The Match Series Part II: Adviser, ERAS, & LOR


DISCLAIMER: The following are MY personal tips and tricks for navigating the match process, by no means do I claim to be an expert. These are simply the things I learned along the way! So first things first..get an adviser.

ADVISER:
Identify an adviser early in your specialty of choice who can help you navigate the process. My adviser helped me with everything from selecting away rotations, revising my personal statement/CV, making a list of programs to apply to, deciding which interviews to go on, and formulating my rank list. Having someone who is familiar with the process, and can help you navigate it is an invaluable resource.

ERAS APPLICATION:
Start working on your personal statement and CV EARLY, and have them proofread and edited multiple times by a few different people. A lot of people will have a lot of suggestions, but ultimately you will have to decide whose feedback you will incorporate to make a statement that is most reflective of YOU. If your CV is organized and has been proofread, you can copy and paste it into ERAS. It can be tedious entering your entire CV (think AMCAS on steroids) so a good CV will do you good. ERAS opens in early September and you can begin entering your information. I tried to enter info each day to make it less daunting. Be sure to SUBMIT before 9/15, I submitted on 9/14. Its bound to happen, every year on 9/15 the site crashes as everyone tries to submit. So please do not wait until the last minute. You don’t want to be stressed, refreshing all day trying to get your application to go through. Be sure to PROOFREAD, PROOFREAD, and PROOFREAD. Do NOT leave the hobbies section blank, you will probably spend more time talking about these things than you think in your interviews, so also, DON’T LIE. When you submit can affect if you’re in the first download of applications, so do your best to be in that first batch by sticking to the 9/15 deadline. 

PROGRAM LIST:
Make sure you take time to research programs that interest you and discuss it with your adviser. Making a list can seem daunting! Think about if you would like to stay in the region or if you are open to going somewhere completely new. Are you looking for big cities, college towns? Do you have children? If so places with good school districts may be appealing for you. How important is the cost of living? Do you like snow? If you have never seen snow before, residency may not be the time for you to immerse yourself in that experience. How important is it to be near family? If you're in a relationship, how does your partner factor in? Could they relocate, would they be willing to do long distance? After you've considered these things, try to come up with a list of programs, in locations you like, where you would be a competitive applicant, and likely to get an interview. Be sure to have some reach, and safety programs in addition to the programs you are competitive for. The number of programs you apply to will vary depending on your specialty and competitiveness, this is where your adviser will be the most help. 

LOR
When you ask someone to write a letter for you try your best to ask in person so you can gauge their reaction. If there is even an OUNCE of hesitation you may want to consider asking someone else. Try to ask attendings you have worked closely with who wrote you a positive evaluation and/or you have a good rapport with. Choose attendings who can really speak to your work ethic, how you work in a team, interact with patients, etc. When requesting LORs different attendings ask for different things, but a good rule of thumb is to give your letter writers:
1.       Personal Statement
2.       CV
3.       Summative comments from clerkship evals
4.       Transcripts
5.       ERAS LOR form (can also be emailed to them)
Most programs require 3 letters, but again this may vary by specialty. The most you can assign to a program in ERAS is 4, so I recommend asking 5-6 people just to ensure you have 3-4 by the deadline. Be sure to remind them you need the letters by September, asking early is important so they can have adequate time . Be sure to send GENTLE reminders as the submit date approaches, but try not to nag or be rude, they are doing you a FAVOR. Some specialties require Chair letters, which is basically a LOR from your chair. This is done differently at every institution and you should reach out to your advisor to see if you need to setup a meeting, etc.

That wraps it up for this section, as always please leave questions below.
-MJ

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