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writing your own LOR

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by jiggahova, Jan 7, 2009.

  1. jiggahova

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    I just finished shadowing a physician for 20 hours and asked him for a LOR. Hes a very lazy person and told me to just write one for myself and he'll sign it and everything. Has this ever happened to anyone else. It i very weird to write about myself but I guess its kind of a good thing cause I can say whatever I want. So what exactly should I say, what makes a good LOR?
     
  2. RySerr21

    RySerr21 i aint kinda hot Im sauna
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    Hes not lazy, he's busy. Its pretty common for docs you shadow to ask you to write the draft of the letter. THen theyll edit it and sign it and send it in.

    Check out this useful link.

     
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  3. Lukkie

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    you just hit a goldmine!
     
  4. Forthegood

    Forthegood ProcrastinationAficionado
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    Congrats! And try to not be too over-the-top. Enjoy writing the perfect LOR!
     
  5. WannaBePreMed

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    Does this happen very often and is it technically ok to do??? Isn't writing your own LOR wrong??? Can someone educate me on this subject?
     
  6. cbrons

    cbrons Ratatoskr! *Roar*
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    One of my letter writers asked me to do this as well... I didn't think it was ethical... what do you all think?
     
  7. Insulinshock

    Insulinshock Class of 2022
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    I'd do it. As long as they endorse it, what the hell, right?
     
  8. RoyBasch

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    If they read it and then sign it, it IS their letter, it's 100% ethical.
    -Roy
     
  9. redlight

    redlight Senior Member :D
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    honestly i wouldn't go through with it. i def think it is unethical, regardless of whether it is commonplace or not (unless it is stated somewhere in the lor that you wrote the letter yourself and the doc approved, which i doubt will happen..)

    if i was an adcom i would not give much weight to such a LOR because the doc that is signing off is so apathetic to the applicant and value of a sincere, traditional LOR to an adcom.

    besides, knowing the applicant for 20hrs doesnt seem significant at all. i doubt it will make or break an application either way. if i were you id try to find someone else to get a lor from.
     
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  10. calnation

    calnation EpiPEN's Admirer
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    Writing good things about yourself is pretty difficult. Trying to write it from the perspective of a physician, who has gone through all of medical training and practices medicine on a daily basis, is much more difficult.

    I would imagine such a letter would have tell-tale signs written all over it.
     
  11. Kaustikos

    Kaustikos Archerize It
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    Most people shadow physicians for about 50 hours, on ave (data collected from sdn mdapps, so you know it's legit). So, I don't see where you're going with that one. 20 hours vs...80 hours is still miniscule compared to some of the "relationships" people form with their professors and what have you.

    and in regards to your first paragraph, would you still not do it even if it was the only person who would allow you to shadow them and schools required it? I mean, I admire your sticking to your guns, but let's get realistic here.
    Just write out:
    ______ is awesome!

    signed,
    Doctor
     
  12. Hyperstudyosis

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    This happened to my step-dad, not for med school but for a masters degree program. He was told to write his own lor and the dude who was supposed to write it for him would sign it. When he asked the guy how that could be ethical, the guy said, "Don't worry....I've done this for a lot of people and they ALWAYS underestimate themselves." Nice opportunity for you though. Whatever you want the ADCOMs to know, this is your chance to tell them!
     
  13. LizzyM

    LizzyM the evil queen of numbers
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    Here's the usual format:

    Date
    Salutation

    I am writing to recommend _[applicant's name]__ for admission to medical school.
    A statement describing the circumstances under which you met and how long you have known the applicant. If applicable: a change in the relationship should be described (e.g. applicant had been a volunteer and then became an employee or was a student and became a research assistant, etc)

    Some writers will describe themselves, their credentials, experience in training others, scope of practice and/or research interests, current teaching methods or laboratory work. This can go on for a paragraph or two but is optional.

    Objective description of what the applicant did. Interaction of the applicant with others. Description of the characteristics demonstrated by the applicant. Opinion of the writer regarding the applicant's strengths (and weaknesses, if applicable -- this can screw an applicant but some people will throw it in).

    A final paragraph stating that the applicant is in the top __% of all the ___ with whom I have worked/interacted, or that the applicant is well suited for a career in medicine, or that the applicant is someone I would want as my own doctor. Optional: a phone number if the committee wants more information.

    Closing and signature line.
     
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  14. NickNaylor

    NickNaylor Thank You for Smoking
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    I actually encountered a similar situation. I'm an applicant for the Goldwater scholarship and my professor told me to write a letter and he'll make changes if necessary. I think it's acceptable... just be honest. Obviously a letter that exaggerates your qualities isn't useful, and if the doctor does read it, you'd look like an idiot.
     
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  15. 229141

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    It is dishonest to write your own LOR. You are essentially lying to the adcoms...claiming your own words as someone elses. However, I know this is common for people to tell you this. Do what you want though..
     
  16. LizzyM

    LizzyM the evil queen of numbers
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    It is NOT dishonest if you don't sign and submit it. It is not dishonest to provide a first draft to the person who requested that you write your own letter. That person is free to revise the letter. That person signs and submits the letter and it is their letter.
     
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  17. nick_carraway

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    Really? I always thought that a writer adding in a weakness helps the letter sound more genuine and objective.

    I guess I've never actually read a LOR with a weakness in there, so I guess it might sound like a good idea to the writer and fall through in the delivery? As in they might actually pick a serious weakness, haha.
     
  18. aznb0y129

    aznb0y129 Oh hamburgers!
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    This is addressed to everyone who disagreed with having to write their own LORs:

    I submitted 6 LORs this cycle, 3 of which I drafted myself and got their signatures for. Think about how busy most of your letter writers will be. Since most of the writers will be professors, they undoubtedly have dozens of other kids coming to them for letters as well (for med school, grad school, jobs, etc). What do you think will happen if they have to write your entire letter from scratch? They will most likely rush the letter and end up writing 50 letters that sound the same or take months and months to finally finish 50 letters that sound the same.

