To anyone preparing for the residency application process, just thinking about the whole thing causes a headache. When I went through it, I was thorough and prepared through my own research, but it was still stressful. Here are some of the things I learned last year:
- First read this. ECFMG will outline ERAS & NRMP timelines and fees, and generally give you a better idea of what you have to plan.
- You will also receive several emails from Samantha Thacker at Graduate Affairs, with the Residency manual. Read it completely and adhere to deadlines!
- Work hard in EVERY rotation. You never know which attending will (or will not) be willing to write you a letter of recommendation.
- Ask your attending to write you a LOR at the end of EACH rotation. You never know if you will change your specialty or get mediocre letters.
- Ask if he/she will feel comfortable to write you a STRONG LOR (this lets them off the hook if they don’t really want to do it for you).
- Waiving your rights to see a letter (or not) may not have as much bearing as perceived. My most glowing LOR was not waived and that was the one that interviewers talked about the most.
- Where possible, designate one clerkship coordinator/assistant at your hospital to file all of your LORS as they are written for easy access when applying. Instruct letter writers to leave a blank space for your AAMC number.
- Have your coordinator forward copies of LORS to AUA Graduate Affairs as soon as she receives them so they can be added to your MSPE.
- Apply for your ERAS token as soon as ERAS opens, and upload your picture through OASIS. Your picture should be professional, but it does not need to be taken by a professional!
- Once your token is approved, use it to register for ERAS, where you will receive your AAMC number which you will forward to the person holding your letters, who will then insert the AAMC number and mail the LORS to ECFMG.
- Once registered for ERAS, fill out your Common Application Form.
- Put Clinical Clerkships as further work, volunteer or educational experience; otherwise programs may think you have no U.S. clinical experience (happened to me).
- Don’t neglect microbiology research projects (if you remember them), TA, volunteering on the island and during clinicals.
- Include ALL USMLE attempts: they will get a full USMLE transcript anyways.
- Be truthful about Leave of Absences, and be prepared to explain.
- Don’t forget school awards!
- When you are CERTAIN that you have filled the whole residency application correctly, have someone else review it then certify it!
by Jasmine Riviere Marcelin, Class of 2011