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The Obscure Document Residency Programs Use to Decide If You’re Worthy


The Medical Student Performance Evaluation (or dean’s letter) will be sent to all your potential employers. Let’s talk about what’s in it!


  • You may have heard of the dean’s letter. It’s sent to all residency programs, one of the things they’ll use to choose who to invite for an interview. But do you know what’s in it…and that it’s creation begins on your first day of med school?
  • YouTube announces blanket ban on vaccine misinformation, and axes the biggest misinformation peddlers.
  • Can The Short Coats pass the 2021 IgNobel Prize Winners Quiz?

Today’s episode is sponsored by Panacea Financial, a division of Primis, Member FDIC. Check out their PRN Personal Loans to help cover board exams or application costs, with decisions in as little as 24 hours and great interest rates!

To Dave, it sometimes feels like the process of medical education is as complex and opaque as the actual medical knowledge it works to impart to students. In this elaborate system, absolute transparency is difficult to achieve, but there’s one thing Dave thinks students should keep in the backs of their heads from day one: the medical student performance evaluation (MSPE, or ‘dean’s letter’). That’s because this document will be sent to all their future employers, including their residency programs. And those programs will use it (and other data applicants and colleges supply) to decide whether to invite you for an interview. Yet Dave has the impression that many don’t even know what’s in this important document–which includes comments from residents and attendings on their personal qualities and performance–until just before they begin to apply for residency! That’s a problem for some students who, upon reading it for the first time, find that there’s a pattern of behavior that they should have addressed long ago. Dave discusses what all students need to know about this important document.

Also, the 2021 IgNobel Prizes for improbable research have been awarded; YouTube bans all vaccine misinformation and the peddlers of bogus vax claims; and California begins using a controversial–but effective!–technique to help people who use drugs kick the habit: paying them to stay sober.

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