Thursday, October 25, 2007


I requested three letters of recommendation back in July and August of this year. One is from a psych attending at my school whom I've worked with twice; one from a psych attending on my away rotation; and one from a pedi attending I worked with last fall. I made sure they all had the ERAS cover letter (where I waive the right to read it, yada yada yada, and the address to my school is on it), my CV, and my personal statement.

By September 1, I still had no letters in ERAS, but I turned it in anyway. Interview offers started almost right away; I've now heard from 9 of the 10 programs I applied at, and all 9 offered me an interview. Several of my offers came in without any letters of recommendation.

By October 1, I started to panic a bit. After all, my first interview was October 19, and generally you are supposed to have all of your letters in before interviewing--I had none. My school sent out an email saying that several letter-writers had called to say that their letters had been returned, so to check with our letter-writers if letters hadn't arrived. I dutifully forwarded that letter to all three attendings.

One attending, the pediatrician, called me that very afternoon, confused. She'd prepared my letter in August, shortly after I asked her, and had confirmed with her secretary that it had been sent. Was I saying it hadn't arrived? Yes!, I said with great relief. I faxed her secretary a new ERAS cover letter, and she had someone walk it to the dean's office the next day. One down! TS 1: letters 0.

Emboldened by my success, I called the away rotation attending. I asked if she had any trouble sending my letter, as another one hadn't arrived properly. She hesitated, then said well, I hadn't gotten around to sending it yet, so sorry. Oh, uh, that's no problem, I stammered, fully feeling like an idiot. She promised to send it soon. TS 1: letters 1.

Two weeks later, still with only one letter in ERAS, I grew desperate and called the third attending; I left a message for her. She emailed me that night--I'm super busy, the letter is done, but I've misplaced the ERAS cover letter. I promptly faxed her another. That was a week ago. TS 1: letters 2.

This week, as I continue to check my email and ERAS obsessively (like, every 10 minutes when I can), I realized that I can't keep that up forever. Therefore, I decided to give them another couple of weeks, and try to contact the attendings mid-November, in order to get things moving before my December interviews.

The last program that I haven't heard from is my top choice program (pre-interview). While perusing their website and FREIDA tonight, I got startling news: their deadline for completed applications is November 1, 2007 (the date the dean's letter is released). Now, I'm in full-on panic mode, totally freaking out, chewing my fingers, etc. I just emailed the two attendings in question and laid it out for them. Look, I need my letter, do I need to come get it from you in a sealed envelope? Do you need another ERAS cover letter? WHAT IN THE NAME OF GOD DO YOU NEED I WILL DO ANYTHING BUT YOU ARE COSTING ME MY TOP CHOICE PROGRAM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

*is trying not to hyperventilate and seriously considering drinking wine tonight to calm down*

So, I have 6 days to get 2 letters scanned into ERAS or I'll never get an interview at this place. This effing sucks, people. For pete's sake, if someone asks you for a letter of recommendation, please do not take 3 months to get it turned in! If you can't do it, just say no!

*Author's Note: Please see the follow-up post here, where I apologize for being so whiny and continue to thank my letter writers for helping me out, despite my being a whiny, anxious little whiner.


Barbie said...

Oh damn, that sucks!
Best of luck getting the letters in!!

Gauderio said...

When I was in this same freak out mode over almost identical issues, I did find some comfort in finding that a "complete" application on ERAS doesn't necessarily include the letters of reccomend.

You could contact this first choice school and ask their residency coordinator secretary person what exactly constitutes a complete application and if this lack of letter-ness actually will/is hinder(ing) you from being invited. After all, with your application it seems letters are somewhat of a formality anyway.