MedLaunch - College of Medicine and Life Sciences

ERAS and Interviews


electronic residency application service (eras)

  • ERAS is a centralized residency application and document distribution service.
  • CRITICAL: Due to the new anti-spam software being utilized by the University of Toledo multiple important AAMC and ERAS emails are being filtered out. You MUST create a Gmail account to use for ERAS in order to not miss important information and interview invitations.
Timeline
  • In January of M3 year you will be issued an ERAS token. Follow the prompts to access your ERAS application.
    • You will only be able to upload Letters of Recommendation from January to July.
  • CRITICAL: You must submit your completed ERAS application prior to the date programs will begin receiving applications. This is generally mid-September.
    • On October 1st, Medical Student Performance Evaluations (formerly Dean's Letter) will be released to programs.
Letters of Recommendation (LORs)
  • Ask to setup a meeting, or coordinate with secretary, with potential letter writer and communicate your goals
    • Best to ask for LOR at the end of rotation if you have a positive relationship with attending.
    • It is appropriate to ask if they are willing to write you a strong letter. Be prepared to provide up to date CV and personal statement draft
  • Give the letter writer sufficient time. LORs are ideally submitted before deadline when programs can download application
    • It is appropriate to kindly and professionally remind letter writers of impending deadlines.
Transcripts
  • You will be required to formally release your academic transcripts. Keep in mind if you complete an away rotation in late Summer or early Fall you will need to update your transcripts in ERAS to reflect completion of the away rotations.
USMLE Step Scores
  • You will need to release your Step scores to ERAS and the institutions to which you apply.
    • CRITICAL: If your Step 2 scores are not available by the mid-September deadline you will need to login to ERAS and reassign the scores so programs can view them prior to creating their rank lists.
Personal Statement
  • Start writing your personal statement in the Winter or as soon as you know to which specialty you will be applying.
    • Communicate with mentors to determine if a specific format or style is utilized by your specialty
    • Multiple drafts will be required. Keep in mind multiple individuals from different backgrounds will be reading your personal statement. Therefore, it may be beneficial to have multiple people read your drafts.
    • Generally it is advisable to have the department chair read a final draft.
Three Comments
  • Pick the most important things you've achieved or experienced and want to highlight about yourself. Suggestions include notable internships or research experiences, leadership positions and academic honors.
Medical Student Performance Evaluation (MSPE)
  • The MSPE is a document containing your grades, comments copied from your clerkship evaluations and summary statements related to your medical school career.

    • CRITICAL: You will have the opportunity to edit your MSPE according to University guidelines. Monitor your email for your MSPE draft and submit any changes you may have immediately.
Experiences: Volunteer, Research and Work
  • The goal here is to give an accurate description of the experience while affording the opportunity for discussion during the interview. Provide an appropriate level of detail without exhausting all talking points. 
  • When completing these sections you can use bullet points or paragraph style. Some students have copied and pasted their CV directly into ERAS.

