After 10+ years of asking professors/attending physicians to write letters of recommendation (LOR) for various applications and positions, I have now become the letter writer! I recently completed my first recommendation for a medical student going into anesthesiology residency, and learned some important things in the process.
The “bookends” of the LOR should include my professional role, institution, role, date, signature, and contact information. I created a template containing this information for future letters I write.
Next, at least for anesthesiology, it’s hard to work with the same attending every single day. I try to pool opinions from other attendings to create a more comprehensive assessment of what the candidate brings to the table. Staying positive is key, but I also represent my institution, so being honest is equally important. I also like to discuss specific things the candidate and I were involved with (special cases/procedures, unusual circumstances, lectures, research, etc.) for a more personalized feel to the LOR.
I’m admittedly very new to this process having been an attending for only ten weeks at the time of this writing. Please drop me a comment with your suggestions and feedback! What else goes into writing a strong LOR?