STARS - Letter of Distinction - Toolkit

Enable recognition of medical students for exemplifying high-value care values. 

To recognize students who have committed to a future of integrating value into the practice of medicine and to engage students, beyond STARS participants, in learning more deeply about high-value care.

Many eager and enthusiastic students are faced with competing priorities in medical school. Reinforcing their efforts through recognition and acknowledgement strengthens their commitment and increases the likelihood of ongoing involvement. The Letter of Distinction program is simple to implement and requires no financial support – it is an effective way to celebrate “High-Value Care” efforts as an important cause that students may champion.



  1. Go to your Associate Dean/Dean with STARS Letter of Distinction background document (see corresponding pdf in google drive folder) to seek approval;
  2. Collaborate with your Associate Dean/Dean and/or your previous STARS to select criteria relevant and interesting to your medical students/institution (see Helpful Resources – “Possible Criteria” below):
    1. SEND PROPOSED CRITERIA TO DR. MORIATES ( for final approval.
  3. Develop any documents (see “Supporting Document” in google drive folder) and/or slides that you can present and disseminate to students to help spread the word about the program – enlist your current and past STARS, as well as your closest colleagues to encourage ANY interested medical student, regardless of year, to participate;
  4. Create google form or google sheet to track student participant progress;
  5. Create an official Letter of Distinction template (see “STARS Letter of Distinction – Template” in google drive folder) to use for students who qualify for letter;
    1. SEND PROPOSED LETTER TO DR. MORIATES ( for final approval and STARS logo sign-off.
  6. When a student completes the program, award the letter and promote the recognition!


  1. Go to your STARS faculty mentor with STARS Letter of Distinction background document (see corresponding pdf in google drive folder) for assistance in implementation;
  2. Follow steps 2-6 above – assist your faculty mentor where they see fit!


Possible Criteria – proposed by the central STARS program, found in STARS background document:

Exemplars – UCSD and Quinnipiac University, found in Letter of Distinction folder

Best Practices

  • Create a list of criteria up front that balances feasibility, but remains sufficiently challenging, so that students are truly recognized and worthy of the distinction
  • Enlist high-value care champions (students and faculty) to spread the word
  • Promote those who have received the Letter of Distinction

Lessons Learned

  • Be creative when presenting to Associate Dean/Dean – might be concerned about “mission creep” if including in Dean’s Letter, where various entities might try to insert their unique “distinctions” as awards, which could lead to a proliferation of meaningless accolades – structure Letter of Distinction recognition in other ways, possibly as a unique individual “bullet point” identifier put at the beginning of the Dean’s Letter. Alternatively, it can simply be a letter given to the medical student that they can feature on their CV and residency application (e.g., at Dell Medical School it is not specifically included in the MSPE, but is given directly to the medical students for their own use)
  • Customize to your medical school and incorporate your Associate Dean’s/Dean’s interests.


Gregory B. Seymann, MD

Clinical Professor and Vice-Chief

UCSD Division of Hospital Medicine


Rahul Anand, MD, MBA, MSc, FACP, FIDSA, Dip ABLM

Department of Medical Sciences

Quinnipiac University – Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine

Director of Infectious Diseases, 

Community Health Services, Hartford, CT