What is ERAS and what does it stand for?
The Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS) is a AAMC service that allows you to transmit residency application materials to programs. Students matching through the National Residency Matching Program (NRMP) must use this service to apply.
How do I access ERAS?
After an MS3 class meeting in Spring, you will receive an email from the Office of Student Records with information about an ERAS token. This token will give you access to ERAS and you will be able to start working on parts of your application.
When does ERAS open and when will I get my token?
ERAS typically opens in mid-June and tokens are distributed by the Office of Student Records at this time.
Who at the school has access to ERAS and what can they see?
The Office of Student Records and the Office of Career Advisement have access to the Dean’s Workstation (DWS). This allows access to parts of a student’s application, such as the student picture, names of letter writers, information edited in the application by the student, and names of the programs. We cannot view or edit letters of recommendation or your personal statement. The Office of Student Records will upload transcripts on September 15th and updated copies as AI grades are released. The Medical Student Performance Evaluation (MSPE, also known as the Dean’s Letter) is uploaded on October 1st.
How do I communicate with programs through ERAS?
After September 15th, The Program Work Station (PWS) allows programs to see any application that has been submitted. Programs do not receive the MSPE until October 1st. They are able to see the student’s application, letters of recommendation and transcript immediately as the student uploads these components. Students should provide updated pieces of information (such as additional letters of recommendation) via email.
When should I start working on my application in ERAS?
We suggest that students work on your application as soon you receive an ERAS token. Prior to June, there are several elements of the application that a student can prepare. Consider the following elements; Do you have an updated CV? Who will you be asking to submit a letter of recommendation? Do you have a personal statement? Has anyone provided feedback on your personal statement? Have you registered for an Orcid account? Having all of these elements in order will be helpful when ERAS opens.
Submitting and certifying an application means that the application is final. We suggest students double & triple check each element prior to submitting to ERAS. Accuracy upon submission is a critical part of the process; submit an application that you are proud of!
Choosing Programs and Interviews
How many programs should I apply to?
This depends on the specialty and how competitive students are in that specialty. Almost all Program Directors at Northwell have created an “Advising Guide” for their specific specialty that addresses this question to some degree and provides the average number of programs student across the country have applied to for their specialty. In addition, the AAMC’s Careers in Medicine website has additional statistics on this information (sign in is required). An advisor can help determine the programs and number of programs needed based on competitiveness.
How do I navigate the process of picking programs to apply to?
The National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) conducted a survey of all applicants who participated in the 2019 Main Residency Match. The primary purpose of the survey was to elucidate the factors applicants weigh in applying to and ranking programs. The most common factors students consider when exploring residency programs are; location, proximity of family, friends or a support system, competitiveness of region, reputation of program and perceived fit of program. In picking programs to apply to, consider all of the above, visit websites of various programs to learn and picture yourself there. FREIDA Online is another resource of value in this area. During rotations, talk to residents, visiting students, and attendings to gain valuable information on programs of interest. Residents have often interviewed at places that students consider. Use the network to your advantage and seek advice from people who are actively involved in the residency application process. Self assess competitiveness for a specialty and program. Last but not least, seek guidance from both Departmental and Career Advisors who can give an honest assessment of a rank list.
How do I know if a program is within my reach?
Self assess next steps regarding competitiveness for a specialty and program is important. Seek guidance from both Departmental and Career Advisors, who can give an honest assessment of where to apply and a rank list.
What is a preliminary year?
Several specialties require an intern year before specialty training. A preliminary year is can be a transitional, or a prelim year. Preliminary Programs are generally divided into Internal Medicine or Surgery. Surgical subspecialties will require a Surgical Preliminary year but other specialties, such as Anesthesia will accept either a Preliminary year in either Surgery or Medicine. It is best to check with the individual programs, and a Departmental Advisor, when deciding on a particular Preliminary specialty. Preliminary Medicine years are also variable between programs. While the schedule of each preliminary year resident has a basic structure, some programs schedules are modified to meet requirements for each subspecialty. This may include ED time and different elective options. A specialty of choice is sometimes referred to as categorical or advanced training.
