Search This Blog

Sunday, August 29, 2010

How to Apply for Residency

(The article is taken from "Another Road to Residency" compiled by class of 2003 and 2004 of Agha Khan University, Karachi Pakistan.)
THE APPLICATION PROCESS                          Zainab Samad
Updated by Class of 2003

I have attached the chapter of Road to Residency that was written by Zainab Samad. I have edited the chapter in order to update. Updates and comments are written in non-italicized bold text:

The above links have the answer to most of your questions. How to use the site? What are the steps in applying…etc?

There is a wealth of information in the above two website links. I went over all of it and my application process went by very smoothly. I would advise that others do the same.

Almost all programs require applications to come through ERAS (Electronic Residency Application System). This has made the process and applying a whole lot easier. Since the programs start downloading applications on September 1st, the ERAS tokens become available in July. Requesting the token has become an online process. . The application fee is around $75. Your Token will be sent to the email address in your ECFMG record. You will have the opportunity to add or update your email address when you request your Token. To check your email address, access OASIS at On July 1st you will be able to log on to MyERAS at (You’ll have to register before you are able to log in).

As soon as you get the account, you can start working on the Common Application Form (on your account). This can even be printed out if you want to work on it in your spare time. The following link might help you in filling out the CAF - (I think this link is dead… a worksheet which will help you fill the CAF is available at ). Once the common application form is filled out, it is automatically converted to a CV. This form is sent to ALL programs. So submit it after checking everything a couple of times. Beware of typos and spelling errors since the ERAS program does not have spell check. The following link might help you in filling out My Profile - (I think this link is dead too).
Before applying to programs you need to be registered with the NRMP at Click on ‘Match Site’ and then click on ‘Register for NRMP matches’. Besides, the CAF requires the AAMC ID, which can not be obtained without registering with the NRMP.

Start early and work hard on your personal statement (PS). Show it to your seniors or juniors - anyone with a good head on his or her shoulders and anyone who can give you an honest opinion. You can make a number of personal statements. You can use different ones if you are applying in more than one specialty.

In the mean time, the ERAS office will send you an information booklet about how to use their site, and stickers. Have the following ready.

1) A copy of the dean’s letter (Give your CV to Nasreen Sheikh, well in advance as the dean’s letter takes time to make.)
2) A copy of the medical school transcript (if you are in the top 15, get one which mentions rank)
3) Copies of recommendation letters. (You can have a max of eight letters on the site…but only 4 can be sent to a particular program) Send as many as you can so that you have the option of choosing - 4 American letters and 4 AKU letters (including one from the dept head). Give your CV and PS to the letter writer so that he or she can add a personal touch to the letter.
5) A picture of you. The size should be 2.5 X 3.5 inches.

These documents are labeled using the stickers [Stickers are no longer available. Read about it at under the heading “How do I identify my documents”).  Also, now you need to send the ERAS Document Submission Form along with your documents. It is available at ] and then sent to the address that ERAS provides. These are then scanned by the staff and put in your folder. After sending these documents, you can create them in ‘My documents’ and then assign them to various programs once they are scanned.

The Transcript, Dean’s letter, Common Application Form, CV, your picture and the USMLE transcripts are sent to all programs that you apply to automatically. The only thing that you have to decide while applying to a certain program is a) which LoRs to send b) which personal statement to send c) whether you want to release the USMLE transcript or not.

Before selecting programs, SEARCH and SEARCH. Look up the Green book and the Internet for programs. You need to know, if the program is participating in the match, whether it is accepting applications through ERAS? What are its deadlines? Does it have specific requirements in terms of LoRs? Does it require a year’s US clinical experience? Does it accept only those with a green card or US citizenship status? What kind of a visa does it offer?

Applying is really easy...just a click away.

After you have applied, you can check the status of your application using ADTS (Applicants Documents Tracking System). This will allow you to see which programs have down loaded your application, how much of it, and when.

With in a few days of applying you will start hearing from programs on the email address that you have provided in your Common Application Form. So provide a reliable email address, one that you can even access in the States.

Factors that count in securing interview calls:
USMLE Step scores
U.S. Recommendation letters
Externships/Research Experience in the US
Medical School Performance
Calling up the Program Secretary repeatedly and sounding *really* enthusiastic about the program.(in fact this might be the single most important factor in a lot of programs, and I can’t stress it more)

Zainab Samad
Class of 2000

(Extract ends here)

Another analysis of one’s application has been added below:

“An important question that arises at this point is ‘How is my application judged?’ and ‘what makes an application stronger than others?’

Following factors play an important role and in that order:

1- USMLE scores (the higher the better...simple. This is the first and the foremost thing. Programs screen applications based on Step 1 scores. For example, a certain program decides that it will only call applicants whose Step 1 score is higher than 90. If your application has a lot of other strong points but your Step 1 score is 85, you will not be granted an interview call).
2- US Experience/electives (clinical experience in the USA; Observerships don't count. Some places equate UK or Canadian experience to US experience).
3- Strong Recommendation letters from Gora Saab (if you have done electives in US).
4- Strong Recommendation letters from your Medical School Faculty (or any other guy you have worked with).
5- Your performance in medical school (Class rank being an important indicator).
6- Reputation of your medical school in USA. (Yes, good reputation helps but lack of reputation does not prevent you from getting in).
7- Research experience is low on the list but is a definite advantage if you want to get into a University program.
8- Green card or American passport is an advantage because then there are no visa issues to solve for the program. However, I am not sure where to put it in the list. For some programs, it is an important advantage, for others it does not matter what your passport looks like as long as you prove to be competent.”

Class of 2003

No comments:

Post a Comment