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47 Letters!

July 17, 2022
by Mark David Siegel

Hi everyone,

Last Tuesday night, just past 11PM, I posted my 47th and final letter of recommendation for fellowship. That’s 16 more than last year. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Allergy & Immunology: 1
  • Cardiology: 13
  • Critical Care: 1
  • Endocrinology: 1
  • Geriatrics: 1
  • Gastroenterology: 13
  • Hematology: 1
  • Hematology-Oncology: 8
  • Nephrology: 2
  • Palliative Medicine: 1
  • Pulmonary & Critical Care: 4
  • Rheumatology: 1

I don’t know why so many more of you are applying this year. Thankfully, I have a template to help me, based on guidelines published in 2017 by the Association of Program Directors in Internal Medicine (APDIM). The document is a cross between a performance summary, like a medical school MSPE, and a standard letter of support.

The Program Director’s letter summarizes your performance in key areas such as clinical skills, medical knowledge, communication, and professionalism. It includes sections on teaching, leadership, scholarship, extracurricular activities, honors, and special skills. There’s also a section for concerns- thankfully, none this year. The letter is populated with quotes from your MedHub evaluations, excluding private comments meant for constructive feedback. At the end of the letter, I assess your suitability for fellowship, based on your clinical performance, scholarly accomplishments, and contributions to our residency. Finally, I comment on your personal characteristics, which is a joy, given how wonderful you are.

For those of you planning to apply down the road, look over the attached template now to plan your efforts. It’s never too early to think about scholarship opportunities- in traditional research, quality improvement, and educational projects—and ways to contribute to the residency by joining committees and interest groups. Being a good citizen counts for a lot: submit your work hours every week, keep up with your clinic inbox, attend required teaching conferences, prime discharge summaries for the next resident on service, respond promptly and collegially to jeopardy calls, partner with nonphysician staff, and give your full effort on every rotation no matter what your career plans. Finally, be a good person: listen carefully, speak well of others, and prioritize the team’s needs above your own. In short, be “as good as any, nicer than most.”

Good luck to all 47 of you. For those of you pursuing primary care and hospital medicine, we’ll be in touch soon about a general medicine career night, coming in September.

Enjoy your sunny Sunday everyone. I’m headed out to the Farmington Canal for a long bike ride. Tomorrow morning, I’m starting a two week stretch in the Stepdown Unit. Come by and say hi!


PS Happy National Ice Cream Day!


Submitted by Mark David Siegel on July 17, 2022