ERAS and Interview Resources

When should I submit my ERAS application?
Programs have different application deadlines. It is important to check the website of each program to ensure that your application will be reviewed. Some applicants prefer to wait until a specific project/activity is completed or accepted for publication or wait to see if they might receive an award that is given on a fixed date. This makes sense since some of the programs who provided input to this advice column, report that members of the screening committee make preliminary evaluations as applications are received. However, all programs agreed that final interview decisions are not made until after the Dean’s letter is received and/or the deadline for application submission is reached. In fact, some programs do not even download applications until the date that their submissions close.

Should I list pre-medical school experiences in my ERAS application?
Work and undergraduate experiences should be noted if they strengthen your application. Unique experiences, such as founding/leading an organization, publications, and employment related to medicine are definitely worth mentioning.

Should I list abstracts and publications on the same topic separately in ERAS?
Yes. List the abstract as an accepted abstract and when it is published, list the article citation.

Should I disclose a medical condition?
Honesty is always the best policy. However, no one can be certain that knowledge of a medical condition might affect your candidacy at some programs. This could be appropriate, for instance, if a progressive visual problem would be likely to cause blindness over a short period of time. If you are not currently disabled, and treatment may prevent any future disability, you may choose to not disclose this information. If, however, your application is misleading, and problems arise, the program could possibly terminate for cause. You should understand your rights under the Americans With Disabilities Act, as this serves as the gold standard.

Personal statement…Creative or Cliché?
Creativity and good writing are always impressive. The personal statement has the potential to portray your human side and connect to the reader. However, there is a thin line between “creative” and “weird.”  Emphasize the positive aspects of your personality. The personal statement is also a place to let the reader know what is important to you. It may be worthwhile to stress short-term and long-term goals, your potential to make an impact on dermatology, and your ability to strengthen a training program. Whatever the topic, carry a theme, write clearly, and convey a carefully crafted “take-home” message.

How many letters of recommendation (LORs) should I submit?
ERAS allows submission of up to four LORs. Submission of three strong LORs is common and entirely acceptable. An additional letter counts only if it provides a different perspective, that helps the reviewer know you better.  If the 4th LOR is not strongly supportive of your application, it should not be submitted.

LOR from only dermatologists or other medical fields?
While letters from dermatologists are valuable, the quality of testimony and perspective (longitudinal experience or research) may add to one’s application. Some programs reported to us that they would favor each of the LORs be from a dermatologist; others favored a balance – two dermatology (one from the home program and an away rotation) and 1-2 medicine/other letters. In addition, a jointly signed letter from two people allows additional supporters to speak on your behalf. As there are different opinions on this subject, it may be best to ask your dermatology advisor for his/her thoughts.

How to prepare for interviews?
The interview is a critical moment for both the program and the applicant. From the evaluator’s perspective, the interview amplifies character strengths and weaknesses already evident in the ERAS documents. However, it also may highlight flaws that can only become apparent in a live encounter. For the applicant, the interview provides information and interaction with the program to help them calibrate their rank lists.

The best way to prepare is take a deep breath and be genuine. Programs often seek residents with a range of skills and goals. To learn a little about you in a short period of time, many programs ask “behavioral questions”. If you know your application, research, and career goals/plans well, you can provide examples in your responses, which highlight these scenarios. If you know your career plans, be forthright. Are you interested in academics, serving the underserved, or a private practice? Programs understand that plans can change.

Should I update a program about changes to my application?
Notification of publications, late AOA acceptance, and other honors or awards may be emailed to the residency coordinator. Some programs do use AOA membership as a point of evaluation during screening. If selected for an interview, one can bring an updated list of publications/activities to the interview. Updates to resumes/bibliography after the interview provide little additional support according to most programs.

Thank you letters:
Several programs tell candidates not to write thank you letters. Others leave this decision up to the candidate. At least one program stated on the previous forum that thank you cards/letters do not provide any benefit. Many, but not all, programs make their decision candidates shortly following the interview. While rank lists may change right up until the ERAS submission deadline, rarely does the rank list change based on additional information received from the candidate.

Please do not expect/be offended by the lack of a phone call/letter from programs as this is only in accordance with the highest ethical standards. Programs are happy to respond to any queries or need for clarification, but will never discuss preferences or rankings.