ERAS stands for the Electronic Residency Application Service. It is used for all specialties except those with an early match. ERAS is entirely web-based, so it can be accessed anywhere. To start the application you must wait for OSA to send you an AAMC token (early July). The website is: http://www.aamc.org/students/eras/start.htm You will not be allowed to submit until early September, so there is plenty of time to get familiar with the application and slowly upload.
Things you will enter include:
- Biographical Information (the information on your CV, but entered in a special format).
- Personal Statement: You can write your PS on a word processing program and import it (be sure to use the “proofreading” feature that will show you how it will look when printed). You may enter multiple personal statements and specify one statement to be sent to a given program.
- Names of faculty writing letters. Again, you will be able to specify which letters are sent to a given program. Be sure to enter the names with respective titles (MD, PhD).
- List of programs to which you are applying.
Things OSA will upload for you:
- Transcripts: Make sure you verify grades/courses online.
- Recommendation Letters: ERAS has a recommendation request form and waiver that you will give to your letter-writer. You can check your ERAS to see if the letters are in.
- USMLE scores are sent automatically when you release them on ERAS. You may request that they are held until you review and release them. If you take Step 2 after a certain point (this year, September 15th) you will need to go back into ERAS and authorize the score to go through.
- You will have a professional photo taken in the spring at school. You are resposible for uploading your photo to ERAS
- The Dean’s letter (MSPE) will automatically be uploaded October 1st.
- Curriculum Vitae: Have someone you trust look it over. Don’t be misleading. Emphasize things you have done besides medical school - previous career, college research, extracurricular activities, etc. Remember, anything you list can be brought up by your interviewer. Proofread very carefully. If you are using ERAS, you will enter the information from your CV into your application and lose all control over how it looks. One resource is Resumes and Personal Statements for the Health Professionals by James W. Tysinger.
- Personal Statement: This should be one page long. The key word is personal. This is your only chance to “talk” to a program, so make the most of it. A lackluster PS probably won’t prevent you from getting an interview, but a really good one can help you. Use your PS to introduce yourself. Prepare a well-written statement that is grammatically correct and focused. Have someone you trust to read and critique your PS. DON’T repeat your whole CV, but rather expand on 1 or 2 items. DON’T make excuses or rely on quotations or clichés. DON’T overuse “I”. You typically want to display why you have chosen that specialty, why you would be good at it, and what your future aspirations might be.
- Letters of Recommendation: This differs somewhat by specialty. Attendings from third year rotations, sub-I’s, and/or research, are all good resources. Most often, the department chair for your specialty will write everyone a letter. Ultimately, you want letters that can speak about you as a professional and as a person. Most people will want to meet with you, see your CV and personal statement before they write a letter. Give them ample time to get the letters written. Letter writers can require up to 2 months to submit a letter (depending on the person) so make sure you approach your writers early. FOLLOW-UP ON YOUR LETTERS. Ensure that they are uploaded into ERAS. Send gentle reminders if they are behind schedule. You can also have as many letters written as you would like, and you can pick and choose which get sent to each program. E.g. a good research letter could be sent to academic institutions, while you may not send that to community programs. You will not be able to read these letters.
- MSPE: Hand in your CV and personal statement to the OSA and then meet with Dr. Martinez, Dr. Lamos, or Dr. Parker. They will write the introduction summarizing your accomplishments before medical school and during the first two years at Maryland. The majority of the letter is a compilation of your evaluations (verbatim) from 3rd year, plus a few from 4th year. It will also include a statement about your class rank. The letter is written according to a rigid standard, so modifications may be limited. In order to get your early fourth-year sub-I evaluation into the letter, they must reach the OSA before the deadline. Remind your attendings to complete these evals in a timely fashion. If you do an away elective, you will have to give them a standard eval form for them to fill out and send to OSA.
- Applications: For ERAS there is one application completed and submitted online. For others: type your applications. Make a copy before you send them out. It is a good idea to include a pre-stamped postcard in your application that will allow the program to notify you when your file is complete. Weigh your application and put enough postage on it! Phone calls can be made to check the status of your application. Remember, administrative assistants are very busy sorting mail during the interview season.
- ERAS: After you submit your application, you can check ERAS to see which programs have downloaded your application. Also, check your email often! You will usually receive emails from programs via ERAS. Interview dates fill up quickly so respond as soon as possible.
- Scheduling: OSA has information on discounted airfares. This info is also available to AMA members through the organization. Southwest and AirTran usually have inexpensive airfare and Southwest allows you flexibility in changing your flight time/date without penalty. The Medical Alumni Association has been working on a HOST (Helping Our Students Travel) program through which you can stay with alums in other cities. Call them at 410-706-7454 for more info. People often ask about the timing of interviews. Iserson suggests interviewing late for programs that will be high on your list because you will be fresh in their minds. This is one opinion.
- The night before the interview:
- Review info about interview time & place, and parking.
- Make sure you have your interview suit with all accessories (tie, belt, shoes, stockings).
- Most importantly, be prepared: look over your CV, PS, application, and program brochure.
- Have your thoughts on your professional goals, past accomplishments, personal attributes, etc.
- Review questions they may ask you and have a list of questions to ask them.
- Interview Day :Some individuals find practice interviews useful. Obviously, it is less stressful to interview at you own institution first, but if Maryland is one of your top choices, you may want to use another program for polishing your skills… it really is a matter of personal preference. Spend as much time as possible with interns and residents. Ask plenty of questions and always be ready for the “Do you have any questions” question! Interns will let you know about surviving first year and residents can give you perspective about life after internship. At each interview, it may help to get the name and phone number of at least one resident. In February, when you are making your rank list, you may have some last minute questions. Write down your impressions about a program ASAP. You’ll be amazed at how programs blend together. Send thank you notes to program directors - you can either “cc” the interviewers or jot a personal note to each on the bottom. Try to do these within 24 hours. With the majority of travel done in the winter, be prepared for delays and cancellations. Bring extra clothes and information for upcoming interviews in case you get stuck. Lastly, be nice to the program coordinators and staff, and socialize with other applicants. It matters!