Sunday 22 April 2012

sample letter asking for observership

As a response to my past article, On writing to the department chief, I had several folks ask me what kind of letter should one write when initiating communication with physicians. The following is an example of a letter, which you can use to ask for observership opportunities.  

 DON’T copy the letter verbatim because you may find that your credibility will be called into question using cookie cutter templates. The idea of showing the below example is to allow you to formulate a channel of correspondence that gets results. 

This template letter may be applicable to you in most cases but if background is unique enough, the letter may be molded to support your intent. Also make sure to read the foot notes to different points that are touched in this letter paying careful attention to the topics brought forth. Also, the italics are special directions, that you can modify as needed to suit your purpose.                                                    

Name: residency applicant
two lines of your current address
can go here
phone number

Seeking a possibility for shadowing[i] in Dept. of (your favorite field here). This line will be an explanatory heading unlike the email subject, which has to be attention grabbing.

Dear Dr. Dept. Chair[ii] (personalize by using name),

(Introduction, paragraph). The purpose of my correspondence with you is to explore opportunity to shadow in your department. As you may be aware, one of the silent requisites prior to being accepted into a US program is familiarity with the US health care system[iii]. I am determined to understand the nature and workings of health care delivery in US and for that matter would like to shadow a medical team.

(Why I chose you, paragraph). The reason I chose your department is because, it is one of the busiest programs with illustrious faculty, and a training program[iv] that seems to uphold the six core values of the ACGME curriculum[v]. The breadth of patient care issues and the depth of involvement of your physicians are worth learning from.

(Why you should choose me, paragraph). I am driven and ambitious to achieve a level of professional excellence, which I see in action at your program. The testament to that statement comes from ______ (insert your best accomplishment, or recognition, it has to be good!)[vi]. Also, I am very interested in continuing this association by applying to your program for residency starting in 20__. This engagement will allow the faculty to evaluate for themselves a potential asset for the program. I am attaching a one page resume for your perusal at this time[vii], I will be more than happy to send a detailed CV, if you wish to consider extending me the offer. 


First name
ECFMG number

[i] Avoid using and abusing the word observership. Letter should sound fresh and crisp.
[ii] Or other faculty that you have come to know, who is in a position to influence the program.
[iii] There is no mention that you are “IMG”, it is easy to deduce that, and is implicit. Thus does not look like “another IMG seeking observership opportunities”
[iv] Do some homework about the place you are writing to. Sounding superficial is just as bad as being ignorant.
[v] Familiarize your self with these and use this if you know residents or someone who is in the program.
[vi] Don’t waste a good letter with a bad reference. If you don’t have much to sell in the first place – do not attempt to sell a poor accomplishment by garnishing or inflating your achievements. Doing so will result in instant discredit and loss of any future chances of getting anything done from there.
[vii] You are doing them a favor by not attaching a bulky 8 page resume at the first pass. They will be thankful to you for not flooding their inbox with attachments they do not need. Remember to have both long and short versions of your CV.

If you like the example above, feel free to change it as suited to your needs. Dont forget to 'recommend' me on facebook or follow on twitter!


  1. Great, this one's really useful. Thanks (again!) ;)

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  3. Thanks a lot for sharing....really helpful!


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