Usually a program will request three letters of recommendation plus your Dean's Letter. You'll want to select people who are personally familiar with your clinical skills. Some specialty areas will request that you obtain a letter of recommendation from the appropriate departmental chairman. Chairmen realize this and most will be glad to spend a brief amount of time with you to discuss your career goals and your performance. Plan to provide a copy of your CV, personal statement and clinical evaluations to the departmental chairman. It isn't necessary to complete a rotation with that individual, as most are willing to write letters based on the evaluation you received from other members of the department.
You will need to identify potential letter writers. It is polite and appropriate to ask preceptors if they believe your abilities are known well enough to submit a positive letter of recommendation on your behalf. Not all recommendation letters have to come from faculty members within the specialty to which you are applying. There are a few ways you can ensure that your letters of recommendation will be good ones. First, ask former students who are in a residency you are applying for to offer their thoughts regarding that program. Second, you can help the person writing your letter of recommendation to write a more accurate and personalized letter by providing them with your CV and personal statement. Third, give the person who will write your letter plenty of time to do so...at least one month.
If you are doing a rotation with a faculty member from whom you will probably be requesting a letter of recommendation, go ahead and tell them in advance that you may do so. In this way, they will more critically assess your performance. Even if you haven't settled yet on a particular specialty, having letter writers in reserve is always safe; you don't have to use a letter from them unless you need it.
In an effort to streamline the internship-residency application process, the Office of Student Affairs requests that all letters of recommendation be sent directly to their office. As such, each faculty member will need to submit one original letter of recommendation on your behalf, whether the letter is for an AOA internship/residency application, or an ERAS or non-ERAS application. All original letters will be maintained in the Office of Student Affairs, which also coordinates the mailing of completed internship and residency application packets. Letters of recommendation should be addressed to: “Dear Program Director.” Click here to download the recommendation letter request form.