What Should a Good LOR for Residency ERAS Common Application Contain?
In my experience, one single excellent Letter of Recommendation from an American doctor can bring you residency spot. When I applied for a research position, my mentor told me that he would pay $10/hr but would give me an excellent LOR at the end. He gave me one excellent one and my interviewer who gave me prematch asked me “Are you reliable? Are you hardworking?, Are you professional? as those were the adjectives used in my letter. He gave me prematch on the table at that point. Any letter writer is very busy in their own work. You should provide your updated CV and Personal statement so that it can make their work easy. Some writers ask you to write a draft for them and they add or delete certain things from that and sign it for you. You can make a draft by collecting ideas from samples of LORs that you can find online and applying them to your own situation. This way it saves their time and you may get an excellent LOR instead of just a good one. You can also provide your AAMC ID if you have one already by that time.
There are some important components to a compelling letter of recommendation. It should mention which project or rotation you were involved in, how much your involvement is, how long you are involved in and how good you did. It should also mention how much the writer can recommend you to your future residency plans. The letter is more valuable if written by your immediate supervisor and not necessarily the person with very high rank in that institution.
Ideally, the letter should be one page or little more than that. A very short LOR does not have much value. A good LOR should have lot of adjectives and qualities like reliable, hard working, empathetic to patients, team player, punctual, professional, knowledgeable, good communication skills etc. Remember that the programs are looking for a well rounded personality in each candidate they take in to their residency program and not one who is just good in studies and got 99 in all steps but nothing else.
An LOR from your clinical research is more valuable than basic lab work not involving direct patient experience. The programs are looking for some form of patient contact in US if you are an International Medical Graduate, just prior to your residency.
Ask the writer not to mention a specific specialty like Internal Medicine or family medicine or pediatrics as you may apply for more than one specialty. They can just mention that they recommend into residency with out any reservations. If the writer is a program director, the letter will be very strong if they write in the LOR that they would not hesitate to take the candidate into his/her program.
When you receive the LOR, make sure that there are no spelling or grammar mistakes. Also, check your name for spelling mistakes before uploading it in ERAS. You can also provide a Letter Request form to the writer and they can upload it in PDF format via the ERAS LoR Portal. Letters can only be uploaded once the ERAS 2016 season opens in May. Once a LoR has been uploaded by its author, it cannot be deleted or altered in any way. To make changes, they must submit a new version of the LoR. Programs will only be able to view the most recent LoR version.
Always, go in favor of waiving the letter. This is more valuable than the unwaived one. Don’t waive the letter if you are not sure that the LOR writer will write an excellent letter for you.