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Plast Surg Int. 2012;2012:728981. doi: 10.1155/2012/728981. Epub 2012 Apr 2.

Evaluation of the Current Perspectives on Letters of Recommendation for Residency Applicants among Plastic Surgery Program Directors.

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Division of Plastic Surgery, Scott & White Healthcare and Texas A&M Health Science Center, Temple, TX 76508, USA.



The goals of this project were to evaluate the current perspective on letters of recommendation and to assess the need for, and acceptance of, a more standardized letter of recommendation (LOR).


An eight-question survey was distributed to plastic surgery program directors. A five-point Likert scale was selected as a means of quantifying the participants' responses to the survey.


Twenty-eight of 71 program directors (39.4%) completed the survey. The majority of participants felt that current LOR did not offer a realistic way to compare applicants (mean ± SD, 2.9 ± 0.8). While most agreed that increasing the objectivity of LOR would be valuable in comparing applicants (mean ± SD, 4.1 ± 0.9), the overall average response to whether a more standardized letter format would improve the resident selection process remained only slightly better than neutral (mean ± SD, 3.5 ± 1.2). Most of the chairmen supported the notion that familiarity with the author of the LOR strengthened the recommendation (mean ± SD, 4.5 ± 0.6).


The majority of plastic surgery program directors would like more objectivity in comparing applicants but are ambivalent about a standardized letter of recommendation.

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