everyone now participates in the Electronic Residency Application
With few exceptions, most specialties with PGY-1
postions participate in the NRMP through ERAS. The ERAS application
is a lifesaver in terms of paperwork for those lucky enough
to be applying to an ERAS specialty.
The ERAS application is available via the internet via MyERAS
on the ERAS website.
ERAS application is a simple data entry tool
ERAS allows you to enter all your data in fields.
It is similar to filling out a form on the web. There are several
tabs where you can enter in demographic data, CV, personal statement,
etc. The entire process is quite simple and self-explanatory.
Be aware that ERAS will format your activities, publications,
awards, etc. into its own format (much uglier than you would
do) which will run several pages when you print it. There is
little you can do that will change the formatting of the document.
You will not need to submit a paper copy of your CV to ERAS.
Your personal statement can be pasted into ERAS from any word
processing program (such as Microsoft Word), and your formatting
will again be affected. Personal statements that are one page
long in Microsoft Word may end up longer than a single page
in ERAS. Don't worry about it.
While there is no strict due date for turning in your ERAS application,
earlier is better than later. Each program has an application
deadline, and these vary from institution to institution. However,
if you get yours in by November 1st-when the dean's letters
are made available to residency programs-you will not miss any
are many factors to consider when deciding on which programs to
Location. Where do you want to do your residency? You
may have family, friends, or a spouse that you want to work near.
For those not tied down to a particular region of the country,
residency may provide the ideal opportunity to live in, and explore
a new city. Weather also plays a role in your decision. If you
enjoy the sun, Seattle is probably not your ideal location. Also
consider local diversions (beaches, ski slopes, hiking) that you
may have an interest in. It is hard enough to adjust to being
an intern and resident, let alone the factors that location can
throw into the equation.
Competitiveness. You should consider applying to programs in three
categories: programs you can probably get into, programs that
you may be accepted into, and programs that you would kill to
get into. Ask residents at your institution and people you may
know in your field which programs they applied to and why they
applied to those programs. Don't make the mistake of only applying
to the top programs. The competition to enter those programs can
be especially fierce, and you need to make sure you have a back-up
plan. When applying to the most competitive specialties you may
need to make compromises on location and other factors that may
be important for you. Don't forget to weigh these factors in your
Environment. Do you want to remain at an academic institution?
Perhaps you find that the community hospital setting is best for
you. Is it important for you to be the only residency at the hospital?
Or would you like to be at an institution that hosts programs
in many specialties? Some hospitals may have third year students
rotating through, while others may not. If you have plans for
fellowship after residency you may want to consider more heavily
those programs that have an academic background or affiliation.
Although it is not required to be in an academic program when
applying to fellowship, it often helps.
Most programs now have online residency brochures for their institutions.
Visit these to get a sense of what each program is like.
will need to judge for yourself how many programs you need to
After you have decided on which specialty you will
apply in, you should ask around to find out the "average" number
of programs that classmates and recent graduates in your field
have applied to. This will give a general benchmark of a safe
number of programs and will give you the chance to apply to
a good range of programs without applying to too many or too
few programs. In more competitive specialties you may find that
you are applying to twice the number of programs than your peers
in less competitive specialties. For example, an applicant in
internal medicine may find that 8 to 14 programs is a comfortable
number of programs to apply to, while a dermatology applicant
may need to apply to greater than 20 programs.
Whether you are applying to an ERAS specialty
or not, you will need a photo of yourself. The most important
aspect to remember when taking the picture is to look professional.
Don't submit a picture of yourself in T-shirt and jeans, which
you cut out of a favorite photo of your family. Avoid pictures
in your white coat. Men should wear a jacket and tie (conservative
colors), and women should wear business attire. This will be
the one chance that you'll get to make a visual impression on
the screening committees. A poorly chosen picture can do serious
damage to an application. You may consider having a professional
picture taken at a studio. There is no need to go to a fancy
studio; any family portrait-type studio should be fine. These
sittings are often relatively low cost if you do not get too
many reprints or too many poses. ERAS requires only that you
submit one picture.
The dean's letter, as the name suggests, is a
letter endorsed by the dean(s) of the medical school. The dean's
letter is a key part of your application package, and some programs
will not begin to look at an application until the dean's letter
has been sent. All ERAS programs begin accepting dean's letters
on November 1st, as agreed by the participating programs. This
date has helped to keep all programs on a similar schedule and
an even playing field. Therefore, your dean's office will probably
want to have the letter finished a few weeks before that date.
You may also be able to view and slightly edit your dean's letter
before it has been sent to ERAS.
The dean's letter is a composite of your medical school career.
Generally the dean's letter consists of a brief summary of your
background before medical school (home, undergraduate career,
postgraduate endeavors), pre-clinical years, clinical years,
personal qualities, and notable accomplishments (not necessarily
in that order.) The bulk of the letter will likely consist of
a description or capsules of your third year clerkship evaluations.
This is also probably the most important component of the dean's
letter as it gives a program a real look at how you performed
during clinical rotations.
You may be asked by your dean's office to submit your personal
statement and CV to the dean, as well as have a personal meeting
with the dean in order to have your letter written. In some
cases, you may have the opportunity to choose among deans to
write your letter. As with the letters of recommendations, choose
the dean who knows you best to write your letter. If you know
(or don't know) the deans equally, then choose the one dean
whose specialty most closely matches your chosen specialty.
Your dean has probably spent time on the residency selection
committees at some point in the past and can write about qualities
and characteristics that may be especially important to members
of the selection committee. In addition, your particular dean
may be "well connected" to faculty at other institutions, and
this may give your letter extra credibility.