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LOR from a doctor I nannied for? Is that appropriate?


dcare

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Is it appropriate to have the couple I babysat for write me a recommendation? I worked for a OB/GYN/Fertility specialist who is highly respected in his field (lecturer, professor at a top medical school, numerous publications) His wife is a CRNA at one of the top research hospitals in the world. I plan to study Public Health with a concentration in Maternal and child health/global health (if that has relevance) I was a nanny for their family for 6 years and they were like my second family. They saw me go through all my hardships during undergraduate and really watched me develop and grow over the years. I feel they will give me a very good professional recommendation and really vouch for my dedication and capabilities in graduate school. I guess what I am asking is it acceptable to have them write me a letter of recommendation even if I was only a nanny for them? Or will it not be regarded in such a light as my academic recommendations? My undergraduate university was very small, there were only 3 professors in the Exercise science department, and 5 in my graduating class. I don't have too many options. I'd appreciate the opinions of others on this topic. Thank you.

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It bums me out to do so, but I'd advise against this. I can see you rationalizing the choice given the prestige of the person you have in mind and the overlap with the field that you are hoping to break into, and I can appreciate the appeal of praise from a well-established person willing to speak to your personal qualities (like dedications and passion which, make no mistake, are requisite elements for grad school success). However, this is not your ideal letter writer. The work that you have done for him (though, like I said, could showcase strong personal characteristics) does not give evidence of your potential as a researcher and academic. I think that this prospective letter writer could write something compelling, but a lot of space would be taken up explaining why what he has to say might be relevant and there's little reassurance that a committee would even know what to do with that info. It would be a long walk in the letter from "she was our nanny" to "strong personal characteristics" to " good grad school material", especially when you consider that an academic reference would be more direct: "She turned out good research for me, I believe she has the capacity to turn out good research in grad school".

My undergrad uni, and my department, were quite small, so I feel you on the complications that come with that. However, the small uni thing can work in your favour. When i approached profs for letters, I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of support I found at my disposal. Because the department was small, I had several profs more than once and they had marked my essays themselves, so they actually knew me in a variety of roles and had watched me develop via direct contact with my academic work. I think that you could find someone like that in your uni. Profs know that students need stuff like this; if you don't think a prof will know you right off the bat, remind them of the class(es) that you had with them and offer to send them an essay that you wrote for them. This combined with an in-person discussion about what you want to study, where you want to go and your career goals will give them plenty of ammunition to write you a good letter. And if they don't think that they can write you a good letter, they'll let you know and you can move on to someone else. Honestly, I think that if you are super close with this doctor and his family, he might have a hard time giving you the same professional courtesy because, in addition to really wanting to see you do well and helping with that if he can, he might not KNOW what constitutes a good letter for committees.

This is all my opinion obviously, and I recognize that this is a tough decision. I would say cultivate those academic referees, you're probably going to need to keep them on deck and call on them for grant proposals and the like as well, so even though it's awkward at first, establishing these relationships would be the best thing for you! Good luck!

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Absolutely not. My sister is a prof and she likes to make jokes about people who think this sort of letter is appropriate.

I don't care if they are your second family: you don't have family write letters of recommendation, period.

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IMO, whether or not it's appropriate for "second family" to write a letter for you depends on what context they've primarily seen you in.

I shadowed, and then worked for, a Veterinarian for 6 years, through highschool and college. He was a mentor and like a second family to me. I would have had no problem asking him to write a recommendation when I was thinking of applying for Vet School, or similarly, any related field.

The problem with the situation here, is that you didn't know this guy in a professional context. You worked as a nanny for him.

Had you actually worked for him, or with him, or extensively shadowed him, than the situation might be different. But since that wasn't the case, he would not be able to write you a professional recommendation, but rather a personal one.... And personal recommendations really don't have much of a place in an application.

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Thanks for the feedback. I am just really stuck on the third LOR that I need. Only one of three that I asked has gotten back to me, which is pretty odd because they usually respond back relatively quickly to my emails. What do I do if I only have two LOR's from professors? SOPHAS requires 3.

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