Optimization of a standardized letter of recommendation for faculty who wish to support candidates applying to surgical training programs.

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

3-9-2024

Publication Title

American journal of surgery

Keywords

washington; swedish

Abstract

Letters of recommendation (LORs) play an important role in applicant selection for graduate medical education programs. LORs may be of increasing importance in the evaluation of applicants given the recent change of the USMLE Step 1 to pass/fail scoring and the relative lack of other objective measures by which to differentiate and stratify applicants. Narrative letters of recommendation (NLORs), although widely used, have certain limitations, namely variability in interpretation, introduction of gender/race bias, and performance inflation. Standardized letters of recommendation (SLOR) have been proposed as a potential corrective to these limitations. We conducted a series of semi-structured interviews and focus groups to gather perspectives from letter writers and readers to inform methods for improving information elicited by SLORs from which we collected and analyzed data using the constant comparative method and a process of iterative coding. We applied our findings to the development of a novel SLOR for use in surgical residency program applications and were subsequently invited to help revise existing SLORs for a surgical post-graduate training program.

Clinical Institute

Digestive Health

Department

Gastroenterology

Department

Graduate Medical Education

Department

Surgery

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