Letters of Recommendation

keyboardWhen submitting your application to medical school you will also need to provide schools with letters of recommendation (LOR). These letters allow the schools to see you from the minds of those that mentored you.

It is your responsibility to make sure you get the best LORs as possible. Here are a few tips for letters of recommendation:

  • Make sure your letter writer knows you : It is obvious to a reader when a teacher or physician is asked to write an LOR for someone they don’t know well. Unfortunately, you may have to ask someone that doesn’t know you completely. Do your best to ask someone you are close to.

  • Get more than the required number of letters. If your schools you are applying to ask for 2 letter, then I would recommend 3 or 4. Why so many extra? Call it an insurance policy. You can’t read your letters of recommendation; however, if your undergrad school uses a letter service (i.e. Interfolio) then your school counselor or premed advisor can read your letters. He/she can’t tell you what is in the letters, but he/she is able to recommend to you what letters to use or not use.
  • If at all possible have at least one letter by a DO. Not all schools require that your physician letter to be from a DO; however, a letter from a DO shows that you have been exposed to osteopathic medicine and possibly been able to witness the differences in relation to the allopathic counterpart.
  • Wave your right to read the letters. When submitting LORs you may be presented with the choice of viewing your letters. Refuse that opportunity. When a student fails to waive their right at viewing LORs it may look bad to the schools. They want to see that you are a quality applicant and feel confident enough in yourself to trust those writing your letters.
  • You may be a few semesters away from graduating, but don’t be afraid to approach people now for letters. Ask professors and physicians that you are close to right now if they would be willing to write a letter for you. You might not apply until next summer, but the letter writer’s memory of you will be stronger if they know early that they will be writing a letter for you.

Getting the courage to ask someone to write a letter is the hardest part; however, more often than not people are flattered that you asked them. Go in confident and ask for that letter. You must be a decent student, and hopefully a decent person, to get this far. Asking for the letter really is one of the easiest steps of applying to medical school. Last of all, don’t forget to check up on those letters. You don’t want to get to application day to find that only half your letters have arrived.

Creative Commons License photo credit: theycallme.natkat.