The difference between a good medical school recommendation letter and a great medical school recommendation letter can come down to your relationship with whomever you are asking.
A good letter of recommendation will show off your professional and academic accomplishments, whereas a great letter of recommendation will give the admission department at your favorite school a deeper insight into who you are as a person and the doctor that you will become someday.
Here are five tips to make sure that you get a great medical school recommendation letter.
1. Make a wise decision
Choosing someone to write your medical school recommendation letter can be a difficult task. First, it needs to be someone who can be objective about your potential as a doctor.
Second, these letters should always be written by someone who knows you well. Like I mentioned before, you will want someone who can give a deeper insight into who you are. Don’t ask someone who you observed or someone that you volunteered with for a short period of time. Also don’t ask someone who is well known, but doesn’t have a personal relationship with you.
Lastly, don’t ask someone who won’t be able to comment on how you get along with fellow workers in the lab or how good your critical reasoning skills are.
2. Ask earlier rather than later
Don’t ask someone at the last minute to write your letter. Make sure that you give them enough time to really reflect on your relationship and draft out a fantastic letter.
Look to ask in the early spring before graduation. Early spring tends to be a little bit less busy and will give your department plenty of time to complete it before you start applying for medical school in June.
Giving them a minimum of four weeks is a good call. Also give them your resume and a brief personal statement so they can get an idea of what it is you are looking for.
3. Visit your professor, especially if you are no longer in the class
By taking the time to visit your past professors, you will be able to give them a visual and audible reminder of who you are. This may also remind them of some of your work or a brilliant question that you asked them.
This time will also give them the opportunity to ask you some questions about what you are doing now and what your plans are for the future. Don’t be afraid to be open. The more that you share during this meeting, the more personal your recommendation letter will be.
If you currently live too far away to schedule a personal meeting then make sure that when you reach out with an email, you make it personal. “Hi, I’m Joe and I took your class 3 years ago. Will you write me a letter of recommendation?” is not an appropriate way to ask.
4. Make sure to follow the instructions
This may seem like a no brainer, but it is important enough to be included in this list anyways.
If the school is looking for their letters to be written a specific way, then make sure that you follow that way. If you aren’t exactly sure what they are looking for, then ask the school for clarification.
5. Be sure to show gratitude
After your professor agrees to write your letter, remember to send a handwritten thank you note, a small gift, or both.
What they are doing for you is essential to your future as a doctor, not so much theirs.
If you make sure that you follow these five tips, then you should have no problem getting a great medical school recommendation letter.
Image taken from Wikipedia.
What has your experience been in terms of getting your recommendation letter?