Your residency application, submitted electronically through the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS®), provides information about you to programs that helps them decide if you could be a potential fit and whether a personal interview will be granted. Application requirements will vary from program to program, so it is critical that you verify the contents before you submit. The application consists of four parts:
- Letters of Reference
- (CV) Curriculum Vitae
- Personal Statement
- Medical School Performance Evaluation
Letters of Reference
Programs can ask for a combination of personal and professional letters of recommendation. These letters can provide valuable details and characteristics that can help you stand out among the many applicants. They can also provide details about your academic and clinical strengths, and personal character.
If you are an IMG, it is preferable to secure letters of recommendations from U.S. medical professionals where possible.
(CV) Curriculum Vitae
Your CV should detail your educational and professional accomplishments, including contact information, education, internships and observerships, research, association memberships and other professional experiences. Content should be organized in reverse chronological order, with the most recent activities at the top. You can optionally include information about your hobbies and activities to provide a well-rounded view of you as a person and provide additional examples of leadership and other qualities.
When you draft your CV, think about what the residency program is looking for in a candidate and write your descriptions to try and fit those needs. Make sure your CV is error-free, so proofread carefully.
The Personal Statement is your chance to tell the residency selection committee why you are a good candidate for their program. It should complement your CV, and not repeat the same information or provide just biographical details. It should be both clearly written and engaging.
Your personal statement should explain why you are unique as a candidate and why you are prepared and committed to pursuing a career in your chosen specialty. It should tell why you selected your specialty and what your career goals are. It should also outline why you think you are a good fit for a particular program, and what you think you could bring to the program if you were accepted.
A good personal statement can give you the extra edge to get the interview. Start early to give yourself plenty of time to craft a well-written and personal overview. Be sure to schedule additional time for review.
Medical School Performance Evaluation
Also called the Dean’s Letter, the Medical School Performance Evaluation (MSPE) provides a summary assessment of your academic progress in medical school. MSPEs are released to residency programs on October 1 of each year. Every medical school will have a different format for the letter and evaluating your progress. Some involve a personal meeting with the dean or a staff member, so personal information can be included as well.
Timing and follow-up
Ideally, applications should be submitted when ERAS opens up on September 15, or by October 1, at the latest.
Submitted documents are sent by ERAS electronically to as many programs as the applicant chooses. Programs evaluate applications and determine which applicants they want to interview during November, December and January.
Once you hit submit, the process is not over. Following up appropriately can be the difference that gets you the interview. Stay in touch with the program coordinators, affirming your interest. Even if you’re not selected initially for an interview, a phone call or an email might get you a canceled slot. Be thoughtful as you follow up. You want to keep in touch but not be seen as a nuisance.