Asking for Letters of Evaluation for Health Professional Schools Kim Sauerwein Health Professions Advisor Career Services
1. Who will you ask? • Faculty who know you well • Faculty who you respect • Faculty of classes where you’ve done well • Administrators who you know well • Supervisors (Research, Internships, Jobs) • Other Advisors, Mentors • People in my network who have connections to professional schools • NO family, clergy, politicians, family friends
2. Do you need a Composite? • Required for allopathic and osteopathic medical school if you are a current student or one year out of Dartmouth (In 2009, compositesot required for 07’s and prior) • An option, but not required for dental, vet, podiatry and optometry schools.
Your composite writer should be: • A member of the Dartmouth community • Someone who knows you well • Able to write his/her own comments and evaluation and incorporate other writers’ evaluations as well. • Able to write within your timeframe
3. Preparing to ask • Who will be your composite writer? (Ask this person first!) • When (& where) will I ask? • Why am I asking this person? • By what date do I want this letter to be completed? • What points can the writer speak to in his/her letter? • What is my back up plan if this person says no?
4. Step by Step • Ask composite writer first • Set up an in-person meeting • At the meeting: Introduce the topic “I wanted to talk with you about writing a letter for my application to medical school.” “Do you feel that you know my well enough to write a strong letter of recommendation for dental school?” • Give them a way to say no • Give a deadline/timeline & reason behind it • Be prepared to discuss your career goals & application • Tell them what documents you’re preparing and ask them if they would like additional info
5. Etiquette • Never ask for a letter over email • Give writers at least 4-6 weeks to write. Six to eight weeks for a composite. • Clearly communicate deadlines. • Politely check in with them once or twice before your deadline. • Prepare your writer with helpful information (documentation) AFTER they have agreed to write. Do NOT bring this to your initial meeting.
Helpful info/documents • LEO cover sheet (must be submitted with the letter) • Transcripts and Citations • Resume • Autobiographical Sketch • Timelines/Deadlines specific to your goals • “Talking points” or “Themes” (gauge your writer to determine if this would be appropriate)
“Talking Points” or “Themes” • My ability to work collaboratively. • When I worked as an intern in your office, I mostly worked with you and Dr. Soul, but I also worked with Maria for budget concerns, Patrice for technical concerns and the student volunteers for marketing the project. • Communication skills. • Your observations of how I communicated things to you, other staff of the office, student organizations, etc. As I coordinated fundraising efforts, I relied heavily on my communication skills to convey the importance of the project to potential donors. In the end, we raised $2000 above our goal.
“Talking Points” or “Themes” • Scholarship • The course material took dedication and time to learn, but to really integrate the information, I needed to teach others. I worked with you during office hours to go above and beyond the text and lectures to understand the concepts and I brought what I learned to study groups and helped others to learn. • Motivation • When I received a low score on the first test, I came to your office to discuss my preparation methods and understanding of the material. I regularly sought you out after class to make sure I was on the right track and in the end, I received a B+ in the class.
Send a THANK YOU NOTE! Let your writers know how it goes!