This week, our program hosted interviews for fellowship candidates. Residents from all over North America filed into the conference room this morning at 7am to listen to presentations meant to showcase our program. Prior to sitting down individually with each applicant, we reviewed their letters of intent and reference letters in support of their candidacy.
Over the years, I have read dozens of reference letters. Words such as “talented” or “gifted” are often used by referees. These terms are used to endorse applicants in reference letters, introduce awardees or eulogize colleagues who have passed away. To have talent or a gift is so superlative that it is not for describing the average (albeit still exceptional by many standards) person in a highly competitive field like surgery or fine arts. In a way, I read these words with a certain degree of skepticism, as I don’t believe in the idea that someone can…
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