Applying to Residency Programs #12: Reviewing your MSPE

4th Year Advising Tip - August 27, 2014
August 27, 2014

Dear Class,

Very soon, some of you will begin receiving the first draft of your MSPE (aka dean's letter). We are writing to remind you of some important things about this process.

a) You will be sent the draft letter in a locked word file. the file will only allow you to make editing suggestions in 'track changes' mode.

b) DO NOT ATTEMPT TO REWRITE OR REFORMAT THE ENTIRE LETTER!!! (Shockingly, some prior students have attempted to do this in the past). The template, formatting, and content are standardized across all schools and applicants.

c) Having said that, we welcome all spelling, punctuation, and grammatical corrections. We do our best, but these are really, really long letters and it's hard to catch everything.

d) If you have been elected to the Gold Humanism Honor Society or Alpha Omega Alpha Honor society, this information will be inserted prominently at the top of the Academic Information section when the letter is finalized. Don't worry, we know who you are and will be sure to include this in the final editing step.

e) Those of you who 'split' rotations to do electives in the third year will not see evaluations from the clerkship that you split, unless you completed it in July. We WILL include your evaluations and grades from the electives in the 'fourth year' section of the letter. We are rounding those up right now, so for the early released letters you may not see them yet. Similarly, clerkships done early in the fourth year (July, August, and, sometimes, September) will be included so long as we have the evaluations in hand soon enough for October 1st. Although we will do our absolute best to get all of these into your letter, we CANNOT guarantee to include such evaluations if we get them after 9/26, as there is inadequate time to edit the letters again before october 1st.  AT YOUR REQUEST, WE WILL HOLD AN MSPE A COUPLE DAYS AFTER OCTOBER 1ST TO ADD AN EVALUATION, BUT WE DON'T RECOMMEND THIS.  IN SOME UNIQUE CIRCUMSTANCES WE CAN SEND AN 'UPDATED' MSPE AFTER OCTOBER 1ST, BUT WE CAN'T/WON'T DO THIS FOR ALL 180 OF YOU! We would have to clone LaQuita a few times.

f) You may correct any FACTUAL errors that appear anywhere in the letter.

g) You may slightly elaborate upon or clarify our descriptions of your wonderfulness in the 'unique characteristics' section.

h) If we did something 'creative' with the unique characteristics section that you don't like (told embarrassing stories, included youtube clips, etc.) you can request that we eliminate it or modify it.

i) You may NOT suggest substantive edits of your narrative evaluations from POM I and II or the third and fourth year clerkships that are included in the letter. These narratives are generally reported verbatim except for minor edits for punctuation, grammar, spelling and sometimes redundancy or overall length.

j) You may NOT change the 'summary' paragraph, particularly the adjectives that are applied to your various characteristics and performance measures. That is, don't change all the 'very goods' to 'outstanding'. We will just change them back. Though we don't have strict definitions that determine specific categories, we only use superlative adjectives if your performance in a domain is clearly at the top end of the class (whether that is academic/clinical, leadership, service, or research performance). Finally, we commonly conclude this section with some version of a phrase that predicts our overall estimate of how you are likely to perform in your residency. This phrase usually includes the word 'should' NOT 'will'. For instance, "so-and-so should develop into an outstanding member of their residency training program." The word "will" implies some guarantee of future performance, which we obviously are not in a position to do. "Should" implies our best prediction based on your past performance. Do NOT change 'shoulds' to 'wills'. We will just change them back.

k) WHEN YOU GET YOUR LETTER TO REVIEW, DO IT RIGHT AWAY!!  DO NOT, I REPEAT DO NOT, HOLD ONTO THE LETTER FOR WEEKS.  THERE ARE MANY IMPORTANT FORMATTING PHASES THAT MUST BE COMPLETED TO GET THE FINAL LETTER READY TO UPLOAD TO ERAS, AND IF YOU HOLD YOUR LETTER UNTIL SEPTEMBER 30TH, IT WILL NOT, I REPEAT NOT, BE UPLOADED IN TIME TO BE RELEASED ON OCTOBER 1ST.

This is particularly true if Dr. Schroth wrote your letter, because he is leaving for Montana on his annual fall fishing trip on 9/27. He will NOT, I REPEAT NOT, be editing letters while on the river, but he WILL be catching big, big fish (see the attached photo of Dr. Schroth pulling in the big ones--whoops, that's him relaxing at lunch time. But trust me, there are big, big fish involved somewhere!!)
 
Your favorite advisory deans, drs. h, n, and s.