Frequently Asked Questions

Applying for Residency

Visit Pritzker's Road to Residency website for additional information about the residency application process.

Career Advisors
Residency letters
Personal Statements & CVs
Early Match

Q. How do I know who my career advisor is?

A. Pritzker Students are assigned a career advisor based on their participation in the Pritzker Societies.

Letters of Recommendation

For additional questions about Letters of Recommendation for residency, download Letters of Recommendation FAQ (PDF)

Q: When should I start asking for letters of recommendation?

A. You should give the faculty who are writing your letters of recommendation 4-6 weeks to prepare your letters letters.  Asking faculty in late June/early July for letters will give them plenty of time to complete your letters. Our hope is that all letters will be in by September 1.

Q. Where should my letters of recommendation for residency be sent?

A. Letters should be sent via email or fax to:

ERAS – Office of Graduate Medical Education
Tel: (773) 834-3757 / Fax: (773) 834-3119

Q. How many letters of recommendation should I ask for?

A. Three letters of recommendation are required and no more than four are allowed. Often, one of the three should be from the Department Chair in your specialty. You will need a minimum of three letters for both an advanced specialty, as well as a preliminary year application if you are applying in a discipline which requires preliminary training. This means a total of 6 letters.

Q. What information do letter writers need in order to write a letter for residency?

  • Draft of your CV
  • Draft of your personal statement
  • ERAS Cover Letter or SF Match Cover Letter
  • AAMC identification number. This will be given to you when your ERAS token is distributed on July 1.

Q. Who makes a good letter of recommendation writer for the residency application?

A. The best letter writers are those faculty members who know you best and can strongly support your application. Clinical letters are preferred in residency applications. Research letters can sometimes be used as supplemental letters but not as primary letters. The best time to ask for the letter is in person in June or July of your fourth year.

If you have additional questions about the Residency Application Process, please contact your Society Career Advisor or Dr. Jim Woodruff.

Q. How do I get a Chairman's Letter if he doesn't know me?

A. Nearly all specialties want specific information about a student’s ability to perform in the specialty of choice, and this information is conveyed through the departmental chairman’s letter. It is best to contact the secretary in the department to determine (1) if the Chairman sends a letter, and (2) what process has been established for completing this process. Internal Medicine requires a Chairman’s Letter.

Q. When should all my letters be in?

A. Generally faculty deliver their letters within 6-8 weeks of being asked by students. We recommend that you begin asking your letter writers in June/July. Our hope is that all letters are in by September 1.

Q. What do I do if my letter hasn't been received, I can't get in touch with my letter writer, and it is well after the 4-6 week period?

A. If it has been 6 weeks since a student requested a letter, it is appropriate for students to send a reminder to their faculty letter writers. If it has been less than 4 weeks since a student asked their letter writers but it is early September, students should let Eileen/Dana know and they will follow up on student’s behalf.

In late August, Eileen and Dana will regularly generate reports from ERAS and will start reminding faculty if any letters are missing.


Q. How do I send my USMLE Transcript and how do I update it when my Step II score is available?

A. ERAS participants will be able to electronically request that their scores be sent directly from the NBME. When Step II scores are available, students will need to retransmit the USMLE transcript; this is done through myERAS. Students applying via the San Francisco Match need an original copy of their NBME score report.

Personal Statements and CVs

Q. What do I say in my personal statement?

A. Write a focused essay, about four paragraphs in length, that introduces you to the program.

    • The first paragraph should introduce the reader to you (Who Am I?).
    • The second paragraph should let the reader know how you arrived at your choice of the specialty.
    • The third paragraph should confirm why you think this choice is right for you, and could include such things as research, extracurricular or work experiences that are pertinent.
    • The fourth paragraph should inform the reader what you see as your long-term goals, or how you see yourself in this specialty. If your goals are not clearly defined at this point, it is worth stating that fact.
      For additional tips, visit: Personal Statement Guidelines (PDF)

Q. Should I write a different personal statement for every program I apply to?

A. There is no need to tailor your personal statement to each specific program, but it should be tailored to reflect your residency choice. If you are applying to an advanced specialty programs, you will also need to modify your personal statement for preliminary or transitional programs explaining what you hope to gain through preliminary year training.

Q. Why do I need to work on a CV since I will be creating one in ERAS?

A. You need to give a CV to your letter writers and it is helpful at this stage in your career to have an up-to-date professional CV to bring on interviews and for other purposes.

Q. What information should my CV contain? How long should it be?

A. The CV should be as long as you need to include important information about your academic, research, and work experience. Do not sacrifice readability by trying to squeeze all the information on one page.  Please refer to the Sample CV for tips and guidelines


Q. Why aren't all my documents immediately available after I certify my application and apply?

A. There are additional steps in the process. After you have certified your application and applied to programs, we have to manually transmit the documents.  This is done in the office during normal business hours. So if you certify and apply on Friday evening, we won’t know about it until Monday morning. When you apply, you automatically send a request to the NBME to release your USMLE transcript to the programs.  The NBME states that it will process your request in 5 working days (although it generally takes much less time, depending on the traffic on the server).  This also occurs only during the work week.

Q. Can I change my personal statement and letters of reference even after I have assigned them to programs?

A. Personal statement: Once you have sent a personal statement to a program, you may no longer make changes to that specific document. If you want to make a change, you must un-assign the original document, create a new personal statement, and assign the new document. However, un-assigning a personal statement does not erase it from a program’s records. A program may already have downloaded and printed a hard copy of your file. Do not assume they will not be able to reference your original document in the future.

Letters of Recommendation: Once an LoR is made available in the ERAS PostOffice and you have assigned it to a program you have applied to, you will not be able to un-assign that specific LoR from those programs. There are dangers associated with “over-tweaking” your application. You have put a lot of thought already into writing your personal statements and in selecting your letter writers. A last minute change may not be as well thought out as the choices you have already made. Finally, programs will see your changes and may interpret your behavior as indecisive.

Early Match

Q. How do I know if I need to apply for the Early Match?

If you are applying in Ophthalmology, Urology, or the Military Match you are participating in an “early match.”  This means you have earlier timelines than many of your classmates. So be sure to review early match deadlines carefully.



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