Residency LoRs

Okay. With ERAS just around the corner, when do I start bugging my letter of recommendation writers? Most of them are in, but the one I look forward to the most is missing. He says he sent it, but the school can’t locate it. Whether it got lost in the school bureaucracy or in the mail I don’t know. But I really want that letter.

I have already let him know that they didn’t receive it. And I know he will resend it, but when and how often should I recheck with him if it hasn’t yet been received by the school? I think I will give it another week or ten days, calling his office again the week following my surgery if it hasn’t yet been received by the school. What do you guys think? Is that long enough to wait; or should I check again later this week and get in touch with him then?

Advice, please!

This is difficult to balance. Even more than with applying to med school, the responsibility of everything getting to where it must go prior to all deadlines is 500% your baby & no one will cut you any slack. However, pestering folks too much will generally piss them off & who wants a strong letter to get downgraded for being annoying after busting your ass on a rotation?

First, for the most part, relax - most of the physicians & professors who you will be asking have been there & done this so many times & KNOW intimately the nature of the schools’ red tape & massive capacity to loose shit. Furthermore, just as in med school applications, much of the handling of your applications materials will be done by people who have minimal, if any, vested interest in your success. So, we must always smile, play nice & be respectful no matter how hard you want to bash them in the chops!

That said, my trick was to craft a spreadsheet to enter & track all of the elements of my application. This kept me organized, provided a place to keep notes on interactions & prompt me to monitor progress of the application & upcoming deadlines (actually, since I was not sufficiently computer literate, my ‘spreadsheet’ was maintained in a tablet of paper, but you get my gist). The last thing you want to have to do is to really get after an author because of a deadline - that makes you look like you weren’t paying sufficiently close attention.

You will have to remind him/her of the need for the letter, but I would do so only after making certain the program had not already gotten it. I would allow for ~10 days between prompting him/her and contacting the program to ascertain its presence. And, when you do contact either end of the stream, do so in an unassuming, appreciative manner. It is quite rare that you will have to resort to threats of visitation.

Case in point, I am in the throes of obtaining my IN physician’s license. One component needed by the IN licensing board, FCVS, my employer & CAQH was a “Letter of Good Standing” verifying my withdrawal from the Leadership/Preventive Medicine adjunct residency program - which I left voluntarily & in good standing. The ‘Letter’ had to be signed off by the Program Director, Paul Batalden, who is a very nice & extremely intelligent person who is clueless as to the realities of the the ‘real world’ having been atop the marble art stand within the ivory towers of academia for so long that he came in with the original furniture!!! After 5 weeks, several phone calls to his secretary & multiple e-mails - it still was not done. All this required was 30 freakin seconds to sign 4 letters that were pre-written for him so his secretary could drop them into the post. How did I finally get it done? I called Mariah, his secretary on a Mon to inform her that if I did not get verification of these letters going out this afternoon that I would call again Tue & await notification of their posting. If I had not rec’d verification of their posting on Tues afternoon that I would be at Dr. Batalden’s office at 08:00 on Wed & not leave until I witnessed him signing all 4 & placed them into the mail myself. It was done Tuesday afternoon because he knew damned good & well that I would have been there Wed morning with a cup of coffee in my hand.

Mind you, I would not recommend this tactic for a letter of recommendation, but I included the story for both laughs & to make it apparent that while we may have tremendous respect for our preceptors clinical abilities. It does not mean that they understand the etiquette & machinations of the ‘real world’ and frequently require reminders, both soft & not-so-subtle.

Thanks Dave.

I know this doctor quite well, and I know he will eventually get it sent. But I really want to see it in my LoR folder before ERAS begins. AND, I know he will be busy with new residents by mid-June, so I hope to get it before that begins.

Anyway, I guess I will wait another 10 days. If the school still doesn’t have it, I will ask him again. Or maybe I’ll just do what you said, threaten to go to his office and sit and wait until he hands it to me! (just kidding!)