Starting fourth year of medical school a paradoxical sense of relief and worry washes over you at the same time. Relief that Step 1, Step 2 CK and CS are done–so no more studying for a while! Worry because of the looming question, what happens next? The excitement of this next chapter in medical school can easily be forgotten with the nervousness of trying to figure out what you need to do next. Well worry no more; hopefully this read will give you a good run through of the basic timeline about what to do on this road to residency.
To start things off, you need to be able to access your ERAS application. Starting in early July you will be able to purchase an ERAS token via ECFMG Oasis portal. This token is a 14 character alphanumeric code that will allow you to access your MyEras account. Once the applications open up, you can use your token to log on and start filling out the application. The application itself is pretty standard–name, address, school information, any publications, and extracurricular activities. Turn on the TV and enjoy filling out these forms.
Applications are not actually submitted to programs until September 2014. So what do you need to do between July and September? Start gathering all the necessary components of the application. You may need to request an MSPE letter from your school to be submitted to ERAS. You also may need to request for your school to release your transcripts and scores to ERAS as well. Another important aspect of the application is your picture. Each application goes out with a passport size photograph, which you upload to the application portal. During this time it is also important to finalize your letters of Recommendation (LORs). You will need a minimum of 3 letters of recommendation, but it is always good to have more. Having more will allow you to pick and choose which letters to send to which programs. Finally, the most important part of your application to be working on during this time period is your personal statement. If you are applying to more than one specialty this could be double the work for you, but it is always good to cover your bases and apply broadly, especially as match becomes more competitive each year. Once you perfect your personal statement, the bulk of your application is completed.
You still have time until the actual application submission date so you can use this time to research the various programs available to apply to. One of the most frequented websites for researching the various residency programs is Frieda online, this website is a great source of information. It allows you to search for programs by specialty and then by state. It provides a plethora of information about each program from number of positions available, estimated salary, etc. If you are applying as an International Medical Graduate (IMG) student, it is also useful to ask your school for a list of where previous graduates have matched. That list is a good indicator of hospitals that are more IMG friendly. Another useful thing to do as an IMG, is visit the residency program website and take a look at their current residents and where they attended medical school. If you see a few other IMGs have matched at that program, it is always a good sign that the hospital is IMG friendly.
Now that September has arrived, your application is complete, and you know what programs to apply to, all you have left to do is hit submit and pay the application fees. Now it is finally time to relax. Go shopping and find a good interview suit for the big days ahead.
In October, all schools will release their MSPE letters and programs will start reviewing applications. Between November and January is interview season. Enjoy traveling and seeing the country along your interview trail. Finally, all of your hard work will pay off as you prepare to submit your finalized rank list and wait for Match day in March.
Hopefully this read gives a good run through of what to expect in the year ahead. Best of luck on everyone’s applications this year!