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NBOME

Applying to Residency in a Pandemic ‒ Don’t Panic, Get the Facts!

There is little that COVID-19 hasn’t impacted in our daily lives—everything from special events like weddings, funerals, the birth of a baby, to routine daily activities like going to work, class, and getting together with friends. If you’re entering your 4th year of medical school, that likely also includes applying for residency. We sat down with AAMC staff: Amy Mathis, Senior Director at ERAS and Michele Oesterheld, Director of Client Services at ERAS, to talk about some of the key changes in this year’s application season.

There is little that COVID-19 hasn’t impacted in our daily lives—everything from special events like weddings, funerals, the birth of a baby, to routine daily activities like going to work, class, and getting together with friends. If you’re entering your 4th year of medical school, that likely also includes applying for residency. We sat down with AAMC staff: Amy Mathis, Senior Director at ERAS and Michele Oesterheld, Director of Client Services at ERAS, to talk about some of the key changes in this year’s application season.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed the Match or the ERAS registration timeline—were there any changes to the 2021 ERAS Residency Application Cycle?

The Coalition for Physician Accountability’s Work Group on Medical Students in the Class of 2021: Moving Across Institutions for Post Graduate Training made recommendations on major issues facing applicants and training programs as they prepare for the 2021 residency application cycle. In the wake of coronavirus (COVID-19), the Coalition recommends a delayed opening of ERAS for residency programs and a delayed release of the MSPE with a shared date for both. After much consideration for everyone involved and in collaboration with AAMC affinity groups, specialty organizations, and the ERAS Advisory Committee, ERAS has determined that on Wednesday, October 21, 2020, residency programs will gain access to applications and MSPEs will be released to residency programs. This delay gives applicants five more weeks to finalize their applications before submitting to residency programs. These date changes are reflected on the ERAS 2021 Residency Application Timeline.

Are there any other changes to the normal application process?

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant disruptions to medical education across the country and has drastically changed the usual application process this cycle. To draw attention to these changes, ERAS communicates with the program community through different channels (emails, community sites, webinars, training, special workgroups, etc.) during the application season.  Several specialties have released guidance for applicants around their application cycle. Please visit this page for additional details.

How can applicants stand out in a virtual setting?

The AAMC has posted several resources for residency applicants on conducting interviews during the coronavirus pandemic.

Prep for Success in Your Virtual Interview

Programs may be conducting live virtual interviews or incorporating an asynchronous/on-demand virtual interview into their process. This webinar will help you prepare for success in your virtual interviews by identifying a suitable environment, preparing and practicing with technology, and preparing for and responding to interview questions. It discusses how to address possible challenges you may face with virtual interviews and possible steps you might take to overcome them. These resources are also available in PowerPoint slides (PDF).

What key resources do you recommend for 2021 applicants?

ERAS encourages applicants to utilize the guides and worksheets listed below to assist with submitting applications.

What advice do you have for 2021 applicants?

Research programs. To help you determine which programs best fit your interests and skills, programs may provide additional details about their selection criteria and application requirements. This information is provided on ERAS 2021 Participating Specialties & Programs webpage and within ERAS, a blue informational icon will appear next to the name of programs that have provided additional information.  The AAMC has curated a series of resources that explain the process and ensure that the residency program you select is the right fit for you. Your likelihood of securing residency training depends on many factors – including the number of residency programs you apply to. This diminishing returns data is provided on the Apply Smart: Data to Consider When Applying to Residency website.

You can also research individual residency programs across 23 specialties and compare yourself to previously matched applicants at those programs using the Residency Explorer Tool.

Prepare your application.

  • Create personal statement(s)
  • Send Letter Request Forms to your Letters of Recommendation (LoRs) authors
  • Authorize the release of the COMLEX-USA and/or USMLE transcripts
  • Manage documents
  • Tip: Documents can be uploaded and assigned even after you have certified and submitted your application. Keep track of your document assignments using the Assignments Checklist (found under the Programs tab).
  • Import ERAS resume information and LoRs from your most recently submitted application (application materials are available starting with ERAS 2016 season) under the “History” tab

Check your application. Please review your application before certifying and submitting. Once you certify and submit, you will not be able to make any changes to your MyERAS application except to the “Personal Information” section – which includes the ability to upload and assign new documents after submission.

What are some of the other major questions or concerns you are receiving in relation to the 2021 application cycle?

The ERAS FAQ page for ERAS Residency Applicants contains many of the concerns we are currently hearing and will be updated throughout the ERAS 2021 season. Some of these include questions in regards to which programs will be participating in 2021, editing MyERAS Documents, application deadlines, and more.

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