Residency Application Thread

I was thinking that it might be nice to have a thread about residency applications, much like the thread about Med School Admissions/Acceptances. I know there are a few of us on this board who are finishing up third year and starting this process, and I would like to have a thread for questions about it, hear what others are doing, where they’re interviewing, and ultimately where everyone matches. Any interest?
To get things started, I’ll pose the first question about LORs. I’ve been getting LORs as I go through rotations, but only from physicians that I worked with a lot, and who I knew would give me strong letters-- how many should I get?

You know, it hasn’t been THAT long but I don’t remember - I think there’s a limit, perhaps four? They are sent to your Dean’s office where they will be scanned in and become part of your application. It seems there is some variation in how schools handle these, so hopefully you’ll get the specific guidance you need from your Dean’s office. When you find out, be sure and let everyone know here.

Hi there,
Your LORs come from the preceptor attendings that you rotated with on your required rotations. The ones from your surgery and internal medicine preceptors generally carry a little more weight even if you do not plan to go into these specialties. You should make sure that you get to know your preceptors pretty well as you go through your clinical clerkships.
Most people will have started writing letters now for the third-years who are finishing third year this year. The summer is a good time to step up the pace in making sure that these letters get to your Deans office. Your Deans office will upload the letters into your ERAS applications so for those in the Class of 2006, you need to be getting your letters together right now.
Unless you had a major problem with one of your preceptors, you should get strong letters from them. If you supply them with the address of your Deans office (stamped addressed envelope please) and your CV along with a copy of your personal statement, you should be able to get a letter that will greatly assist you in getting good interviews.
Ask for your letters as you go through your rotations. If you do this, then your letter-writer will be able to remember you and your work. At the end of your third year, you should have a clinical advisor (someone in the field that you plan to enter) that can also write a strong letter for you. For me, since my faculty and clinical advisor was the Department of Surgery chair, that made my job easier as he had a three-year working relationship with me.
You should also be a member of the specialty interest group of your specialty. This puts you in touch with the department chairs and faculty of your specialty. If your interest is Emergency Medicine (typically a fourth-year elective) and you have not been active in the Emergency Medicine Interest group, the EM faculty might not know you very well. At least one your your LORs should come from the chair of the department of the specialty that interests you.
For people who are just starting third year, if you have an good idea of what you want to do, start working on your CV and personal statement. You can “flesh out” your personal statment once you have done your clinical clerkship but you should have a good working document started.
One of my strongest letters of recommendation came from a faculty member of the Internal Medicine department that I rotated under. I had zero interest in IM but I did a good job on the rotation and learned as much as possible. In the end, I got a great letter.
If you use ERAS, you are only allowed to send four letters plus your Deans letter. You can upload more than four letters but you can only send four to any residency location.
Right now, write out your CV and start drafting your PS if you are at the end of second year. You can work on these things as you review for COMLEX/USMLE Step I. When it comes to ERAS, you can’t really be too early and getting all of your documents can be very painful if you wait too long. You can also get a good, professional photo done now and digitalized for your ERAS application. You are going to need this type of photo (passport-sized) for USMLE, your temporary license and other things so get a few passport-sized copies of your photo. This saves time too. My medical school had a professional photographer who provided these services for us. If you do not have this service, now is the time to get this done. No amateur photos for this.
Good luck!
This year, I got a chance to review some of the applications for residency. You would be surprised to see how some people “threw” an application together at the last minute. This application will determine a huge amount of your future so take your time and do this well.

Sounds like great advice. At our school (and I assume most others) the dean will read all the letters of recommendation submitted to be sure there are no red flags lurking in them. In this way they can remain anonymous to you (although some of my letter-writers have forwarded me a copy directly even though I checked the ‘I waive my right to see it’ box) and yet you won’t accidentally get burned.
After speaking with members of the department in the specialty for which I will be applying (neurosurgery) they all agree that the most important thing will be neurosurgery letters…three or four letters are adequate. The opinion is that too many can look as bad as too few.
Also, within ERAS, you can select which programs get which letters. So you can submit 5 or 6 letters to ERAS and then pick and choose which programs get which letters.

Hi there,
Aren’t you going through the SF Match? If so, it might be great for you to post the deadlines and differences for your match program. I know that ENT is in ERAS this year but isn’t Neurosurgery still SF Match?

That’s right. I’ll be going throught the San Francisco match for Neurosurgery (
Registration for the matching program begins now which gives you access to the list of programs participating. The Computer Aplication Service (CAS) opens up in June. Late August is the target date to have your application complete. Interviews for neurosurgery are usually between Thanksgiving and New Year’s day. Rank lists are submitted on January 17, 2006. Match day is January 26, 2006 (265 days from today…not that I’m counting or anything).
The other San Francisco matching programs are Neurology, Child Neurology, Ophthalmology, and the integrated Plastics programs.
They each have their own timelines that are slightly different than neurosurgery. For example, match day for Plastics is in May.