With health care needs only increasing, the next generation of doctors will be in high demand, but they need support to get noticed by admissions, which is why well-written AACOMAS letter of recommendation examples are so helpful. Acquiring impressive recommendation letters is a great strategy for medical school hopefuls to improve their chances of getting into highly competitive institutions, regardless of . A good AACOMAS letter of recommendation could make the difference between a student getting rejected or heading for an .
But how do you write one? This article has you covered. We walk you through the AACOMAS letter of recommendation’s requirements and then provide you with samples specifically geared toward AACOMAS.
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I am thrilled to be writing this letter for Alex Martin, who was one of my best students. I send this letter with the highest recommendation I can offer, as Alex proved herself to be not only a wonderful student, but an eager and generous person.
My first face-to-face meeting with Alex was when she came in to ask about a grade on a chemistry paper. She had achieved a high mark but wanted to know how to push that grade even higher. I later understood that this was a typically “Alex” thing to do: demand excellence from herself, never rest on her laurels, and go seeking this excellence in an outgoing manner. This outgoing manner became her trademark, and she was well-known in her classes and labs because of it.
During our lab work on chirality, we were using VCD (vibrational circular dichroism) to study handedness in chemistry. Alex had the whole experiment figured out well ahead of the others and came up to me to talk about lemons and oranges and how the limonene in these fruits are molecularly identical, but chiral – mirror images of one another. I was impressed by her knowledge of the subject and found out that she was doing extra readings of papers at home because she was so fascinated by the whole thing. Again, this eager, full-throttle Alex had shown up to impress me with her chemistry knowledge. Later, in the same lab, she was helping other students understand VCD. Alex’s extroverted nature seems to enable her to bond naturally with people and bring them together.
Alex’s most impressive moment, to me personally, occurred while helping me with lab work on adipose tissue. I was trying to find out more about the relationship between adipose tissues and the endocrine system, given its ability to synthesize and secrete hormones. Alex was acting as my lab assistant, and while we were going over data – connecting burning fat with releasing hormones – Alex made several observations about how exercise would affect psychiatric treatment.
She said that most people feel emotionally better or achieve greater mental clarity after physical exertion, but if fat tissue released hormones which might cause negative emotions, this could have a countereffect on those positive feelings. Psychologists might want to consider the physical activity – or lack thereof – in their patients.
This was, consistently, Alex’s most impressive attribute as a student: she could make connections that many other students just wouldn’t have made. They compartmentalize, keeping classwork separate from lab work, or one course apart from the others. Alex combined them all into a honeycomb of knowledge in her head. Notably, my friend Dr. Taylor in the psychology department was very interested to hear about Alex’s musings, and we’re currently considering applying for a collaborative research for our two departments.
This might seem impossible, but I can’t recall hearing a bad word about Alex. She was always involved with projects, with self-improvement, and with helping her classmates. I’ve never known her to be in a bad mood. Always studious, always courteous, and I believe well suited to pursuing her goal of becoming an osteopathic doctor – a goal she was always enthusiastic about. I hope you see in Alex what I have had the privilege of seeing for the past four years.
I don’t normally let students shadow me, because I have seen too many become bored or distracted, and their behavior often frustrates me, I’m sorry to say. With Lloyd, I knew the experience would be different and that he would be appreciative and really get something useful out of shadowing.
I knew that Lloyd was a student, but as I only teach one class, he was never a student of mine. Lloyd was actually a colleague, working part-time as an orderly at our hospital, St. Luke’s, and I got to know him in that capacity. I first met Lloyd during my rounds, and I was struck by his ability to be so patient, accommodating, and kind. No matter how busy the hospital gets, he never rushes a patient interaction and always devotes his full attention to them. That is not to say he is slow – far from it – but that he exudes calmness.
There was one evening that had degenerated into chaos, and this is the perfect image of who Lloyd is: he was striding down the hall, which due to his height was quite fast, so he could get to each patient on time. However, whenever he entered a patient’s room, he instantly slowed down and resumed his calm, relaxed demeanor. Patients smiled when Lloyd entered the room.
