Military, LORs?

First I apologize if the answers I need are elsewhere in the forum. I did scan through many pages, but did not find the full answers I need.

So to start off, I know I am a little behind in requesting my LORs from people. I work 60+ hours a week and spent every waking minute trying to prep for mcat the last month.

I have been in the military for the past 12 years, most of the time as an SF Medic. My undergrad was extremely broken up due to 4 deployments overseas, so the course I even slightly developed a relationship with a professor was my physics courses. I have asked the following individuals for letters:

  1. The aforementioned physics professor

  2. One of my former team leaders (a captain, now major)-still waiting on an answer

  3. A former team sergeant (E-8/MSG)

    Both of the above were supervisors to me

    4/5?) My battalion P.A. and Surgeon ( waiting on responses from both still)

    Now if all those I am waiting on do write letters for me I will have 5 letters, one from a science professor. However I feel like the two from supervisors will be quite similar, as will the 2 from the battalion docs.

    I have a vast array of medical experience, from doing crics, chest tubes, I.O.s, and traumatic hemorrhage control to treating tons of malaria ridden kids and broken bones. However my job line allows me to do this in locations that did not require a doc over me, so I do not necessarily have a shadowing experience to have a doc write a letter for me.

    Does anyone have suggestions of other possibilities to ask for letters? There were a few regular army docs that I worked along side for a week or two, or sometimes only a couple procedures, that gave me their emails. Would it be worth asking them for letters if some were several years ago? Some med schools I am applying too put statements that they do not accept letters from “lots of different doctors so you can show off who you know” and Im worried that having letters from mostly doctors gives that vibe.

    Also should I possibly get letters from other supervisors, although I have been performing the same role as the others letters will already state?

    Thanks for any insight. Sorry for such a long post. Im in panic/crunch time. MCAT is on Saturday, and LORs and fine tuning my PS is all I have left.

In your case, I think having some extra physician letters will be okay, since that is who you were around, and who will be able to write you strong letters.

With that said…

If you still haven’t asked for LORs from some people, I would expect it to take several more weeks for them to get back.

At this stage in the game, you are getting very late in the process.

By the time you submit, get verified, MCAT submitted, LORs done, secondaries complete - you are looking at October before schools get all of your info. A large portion of their interviews have likely already been offered. Remember, the application cycle is like a big game of musical chairs, every day that passes, there are less chairs to sit on when the music stops…

Have you thought about delaying until next year when you can get your applications in on time (as a fellow military member - early is on time)?

I’m active military as well and ran into a similar problem. I haven’t sat in an actual classroom for academics in 9 years but took some distance learning prereqs post-bacc (looks like schools are becoming a little more accepting of online stuff). I’ve been emailing some ADCOMs to see what to do since I don’t feel comfortable having a person I’ve never met face to face writing a LOR for me. Quite a few schools seem open to waiving the faculty/advisor LOR requirement for certain situations, though some are firm on it. This may put me (us) at a slight disadvantage since med school is heavy on academics, but I’m hoping that experiential LORs will carry some weight compared to the person that knows only college as “life”.

I’m looking at submitting LORs from 1) Commander, 2) direct supervisor, 3) shadow doc. Keep in mind that schools probably won’t look at LORs to make the first cut, and most I’ve looked at don’t look at them until after you submit your secondary. Basically, hit submit on AMCAS/AACOMAS when you’re done with your part and hound the writers to finish in the next few weeks.

I agree with Doc Gray that it’s getting late to start asking for letters since it usually takes letter writers several weeks, if not months, to get around to actually writing letters on behalf of applicants. Normally applicants would start working on assembling letters in the winter/spring prior to the upcoming application cycle.

Both of the situations described above are slightly unusual. But both posters should also bear in mind that there are many med schools which require two letters from science professors. If you’re not able to provide those, based on your circumstances, you will have to contact the med schools which require two science letters and ask if you can forego the requirement.

When considering whom to ask for letters you should try to be sure that the letters represent all facets of your background; they should help flesh you out as a bona fide applicant. That means covering academics, professional experience, community service, clinical experience, research (if any), etc. Cover all your bases and think about the people who know you well and can attest to your strengths/capabilities.

Good luck!