Letters of Recommendation
Guidelines for Students and Letter Writers
Important Change for 2015
Beginning with the ERAS 2016 application cycle in 2015, All letters of recommendation (LoR) will only be uploaded through the ERAS Letter of Recommendation Portal.
Guidelines for Students
Students should identify a minimum of four letter writers; and include one to two additional letter writers as back up. Letter writers should be selected by:
- How well do they know you and your work? The best letters of recommendation come from faculty who know you well.
- One to two letters should be from the specialty you are applying to—one from your home school; and one from at least one of your away electives, if applicable.
- Ask to schedule an appointment with a potential letter writer.
- Provide your CV, personal statement, copy of the waiver form (which includes instructions to the letter writers about how to submit the LoR). Make it easy for your letter writer to get this letter written—don't make them seek you out for additional information.
- Ask if they require other information—some letter writers want your evaluation from the clerkship closest to their specialty; some want your USMLE scores, or unofficial transcript.
- Sign the waiver granting confidentiality to the letter writer. This is mentioned in all LoRs and is important to residency programs when they weigh the candor and realistic assessment provided by the letter writer. Once the waiver is signed, you should not handle the letter.
- Follow Up—keep checking with the ERAS Advanced Document Tracking System (ADTS) to be sure the LoRs have arrived.
- Letters should be received between July 1 – November 1. Priority deadline for LoRs is October 1. Please note letters can be included in you ERAS application after this date, but programs need to be notified that the letter is available for review.
- Preliminary Program LoRs: Generally students can use their letter obtained for their advance program for their required preliminary or transitional year application. Check the websites for the preliminary programs you are applying to for an special requirements.
Guidelines for Letter Writers
The Office of Admissions and Student Affairs in Reno and Las Vegas provides many services and supports you during this process. Among the services we provide is assistance with letters of recommendation. Our office will no longer be able to complete checks on letters for errors, grammatical mistakes, and student identification problems. ERAS is assuring schools that programs will not hold students accountable for a letter with errors. It is important these letters be as error free as possible. Please use your administrative assistants to help you prepare and proof these for our students. If you do not have that assistance available, our office in Reno and in Las Vegas will work with you during this transition. Please contact Brandi Aiaizzi on the Reno Campus for assistance. This assistance can include loading your LoRs into the ERAS portal.
Most Common Errors in University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine Letters:
- Gender pronouns incorrect—letter writer quickly cut and pasted from another letter and didn't proof it before uploading.
- Using another student's name in the body of the letter—another cut and paste problem.
- Specifying the wrong specialty.
- Disclosing information about a student issue (such as couples status and naming another student; or a health issue that should not be disclosed in a LOR).
As you letters of recommendation for residency applicants, your letters should include the following information:
- Extent of contact with student (length of time and type of contact)
- Interests (medical and extracurricular)
- Evaluation of student performance
- Personal attributes
- Communication Skills
- Sense of humor
- Care of others
- Professional Characteristics
- Respect for others
- Ability to recognize limitations
- Medical and Scholastic record with emphases on student's:
- Interaction with patients
- Clarity and quality of histories, physical examinations
- Ability to synthesize information
- Diagnostic ability
- Proficiency in laboratory use
- Knowledge and interest of medical literature
- Clinical therapeutics
- Technical skills
- Overall Impression of student