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I agree with you that communications skills and interactions with patients, with concrete examples is 100% essential in a strong reference letter as it allows the adjudicator to have a real understanding of the candidates capacity as a physician. Dr. Hookey mentioned that the physicians writing the reference letters don't often observe their residents interacting with patients first-hand on a regular basis, so the candidate providing some specific examples to the referee may be helpful.
I think that another important quality to discuss in a reference is the candidates interaction with the healthcare team, particularly how they work with the nurses and other professionals on a day-to-day basis. I think that a person's team work and interpersonal skills in the work place say a great deal about a candidates potential for success in a new work environment, and if I were reading a reference letter, I would be very interested to know these qualities about the applicant.

Name
Matthew James

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