Letters of recommendation are a staple of the medical school application process. While your PJS and secondaries are all about you showing off you, letters of rec show adcoms an outside perspective of your abilities and skills. That’s why it’s so important to choose referees that you know will write an outstanding letter on your behalf.
If you haven’t already, take a look at my crash course blog about letters of rec. Once you know where, when, and how you’ll be sending your letters, avoid making these three common mistakes!
Mistake #1: “I heard I can’t apply to DO school unless I have a LOR from a DO.”
Nope! That is false. You can definitely apply to DO school without a letter of recommendation.
This is a common misconception.
Read this closely: one of the two letters of rec will need to come from a physician. That means MD and DO. Just be aware that while many schools accept letters from both MDs or DOs, most prefer or strongly recommend that the letter comes from a DO. Don’t count yourself out just because you don’t have a DO letter.
The second letter will generally come from one of these groups: your university’s premed/prehealth committee, your premed/prehealth advisor, or a science faculty member.
Although some schools only require one or two letters to be submitted, you may be able to send additional letters.
Mistake #2: “I’ve been out of school too long and don’t know anyone anymore.”
If you’re still lost and are struggling to get a letter of rec from a science professor or a physician, don’t worry! It’s never too late to rewarm old relationships. Professors and doctors love updates from old students. As an assistant professor of clinical medicine, I know I certainly do!
It’s not easy, but it’s doable. If you want more help, you’ll get some amazing help and have access to great resources through my program Future Doctor Formula. These are some of the things I’ll teach you:
-How to get a busy person’s attention
-How to get a physician letter, even if you’ve only worked closely with the NP/PA/Resident
-How to get an old science professor to remember you and write a LOR
-Exact templated out email scripts so you don’t have to worry about what to say
You can learn more and sign up here!
And if you are asking someone like an employer that’s not tied to the medical community to write you a letter, don’t think of it as a bad thing! Each of your letters will help to demonstrate the story of you as a future doctor. With different perspectives like these, you’re showing adcoms your versatility and consistency.
Mistake #3: “I didn’t do well in my science classes and won’t be able to get a letter of recommendation.”
This is a tricky situation, but it’s not impossible!
Worst case scenario, you can contact the medical schools you’d like to apply to and ask for a science professor letter of recommendation waiver.
Basically, they’ll give you the green light to apply without it, and grant a special exception depending on your situation. They will probably ask you to replace that requirement with a letter from someone else instead (perhaps another doctor or a more recent professor during your graduate courses).
I wouldn’t fully rely on this, but hey, it’s an option you should know about. The worst thing the medical school can tell you is no, and then you’re still in the same boat.
Now that you know what to look out for, don’t make these mistakes! What other questions do you have about letters of rec? Let me know in the comments below.