Sample letter for Volunteer experience

I have been shadowing a Primary care physician, who has a private practice. I asked him to give me a Letter of recommendation for the work in order to strengthen my med school application. He has asked me to provide him with a sample format which he can look at before personalizing it.

I was wondering if anyone can share a sample shadowing letter or a sample letter from the volunteer center that I can have him look at. The Doctor graduated from a Russian med school and is not totally familiar with the application process here.
You can blank out personal information if u’d like.
Thanks in advance

This is a good question and I hope anyone who’s got a sample will share it here!

Hi there,
When you go to shadow a physician, especially a physician that you want a letter of rec from, take a copy of your CV (resume), a list of schools that interest you and a copy of your personal statement. If you do not have these things, now is a good time to start working on them.
Your CV can be a source of talking points as you shadow. You can discuss some of your interests and some of your background as to how you came to become interested in medicine.
A format for a letter of recomendation:
There should be a brief introduction. John Smith came to shadow me in my General Surgery clinic. Right from the start, he showed a keen interest in how undergoing surgery affected my patients. He was respectful of their right to privacy and engaged me in problems of delivery of healthcare in today’s world of malpractice and impending fee for performance.
A little paragraph about you as a person: I found John Smith to have broad interests in learning about the way medicine is practiced today. He wanted to see how I moved through my day going from operating room to office and then to the hospital. He had a very clear idea that he wanted to practice medicine and understood both the positive and negative aspects of practice in today’s world.
John Smith was able to readily understand how removal of the gallbladder was beneficial to one of my patients. He observed the surgery and understood my explanations of how the common bile duct was able to take over most of the role of the absent gallbladder. He asked pertinent questions about the role of laparoscopic surgery in my practice etc.
Finally, I believe John Smith would be an asset to your medical class. He has intellectual curiosity, a love of learning, a deep understanding of scientific principles basic to medicine and an enthusiastic level of energy and caring for his fellow human beings. He has a keen desire to study medicine and a very realistic understanding of what the career demands both personally and professionally.
Signed: Wonderful Surgeon, MD/DO
If you have provided a CV and a personal statement, your letter-writer may be able to take some of the information from these sources and make your LOR even more personal. Perhaps you discussed your hobby of photography or nature hiking. You may have done some research that you could have discussed etc.
Since you have shadowed a Primary Care physician, he or she might discuss how necessary primary care is in today’s world of medicine and how much you understand and appreciate that fact in addition to your other assets.
In short, your LOR should contain some discussion of how your participated in the day. How the shadowing experience helped you to solidify your choice of medicine as a career and what the physician that you shadowed thought of you as a future physician.
If you provide a list of schools, perhaps your preceptor can tailor his or her letter towards one or more of these schools.
I hope that this helps!


I hope that this helps!

I’m about to start some shadowing, and that was very helpful - thanks!

I like Nat’s format.
For letter writers who are really supervising you–i.e., not just folks you are shadowing but people you’re really working with–I’d add a a couple of things. First, a statement about where that person fits in with other similar people (“In considering the many pre-med students who have worked in this clinic, Jay ranks far above all but a few” or “Jay is in the top 10% of medical students I’ve worked with in terms of his overall performance”). Second, I think a small note about some minor weakness is helpful to suggest that it is an objective letter. Something typical might be “One of Jay’s real strengths–his work ethic–was also sometimes potentially a hindrance as we sometimes had to actually tell him to go home and stop working. Jay will benefit from careful advising about balance between life and work.” Or, "Jay’s only real challenge in working with us was in recognizing his own knowledge and potential; he sometimes deferred unnecessarily to other volunteers, particularly early on. However, his confidence has increased substantially over the last six months, and I have seen him in other settings where he has none of the same kind of self-doubt. Having discussed this with him and observed him over time, I believe that this is primarily a problem associated with a transition into a new career, and his desire to not want to step on any toes in an initially unfamiliar setting, as opposed to a more pervasive issue of character."
These are just examples–and probably the toughest part of writing a really strong letter. I think that the strongest letters actually convey this sense of balance and objective evaluation without ever giving the reader anything serious to worry about. However, I would leave this to the veteran letter writer, mainly; clearly, going slightly in the wrong direction with this kind of thing could make you look bad.

I’ve also heard that a statement about the physician himself is important, in order to qualify the perspective of your recommender:
“I have seen volunteers who have become successful med school graduates for x years in my AllAboutMe Practice…having taught/trained med students at BestU for X years, and having seen the qualifities of successful residents at ALLNighterHospital…, I am very happy to recommend Joe.”