January 25, 2020
Letters Of Recommendation
Make sure to ask for a letter of recommendation from someone who knows you well and can highlight your good qualities – don’t just choose someone with an impressive title. The application usually requires two or three letters. For each letter, try choosing a reference that can speak to different aspects of your work.
For my three letters, I asked a physician at the clinic I was volunteering at, a professor whose course I’d taken and who I volunteered with, and a supervisor I was doing research with.
One strategy for asking someone for a letter is to ask them to give you an informal evaluation first- ask them what they think your strengths and weaknesses are and how you can improve. If they give you overall positive feedback, ask them if they’d be willing to write you a STRONG recommendation letter. If they give you overall negative feedback, it may be wise to ask someone else for a letter. Don’t be discouraged if the person you’re asking says they can’t write you a letter – it’s better moving on to ask someone else than having them write you a poor letter anyway. Give your referees a few months’ time to finish the letter – don’t wait until a week before your application is due! Offer your referee a copy of your CV and a chance to meet up to discuss your goals and skills.
Find A Physician
To Work With
Many people get letters of recommendation from physicians, and there are many ways to find a physician to work with. I found my volunteer position at a physician’s clinic on my university’s work and volunteer online database. Another place you can consider looking is in the classroom. Sometimes your professors are also M.D.s, so look them up online. Ask your classmates if they know any physicians looking for help with projects. Volunteer at your local hospital and try to network with the physicians by going to rounds. Finally, you can ask your university guidance counsellor to ask if they can provide you with more resources.
Take Home Points
Do Something You’re Passionate About
One last tip: don’t go through the trouble of volunteering somewhere if you’re doing it just for the letter of recommendation – your disinterest will show and reflect in your performance. Instead, do something you’re truly passionate about. Don’t like answering phones nonstop for a big-name organization? Don’t be a desk clerk! Love hanging out with kids at summer camp? Be a camp counsellor! No matter what you do, don’t forget to have fun!
Take Home Points:
- Get a letter of recommendation from someone who knows you well (i.e. someone you’ve worked with for a longer time).
- Give your referee plenty of time to write the letter before the deadline.
- Ask your referee if they can write you a STRONG letter – don’t be discouraged if they say no.
- If you want to volunteer with a physician, check the resources at your university.
- Working with your referee should be fun – choose someplace you love!
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