At the time of writing this blog post, I am only a week removed from submitting my ERAS (Electronic Residency Application Service) application. I am feeling a mix of emotions to say the least! Relief because the application process was a long and arduous process, stress about waiting for interviews, and excitement to learn more about the specific programs I applied to and will eventually interview at! And of course, at the end of this entire process, the hope is that I will find out where I match in March of 2023. I say that as if it is years from now, when in reality it is just a little over 5 months away!

So what do you need to know about applying to residency? For those of you in college/just applying to medical school/just beginning medical school, it might seem too early to be thinking about your residency application. And while it is early ~ probably even too early to think about/know what specialty you want to go into and who you want to ask to write your letters of recommendation ~ it is never too early to think about the components of ERAS and how you can best prepare yourself to have a solid application. For example, on ERAS there is a section where you will be asked to log your work experiences, volunteer experiences, research experiences, and publications. These experiences are essential to bolstering your application, and are experiences that you can add onto continuously throughout your four years of medical school. And as you add onto these experiences, make sure to update your CV!

Certain specialties will give you the option to fill out a supplemental application. The components of this supplemental application may vary by specialty, however there are some commonalities. Most specialties participating in the supplemental application will give you space to add five meaningful experiences. These experiences may or may not be experiences already on your main ERAS application, and should further show why you would be a good fit for the specialty you are applying for.

After filling out these meaningful experiences, you will likely be given the option to select your geographical preferences (maximum of 3 regions) for residency. For me personally, selecting my geographical preferences might have been the most difficult section of the entire application to fill out; whether to select any geographical preference at all was my main concern, as I did not want my chances of getting an interview at a program outside of my geographical preferences to be diminished. In the end, I decided to fill out this section because the final section of the supplemental application would effectively do the same thing. Depending on your specialty of choice, you will be given a certain number of signals that you can send to programs (e.g. Internal Medicine: 7 signals, Psychiatry: 5 signals, Neurology: 3 signals). Sending a signal to a program shows that you are highly interested in that program, and in theory should increase your chances of receiving an interview from that program. When determining which programs to signal, I divided the programs up into the following three categories based on the strength of my application: reach programs, probable programs, and safety programs. Once dividing up these programs, I made sure to signal a mixture of programs from all 3 categories.

As I not-so-patiently await interview invites over the next few weeks, I will leave you with a final thought about the application. When you fill out your ERAS application, there will be a section titled Hobbies & Interests. And while this might seem trivial, I have heard from previous classes that it can be the most important part of the application for interview day. Think about it: Receiving an interview from a program means that you are qualified academically for the position at their program. But would you fit in with your fellow residents at the program? The best way to answer this question is by getting to know you as a person outside of your profession, which is a big component of any job interview! Therefore, my advice would be to not take this section lightly. Really think about what you are passionate about outside of medicine when filling this section out, and be ready to talk enthusiastically about it during interview day!

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