It’s due to this level of thoughtfulness and care that I did not hesitate when Lloyd requested to shadow me. Up until that time, I did not know that he was interested in becoming a DO. Lloyd asked insightful questions throughout the entire evening and always at the appropriate times. He was also helpful. He helped me with several patients, mainly by assisting them to move.
Carl was a patient of mine who was always in a foul temper. He had been in a serious accident and had many mobility issues. He snapped at Lloyd for some minor, perceived slight, and Lloyd, still calm and kind, confronted Carl about his attitude. He said Carl was being “unfair” to someone who was trying to help. He reminded him that he deserved respect and kindness, even if Carl was hurting.
I froze. Nobody talked to Carl like that. Even I was only ever brisk with the man. Who wanted the grief? Yet Lloyd got an apology from Carl. But don’t let me fool you into thinking that Lloyd’s kindness makes him a pushover, because it doesn’t. I appreciated his strength after that interaction; he was always so fluid and unassuming that I never noticed his power before.
That is my evaluation of Lloyd: somebody who is gentle, curious, insightful, kind, calming, and unwaveringly steady. He truly understands that health care is as much about the caring as the health. I believe he will make a great doctor someday, and if you’re wise, you’ll make him a doctor from your school.
Want to know the differences between Do and MD? Check out this infographic:
Nina was quiet and hard to get to know. If she had asked me for this letter after her first semester, I might have turned her down because I wouldn’t have had a clear impression of who she was as a person.
I did have a good idea of who she was as a student. I was always impressed by her work. Her essays for class were impeccable, bearing the marks of a truly dedicated student, filled with insights. She not only received good grades but frequently created writing that was truly a pleasure to read.
In one of her papers, on considerations in health care treatment across cultural lines, she wrote with such careful interest on the subject that I felt like she was personally invested in every line. This was somebody who understood cultural sensitivity, who was well-read, and knowledgeable on the subject. I found myself re-reading the paper days later, after having graded and sent the work back to Nina with notes. It is rare indeed to find time to re-read a student’s work. I hope this impresses on you the quality of the writing and the philosophical level that her ideas had achieved. This paper was later submitted to a national essay competition and won.
The reason for Nina’s insights became clear when I got to know her more and found out that she volunteered at a women’s shelter and had previously worked for a women’s rights advocacy group. Always conscientious, Nina still spends much of her free time working at these places. She inspired me, in fact, to join her as a women’s shelter volunteer. While there, I was unsurprised to find her cooking meals, cleaning up, and settling women into a place of safety and comfort. She was always busy, always serving, and even helped with the accounting and paperwork. Both of Nina’s parents work in offices and have imparted certain middle management skills to their capable daughter. Just when I think I have seen all her skills or abilities, she seems to find one more for me to marvel at.
When I was working at a downtown free clinic, I offered for Nina to shadow me whenever she wanted, and she came down on three occasions. She impressed me by noting small details with patients. One patient came in, complaining of headaches. It sounded like migraines – the patient described seeing auras – but I thought imaging might be necessary. I was on my way to get painkillers when Nina asked me if the patient had been here before. When I said, “Yes,” Nina asked how many times. The frequency was high – much higher than normal. Nina asked if the conditions were all pain related. They were. Nina had noticed several warning signs of a drug-seeking patient, and her keen eye, top insight, and swift ability to take in a situation allowed me to make better decisions regarding this patient.
Although it took a long time to really get to know Nina, I am grateful that I did. She might be quiet, but she is disciplined, capable, and one of the most compassionate people I know.
The letter of recommendation is a big part of the process. There are 38 osteopathic schools in the US, and they each have different requirements for letters of recommendation – which might also be referred to as letters of evaluation or other such terms.
Most schools require multiple letters from specific persons. Many require science faculty members or advisors, but all ask for a letter of recommendation from a physician. The schools will say that DO physicians are preferred or recommended most of the time, but we will say that they are required. If you want to study for your Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, get an osteopathic doctor to back you up. Chances are, you can ask the supervisors listed in your to write a recommendation letter for you.