interviews

Number of Applications
  • Combination of your competitiveness as an applicant, personal preference and recommendation of mentor within specialty. Charting Outcomes in the Match is an invaluable resource.
where to apply
  • This will be personal preference, but generally it is good to consider location, proximity to family/support network, what type of career you want to have (academic vs. private practice), program graduate fellowship match, research requirements, patient population and level of autonomy.
dual applying
  • If you are applying to a competitive specialty you must strongly consider applying to a second specialty in which you will be a more competitive applicant. The importance of this simple statement cannot be overstated. You must put in equal effort for both specialties. Do not assume your second specialty is a guarantee. 
  • Find a mentor. This may be a single person or one for each specialty to which you are applying. They will provide valuable insight and likely be one of your strongest letter writers. Once you have found your mentor remember that no one else needs to know you are dual applying. Do not broadcast that you are dual applying.
  • Dual applying requires separate personal statements in ERAS, separate LORs, etc. Ask for quality LORs early. There is also the caveat that you may not know that you are dual applying until late, but this is an excellent argument for giving your best on each rotation
  • CRITICAL: Know both of your applications inside and out. There is a strong chance your application will at least hint towards a dual application through your research and experiences. You need to have specific explanations to explain these discrepancies during an interview. Interviewers are not supposed to ask if you are dual applying, but they likely will. Do not let them know you are dual applying.
    • Take every interview seriously. This should go without saying, but it is worth reinforcing the need to give yourself fully to each specialty application. Every interview may not be your first choice in both specialty and location, however that interview may be the difference between matching or not matching at all. 
  • If you have a significant hole in your application for your first specialty consider taking a year of research or additional activity. However, if you have given full effort to your application and an additional year would not significantly alter your application, move forward with your second specialty.
the couples match
  • Marriage is not the ultimate commitment, it is the Couples Match. The first goal with the couples match is for both of you to match. The second goal is for a geographic location where you are together and the third goal is matching at your top programs.
  • Generally, each individual applicant will identify their programs of interest and then a conversation about competitiveness and overlap will occur. Be open with each other and communicate honestly.
  • Be comfortable mentioning you are couples matching. Potentially include it in your personal statement. You must also be ready to answer questions, possibly illegal questions, about your future personal life. Have robust answers that force the program realize your relationship is an asset.
  • Do not be intimidated to contact programs where one person has received an interview, but the other has not. Certain programs will reach out on your behalf to other departments to grant the other individual an interview.
Scheduling Interviews
  • When you are offered an interview you will be notified via email. You should also check the ERAS messenger daily. Occasionally messages sent to ERAS are not forwarded through to your email. The unfortunate truth is that interviews fill quickly. You need to check your email more frequently then you check Facebook.
  • Some programs require an email response to a coordinator while others utilize an automated third party service.
    • Here is a template for responding to program coordinators directly
      • Dear [Program Coordinator], Thank you for the opportunity to interview with Department of Residency. I would like to accept the interview invitation. My preferred interview date is [select from list of dates they provided you.] Thank you again for the opportunity and I look forward to interacting with everyone on interview day. Best, [your name]
  • Calendar organization is critical.
    • Some students have family members monitor their email and manage their interview calendar due to them potentially being unavailable for prolonged periods of time (i.e. in the OR).
    • This has positive and negatives that you will have to weigh for yourself.
Canceling interviews
  • It is important to cancel as soon as you know you will not be able to attend. Programs do not appreciate last minute notifications. Equally as important you are preventing another student from the opportunity to interview.
  • There are myriad reasons for cancelling, but the reason does not need to be communicated to the individual coordinating interviews.
    • Here is a template for canceling interviews.
      • Dear [Program Coordinator], Hello, my name is [your name] and I am scheduled to interview with the Department of Residency on [date]. Unfortunately, I will not be able to attend the interview. I am sorry that I will not be able to make it and apologize for any inconvenience. Please give my kind regards to [Program Director]. Thank you, [your name].
General Insight for Pre-Interview Reception
  • The night before the interview (occasionally the night of the interview day) a reception will be held for applicants to interact with residents and learn about the program in a more informal setting. The reception is highly valuable to get accurate, unfiltered information about the program. You will also get a better impression of how you interact with the current residents and how they interact with each other.
    • Do your best to attend each reception, but if logistically it isn't possible do not worry.
  • If you are not explicitly told otherwise the default attire for pre-interview receptions is business casual.
  • Be professional in every encounter. The interactions you have during the reception carry near equal weight to the interview day itself.
General Insight for Interview Day
  • CRITICAL: Remember that everyone you interact with has the potential to impact your ability to match at that institution. Not only are these interactions important, but other individuals observing these interactions will have strong opinions as well.
    • Be respectful. Be kind. Be thankful.
  • Attire
    • You want to be remembered for who you are and how you answer interview questions, not what you wear. In certain instances, however, unique dress socks or shoes may serve as a conversation starter. You have to strike a balance between being conservative and showing your personality.
  • Sample Interview Questions
  • Logistics
    • It is perfectly acceptable to bring your suitcase with you to an interview to be stored in an office or conference room. Everyone is aware you are traveling.
    • Most programs will provide you with a folder of information on which you can take notes. You may also want to bring a padfolio, but this is personal preference.
    • There is no reason for you to bring additional copies of your CV or personal statement to an interview.
post-interview communication
  • View the official statement by the NRMP about post interview communication here.
  • Thank You Notes
    • The decision to send thank you notes is a combination of specialty and personal preference.
    • Most students who opted to send thank you notes did so via email as opposed to hand written. It is critically important to send unique thank you notes that do not contain the exact same language. Programs will identify applicants who do not take the time to write unique thank you letters and it reflects poorly on the applicant.
  • CRITICAL: Do not let any post interview communication influence your decision to rank a program. This cannot be overstated.
  • Letters of Intent and Interest
    • Communicate with your department chair to determine if a Letter (email) of Intent or Interest is appropriate for your specialty.
    • CRITICAL: If you decide to send letters of intent or interest you must be honest. If you send a letter of intent to more than one program it will ultimately be discovered and dishonesty is not tolerated.
  • Faculty Support
    • Oftentimes faculty will offer to advocate on your behalf to a specific program. This occurs organically between you, the department chair and the mentors with which you have developed a relationship. If a mentor or department chair has offered to reach out to a program on your behalf it is beneficial to wait until after your interviews have concluded so you can be confident which program you want them to contact.
  • CRITICAL: Throughout the interview season you must remember that you are not only representing yourself, but the University of Toledo College of Medicine as well. Your actions, positive and negative, will impact the opportunities afforded to future students. Please behave in a manner consistent with our standards of professionalism and Honor Code.

National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) R3 System


General Insight
  • The NRMP R3 system is where you will create your rank list. It is a separate entity from ERAS.
  • Registration for NRMP is required and is usually available in the Fall.
    • Once you have your NRMP number you must log in to ERAS and update your Personal Information. This makes it easier for programs to locate your identification numbers when creating their rank lists.
Rank List
  • When to Create Your Rank List
    • There are two options regarding when to create your rank list. These are to modify your list with each interview or wait until you have completed all of your interviews. Beware recency bias.
    • Regardless of the option you choose it is advisable to write down everything you can about each interview including but not limited to: first impression, interaction with the residents, interaction with faculty, positives and negatives in respect to the criteria you have deemed important, opinion of the location and any other thoughts/emotions you may experience. Your priorities may change as interview season evolves and you want to be able to evaluate each program through the same lens of priorities.
  • Rank List Criteria
    • This is entirely personal but criteria have included: location, patient population (i.e. underserved), variety of pathology, patient acuity, volume, autonomy, research opportunities, fellowship placement and interview experience.
    Rank Lists for Dual Applying and Couples Match
    • Dual Applying
      • Rank all of your interviews. Rank the second specialty even if it is at the end of your list. You must also consider whether you would rather train in your second specialty in a more desirable location with potentially better training, or pursue your first specialty at any location.
      • The vast majority of people will be happy in a number of different specialties. If you feel strongly about not ranking your second specialty then you should not have worked this hard to dual apply in the first place.
    • Couples Match
      • As stated before the first goal is for both individuals to match, second is to match geographically together and third is to match at a top program.
      • Your rank list will have seemingly infinite combinations, but this is part of the process.

CRITICAL: If you list the program on your Rank List it means you are comfortable spending multiple years in this location and trust that program to train you well. The alternative to not listing programs is the potential to not match. This difficult decision requires honesty with yourself and multiple discussions with your mentors, friends and family.

Last Updated: 2/12/20