Do LORs from Non-MD “Doctors” Still Count as Physician LORs?

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Session 149

Our question for today is about whether letters of recommendation from an optometrist count as a letter from a physician. What do you do if you have experience shadowing or working with “doctors” outside of the MD/DO degree? This applies not only to optometrists but also to chiropractors, PAs or nurses, etc.

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[01:51] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

[Tweet “”Do letters of recommendation from an optometrist count as a letter from a physician? Do medical schools value letters of recommendation from an OD (Doctor of Optometry) as much as they do an MD? After all, they’re still doctors.””]

Now, this student has three years worth of 6,000 hours of experience working as an optometric technician. That’s a lot of time spent with somebody who may be able to write an amazing letter of recommendation.

[02:44] Are Optometrists Doctors?

Optometrists are not “doctors” in the sense of MD or DO. Hence, I try to use the term physician as much as possible. But even that has become less specific to an MD or DO because chiropractors, in a lot of states, are allowed to call themselves physicians. So patients are just getting confused as to who’s who.

But in terms of letters of recommendation, you want one that is from a physician – an MD or a DO. If you’re applying to osteopathic schools, they typically want a letter from a DO. While MD schools don’t really care who the letter is from as long as it’s a physician (MD/DO).

You’re applying to medical school to become one of the physicians. An OD hasn’t been to medical school, or through residency, or through fellowship. He/she hasn’t been through the struggles that a physician has gone through.

They still have rigorous schooling and training, but it’s not the path of a physician. They can talk about your work ethic and how great you are, and your customer service skills, etc., but they can’t talk about you being a physician.

[Tweet “”A letter from a non-MD or DO, even if they are practicing clinically, it’s not a letter from a physician.””]

[05:30] Based on a Different Capacity

That’s just the game. Get a letter of recommendation from a physician. If you’ve been out of school for a while and you’re lacking letters of recommendation from professors, call the schools you’re applying to and see if they will let you get a letter of recommendation from your “supervisor” (the optometrist) and now you can get a letter of recommendation in a different capacity. Instead of being the “doctor,” they’re writing a letter of recommendation based on you, as a worker, and them as the supervisor or whatever the relationship is.

Hence, there’s still a way to use the letter, but it’s not a letter from a physician. Again, it does not count as a letter from a physician.


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