letters from docs who supervised you in a working relationship, well that's a horse of a different color.
     
  33. foster033

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    If you're applying to PCOM I believe all DO schools require letters from a DO you've shadowed.
     
  34. RySerr21

    RySerr21 i aint kinda hot Im sauna
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    not all DO schools require a letter from a DO you shadowed. most recommend it tho. DO is a little different than MD tho. they want to see that you are enthusiastic about osteopathic medicine and have attempted to learn more about the profession. i.e. recommendation from a DO who can vouch for this.
     
  35. kami333

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    Should have said the vast majority of schools;)

    From U of Utah:
    Clinical experience: The letter must clearly state that the letter writer supervised the applicant and what the applicant's role was in direct interaction with patients and/or physician shadowing. The letter should describe the performance and duration of the applicant's experience.
     
  36. MossPoh

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    It all depends on the school and the letter whether it holds any weight. Why would a science professor letter hold any more weight? Odds are, you spent a lot less time with that person than a doctor you shadowed. I have spent well over 60+ hours in the hospital with several docs...some more. They quizzed me, showed me how to do procedures and some even sent me home with homework. They have infinitely more beneficial input on whether I have what it takes to be a doctor over some PhD in the sciences. I know people like to think that being a good undergrad student equates to being a good med student and a good doctor, but that is complete crap. In fact, so far the people that have shown the best affinity towards medicine are the ones that aren't at the top of their class. Those people come off as abrasive neurotic headhunters oftentimes.

    I'm just going to give ONE of my many examples with this. My dad was not the greatest of undergrad students. He wasn't bad, but he wasn't stellar. He got a D- in calculus and graduated with around a 3.1 (this was in the late 1950s before huge grade inflation). He went on to medical school and graduated 3rd in his class, AOA and all sorts of other awards. Did his prestigious residency and fellowship and wound up on staff for a medical school for a while. He was pushed by a physician from his hometown that gave him the same motivational type speech...he was having people spit the same crap about him not being smart enough. He was also having a lot of crap talked because of his religious and the fact he was in the deep south, but that is another story. You don't need to be a super genius. Just have to have a solid work ethic. That being said, for all of his talents, he admitted the best doctor in his office was the DO sitting next to him who also founded the practice. So, do well, apply to whatever schools in the region you want (ignore the letters after the name..they mean jack) and hang in the trenches with the people that are the best indicators. If the best indicator is that science prof then so be in. I have no idea why I went on this tangent...early drinking night I think
     
  37. flip26

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    So sue me...I did carefully say "vast majority" elsewhere in the thread...

    Sheesh.
     
  38. flip26

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    If letters from docs you shadowed were valued, they would be required. For whatever reasons, letters from profs are valued, as are letters from research supervisors.

    You are being a bit hyperbolic here. I don't think it is "complete crap." To make it through medical school requires a combination of desire and ability, and med schools rely heavily on your academic track record and MCAT to get a sense of your abilities to handle the academic stresses of med school. Not too sure how else they should go about it...

    Personally, I think ALL letters are pretty useless ("useless" to the applicant in that a bad one can kill you, but good to great ones aren't going to tip much of anything in your favor - they are simply a hurdle to jump). It seems like letters are only useful to med schools when they tip them off to douche bag applicants where the letters don't seem to match up with the transcript and essays. A bad letter (say 10%) can get you screened out, but because the vast majority of letters fall into the "OK" range (say 80%) to "great" range (maybe the top 10%), I don't think it happens too often...and I really don't think that very many applicants get an extra boost by a "great" letter, either...in the LOR game, you need to cover your bases and cross your fingers, hoping that nobody has torpedoed your chances...you want your letters to fall in that broad 80 percent center - good enough to get you to the next phase of the admissions process.
     
    #37 flip26, Jun 14, 2008
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2008
  39. flip26

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    You first described this as a doc you had shadowed, hence my comments. Now this appears to be a doc you knew in a volunteer capacity, too, which I think is more significant than the shadowing. So this is a "horse of a different color" and a letter from this doc could be useful, but be careful how you use it because many schools have a max # of letters they want to get from applicants, and it sounds like you already have all your bases covered.
     
    #38 flip26, Jun 14, 2008
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2008

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