Posted by: medhelpteam | August 24, 2009



In order for a Letter of Recommendation (LoR) to be transmitted to the
ERAS PostOffice, you must reserve a slot for that LoR in your MyERAS
account. ERAS Support Services at ECFMG strongly encourages you to
reserve slots for your LoRs now so that LoRs that have been received and
scanned by ERAS Support Services, including available LoRs from the
previous ERAS season, can be attached to the reserved slot and will be
available for you to assign to programs when the ERAS PostOffice opens
on September 1, 2009.  ERAS Support Services cannot transmit an LoR to
the ERAS PostOffice if a slot has not been reserved for that LoR in

How to Reserve a Slot for an LoR

1. Log into MyERAS at

2. Click on the Documents tab.

3. Click on the Letters of Recommendation tab. 

4. Create a new letter writer by clicking Designate a New Letter of
Recommendation Writer. 

5. Enter the LoR Author Name and LoR Author Title/Department. The last
field, Specialty(s) to which this letter will be assigned, is optional. 

Important Note: The specialty field helps you identify your LoRs when
assigning them to programs and helps ERAS Support Services identify LoRs
when attaching them to your application. If you have a generic LoR that
is applicable to all specialties, please specify the LoR as "All
Specialty(s)."  If you have a specialty-specific LoR, please specify the
specialty to which the LoR applies.

6. Click "Save" when you are finished.

7. Repeat this process for all of your designated letter writers.

8. After you have finished designating your letter writers, click the
check box next to the LoR(s) that you wish to reserve a slot for and
enter your MyERAS password in the space provided. 

9. Click "Submit Request" to complete the process. Make sure to click
"Submit Request" instead of "Enter" after entering your password. 

Important Note: Once you reserve the slot for your LoR, the LoR cannot
be edited. If it contains errors, you will need to create a new slot as
a replacement for the one containing errors. Inform ERAS Support
Services at ECFMG of the error so that the document can be attached

To verify that ERAS Support Services has received your LoRs and/or that
your LoRs from ERAS 2009 are available for reuse, go to the View Receipt
of ERAS Documents tab of the ERAS Support Services section of ECFMG's
OASIS. You can access OASIS from the ECFMG website at It
is your responsibility to follow up with letter writers and to confirm
that your LoRs have been received by ERAS Support Services in time to
meet program deadlines.

Important Note:  Due to the increasingly high volume of incoming ERAS
supporting documents, ERAS Support Services at ECFMG requires up to four
weeks to scan and upload documents to the ERAS PostOffice from the time
documents are received by ERAS Support Services.
Posted by: medhelpteam | August 9, 2009

Fee for applying into programs

first 10 applications – $65 total

11-20 : $8 each

21-30 : $15 each

31 or more: $25each

Posted by: medhelpteam | July 7, 2009


1. What IS a resume anyway?
Remember: a Resume is a self-promotional document that presents you in the best possible light, for the purpose of getting invited to a job interview.
It’s not an official personnel document. It’s not a job application. It’s not a “career obituary”! And it’s not a confessional.

2. What should the resume content be about?
It’s not just about past jobs! It’s about YOU, and how you performed and what you accomplished in those past jobs–especially those accomplishments that are most relevant to the work you want to do next. A good resume predicts how you might perform in that desired future job.

3. What’s the fastest way to improve a resume?
Remove everything that starts with “responsibilities included” and replace it with on-the-job accomplishments. (See Tip 11 for one way to write them.)

4. What is the most common resume mistake made by job hunters?
Leaving out their Job Objective! If you don’t show a sense of direction, employers won’t be interested. Having a clearly stated goal doesn’t have to confine you if it’s stated well.

5. What’s the first step in writing a resume?
Decide on a job target (or “job objective”) that can be stated in about 5 or 6 words. Anything beyond that is probably “fluff” and indicates a lack of clarity and direction.

6. How do you decide whether to use a Chronological resume or a Functional one? The Chronological format is widely preferred by employers, and works well if you’re staying in the same field (especially if you’ve been upwardly-mobile). Only use a Functional format if you’re changing fields, and you’re sure a skills-oriented format would show off your transferable skills to better advantage; and be sure to include a clear chronological work history!

7. What if you don’t have any experience in the kind of work you want to do?
Get some! Find a place that will let you do some volunteer work right away. You only need a brief, concentrated period of volunteer training (for example, 1 day a week for a month) to have at least SOME experience to put on your resume.
Also, look at some of the volunteer work you’ve done in the past and see if any of THAT helps document some skills you’ll need for your new job.

