Reference letter content?

I tried a quick search but couldn’t find a topic that addressed this issue in particular.

When it comes to a ‘good’ reference letter, what traits of the applicant should the contents focus on?

My quick take:

Ability to -

conduct research

excel in academic studies

think out of the box

go the extra yard (foot, mile, meter…)

I would add something along the lines of enthusiasm or attitude towards learning.


Academic skills are important, but you don’t want to pass as a total nerd and anti-social. Interactions/ ability to work in a group/ enthusiasm etc are important to mention as well.

Ideally, it would also compare you (favorably) to your peers, and address your suitability to pursue and practice medicine. And if the writer can slip in something that’s a weakness of yours, but that you turned into a strength, that’d be golden.