Date: September 16, 2019
Applying to residency can be a long, challenging ordeal requiring huge dedication. For the majority of fourth-year medical students, applications are submitted through the Electronic Residency Service (ERAS).
The general process and components of an ERAS application have been written about extensively, including information from ERAS directly, through specialty-specific and professional organizations such as the American Association of Family Physicians (AAFP), and by medical schools to provide guidance to their students.
Additionally, we have written about this topic many times here at the Thalamus blog including an overall view of the entire match process, a timeline of important application events, and a program director’s view on interacting with ERAS.
This blog is specifically focused on the important tips for applying through ERAS that no one tells you about. These are the proverbial “pearls of wisdom” that Team Thalamus has learned going through the process ourselves as applicants, managing the process as program leadership, and managing the interview scheduling process now at over 125+ academic medical centers. We have scheduled more than 1,000,000 interviews for over 100,000 applicants over the last half-decade. So please enjoy—we hope that these tips provide additional guidance for mastering the application process and making the experience that much better.
This may seem silly. Your medical school email address, of course, has worked just fine throughout medical school. We write this because there are several good reasons for using a personal email address.
And perhaps this goes without saying, but MAKE SURE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS IS ACCURATE ON YOUR ERAS APPLICATION (seriously, double and triple-check this).
Every ERAS application requires a photo. While there is a push towards blinding of these photos given the recent focus on holistic review, eventually your photo will be viewed by every program strongly considering you. There are institutions that do not look at photos in an effort to eliminate/reduce conscious or unconscious bias and discrimination in the application process. However, once you interview at this program they will know what you look like and use your photo to remember you as they evaluate you as a candidate and ultimately decide where to place you on their rank list.
We recommend the following photograph guidelines:
Finally, we recommend uploading this same ERAS photo to your Thalamus account for the reasons listed above.
In any case, look your best and have a great interview season!
The ERAS application is detailed and thorough in structure. Medical school transcripts, MSPEs/Dean’s Letters, and USMLE/COMLEX transcripts assess your academic performance and testing capabilities. LORs will often speak about your clinical acumen, professionalism, and expected success as a physician/resident. Your personal statement outlines who you are and why you want to apply to a particular specialty.
As a result, each component should provide something novel to your application. So your personal statement shouldn’t be a rehashing of your CV, but rather a narrative that blends who you are as a person with why you will make a great resident and doctor in a certain specialty.
Similarly, when you list your hobbies, volunteering, and research activities within the ERAS application itself, ensure that you provide enough description to denote their meaningful effects on yourself and those around you. However, recognize that meaning can also be drawn out in the narrative of your personal statement. Your application will be reviewed by a very busy program director (other faculty, program coordinators and others), so please ensure that such experiences are written concisely and accurately (i.e. avoid unnecessary elaboration and hyperbole).
While the above tips likely won’t make or break your ERAS application, they may streamline it and alleviate some of the unnecessary burden and anxiety. This was the reason Thalamus was created, to make the residency interview scheduling process more streamlined. Check out how Thalamus works to make applying for residency easier on both med students and programs, and take into account our handy tips when it comes time to get your medical career started.
Team Thalamus is a grassroots collaboration of applicants (past and present), program directors, program coordinators and other GME leadership who wish to share our collective journeys through managing and participating in years of residency application cycles. While we offer a byline to all of our contributors, many wish to write under a pen name, which we have collectively defined as Team Thalamus. Becoming a physician is a long and winding road, filled with sacrifice, dedication, complexity and uncertainty and our team is her to help!
Thalamus is the premier cloud-based interview management platform designed specifically for application to Graduate Medical Education training programs. We are the experts in the residency and fellowship application processes. Learn more about Thalamus.
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