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Should I Include College Activities on ERAS Application?

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The ERAS application Electronic Residency Application Service is an application you fill out during medical school in preparation for the MATCH process in order to obtain a residency. There are several common questions that come up in filling out the ERAS application. While it is similar to the AMCAS application in some regards, residency program director’s look at applicants experiences quite differently than a medical school admissions committee would. This leads to differences in the way the applications should be filled out and if college activities should be included on the ERAS application. Here are a few general rules of thumb:

  1. If it was published research, include it

Research is tremendously important to residency programs in most instances. Even if the research was NOT in the field you are applying into (and chances are that it wasn’t), you should still include any published or substantial research on your ERAS application. This includes poster presentations or oral presentations where you were the presenting author.

  1. If it relates to your speciality of chose, include it

This means that if you are applying into OB/Gyn and in college you spent hours volunteering at a women’s health center, this experience should absolutely be included because it adds to your narrative for residency programs.

  1. If it was substantial experience in some way, include it

If you were in Teach for America, the PeaceCorps or even did work during gap years before medical school, these are all substantial experiences that residency programs would love to hear about. They shaped who you are as a person, so they should be included on the ERAS application when you submit it.

  1. If it was for less than 40 hours, do not include it

The 40 hour mark is somewhat arbitrary, but basically if you had an experience in college that you did not invest a substantial amount of time into, then a residency program is not going to care about it. Do not include it as it will take away from more important experiences.

  1. If it was college volunteering on a small scale, do not include it

For ERAS, volunteer activities are far less important than they were for AMCAS. While we all love students who volunteer, college level volunteering will only bog down your residency application. You should have a few experiences from medical school that you can put on there instead.

Here is another tip for your ERAS activities section: KISS (keep it short and simple). As a residency program director, you have a few hundred applicants to wade through. When that PD looks at an application, they want to get out the crux of it right away. What’s important to their speciality and research is most important. You do not want your ERAS activities bogged down with dozens of college level activities that will only take focus away from the important things you’ve done in medical school!

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