Released in 2020 as part of the residency application guidelines in the era of COVID-19, AAIM recently developed guidelines for a standardized letter of evaluation.
Although APDIM and CDIM developed joint guidelines for the DOM Summary Letter in 2013, wide variations still exist as to how these guidelines are incorporated, and many program directors remain unsatisfied with the lack of a standardized format, redundancy in the MSPE, the lack of graphical data on grade and objective assessment distributions, including NBME Internal Medicine Subject Exam scores, and missing descriptions of the roles and responsibilities of students on core clerkships and acting internships.
It is essential that program directors receive objective data presented in a standardized format. If no additional objective data to guide decisions is available, residency programs are left to only rely on available data, such as USMLE scores. Unfortunately, data, such as USMLE scores and class quartiles, have limitations and are difficult to interpret ar. DOM Summary Letters should provide additional standardized, objective student data to facilitate holistic review. In particular, program directors desire information about a student’s accountability and commitment to growth, as well as teamwork and communication skills. All stakeholders want students to attain a match which will facilitate success during residency.
A standardized LOE template should increase the quality of letters, decrease time to prepare letters, and decrease variability and time needed in interpretation of letters. Further, by the inclusion of a comparative scale for characteristics of particular importance to internal medicine program directors and the use of concise written comments to provide context to any outstanding circumstances or particular strengths, program directors can determine if they feel they can provide a good fit for candidates to ensure their success. A standardized template is provided for use starting this application cycle, including a section for noting COVID-related changes and a sample mock-up letter are provided.