8. What do you do if you have gaps in your work experience?
You could start by looking at it differently.
General Rule: Tell what you WERE doing, as gracefully as possible–rather than leave a gap.
If you were doing anything valuable (even if unpaid) during those so-called “gaps” you could just insert THAT into the work-history section of your resume to fill the hole. Here are some examples:

  • 1993-95 Full-time parent — or
  • 1992-94 Maternity leave and family management — or
  • Travel and study — or Full-time student — or
  • Parenting plus community service

9. What if you have several different job objectives you’re working on at the same time? Or you haven’t narrowed it down yet to just one job target?
Then write a different resume for each different job target. A targeted resume is MUCH, much stronger than a generic resume.

10. What if you have a fragmented, scrambled-up work history, with lots of short-term jobs?
To minimize the job-hopper image, combine several similar jobs into one “chunk,” for example:

  • 1993-1995 Secretary/Receptionist; Jones Bakery, Micro Corp., Carter Jewelers — or
  • 1993-95 Waiter/Busboy; McDougal’s Restaurant, Burger King, Traders Coffee Shop.

Also you can just drop some of the less important, briefest jobs.
But don’t drop a job, even when it lasted a short time, if that was where you acquired important skills or experience.

11. What’s the best way to impress an employer?
Fill your resume with “PAR” statements. PAR stands for Problem-Action-Results; in other words, first you state the problem that existed in your workplace, then you describe what you did about it, and finally you point out the beneficial results.

Here’s an example: “Transformed a disorganized, inefficient warehouse into a smooth-running operation by totally redesigning the layout; this saved the company thousands of dollars in recovered stock.”

Another example: “Improved an engineering company’s obsolete filing system by developing a simple but sophisticated functional-coding system. This saved time and money by recovering valuable, previously lost, project records.”

For resume writing service mail at

12. What if your job title doesn’t reflect your actual level of responsibility?
When you list it on the resume, either replace it with a more appropriate job title (say “Office Manager” instead of “Administrative Assistant” if that’s more realistic) OR use their job title AND your fairer one together, i.e. “Administrative Assistant (Office Manager)”

13. How can you avoid age discrimination?
If you’re over 40 or 50 or 60, remember that you don’t have to present your entire work history! You can simply label THAT part of your resume “Recent Work History” or “Relevant Work History” and then describe only the last 10 or 15 years of your experience. Below your 10-15 year work history, you could add a paragraph headed “Prior relevant experience” and simply refer to any additional important (but ancient) jobs without mentioning dates.

14. What if you never had any “real” paid jobs — just self-employment or odd jobs? Give yourself credit, and create an accurate, fair job-title for yourself. For example:

  • A&S Hauling & Cleaning (Self-employed) — or
  • Household Repairman, Self-employed — or
  • Child-Care, Self-employed

Be sure to add “Customer references available on request” and then be prepared to provide some very good references of people you worked for.

15. How far back should you go in your Work History?
Far enough; and not too far! About 10 or 15 years is usually enough – unless your “juiciest” work experience is from farther back.

16. How can a student list summer jobs?
Students can make their resume look neater by listing seasonal jobs very simply, such as “Spring 1996” or “Summer 1996” rather than 6/96 to 9/96. (The word “Spring” can be in very tiny letters, say 8-point in size.)

For resume writing service mail at

17. What if you don’t quite have your degree or credentials yet?
You can say something like:

  • Eligible for U.S. credentials — or
  • Graduate studies in Instructional Design, in progress — or
  • Master’s Degree anticipated December 1997

18. What if you worked for only one employer for 20 or 30 years?
Then list separately each different position you held there, so your job progression within the company is more obvious.

19. What about listing hobbies and interests?
Don’t include hobbies on a resume unless the activity is somehow relevant to your job objective, or clearly reveals a characteristic that supports your job objective. For example, a hobby of Sky Diving (adventure, courage) might seem relevant to some job objectives (Security Guard?) but not to others.

20. What about revealing race or religion?
Don’t include ethnic or religious affiliations (inviting pre-interview discrimination) UNLESS you can see that including them will support your job objective. Get an opinion from a respected friend or colleague about when to reveal, and when to conceal, your affiliations.

21. What if your name is Robin Williams?
Don’t mystify the reader about your gender; they’ll go nuts until they know whether you’re male or female. So if your name is Lee or Robin or Pat or anything else not clearly male or female, use a Mr. or Ms. prefix.