    No one is going to care as much about your med school applications as you are, so this is actually to your benefit (IMO) to get to write the letter yourself because you will know most of what is written about you. Does it suck trying to write a letter from another person's point of view that's distinctive but not over-the-top? Of course, but that's the game and it's a hell of a lot better than getting an average or, God forbid, negative LOR. As far as ethics, it's borderline since ultimately they have to endorse whatever you wrote. If you strayed too far from their opinion of you, they wouldn't sign it anyway.

    I was fortunate to have 3 people who were willing to write their own letters about me and coincidentally, those are the 3 that I felt I had the strongest relationship with. But as much as we would like, you won't be best buddies with every single professor you need a recommendation from so don't hold it against them if they ask you to write a first draft.
     
  19. LizzyM

    LizzyM the evil queen of numbers
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    American letter writers tend to leave out weaknesses. They may know that they are the kiss of death and have become unacceptable in this situation where we have such a severe winnowing process (interviewing <15%of applicants to a school, having space in the allopathic schools for only half of the year's applicants).

    Writers should include strengths and weaknesses but through trial and error, I think that they've learned that they are not a good idea if you'd like to see this kid get into med school.
     
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  20. tatchle1

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    I would most certainly write one yourself. Have several people review it to make sure that it's good, and that it sounds like it's coming from that doctor.

    If he signs off on it as his own letter, it is completely 100% ethical and legit. If he disagreed with anything you wrote about yourself, then he wouldn't sign it as his own work.

    Doctors do this all the time. I shadow the chairman of surgery at a local hospital, and EVERY letter he needs to send out to anyone (business, LOR, etc.) he has his secretary write for him, he reviews it, and then he signs it. Its the same with almost any big business honcho....

    Do you think the acceptance letters that the deans send out to medical students are actually written by them? noooo.... some secretary writes it and they just sign off on it as if they did. 100% legal, ethical, and legit.
     
  21. umean2tellme

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    This isn't dishonest or unethical. You're writing a draft of your letter. The doctor is going to read it then edit anything he doesn't like and once it's finished he'll endorse it with his signature. Hell, even if he didn't read it and just signed it without looking at it it's still ok b/c he put his name on it. Now if you wrote it, signed it and pretended to be someone you're not then that's wrong. In reality most doctors are too busy to write a letter that is worth reading, so you're better off throwing in your own adjectives and letting him/her just sign it. He's not lazy but an LOR for some kid he's known 20 hours isn't high up there on his priority list.
     
  22. jiggahova

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    I have started working on the letter and so far pretty much exaggerated all my qualities and sugar coated everything. Do you guys think that the fact that I only knew this guy for 20 hours is a negative. It is a really good letter but will adcoms look down on it, discredit it or anything because of the short time spent shadowing. I really don't know any of my professors that personally I am sure their letters are not going to be good I was expecting this to be the home-run hitter.
     
  23. aznb0y129

    aznb0y129 Oh hamburgers!
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    Just make sure that it's not too over-the-top. You shadowed the guy, you didn't cure cancer. It's a delicate balance between appearing to be an excellent candidate and phony.
     
  24. LizzyM

    LizzyM the evil queen of numbers
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    My personal opinion of letters from docs you have shadowed is that they are better than those from your next door neighbor or your sweetheart's dad (even if he is a surgeon), but in general they are too inconsequential to matter. The list of attributes that a shadowed doctor can comment about usually sound like a Boy Scout, "courteous, kind, trustworthy, cheerful, clean (doctors usually say "well-groomed and dressed appropriately"), etc. Well, we wouldn't expect you to be discourteous, unkind, untrustworthy, dour, and poorly groomed when you shadow and if you were like that, most docs would dismiss you after the first day and demure when asked for a LOR. Ergo, the LOR from a doc you shadowed is generally not highly valued.
     
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  25. dannyboy1

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    LizzyM, being that this seems to be a fairly common occurance (i also wrote my own letters) why do ADCOM's place any weight on letters of rec ?
    P.S. Additionally many letters are written by freinds and relatives so how does an ADCOM differentiate between those and the real deal ?
     
  26. LizzyM

    LizzyM the evil queen of numbers
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    A letter is supposed to say how long the person has known you and in what context. People can lie, I suppose, but most don't from what I can tell. I have had letters from next door neighbors, the employers of babysitters, the dad of a sweetheart (that guy actually said that he hoped the applicant would some day be his son-in-law; talk about a conflict of interest in wanting to see the kid get into med school!).

    These flimsy letters is why many schools prefer 3 professors or a committee letter from the school. You might think that a DOCTOR could provide better information about you to an adcom than a manic French teacher or a poli sci professor with a foreign accent but that is not the case.
     
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  27. HurricaneKatt

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    What if the letter, instead of listing traits, listed experience gained while shadowing? Like so and so appeared to be very dedicated in learning the range of medicine and shadowed many different procedures, including a laproscopy and open heart surgery (or whatever the student got to see). The student was very eager to learn and asked genuine questions about each procedure (and maybe some side note about how the student asked at appropriate times and what not)... or something like that? Would that be better? And as a LOR from a doc that you shadowed, would it make the letter valued more?
     
  28. redlight

    redlight Senior Member :D
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    wow.
     
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  29. Lukkie

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    :laugh::laugh:
     
  30. LizzyM

    LizzyM the evil queen of numbers
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    What you observed makes no difference in the admissions process. Being eager to learn and being socially appropriate are taking us back to traits again.
     
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