How long before LOR

Hello Old Premeds,

I am a nontraditional premed student preparing to apply in the early summer for matriculation in Fall '19.

I have currently shadowed three physicians and have received letters of recommendation from them. However, these were friends that knew me for years and so were practically prepared to write my LOR before I ever stepped foot in their offices. They were also all MDs.

For various reasons, while I am applying to allopathic schools, I have a much better chance at entering an osteopathic medical school. The DO schools I’m applying to, however, require at least one LOR from a DO.

(As a side note: I work full time, 1st shift, to support my family, so i will only be able to work with a physician either a day or two using vacation time, or outside of your typical 9-5, M-F schedule. My current job explicitly is not supportive of me leaving them and so will not work with me on this.)

All this to ask, when is it reasonable to ask a physician you never met until shadowing them for a LOR? I assume I’m correct that 1-2 days of shadowing them is insufficient… then again many people are hired (or not hired) for jobs based on the impression they make on an interviewer in a 1-hour conversation. Maybe this is similar?

I simply don’t want to make myself look stupid by asking far too early, or unnecessarily use up valuable time that I could spend elsewhere.

Any help is appreciated.


It’s really up to the person who would be writing it to assess whether they know you well enough to “vouch” for you in the letter. That being said, you, too, should feel comfortable with how well you think they know you and how strong of a letter they can write you. It’s kind of difficult to really give you a time frame for someone who has never met you. If your friends can get you in with a DO that they know, that might help speed it along if he/she is willing to incorporate stuff they tell him. It wouldn’t hurt to give him some fodder, like a resume, to look at to try to get a better picture of you.

I talk about this on tomorrow’s OldPreMeds Podcast (Session 99!)