A Medical School Graduate's Guide to ERAS

What exactly is the ERAS application?

ERAS stands for Electronic Residency Application Service, which submits your application and supporting documents to residency programs (that participate in ERAS – most do). Beginning in June 2016, both US and International medical school seniors and graduates can purchase an ERAS token (either from their Designated Dean’s Office or the ECFMG respectively), which is used to register for the MyERAS application for the 2017 Match year. Once you have registered using your Token, MyERAS is used for:

  • Obtaining your AAMC Identification Number
  • Filling out your online application that will be submitted to residency programs
  • Creating your Personal Statements (copy and paste them on MyERAS, or start from scratch)
  • Selecting programs to apply to
  • Adding and confirming LOR (Letters of Recommendation) authors
  • Assigning the necessary documents to programs you are applying
  • Tracking the status of your application

 

What supporting documents should be uploaded to MyERAS application?

There are a few required and some optional documents that can be included on your application:

  • Personal Statement(s) – only one can be assigned to each program, but you should have different PS’s written for each specialty you are applying to
  • Letter(s) of Recommendation (LORs) – usually 3 per program, ideally the writer should be from the specialty of interest
  • USMLE Transcript – you must authorize the release of this with the NBME or ECFMG
  • Medical Student Performance Evaluation (MSPE or Dean’s Letter)
  • Medical School Transcript
  • Photo (optional) – If uploaded, make sure this is a professional photograph!
  • ECFMG Status Report (for IMGs/FMGs only)
  • Postgraduate Training Authorization Letter (PTAL) – (optional, only used for IMGs applying to programs in California)

 

When can I certify my ERAS application and apply to residency programs?

The first day that an applicant can certify and begin submitting their ERAS application to programs is on September 6th at 9am ET. This is 10 days earlier than in previous years, however, programs will still not be able to view your application until September 15th. These extra 10 days to apply gives applicants security that their applications will be available to programs on opening day. You will not be able to apply to programs until you certify your application. NOTE: Once you certify your ERAS application, you will not be able to make any changes to the content except for the contact information. Do not certify your application before it is 100% complete and accurate.

 

To which programs and to how many should I apply to?

Keep in mind that the more programs you apply to, the more expensive each application costs. There is a $99 application fee for up to 10 programs, $12 fee for each program 11-20, $16 fee for each program 21-30, and once you get to 31 or more the fee is $26 per program. It is important to do your research on the program thoroughly before submitting your application. Some programs have certain requirements that need to be met, otherwise they will not consider you as an applicant. There are free, informative databases online where you can check the requirements for each program (like FREIDA) and usually the program’s website will have all of this information in the “How to Apply” section. These requirements include:

  • Minimum USMLE score requirements – Your application might be filtered out if you do not meet the minimum score requirements for the program.
  • Year of graduation – Some programs require that you have graduated from medical school 5 years ago or less, others may even require 2 years or less.
  • Visa sponsorship – Some programs will only sponsor J1 visas, or might not sponsor any visas at all. Foreign Medical school graduates (FMGs) need to be mindful of this.
  • US Clinical Experience (USCE) – For IMGs and FMGs, some programs may require that you have a minimum amount of months of hands-on clinical experience in the US. There are also requirements for this experience to be recent (within the last year, or 3 years, etc.).
  • Letters of Recommendation (LORs) – Most programs request that you submit 3 Letters of Recommendation, at least one of which MUST come from a practicing physician in the specialty you are applying to.
As for how many programs you should apply to, this will vary depending on the specialty. Generally, you should apply to more programs than you think you will need. IMGs tend to apply to more programs than US Seniors, this may mean 100+ applications.

 

Tips for filling out your ERAS application based on common mistakes:

  • Print out your ERAS application and PROOFREAD. Misspelled words, improper grammar and capitalization, or extra spaces are considered silly mistakes and seen as red flags to program directors. Have a friend look over your application to double check that everything makes sense.
  • Do not leave anything blank on your application! Are you currently still working in one of your experiences? List, “Current” in the reason for leaving. Did you simply complete the externship? List “End of externship,” as the reason for leaving. Leaving blanks in this section as well as the Average hours/week and Supervisor sections will only raise questions to the PD’s.
  • Everyone should have ACLS or PALS certification on their application. These are super easy to obtain, so there is no excuse not to have them!
  • The description section of each experience should be clear and concise. The program director will be reading countless applications and does not have time to get bogged down in a lengthy description. You do not need to list out all of the duties performed in most cases because generally a program director already knows the responsibilities of a researcher, extern, intern, etc.
  • The key is to make everything uniform and consistent, so each description should be written in a similar way.
  • Recognize when to capitalize specialties. For example, when you say “Researcher in the Department of Internal Medicine,” versus, “Research in internal medicine.”
  • For hobbies and interests, make a simple list of interests or activities you partake in: “Running, dancing, cooking and playing the piano,” for example. This should include anything special that sets you apart.

 

HAVE YOU REGISTERED FOR THE NRMP?

Don’t forget to register for the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP)! If you want your application to be considered for the NRMP Match, which most programs participate in, then you need to register. This registration is separate from the ERAS registration. To avoid late fees, register before November 30th, 2016 at 11:59pm ET. If you have not registered for the NRMP by the time the Rank Order Lists are due on February 22nd, then you will not be eligible to rank into a program!

 

Helpful Resources:

  1. https://www.aamc.org/services/eras/
  2. http://www.ecfmg.org/eras/timeline.html
  3. http://www.nrmp.org/