The formal thank you note is not dead, and neither is finding the best gifts for doctors when you complete a rotation.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Step 1: Use a Formal Tone
- Step 2: Address the Note to a Specific Person
- Step 3: Say, ‘Thank You’
- Step 4: Give Specific Examples of Things You Appreciated
- Step 5: Say ‘Thank You’ Again
- Step 6: Sign Each Note
- Step 7: Repeat this Process for Others Who Were Helpful
- Step 8: Send Out the Notes Quickly
- Sample After-Rotation Thank You Notes
It’s appropriate to write a thank-you note. It might land on your supervising physician’s desk and she’ll remember it years from now. Your name may be on her mind when she recommends someone for an award — or a job.
Move your healthcare books to the side. Go out and purchase a nice set of thank you cards, then follow these steps and write a post-rotation thank you note with some of these example paragraphs. These tips could also work if you complete a job shadowing experience as well.
Step 1: Use a Formal Tone
Treat each of the professionals you worked with as if they are the Chief of Staff at the Mayo Clinic. It doesn’t matter if your rotation was for a doctor in a rural community or a large city or even whether you were impressed with the doctor’s skills.
Address the note to Dr. Last Name. Use formal language and complete sentences. Don’t use abbreviations or emoticons.
Email or mail the thank you note. Don’t even think about texting a thank you note.
Step 2: Address the Note to a Specific Person
You may have worked under eight different doctors during a rotation. This means you should write eight separate emails or letters.
Address each email to a specific doctor. Do not send a group message or a single letter. In fact, you should vary each message just a bit.
Step 3: Say, ‘Thank You’
Don’t get so caught up in your note’s flowery language that you forget to say “Thank you.” Say thanks even if the doctor wasn’t particularly good or helpful.
You can learn from bad examples as easily as you can learn from good ones.
Step 4: Give Specific Examples of Things You Appreciated
Think of at least one interaction you had with the doctor that was particularly helpful. Without using the name of a patient, describe what that interaction meant to you and why.
You may want to discuss something the doctor did — it could also be something the doctor said to you that was particularly helpful.
Make sure the interaction is presented in a positive light, regardless of how much you enjoyed or didn’t enjoy the rotation.
Step 5: Say ‘Thank You’ Again
Before you sign off on the note, once again express appreciation to the doctor.
Step 6: Sign Each Note
Sign each note with your first and last name.
Step 7: Repeat This Process for Others Who Were Helpful
Don’t just send a thank you note to the doctors. Think about the other people in the office who were helpful.
Consider sending thank yous to nurses, receptionists, or anyone else you worked with on a daily basis.
Step 8: Send Out the Notes Quickly
Send thank-you notes within one week of finishing a rotation.
You’re a busy medical student, but if you get them out quickly, they won’t hang over your head. Do them as soon as you can.
Sample After-Rotation Thank You Notes
Here are some examples of paragraphs that you could include in your after-rotation notes. These words should be used as inspiration. Make sure your letter contains examples from your own experiences.
“Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to learn from your team. I especially enjoyed watching you as you interacted with your patients. You have an excellent bedside manner, and your patients all seem comfortable with you. Thanks again. I hope our paths cross in the future.”
“I appreciate the time we were able to spend together during my rotation. I learned a great deal about prenatal care from you. I also appreciate your honest, constructive criticism regarding my stitching skills. Thank you again for your assistance with my career.”
“Thank you for showing me the ropes when I started my rotation with Dr. Smith. It was helpful knowing that there was someone I could turn to for information about insurance and billing. These are items they don’t cover in medical school. Thank you again!”
“Thank you for introducing me to each patient and making me feel like I was a true member of the team.”
“Thank you for showing so much patience during my rotation. I know I asked you a lot of questions about your work with children, and I appreciate that you took so much time to explain your approach to me.”
“I’m writing to tell you how much I enjoyed my rotation with you and your staff. Everyone made me feel very welcome and comfortable. You are lucky to work with such friendly people.”
“Thank you so much for overseeing my last rotation. I appreciate how you always found interesting cases for me to study. I also appreciate how you made sure I understood every aspect of patient care.”
“This rotation experience was invaluable. I learned so much that will help me in my future career as a podiatrist. Thanks again.”
“Please share my gratitude with your excellent staff. I know that having me around was difficult at times, especially in such a busy practice. Your staff members were always available to answer questions and make sure I was receiving valuable information.”
“I look forward to seeing you again as I finish my last rotation. I hope our paths cross again someday.”
Making Connections as a Medical Student
It’s important to make connections when you’re a medical student. Positive interactions with those already in the field may prove beneficial to you someday. You never know when you will need a letter of recommendation or a referral.
As you interact with experienced professionals, stay humble. Don’t discount their techniques as old fashioned. Don’t teach them “new ways” of doing things. Instead, keep an open mind and learn as much as you can from the experience.
No matter where you are in your career, consider starting your end-of-life planning. As you spend time in the medical industry, you will quickly learn that people of all ages die — including people your own age.
Create your own end-of-life plan so those you love don’t struggle to make funeral decisions. Start on your plan today.