Asking for a letter of recommendation for residency application can be tricky especially during COVID times, when time spent with attending physicians may be minimized as a result of social distancing and hiatus from clerkships. When determining a strong letter writer, you will want to make sure you are asking a physician who you have worked closely in some capacity that they will be able to attest to your clinical and academic skills. It is important to specify when asking if the faculty member will be able to write you a strong letter. Some people agree to write letters but may write a very average one if they feel they cannot speak highly of the applicant, or if they lack the time to write a quality letter. So, who you choose is highly significant and you also want to make sure it is a clinician who is relevant to the field you are applying in. For example, someone who is applying for surgery is better off asking a fellow surgeon than a family medicine physician for a letter of recommendation. Other helpful tips include providing your writer with materials on which to base their letter: your personal statement, CV, evaluation from the rotation on which you worked with them. Chances are, these physicians have worked with numerous students throughout the years, and will be unlikely to remember you distinctly unless you were extraordinary and unique. Providing them with content to work with will be immensely helpful not only for them but for you. I personally like to include specific patient cases that I worked on during the rotation so that the recommender can speak to my patient care skills.
Alex is in her first year of residency in Internal Medicine at University of Michigan. While she is unsure what she would like to subspecialize in yet, Alex is considering allergy, rheumatology, and primary care. Her interest in medicine largely stems from her volunteer work in free clinics in underserved communities and experiences growing up with a brother with autism.
Before attending medical school, Alex completed her undergraduate degree at Northwestern University in 2014 and her Master of Public Health (concentration in Chronic Disease Epidemiology) at Yale University in 2016.
When she is not working in the hospital or studying, you can find Alex running by the lake, doing circuit workouts outdoors in the fields, drawing and/or writing, or at home spending time with her family in the suburbs of Chicago.