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Writing to the Assistant to Reach the Physician

title graphic stating "writing to the assistant to reach the physician"

Susan, who works for a healthcare research organization, wrote to ask how to start an email when she is sending it to the assistant for forwarding to a physician. Susan usually uses this approach, but she wonders if it is correct:

Dear Ms. Young on behalf of Dr. Jones, 

I wonder why Susan doesn’t simply write to Ms. Young and ask for her help:

Dear Ms. Young:

I am writing to ask you to please forward this invitation to Dr. Jones. The invitation is . . . [Here Susan tells Ms. Young why the invitation will interest Dr. Jones. Without such information, Ms. Young is likely to delete the message.]

After the brief introduction and a thank-you to Ms. Young, Susan can insert a visual break and begin again:


Dear Dr. Jones,

I use this method when I send email to training managers for forwarding to employees who will attend business writing classes. Although the roles are different in my situation, the method works well.

How do you get email to an executive through his or her assistant? Or if you are an assistant, which approach moves you to forward a message to your executive?  Please share your thoughts.

Syntax Training

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By Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston has helped thousands of employees and managers improve their business writing skills and confidence through her company, Syntax Training. In her corporate training career of more than 20 years, she has worked with executives, engineers, scientists, sales staff, and many other professionals, helping them get their messages across with clarity and tact.

A gifted teacher, Lynn has led writing classes at more than 100 companies and organizations such as MasterCard, Microsoft, Boeing, Nintendo, REI, AARP, Ledcor, and Kaiser Permanente. Near her home in Seattle, Washington, she has taught managerial communications in the MBA programs of the University of Washington and UW Bothell. She has created a communications course, Business Writing That Builds Relationships, and provides the curriculum at no cost to college instructors.

A recognized expert in business writing etiquette, Lynn has been quoted in "The Wall Street Journal," "The Atlantic," "Vanity Fair," and other media.

Lynn sharpened her business writing skills at the University of Notre Dame, where she earned a master's degree in communication, and at Bradley University, with a bachelor's degree in English.