Assessment and revision of the veterinary internship and residency matching program standardized letter of reference

Jonathan M. Levine, Virginia T. Rentko, Jonathan Austin, Elizabeth Hardie, Elizabeth G. Davis, Susan L. Fubini, Scott A. Katzman, Katherine L. Wells, Page E. Yaxley, Oded Marcovici, Adam Birkenheur, Roger B. Fingland, Winfred Arthur

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Veterinary Internship and Residency Matching Program (VIRMP) recently revised its electronic standardized letter of reference (SLOR) to improve the quality and usefulness of the data obtained from it and to enhance the relevance of non-cognitive and cognitive candidate attributes assessed. We used a stepwise process including a broad survey of SLOR readers and writers, analysis of past SLORs, and a multi-wave iterative revision that included key stakeholders, such as residency and internship program directors from academia and private practice. Data from the SLOR survey and analysis of past SLOR responses identified opportunities to improve applicant differentiation, mitigate positive bias, and encourage response consistency. The survey and other analytics identified and confirmed performance domains of high relevance. The revised SLOR assesses four performance domains: Knowledge base and clinical skills, stress and time management, interpersonal skills, and personal characteristics. Ratings within the revised SLOR are predominantly criterion-referenced to enhance discernment of candidate attributes contained within each domain. Questions assessing areas of strength and targeted mentoring were replaced with free-text boxes, which allow writers to comment on positive and neutral/negative ratings of attributes within domains. Minor revisions were made to certain questions to enhance readability, streamline responses, or address targeted concerns identified in the SLOR survey or stakeholder review. The revised SLOR was deployed in the 2020 VIRMP; data from a survey of writers (n = 647) and readers (n = 378) indicate that the redesign objectives were achieved.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)528-532
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of veterinary medical education
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2021


  • Evaluation
  • House officers
  • Letter of reference
  • Recommendation
  • Resident and intern selection
  • Veterinary hospital

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • veterinary(all)


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