22. What if you got your degree from a different country?
You can say “Degree equivalent to U.S. Bachelor’s Degree in Economics-Teheran, Iran.”

23. What about fancy-schmancy paper?
Employers tell me they HATE parchment paper and pretentious brochure-folded resume “presentations.” They think they’re phony, and toss them right out. Use plain white or ivory, in a quality appropriate for your job objective. Never use colored paper unless there’s a very good reason for it (like, you’re an artist) because if it gets photo-copied the results will be murky.
Add New Post ‹ Medhelp team’s Blog — WordPress
24. Should you fold your resume?
Don’t fold a laser-printed resume right along a line of text. The “ink” could flake off along the fold.

For resume writing service mail at

Posted by: medhelpteam | July 5, 2009

Document Submission Form

Document Submission Form (DSF)

ERAS Support Services at ECFMG strongly urges all ERAS 2010 participants to include a completed Document Submission Form (DSF) each time document(s) are submitted to ECFMG for scanning. The DSF is an important part of ERAS Support Services’ document tracking system, and will streamline the preparation of ERAS supporting documents submitted for scanning. Submission of a DSF also enables itemized tracking of these supporting documents through the “Verify Receipt of Documents” function of ECFMG’s OASIS.

IMPORTANT NOTE: A completed DSF should only be submitted when documents are mailed to ERAS Support Services at ECFMG for scanning. A DSF does not need to be submitted when a medical school submits an electronic document on an applicant’s behalf or an applicant uploads a digital photograph via ECFMG’s OASIS. Also, Repeat Applicants are not required to complete the DSF for any documents reused from the ERAS 2009 season, including Medical Student Performance Evaluations (MSPEs), medical school transcripts, letters of recommendation, and photographs.

Before completing the DSF, you must first obtain an AAMC Identification Number by registering with your ERAS 2010 Token at the MyERAS website. The AAMC Identification Number is a required field on the DSF. Once you have obtained the number, login to ECFMG’s OASIS and go to the ERAS Support Services page, where you will find a link to the DSF. You can access the DSF as many times as needed throughout the ERAS 2010 season.

IMPORTANT NOTE: You cannot register at the AAMC MyERAS website and obtain an AAMC Identification Number until you have obtained a 2010 Token from ECFMG.

Steps for Completing the DSF (include a completed DSF each time documents are mailed for scanning)

  1. Obtain a 2010 Token from ECFMG.
  2. Use this Token to register with MyERAS and obtain your AAMC Identification Number.
  3. Login to ECFMG’s OASIS and go to the ERAS Support Services page.
  4. Click on “Document Submission Form.”
  5. Enter your AAMC Identification Number in the designated field. This is a required field; you will not be able to complete the DSF without your AAMC Identification Number.
  6. Under Document Categories, select the boxes next to the document types (Medical Student Performance Evaluation, Medical School Transcript, Letter of Recommendation, etc.) that you are currently submitting. Do not fill in any information regarding documents you have submitted previously or intend to submit to ERAS Support Services.
  7. Letters of Recommendation:
    • Enter the name of the letter writer in the “Author” field.
    • In the “Title/Department” field, enter the title of the letter writer, his or her department of operation, and the name of the institution where he or she works.
    • In the “Specialty(s) to which this letter will be assigned” field, enter the specialty of the program to which you are assigning the letter (such as Internal Medicine). If the letter will be assigned to programs in multiple specialties (such as Internal Medicine, Family Practice, and Pediatrics), enter all the specialty names. If the Letter of Recommendation is applicable to all of your applied-to specialties, enter the words “All Specialties.”
    • Click on “Add LoR” after each letter writer designation.
    • Repeat this process for each Letter of Recommendation you are currently submitting.
  8. Comments/Special Instructions. In this field, enter any comments or special instructions that you feel are important to the processing of your documents (such as the fact that the document should replace a previously submitted document).
  9. Once the DSF is completed, print a copy.
  10. If you are submitting the documents to ERAS Support Services yourself, include a printed copy with the supporting documents.
  11. If your medical school or Letter of Recommendation writers are submitting documents to ERAS Support Services on your behalf, provide them with a printed copy of the completed DSF and a copy of these instructions.

Note for Repeat Applicants: ERAS Support Services will reuse your Medical Student Performance Evaluation (MSPE), medical school transcript, photograph, and LoRs that were assigned to at least one program from the ERAS 2009 season. You should not submit a DSF for these document types unless you are submitting new documents for scanning.

