Friday 8 July 2011

Letter of recommendation - 'To Waive' made simple

To Waive or not to waive?
Every year there are umpteen IMGs who have the question if it is correct to waive or not. This is including me, as until I started working on the letters of recommendation the word waive was relatively unknown. I remember, I even had to go to the Webster dictionary and thesaurus to make sure that I understand the meaning of the word before I assigned my life's crucial decision. The best-case scenario is when the office at ERAS receives the letter directly from the referee (person writing the letter) and you have waived the right to see the letter. 

ERAS will make no distinction, when the LOR is sent to them. They are just a middleman who is processing your application. The difference comes when the letters are scanned and then sent to the respective programs. There are four possible scenarios to consider:

letter sent directly - meaning the referee mails the letter to ERAS
Indirectly - meaning the letter gets back in your possession and you mail it in. 

1. Letter sent directly to ERAS - waived option checked = considered to be waived, contents highly regarded as unbiased and valued.
2. Letter sent directly - not waived = considered to be not waived, considered to be biased, less than ideal situation.
3. Letter sent indirectly - waived option checked = considered to be NOT waived, as there is no way for ERAS or program to ascertain that the secrecy of the letter is maintained. 
4. Letter sent indirectly - not waived = considered to be not waived, biased. Least favorable scenario.
So you can see, if you were in possession of your letter, then there is no way for ERAS to know if you are aware of the contents of the letter and thus is considered to be not waived. SO rather than take the letters in your possession in good faith given to you by the faculty, please direct their office to send it to the ERAS office along with the LOR cover letter submission form. 

You can send more than four letters but it is not necessary as it will NOT be more advantageous. Think of it as law of diminishing returns. Chose the referee who YOU think is going to be the BEST SPOKESMAN for you. In general, US LORS are better recognized than foreign LORs because of familiarity with the system. Titles etc. in your case better to have a good mix of both.


  1. I am a medical student going for an elective rotation in U.S.A this year. As I am planning on applying for 2014 match, I wont be getting eras token this year. If I do not get eras token this year then I will not get any cover letters and also cannot waive my rights to see the letter. Please suggest me the best way to get the lors in this situation.

    1. Either you get a token this year get an AAMC ID, get cover letters and use that to obtain the LORs or alternatively you can wait till you apply next year and get in touch with the faculty to write letters for you at that time.. I personally think the first one is better because the best letters are the ones that are written freshest. You will use the same AAMC ID to apply next year and you can then use the LORs

  2. HI , i have question. if LORs are already uploaded by myself and un waived and i do not match this year , then is that possible that my referee can upload same letters with new token for the next year match.

    1. Hello Dr. Fadi,
      According to ERAS, only those LoRs that were transmitted to the ERAS PostOffice during ERAS 2012 will be available for reuse for ERAS 2013.
      From ERAS: After you have completed your request for an ERAS 2013 Token through OASIS, you will be presented with a link to a list of the LoRs that were transmitted to the ERAS PostOffice during ERAS 2012. In order to reuse an LoR for ERAS 2013, you must select the LoR from this list and then save your selections. If you choose not to make your LoR selections at the time of your Token request, you can return to OASIS at a later date to make your selections.

      The way it may be is that you may not need to upload the letters again as they will be reused. check and see if it helps.

  3. Hi Doc,
    I do also ahve some queries regarding waived LOR.I apllying for the intake 2014.
    I have emailed my prof about the waived LOR and also the pdf that aboout my information generated in my ERAS account.
    I hope he is able to make an id and upload the documents.
    1.what kind of cover letter is need when submitted electronically?I didnt see it mentioned anywhere if my prof submits.Is it needed?

    2.does he need to mention in the LOR that my student has waiver his right to see the LOR?I have already ticked in the portion that i waive my right to see the lOR while filling his name in there?
    Please help me here.It will be highly appreciated.

    1. if it is not mentioned then you probably do not need it. If you have mentioned that you have waived the right to see the letter, then technically he should directly upload the letter without letting you see a copy. Though not entirely necessary, it may be okay to write a footer that candidate has waived right to see the letter.
      More information is stated at ECFMG/echo
      - If you are not waiving your right to view the LoR (see below), you can upload the letter yourself using the ERAS Support Services section of your OASIS account.
      - If you waive your right to view the LoR, the letter writer will need to upload it using AAMC’s Letter of Recommendation Portal (LoR Portal). You will need to provide the letter writer with the Letter Request Form which will include information necessary to upload the LoR using the LoR Portal. The Letter Request Form will be made available to you only after you have “designated and finalized” the LoR under the Letters of Recommendation section of your AAMC MyERAS account. Be sure to complete all required information and indicate whether you do or do not waive your right to view the letter. Please note that “non-waived” LoRs can also be uploaded using AAMC’s LoR Portal.

  4. Hey, great question and answer post! So if I want to apply next year, so 2015 Match, but am doing CE in the States now, having an ERAS account is where the Dr. will submit their LOR and then next year I can use the the electronic LOR? It goes toward the next year?

    1. yes, you can use assigned LORs for the next match cycle but make sure you follow the directions from ERAS regarding using previous years LOrs.

  5. Hi! I have a question...I was in the US for electives last year. A professor wrote me a letter, which I waived, and sent a sealed copy with me to submit to my medical school. The letter mentions "the student has waived her right to see the letter". However, in my medical school, the registrar (who obviously did not understand this concept), took the letter out and handed it to me (with the rest of my evaluations etc), so I've seen the contents of the letter.
    My question is that since I have seen the letter, I should upload it myself. But since the letter states that I have waived it, and then I upload it myself; would that create problems? Technically a waived letter should not be seen by me, so would doing such a thing reflect badly on me and the author?

  6. If you upload it yourself, may may be considered not waived regardless of the contents of the letter. Best recourse in this case is to ask the letter writer to upload the letter again.

    1. so how do we delete the uploaded lor?

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. i uploaded an unwaived lor. didnt know waived lor had more value. so contacted letter writer to ulpoad a lor for me and he said ok.... now i cant seem to delete the unwaived one. what should i do???
      help needed.

  7. hello.i have a query regarding te waived LOR.During my clinical elective i asked my attending to waive the LOR and that i would ask him to send it directly when the time comes when im apply for residency.This was 6 months ago. Yesterday out of the blue, i got an email from his assistant in which was the scanned copy of the LOR.i do not know if it was sent to me intentionally or by mistake since i never asked the attending to show me the Letter.
    so my question now is that if this same letter is sent by my attending would it still be considered a waived LOR?..or has it lost its value if being a Waived LOR.I know i have seen it now.. but i cant make any changes in it since i dnt have the orignal document with me.

  8. Being a reference for somebody or writing a letter of advice is a crucial element within the eminent job candidate's employment method. residency lor


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