Letters of Recommendation - Class of 2019

Message sent to the Class of 2019 by Dean Mellman (4.10.18)

Dear Students,

Several of you have begun inquiring about where faculty writing a letter of recommendation for residency should send it. We will go over this in more detail in a class meeting on applying to residency on May 10, however, I have meanwhile provided some details below. You will receive a token to open your ERAS application in early June. We suggest you hold off on asking for letters until then, so you can include instructions to the letter writer on uploading their letter in ERAS.

Letters of Recommendation
Now is a good time to start thinking further about this. If you are taking next year off, you should consider whether to ask for letters before your year off when you are fresh in the minds of faculty-please keep reading.
  • We went over the details of which rotations your letters of recommendation for your residency application might come from when we met individually for your MPSE and career advising meeting so do look at the sheet I gave you from that meeting. If your plans have changed we can re-discuss the letters, and/or you should get advice from a residency advisor in the specialty.
  • Letters can come from MCY and D&I electives that are completed by August 2018.
  • Letters should come from faculty (not fellows) who know your clinical work well. 
  • Generally your letter writers will want at least one month's notice, so you should ask them by the end of August of D&I. 
  • If you need a letter from a September elective, you should ask the attending mid-September if they would be willing to write one near the end of the month and let the attending know it should be ideally uploaded by September 30. 
  • You should only ask for a letter if you know you will be using it. Please do not ask for letters that you will not be using. If you are unsure what you are applying in, hold off on asking for letters until you are sure what you need. It takes substantial time and effort to write a good letter of recommendation, and so you should not ask faculty to undertake this unless you will really use it. You still have plenty of time to decide-at least until July or August.
  • Be sure to review the evaluation from the rotation before asking for a letter from it. On rare occasion a student did not do that and the letter that was uploaded was a negative one that hurt the student’s application. ERAS does not permit your school to have any access to your letters.
  • You will want to have all your letters uploaded by September 15 as much as possible, so do ask your letter writers to upload them before then. (This gives you time to remind them if needed.) Residency programs expect to see your letters ideally by September 15 and definitely by October 1 (or within a couple days), as that is when the MSPE becomes available to them.
  • Residency programs want 3-4 letters for your residency application. The actual number requested is described on the program’s website. Most letters come from senior electives rather than MCY, but for many students, 1 or possibly 2 might come from MCY. Your MSPE does not count as one of these letters.
  • For non-surgical specialties, 2 (sometimes 3) usually come from the specialty to which you will apply and the rest from another field, such as medicine, pediatrics, psychiatry, neurology, primary care, etc. One of them is from your subI.
  • For surgical specialties, all the letters usually come from the specialty to which you are applying.
  • Students applying in medicine or for PGY1 preliminary year in medicine will need a Chair’s Letter from Dr. Katherine Nickerson. Students applying in general surgery will need a Chair’s Letter from Dr. Craig Smith. Those applying in OBGYN will need a Chair’s Letter from Dr. Mary D’Alton. Those applying in a Surgical Subspecialty will need a Chair’s Letter from the chair of that department.
  • MD/PhD students or those doing a full year off for research need a letter from their PI. These students usually have 4 letters. 
  • If you are taking a year off and will want a letter from a rotation taken before the time off, you should ask the faculty member to write it and hold onto the letter until the year you are applying. 
  • The advisory deans and residency advisors and I are available to help you make these decisions.

Uploading letters
  • Joy Bailey will email you a token in early June to open your ERAS (Electronic Residency Application System) file. ERAS will give you instructions in your application for your letter writers for uploading their letter. ERAS will also have a waiver for you to sign that you waive the right to view the letter. We encourage you to sign the waiver, as this is the norm. 
  • ERAS requires that all letters must be uploaded by the letter writer and none may be uploaded by or stored in the Dean’s office.
  • We have guidelines for letter writers in New Courseworks Career Advising/Files & Resources/Residency Application Information. Most letter writers don't ask for or need it but you can give to them if they wish to have it. 


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