AMO Advisors Clair and Antoine sat down for a webinar with preceptors Dr. Atoot and Dr. Weissman, faculty at a leading New Jersey hospital. Dr. Atoot and Dr. Weisman discussed tips and strategies for securing letters of recommendation and spent time answering attendees’ questions.
In case you missed it, check out our four biggest takeaways from their conversation.
Patience Makes the LoR Stronger
When it comes to a clinical rotation, most medical trainees are eager to secure a letter of recommendation. Because LoRs are such a big part of any U.S. residency application, it makes sense why!
However, the biggest tip that Dr. Weissman shared for earning a strong LoR is to not be too eager too early. “Sometimes on the first day, students will ask the preceptor ‘What letterhead will my letter be on? When will I have my letter?'” says Dr. Weissman. “It really gives off the wrong impression.”
Instead, Dr. Weissman recommends the best thing to do to earn a good LoR is simply to work hard. It is important to remember that you are attending a clinical rotation to learn about patient care. Focusing on that first will help the other aspects of a clinical rotation, such as earning an LoR, fall into place more naturally.
Virtual Rotations are Helpful
Dr. Atoot and Dr. Weissman run virtual programs, and they say this is because virtual rotations are still a big (and growing!) part of the medical education landscape. Dr. Atoot offered the reminder that the Match interview process is still virtual this year. Because of how accessible this makes the interview process, he expects it to stay virtual for years to come. This makes virtual rotations among the best resources to help students become comfortable in virtual settings.
Additionally, both Dr. Atoot and Dr. Weissman mention that virtual experiences are better than no experience at all, especially if a trainee has no experience with the U.S. healthcare system. “There is no ratio,” Dr. Weissman says of the number of in-person or virtual rotations a residency applicant should have. Instead, for Dr. Weissman, it is simply a matter of the more experience you have the better. If anything, virtual rotations convey interest, and ultimately, that is what matters most.
Program Directors Look Beyond Content
In Dr. Atoot’s experience as a program director, he says he regularly receives over 3,000 LoRs each year from applicants. Of these LoRs, he says they are always overwhelmingly positive.
This means a strong letter of recommendation won’t necessarily make you stand out.
Instead, he mentions that residency directors often look beyond the content. And one place they most commonly look is at the letter writer.
“The things that separate [an LoR” according to Dr. Atoot, are “who wrote it, what title do they have, in what department do they work […] that’s something that we really pay attention to.”
While trainees may pay a lot of attention to experience type or the actual letterhead, Dr. Atoot, mentions these as being secondary to the actual letter writers.
Considering the Match? U.S. Letters of Recommendation are Stronger
Finally, our fourth biggest takeaway: U.S. LoRs are typically stronger.
According to Dr. Atoot, LoRs from U.S. physicians are “a critical thing to have” because “the medical system in the U.S. is extremely varied and different from other parts of the world.” This can lead to a kind of culture shock for residents or trainees experiencing it for the first time. LoRs from U.S. physicians do more than show you have experience with the U.S. healthcare system–they also can speak to your experience within it.
Another reason virtual rotations are so crucial is that they make U.S. clinical experience more accessible to trainees who need that LoR but are unable to travel to the U.s.
Similarly, Dr. Weissman adds that applicants should try to secure LoRs from physicians first before asking for LoRs from their professors or instructors.
Did you miss the webinar? Learn more about each of these points and catch up on the whole conversation below:
Want to more about Dr. Atoot and Dr. Weissman’s programs? Reach out to an advisor at firstname.lastname@example.org