What is a transitional year?
A Transitional Year is an intern experience that some fields prefer. Residents in one-year transitional programs rotate through different hospital departments every couple of months. They typically experience both surgical and medical rotations with the goal that residents build a broad foundation of clinical skills as a base for future training.
How do I know if I need a preliminary or transitional year?
Some of the fields that require a separate intern year are: urology, ophthalmology, dermatology, diagnostic radiology, radiation oncology, physical medicine and rehabilitation, neurology, psychiatry and anesthesiology. Check with a Departmental Advisor as to whether a Transitional or Preliminary Year is best.
Do I need to apply and interview for preliminary/transitional programs separately?
Students must apply and interview at both their specialty programs and their preliminary programs during the same application cycle. Some programs reserve spots for applicants matching into categorical residency programs in their institution.
How do I navigate the process of selecting preliminary programs?
FREIDA Online is a great resource to find a listing of Preliminary and Transitional year programs and what they have to offer. Consider similar questions to those considered when selecting any program, such as location, experiences and amount of elective time offered. When choosing preliminary programs, it is best to visit the website of the specialty programs and see if they offer a preliminary year at the hospital. Talk to students and residents in the specialty and ask a Departmental Advisor as to how many/which programs to apply to.
When will I start getting interviews?
The ERAS applications are released to programs in early September. Through ERAS, some programs may begin to download the applications and categorize candidates based on USMLE scores, school location or degree type. This is often dependent on the program and/or specialty.
Programs may begin to offer interviews in September, but most programs that interview predominantly US allopathic students will wait until the Medical Student Performance Evaluations (MSPEs) become available on October 1st. Therefore, the bulk of interview offers will start in October and go through November/December. Some programs, particularly in surgical subspecialties and dermatology, begin the offer/interview process much later in December. Given the vast number of applications programs receive; it is not unusual for them to not even review a large number of applications. If you have not heard from a program by the last week of October, we recommend gently inquiring by email to the program coordinator (NOT the program director) about the status of your application.
How will I be notified that I got an interview?
Programs will send interview offers via email.
How quickly do I need to respond?
To secure an interview date/time that works with schedules, we suggest students accept interview offers as soon as possible. and commit to the best option of dates offered. As your interview calendar fills, students may be able to change this to another date if space becomes available.
A program I applied to already sent out interviews and I didn’t get one. What should I do?
Students should approach interviews logically and prepare to receive some waitlist emails and/or not receive an interview for every program applied to. A gentle inquiry should elicit a response from the program about whether or not they will offer an interview. Make sure this inquiry is appropriate and addressed to the program coordinator.
How will I know if I am put on the waiting list or rejected?
Unfortunately, programs may assign candidates to either of these categories without alerting the candidate. If students have not heard from a program by the last week of October, gently inquire. Sometimes it may take another inquiry a week or two later to get a response from the program. It’s okay to be consistent when communicating if you have not heard back from the program coordinator. ALWAYS be polite and patient.
When should I reach out to programs about my interview status?
If students have not heard from a program by the last week of October, gently inquire if interviews have been offered.
To whom should I reach out to and how?
All questions about the status of your application and interview offers should be directed to the program coordinator (NOT the program director). Assume that all email correspondence, including thank you notes, sent to anyone in a particular program, will end up in an applicant file. Therefore, each email/note must be original and respectful.
Should I have someone else reach out on my behalf? When should they reach out? Who should they reach out to and how?
If students have a specific program they are waiting to hear from and can’t get a response, we recommend contacting a career advisor to plan next steps. When appropriate, a career advisor can reach out to assist.
I just got an interview invite, but I can’t make any of the dates offered, what should I do?
