View Full Version : another question about CaRMS
09-17-2003, 06:06 PM
First, can PhD's write you a reference letter? Let's say I have enough MD's for my minimum requirements for letters already.
Second, for anyone who has done the online CaRMS application (Ian?) - what are we supposed to put in the boxes where we list our electives? How much detail should we put in there?
09-17-2003, 07:05 PM
1) I wouldn't use a PhD for a reference letter unless you are applying to a fairly research-intensive specialty, or are planning to incorporate a significant amount of research into your residency. I think an MD letter allows for discussion of research interests as well (of course, this doesn't hold if you did ALL your research with the PhD doctor), but also allows them to comment on your clinical skills, rapport with patients and staff, etc. I think the most important part of a reference letter is stating that you are a strong clinician, and someone that you would want to work with as a fellow resident. I'm not sure that a PhD letter will bring that message across as much.
On a second note, I wouldn't submit more than 4 letters max; even at 4 letters, you run the risk that a program will only open 3 letters and never even view the fourth, and you don't necessarily know which is the fourth letter that they fail to read... Apparently on e-CaRMS last year, when the program director looks at your profile, they just see a link entitled "Reference Letter #1" or something to that effect. The link doesn't include either the specialty, or the name of the doctor who wrote that letter. If they don't click on the link, they'll never read your reference letter.
2) In the electives section, if I remember correctly, you fill in the dates, location, preceptor, specialty, and other stuff. In the big box at the bottom, I just put in an extra one-line descriptor, something like: "Four week away elective in Pediatric Otolaryngology"
I wouldn't bother writing more than a one-line description (as it is, your e-CaRMS CV is going to be a massive 5-10+ pages), and there's no way that each member of the selection committee is going to read all 10 pages of each CV of all 90 interviewees! Don't obscure the important parts of your CV (Honours/Awards, Research, Electives) with too much additional bulk.
This is all just my opinion; maybe Carolyn or DrSahsi can comment further.
09-18-2003, 01:32 PM
I think the PHD name might be helpful if you are interested in a very specialized programme and their name is known but otherwise, I'd agree with Ian.
With respect to the numbers I again think it depends on the type of programme. If they are only reviewing 20 applications then if you have 6 really good letters it is worth making them available but otherwise, I would try to stick to 4-5 max. and there is nothing wrong with only submitting the minimum number - as long as they are all stellar!
I actually was advised to try and be a little descriptive about each elective to show that I had an objective at each.. I cant' remember what exactly but Basilia helped me with that... STRONGLY suggest getting her involved in an early draft of your letters and resume.
Good luck with the ordeal...
09-18-2003, 02:36 PM
I have little if anything to add. I went through CaRMS before it was all digital, so I still had to go through the nightmare of having all of my reference letters mailed/couriered individually to each program. I've only seen the electronic system briefly from the program director point of view, but haven't had the guided tour.
As far as selection of referees and number of letters... Carolyn and Ian are bang on. ;)
09-19-2003, 08:36 AM
Thanks guys... the PhD person I had in mind would be able to attest to my longstanding interest in this particular field (which is very research intensive)... although we haven't worked closely together, so I will have to rethink that one.
Carolyn, on your advice I will be making an appointment with Basilia... should I have specific questions prepared for her or does she give general advice on everything?
09-19-2003, 05:02 PM
I just sent her my rough drafts and she helped a lot.
As well, a couple of close friends and I in our class exchanged copies of our resumes (or whatever they are called) and letters and gave lots of feedback. Finally, I asked my sister for help editing my letter especially - I wanted it short - under a page when printed out. I personally think that is one of the most important parts of the app.
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