Colleague Recommendation Question
Dear Dr. Julius,
Thank you for your tutelage via your blogs. Thank you for all that you do. It is truly inspiring and also hard work to maintain a (very current) blog despite your busy schedule!
I am a Canadian IMG (which counts as a foreign IMG), and I’d like to apply to Radiology in the States. I am currently M3 and doing my core rotations in the US. My step1 score was only 215, NOT stellar. My only redeeming quality is that I had worked in radiology for ten years before I entered medical school, and I was department head for three years. My question is: If I get a Letter of Rec. (LOR) from a Canadian radiologist with whom I’ve worked, would that be a faux-pas? Instead, I would much rather send out a LOR from a referee who has known me and seen me work for 4-5 years than a LOR from a 4-week elective rotation. Given ERAS takes up to 4 letters, do you recommend I include a Canadian letter from a Canadian radiologist who has known me well?
Oh, and if the score of 215 is too low, then forget all that I’ve asked above (haha), but I heard they are doing away with Step1 scores in 2022, and that is when I will be matching!
I appreciate the kind words! But, in terms of your questions about which radiology recommendations to choose, I think that a colleague reference from someone who knows you well from work can be an effective letter of recommendation if she writes it well. Who better to see your work ethic than those with which you work? There is no harm in doing so. You are in a much different situation than a medical student or resident who receives another reference from a colleague of the same level. In those instances, how could a fellow trainee honestly evaluate you? Usually, getting a recommendation like those would be a faux pas. (But that does not apply to you!)
Remember, all letters of recommendation have a bias. So, having one letter with a bias toward you from your former job makes sense. Also, as you mentioned, I would send this in addition to the letters that you would typically get for ERAS. It should not be your only stand-alone recommendation.
In terms of scores, make sure that you try to do well on Step II instead. They will be using this score for assessment of your test-taking skills instead of Step I when Step I board scores are no longer used in 2022.
Hope that helps,
Barry Julius, MD