The following is by Michael McKenna, MD, Assistant Dean of Career Mentoring, Associate Pediatric Program Director, Assistant Professor of Clinical Pediatrics
Time never seems to stop here at IUSM. While it seems like Match Day was just yesterday and the graduation festivities for the Class of 2015 are still fresh in our minds, we also have an eye towards Match Day 2016 and the application season that will soon be starting up for the Class of 2016. As such there are some changes to the Letter of Recommendation process that will be taking place that all faculty need to be aware of.
The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) has decided that starting with the upcoming 2016 Main Residency Match, medical schools will no longer be able to collect, handle or upload letters of recommendation for students. The reason for this change is that at some medical schools, letters of recommendation were routinely being “adjusted” by the school. Typically, these changes were merely cosmetic (grammar or spelling corrections, adding of school letterhead, etc.) but the possibility for impropriety was there. While here at IUSM we had not been making such changes to letters of recommendation, you can now be more assured that your letter is your letter.
This coming summer, when students are planning on asking you for a letter of recommendation, they must first go to their Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS) account and enter you as a Letter Writer. Once they do this and “finalize” you as a Letter Writer, the website will generate a form that has a unique Letter ID for the letter of recommendation that you will write. The students must provide this to you otherwise you will not be able to upload the letter. If you are going to write more than one letter for a student (i.e. one for an application to Internal Medicine and one for an application to General Surgery), you will need to have a different forms/Letter ID for each letter.
You will compose your letter as you normally would, but now you will need to make sure that you save it as a PDF. Word documents are not able to be uploaded to the system. In order to upload the letter, faculty members will need to go the Letter of Recommendation Portal (LoRP) and create an AAMC account. Once you have done that, log in to the portal and follow the directions on the form to upload the letter. It is also possible for you to have a designee in your office do this for you, but the faculty member needs to have an AAMC account and you have to give your log-in and password information to that designated person. The LoRP has a great FAQ section as well as step by step instructions on how to navigate this process. We also have more information available on our website.
ERAS 2016 opened on May 26th, 2015 so students will soon be able to generate the form/Unique ID. If a student asks you in the coming weeks for a letter of recommendation, they will have to go back and generate the form for you afterwards. If you have already written a letter of recommendation for a student in the Class of 2016 and sent them to our office, we will begin the process of returning them to you for upload later in June.
We are happy to assist you through this transition in the letter of recommendation process. If you have any questions or concerns, you can always contact myself (firstname.lastname@example.org or 317-278-2850) or Alyssa Macheleta (Academic Program Support Specialist, email@example.com). Thank you for all that you do for our students and we are looking forward to a great interview season and match for our Class of 2016.