All letters are submitted electronically by the recommender, not the student. This prevents fraud or even the appearance of fraud. While there are multiple potential submission portals, all 38 accredited colleges of osteopathic medicine in the US use AACOMAS.
Evaluators should be notified well in advance so that they have the time to write something meaningful and refine their statements. Remember that selecting an evaluator involves adding them to the Letters by Liaison section in AACOMAS. They are then informed by email of the evaluation request. We advise letting recommenders know well in advance – at least 6 weeks – so that you already know who you will be sending request letters to. Get letters from people who know you very well and can point to specific experiences you have had as a student of theirs.
The applicant can view the letters of recommendation, but they may also waive that right. This waiver is visible to the acceptance committees. Saying you will not look at the letters of recommendation might make those letters seem more authentic, honest, or accurate to more cynical committee members. Unless you really need to know what your evaluator has written, for some reason, we would advise waiving your right to see the letter.
There is a 5,300-character limit for recommendation letters, which includes spaces.
Show, don’t tell, while writing about the student in question. You’ll need to go deeper than just saying they were a good student or a nice person; you’ll need examples of what makes them a great candidate – in fact, the perfect candidate. Examples come from interactions, the work they have done, and what you have observed them doing – not just saying.
AACOM gives the following list of qualities for students:
Given that this is a list from AACOM, anytime you can highlight one or more of these experiences, do so. Keep in mind that “?” is the question admissions committees are wondering about for each applicant; they’re looking for students who will fit their school perfectly.
Touch on any course knowledge the student has but use specific examples. They don’t just need to hear you recap the student’s . You can also use stories of the best that you have seen the student participate in.
Students can help their recommenders put the letter together by sitting down with them first and/or providing any supporting information on aspects of themselves that may be less familiar to a professor. They can share the list of schools they are applying to so that you can, if possible, reference qualities that the schools value individually, as part of their mission, vision statement, or core values. They can mention any awards or other recognition that you could highlight.
If invited to write an AACOMAS letter of recommendation, be mindful of the fact that the student is relying on your support, especially to convince a school that they are truly interested in pursuing a DO, specifically.
Everybody needs a little help. Writing a letter of recommendation can be of tremendous assistance to a student and may even be what gets them into their dream institution, no matter how high that school places in the .
Take the job of writing an AACOMAS recommendation letter seriously; you’ll be helping to lift up the next generation of physicians.
1. What is the difference between osteopathic and allopathic medicine?
? It means Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine. Many people are still unfamiliar with osteopathic medicine, which takes a holistic approach to healing, including looking at body systems and environment, and is contrasted with allopathic medicine, which focuses more on symptoms and diseases.
2. Is osteopathic medicine better than allopathic medicine?
Not necessarily. They are both valid ways of looking at healing. For some physicians and patients, one might make more sense or provide better care, depending on the situation.
3. Which kind of medicine should I study?
You should seek to become a physician on your terms. It’s your career. How do you want to practice medicine? This is a personal choice that you should make. Weigh the pros and cons of each, see what you are drawn to, and don’t let anybody look down on you for your choice.
4. Can I study for a DO as a backup if I can’t become an MD?
You could, but a DO is not intended as a “backup plan.” Osteopathic schools will not react kindly to being a backup plan, either – no school does. It’s best to focus on becoming the doctor you want to become.
5. What is AACOMAS?
The American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine, or AACOM, provides oversight and support for osteopathic schools. AACOMAS is AACOM’s Application Service, which streamlines the application process for that are osteopathic.
6. Can letters of recommendation be edited after submission?
No. This is one of the reasons it is very important for students to be clear about who they ask and what they need in a letter of recommendation.
7. What if I’m asked to write a letter for somebody I barely know?
It is your decision if you want to write a letter or not. However, you might not be doing the person any favors. If you don’t have specific things to write about them, the letter won’t be terribly useful. You might bring up these concerns with the student and encourage them to seek out a better recommender.
8. How long or short can the letter be?
With a 5,300-character count cap, you have a lot of room to write, if you so choose. That is between about 760 and 1,325 words. Within that limit, use your discretion to provide a concise, convincing letter with sufficient detail.