Applying to Medical School

Weekly Weigh-in: Letters of Recommendation Package

Welcome to PDr’s Weekly Weigh-in! Each week, we ask medical students and physicians to weigh in on some of our most frequently asked pre-med questions.

This week’s question: “What was the composition of your letter of recommendation file when applying to medical school?”

Evan Shih, MS2

  • Lower division Molecular Biology professor (with input from a TA)
  • Upper division Physiology professor (with input from a TA)
  • Upper division Applied Linguistics professor
  • Basic science research PhD mentor whose lab I did research with 12 hours/week
  • Emergency Medicine MD whom I worked with for 2+ years through a student organization in the ER
  • MPH/PhD Advisor of a Student Run Mobile Clinic that I served with for 2 years

In total, my letters of recommendation package consisted of 2 science letters, 1 non-science letter, and a letter to match each of my 3 most meaningful experience on my AMCAS application.

||Read: Letters of Recommendation for Medical School||

Emily Singer, MS2

  • Biology Lab Professor, UC Berkeley (post-bac)
  • Molecular Biology Professor, UC Berkeley (post-bac)
  • Biochemistry Professor, UC Berkeley (post-bac)
  • Founder & Chief Scientist (MD) at private venture pharmaceutical – we worked together for 2+ years
  • Deputy Director for Safety in Division of Anesthesia, Analgesia, and Addiction Products at FDA (MD, MPH) – we worked together for 1.5 years on pharmacovigilance projects

Summary – 3 hard science letters; 2 work-related letters; all personal, all with “superlative” language (“one of the best,” “top 2%,” etc.), all recent, and all supporting my activities as listed on AMCAS

Tip: Ask your letter-writers if they would be able to write you a strong letter.

||Read: How To Ask For A Letter of Recommendation||

Evan Laveman, MS2

I had a total of 6 letters of recommendation, with the breakdown as follows:

  • Professor of MIMG at UCLA who taught me for 2 classes, one of which was an honors section.
  • Professor of MIMG who had me for one class
  • Professor of English at UCLA who taught “Intro to poetry”
  • Sergeant of the Solana Beach Marine Safety department where I worked seasonally for 6 years
  • Doctor in charge of the clinical research group I was a part of (EMRA)
  • Alumni advisor to the fraternity I was in where I held leadership for 3 years.

||Read: How To Stand Out With Extracurriculars||

Edward Chang, MS2

I had four letters total. One science letter was from my biochemistry professor. My other science letter was from one of my upper division professors who also happened to be my research PI. My non-science letter was from an English professor. I knew all of my letter-writers personally and went to pretty much every office hour. I was able to connect with them on a personal level, finding out more about their personal lives and also sharing my own. My last writer was from an urologist who became my PI during my research year off.

||Read: Frequently Asked Questions – Letters of Recommendation||

Evan Shih

Evan Shih is a writer for ProspectiveDoctor. He is currently an internal medicine resident at UCLA. He graduated from UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine and also graduated from UCLA undergrad in 2013 with a B.S. in Physiological Science. He hopes his efforts on PDr can provide the guidance and reassurance that readers seek along the medical journey. When he’s not studying, Evan likes to hike, swim, and spend time with his family in Orange County.

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