Letters of Recommendation for Residency when is the best time to request one

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As part of ERAS application you will need Letters of Recommendation to provide a third party view on your abilities to function as a doctor. This is an important part of your application package and some important aspects of LORs are often overlooked by IMGs. We decided to present information about LORs in the form of questions and answers:

Question: How many LORs do I need?

Answer: LORs are attached to each application for an individual program in any combination. There is a maximum of 4 LORs that can be attached. Typically you would want to have 3-4 LORs.


Question: Do LORs from my home country matter?

Answer: Some... It is OK to supplement US LORs with one or two from your home country, but unfortunately programs are looking for U.S. LORs first. So, your home country LORs will serve as a good supplement, but won’t be sufficient to support your application in their own.


Question: How long does it take to get an LOR after I send a request to LOR writer?

Answer: Time varies. On average, it takes about two weeks. Remember that LOR writer has to find a 'right' moment to write one, print it on a letterhead, and drop it in the mail. Getting LOR’s is almost always the longest part of your application preparation, so it is *very important to start early*. You want your application to be ready for September 1st. Subtract 4 weeks required for ERAS scanning and 3 weeks for getting the LORS and you get to the first-second week of July. So, you must request your LORS now.


Question: I am applying for Family Medicine. Will an LOR from a Psychiatrist help?

Answer: It might be helpful as a supplement to LORs from family doctors, but won’t suffice by itself. You want to have strong LORs from doctors in your specialty. It would also be helpful if LORs from other specialties would explicitly mention that you are applying for Family Medicine, so it does not look like you are applying for different specialties and just reusing the LORs across them.