Popping the question: Gomerblog’s 14 Steps for Success when asking for a letter of rec

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So, you’re planning to finally pop the question to that special someone. Congratulations! You’ve spent a lot of quality time together and really gotten to know each other. They know your strengths and your weaknesses, really understand what makes you tick, and have a deep understanding of how good (or bad) of a trainee you are likely to be in the future. Asking for someone’s hand in recommendation is one of the most exciting and memorable moments you will probably ever have.

For some, planning how to pop the question comes second-nature, but for others, the process can be intimidating and anxiety-provoking, leading you to question your relationship, and occasionally, your self-worth. No matter how much you stress though, remember, no proposal is “perfect.” If you ask in a heartfelt way, it will be perfect enough. Forming a strong assessment and plan will help you hear an overjoyed “yes” when you do make the big ask. To help you secure your dream partner, Gomerblog’s relationship experts have put together their 14 Steps for Success when asking for a letter of recommendation.

14 Steps for Success: popping the question for a letter of rec

1. Talk about letters beforehand: test the waters to see how they react before you do anything too drastic. Don’t make a fool of yourself. For psychiatrists, consider motivational interviewing.

2. Make it a full-blown event, not just a question: try combining it with a special meeting in their office or an evening journal club with the authors of the paper. Don’t just ask during a routine patient presentation – make it a moment they will remember. However, don’t steal someone else’s thunder, and do make sure your proposal is the only important life event happening (during someone else’s code is often considered rude).

3. Decide public or private: Not in the middle of grand rounds, and not in their home bathroom. Somewhere between the two extremes.

4. Set the mood: A small, candlelit, windowless workroom often works well. Try a leisurely stroll through the unit or a hike up the stairs to a great view from the helipad. Or perhaps a picnic next to a peaceful, flowing coffee machine. Make sure the space promotes the two of you making a meaningful connection.

5. Involve other people with caution: while residents or medical students might help set the stage, more people being in on the secret can jeopardize the surprise and ruin the whole moment. Have a cover-up story in case they get too suspicious and keep them distracted until you pounce.

6. Don’t be scared, be prepared: Make sure that you come with a CV in hand, maybe hidden in your pocket. They’ll appreciate the effort on your part, and it will show that you’ve really thought this through. Don’t worry if it needs to be re-sized; experts can usually do this quite easily.

7. Ask in person: nothing is worse than asking over an email. Your proposal should be a face-to-face activity – they’ll appreciate you honoring tradition. (Caution: if you’re in radiology, this may not apply)

8. Go in with the brute-force confidence of an orthopedic surgeon: Do, or do not. There is no try. Yell if you have to.

9. Make sure they look and feel amazing: it’s a special moment for them, and ideally, you will only be asking once. Make the moment count, and make sure you look the part too.

10. Record it: this is a moment you’ll want to remember for years to come. A medical student with a cell phone will do, but EEG video monitoring also works in a pinch. Your future self will thank you.

11. Keep it simple: internal medicine folks, now is not the time for the typical 6-hour-rounds mentality. Cut to the chase. Don’t be too silly, “trendy,” or cute, but make it come from your heart.

12. Be specific about why you want them: they need to know how special they are to you, and how important they are to your future. Be sure to highlight specific details about your relationship and how they’ve improved your life. Consider writing a synopsis or hospital course and reading it to them.

13. Foreshadow your future success: express your professional career plans and describe how a letter from them would help you live out your dreams. They will appreciate feeling so special.

14. Share the news: Your friends and family will want to know! Consider Facebook, Instagram, academic Twitter, LinkedIn, PubMed, and today’s H&P. Stat page everyone you can think of.

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