Saturday 15 September 2012

Letter of Recommendation Thank You Note

Letters of recommendation are a necessity in application for residency. They are important because they help provide a personality to your application and vouch for your character, which goes much beyond the scores and score reports. While USMLE step 1, 2 CK, CS and step 3 scores provide an assessment of your test taking skill, medical knowledge and your cognitive ability, the non cognitive information about you which is as important in succeeding in residency is provided by your personal statement and letters of reference. (Figure 1) 

Fig 1. The USMLE application packet of a residency applicant

Writing thank you note to letter writers:

  1. Don’t forget to speak/communicate with your referees after finishing you application.
  2. Write a note of thanks and express gratitude to the referees for taking time out from their busy life to write a letter for you
  3. You will certainly be remembered for being thoughtful
  4. It certainly is a good thing to be courteous, professional and considerate.
  5. In case you need to contact them again (in the unfortunate scenario, that you do not match), the faculty will be more than happy to furnish you a new one

An example of a thank you note that you can use to write to your referrer is given below.
Dear Dr. ___
I write this letter to thank you for writing my letter of recommendation. Your letter has been received by electronic residency application service (ERAS) and will be a part of my application for residency. I appreciate your effort to take the time out to write my letter of reference. Getting into a residency is a difficult process and irrespective of the outcome, I am grateful for your contribution to my professional endeavors.

John Smith

The thank you note should be preferably written on your letter head (I will have a separate article soon on how you can make your own with samples and templates), printed and mailed to the professor or faculty at their work address. Try and stay away from emailing it as much as possible, because even though it is better than no thanks – email really dilutes the sentiment and makes your gratitude that much more forgettable.

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