Letters of Recommendation
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. If you are doing an away rotation, consider having someone from the program to write a letter for you.
- Ask to schedule a meeting with a potential letter writer. Be clear on when the letter needs to be submitted to ERAS and give the letter writer time to complete this.
- Be prepared with the following:
- Personal Statement
- Long-term goals
- 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.
- Letters should be received between July 1 – November 1. Priority deadline for LoRs is October 21. Please note letters can be included in your ERAS application after this date, but programs need to be notified that the letter is available for review, and it is best to have all your letters in when programs start their 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 any special requirements.
Guidelines for Letter Writers
Faculty should consider the following before agreeing to write LoRs
- Relationship to the student
- Adequate time
- Faculty Role and expertise
When to Decline Writing an LoR?
- If you do not know the student well
- Cannot write a strong letter
- Or do not have the time
Ask the student to provide you with a current CV and personal statement
- Set up a meeting to discuss:
- Goals and aspirations
- Specific strengths the applicant believes they will bring to a residency program and medical profession
- Any issues they are addressing in their application
Components of a compelling letter of recommendation:
- Your assessment of the student’s strengths, preferably from working directly with him or her
- Your assessment of how the student will perform as a resident and future member of that specialty
- Anything that may distinguish this applicant from others
Guidelines for your letter:
Adapted from Gross Davis B. Writing Letters of Recommendation. In: Tools for Teaching (1993). 1st Ed. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass; 1993:407-412.
- Limit your letter to one or two pages.
- Explain how you know the applicant and your relationship and how long (e.g. do you know the applicant from and academic, clinical or research setting?).
- Include your professional role and what your experience with students has been as this will add value to your role as an experienced evaluator.
- Tailor your letter.
- Give the reader a sense of the applicant’s potential as a future physician, as well as in other areas on which you can comment.
- Intellectual ability; analytical skills; attitude toward learning; communication skills; initiative, motivation, and persistence; and personal achievements.
- Be specific.
- Examples of your observation of the student, or stories about your experiences with them that reflect his/her potential, professionalism, clinical acumen, interpersonal and leadership skills, passion for medicine.
- Avoid personal remarks and do not mention age, race/ethnicity, marital status, children, physical characteristics, or other personal attributes.
- Conclude with an overall recommendation.
- Indicate how well qualified the student is for residency and as a future physician. Comment on whether you would select this applicant for a residency program.
- Add that you welcome requests for information and include your contact information.
Additional formatting guidelines:
- Address the letter to “Dear Program Director”
- Carefully proofread your letter.
- Pay particular attention to the spelling of the applicant’s name and pronouns.
- Use letterhead and include your contact information
- Sign the letter, Digital images are OK
- Save as a PDF for uploading
Submitting your letter:
- Students will provide an individual link to the ERAS Letter of Recommendation portal (LoRP)
- Letter writers or their designees must upload letters in PDF format via the portal.
- Student Affairs can help you with troubleshooting but cannot upload the letter for you
Deadlines Normal Year
- Oct. 1 is the priority deadline for LORs
- Sept 15 for competitive specialties
Deadlines Due to COVID-19
- Oct 21st