How can I avoid having my residency letters of recommendation intended for SF Match being incorrectly sent to ERAS and my internship letters of recommendation being sent to the SF Match?
The challenge of coordinating the ophtho application and the ERAS application is the timeline (click here for ERAS timeline and here for SF Match timeline). You will want to have your ophtho letters (2 or 3, depending) and the additional letter ready in time for your ophtho application to be sent to SF Match at the beginning of August. The ERAS application, however, isn’t available to programs until mid-September and you will likely use several of the same letters used in your ophtho application for the ERAS application. If you ask your non-ophtho letter writers to write two letters–one for your ophtho app and one for your ERAS internship app, there is a chance they will get the letters mixed up and send the one with the official form to SF Match and the one without the official form to ERAS (translating into extra hassle for you and for them).
Personally, I tried to alleviate such letter-confusion by giving each letter writer two envelopes, and in each envelope I put the official letter of recommendation request required for the ERAS application. I had called SF Match previously and they said this wouldn’t be a problem and they would just toss the ERAS letter of request form. I then let my letter writers decide whether they were writing to my strengths as a potential ophtho resident or as a potential intern. I don’t think it really changed the content of the letter either way. Both signed/sealed envelopes were then sent to my Dean’s office – the ophtho letter was put to the side awaiting the arrival of the other letters and the ERAS letter was uploaded into the system. I feel as though this approach minimized letter writer confusion and hopefully made life easier for everyone.
1. Make life easy on your letter writers and let them decide whether they address their letter to your potential ophthalmology residency programs or to your potential internship programs. Print out the ERAS letter of recommendation form, put it in each of two envelopes, and ask your Dean’s office to hold onto the ophtho application letter of recommendation until the others arrive, and immediately upload the internship letter into ERAS. Otherwise, you run the risk of the ophtho letter going to ERAS and the internship letter going to SF Match.