Program interviews are formal processes on dates established many months in advance. It is usually impossible to have an interview on a date that is not an established interview date. However, if there are other established dates have no availability, students can ask to be placed on a waiting list for the desired date(s). Through cancellation or expansion, dates may be offered later in the season. It’s recommended that if a student is interested in interviewing at that program, they should schedule an interview date later in the season and request to be added to a waitlist for earlier dates. As the season goes on, revisit programs of importance, available interview dates and adjust based on availability.
I just got an interview invite and they only interview on one day, and I already have an interview scheduled on that day. What should I do?
We suggest that students prioritize and choose between the two. Try to reschedule the first interview if possible. In general, programs understand an applicant’s logistical challenges setting up interview calendars and will try to accommodate if possible. Be very kind to program coordinators. Interview season is very tough on them too.
Is it ok to cancel an interview? What is the latest I can cancel before the interview?
The short answer is yes; applicants do it all the time. However, a few common courtesies must be extended. Let the program know as soon as possible so they can offer the slot to someone else. At least a few weeks in advance is fine; anything under a week could create issues for the program. In the cancellation email, don’t be too verbose. Simply thank them for the offer, ask to cancel, and wish them well in their recruitment. An applicant should NEVER just not show up for an interview. That makes the student and the school of medicine look very, very bad and could potentially hurt the chances of future students from our school getting an interview there.
How important is that I attend pre or post interview dinners/events?
Attending pre or post interview events is not mandatory, but highly recommended. It gives applicants time to speak with residents who are currently in the program and predict if the program will be a “good fit.” Pre and post interview events should be treated as informal interviews, remaining professional and respectful throughout the entire process.
What should I wear to interviews?
Business attire should be worn to all interviews. Appropriate attire includes a suit, tie, button down shirt and dress shoes (closed-toed). Tights should be worn and skirts should be knee-length.
What if I don’t receive any information about where to go for my interview?
Call or email the program coordinator in advance. If it’s the day of the interview, arrive early and ask for the departmental program coordinator. Express that you are a student interviewing and would like to be directed to where applicants are meeting.
What if I get stuck at an airport because of inclement weather?
Contact the program coordinator immediately if weather causes delays. Be prepared to adjust schedules or stay extra time to accommodate the interview if needed.
What if I am running late?
It is incredibly important that students arrive early or on time for interviews. Students should keep contact information for the program coordinator or office on hand at all times in case unforeseen circumstances arise.
What if I have to leave early?
It is incredibly important that students stay for the entire interview until dismissed. Students that leave early reflect poorly on themselves and the school. In emergent cases where students may have to leave early, notify the program coordinator and explain the situation if possible.
How should I prepare myself for interviews?
Prepare for interviews by reviewing the program information available on the institutional website and FREIDA Online. If there are any existing personal contacts at the institution, reach out to them to prepare. Review your CV and be prepared to speak openly about anything listed. Last but not least, be you!
Is there anything I should know about how to conduct myself on interviews?
Always remain professional, appropriate and authentic on the interview trail. Students who want feedback on their interactions and additional interview practice should contact the Office of Career Advising for additional resources.
What kinds of questions should I ask of my interviewers?
Ask questions that pertain to interest in the specialty, program type and explore opportunities that are individual to that institution. We suggest that you explore the program’s website prior to interview day and then ask questions to delve further into these topics.
What if I have a really bad experience with an interviewer and I really want to go to that program?
Reach out to the Program Director to discuss and ask for an additional interview or conversation, ideally with the Program Director themselves. Inform your Career Advisor of the experience for additional feedback and suggestions.
What if an interviewer asks me a question they are not supposed to ask?
We suggest that students politely navigate away from these questions, redirecting the interviewing back to the application being discussed. For example, a student’s response maybe, “I’d prefer if we discuss my application, such as my experiences at ______ with ________, as I believe they would be applicable to my time spent in residency at this program.” Another possible answer is, “I have dealt with similar issues and have always completed my professional responsibilities.”