The Office of Career Advising at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health offers assistance to students in the MD Program with Medical Student Performance Evaluation and Letters of Recommendation.

Medical Student Performance Evaluation

The Associate Dean for Students, not the Dean of the medical school, prepares the student's Medical Student Performance Evaluation. The MSPE is an evaluation report, not a letter of recommendation. It contains a description of a student's basic science and clinical years, the student's Transcript Analysis (summary of grades in comparison to his/her classmates) and a transcription of the verbatim clinical comments received from Year 3 core clerkships, required clerkships and early Year 4 electives.

The Medical Student Performance Evaluation attempts to present the student's strengths while presenting an accurate comparison of how the student compared to his or her classmates. To overstate the student's performance too much risks a loss in the credibility of the UW School of Medicine and Public Health's MSPE.

To understate the student's performance results in an obvious disadvantage to the student that must be avoided. The final paragraph of the Medical Student Performance Evaluation includes a reference to the student's class rank. Class rank is based on the student's Dean's GPA. In the Dean's GPA, the Year 3 GPA earned for the core clerkships counts twice as much as the GPA for Year 1 and Year 2.

Letters of Recommendation

Letters of recommendation are important documents in the residency application. Most residency programs require three to four letters from clinical faculty who know the student well. How does a student select a person to write a letter? This is a difficult question for most students for the following reasons:

  1. Clinical faculty rarely get to know a student very well during Year 3 rotations
  2. Students usually do not know how positive and glowing the letter may be
  3. Students usually do not know the impact, if any, of the faculty's reputation

The credibility of a letter of recommendation is dependent either on the reputation of the letter writer, or the nature of his or her relationship with the student, or both. A person whose national reputation or academic title may not be the most prestigious, but who can state in the opening paragraph that he or she has worked closely with the student for a long period of time, can write a very credible, valued letter.

Conversely, a nationally renowned faculty member who has had minimal contact with the student may not be able to write a credible letter. Questions regarding letters should be directed to Student Services.