Special Instructions for Letter of Recommendation (LoR) Writers: All applicants are strongly urged to complete the DSF and provide it to their letter writers. In addition, all applicants must complete and sign the AAMC Request for Letter of Recommendation/Cover Sheet and provide it to their letter writers. These documents should be submitted with the LoR. The applicant is responsible for providing these documents to the letter writer. If the applicant has not provided these documents, please ask him or her to do so before submitting the LoR to ERAS Support Services.

Special Instructions for Medical Schools: If the medical school is submitting supporting document(s) to ERAS Support Services on an applicant’s behalf, the applicant is strongly urged to complete the DSF and provide it to the medical school. If an applicant is not physically at the medical school, the applicant can e-mail or fax the completed DSF to the medical school. The DSF should be submitted with the associated documents. The applicant is responsible for providing a completed DSF to the medical school. If the applicant has not provided this document, please ask him or her to do so before submitting any documents to ERAS Support Services.

Posted by: medhelpteam | July 5, 2009

New For ERAS 2010

New for ERAS 2010

International medical students/graduates and Fifth Pathway participants planning to participate in ERAS 2010 must read these important announcements. ERAS 2010 Tokens can be obtained via ECFMG’s OASIS beginning on Tuesday, June 23, 2009. You can register using your Token at MyERAS beginning on Wednesday, July 1, 2009.

All ERAS 2010 participants should also refer to the important announcements posted on the Announcements page.

ERAS Token Fee Increases

The fee for a Token has increased to $90 per ERAS application season. The Token is a 14-digit, alpha-numeric code required to register at the MyERAS website. Tokens are valid for one ERAS season only; the ERAS software will not recognize a Token issued for a previous ERAS season.

You can obtain a Token via ECFMG’s OASIS beginning on Tuesday, June 23, 2009.

Mandatory Use of Digital Photograph Upload Feature

If you wish to submit a photograph as part of your ERAS application, you must submit a digital photograph via the ERAS Support Services section of ECFMG’s OASIS. Photographs mailed to ERAS Support Services for scanning will not be accepted. For instructions on how to upload your digital photograph, see the Documents page.

If you participated in the ERAS 2009 season and submitted a photograph, ERAS Support Services will reuse that photograph for ERAS 2010. If you wish to update your photograph, follow the instructions for uploading a digital photo via ECFMG’s OASIS.

ERAS 2010 Repeat Applicants Can Reuse Letters of Recommendation

If you participated in the ERAS 2009 season and also participate in the ERAS 2010 season, you are considered a Repeat Applicant. Repeat Applicants are not required to resubmit Medical Student Performance Evaluations (MSPEs), medical school transcripts, or photographs unless they want to update these documents. New for ERAS 2010, Repeat Applicants also will be able to reuse those Letters of Recommendation (LoRs) that they assigned to at least one program during the ERAS 2009 season.

You will be automatically identified as a Repeat Applicant at the time you make an ERAS 2010 Token request via OASIS. ERAS Support Services will retrieve your stored ERAS 2009 MSPE, medical school transcript, and photograph and upload them to the ERAS 2010 PostOffice within three to five business days from the time you use your Token to register at MyERAS. ERAS Support Services will retrieve any LoR that you assigned to at least one program during ERAS 2009 and upload it to the ERAS PostOffice within one to two business days from the time that you reserve an electronic slot for the letter writer at MyERAS. You will be able to track the status of these existing documents via the ERAS Support Services section of ECFMG’s OASIS.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Only those LoRs that were assigned to at least one program during ERAS 2009 will be reused for ERAS 2010. If you submitted an LoR but did not assign it to any programs during ERAS 2009, that LoR will not be available for reuse in ERAS 2010. To use that letter for ERAS 2010, submit it to ERAS Support Services, accompanied by a completed Document Submission Form.

For more information, including instructions on how to reuse LoRs, see Repeat Applicants.

ERAS Support Services at ECFMG Working with International Medical Schools to Implement Electronic Submission of Supporting Documents

ERAS Support Services at ECFMG is collaborating with international medical schools that have formally agreed to submit supporting documents electronically to ECFMG on behalf of their students/graduates. These documents include MSPEs, medical school transcripts, and LoRs.

Electronic submission of supporting documents eliminates the need for ERAS Support Services to scan these documents, enabling ERAS Support Services to upload documents to the ERAS PostOffice within two to three business days of their receipt at ECFMG. Currently, ERAS Support Services requires up to four weeks to scan and upload documents to the ERAS PostOffice.

This method of document submission is open to all international medical schools that wish to participate. For more information, interested schools should contact ERAS Support Services at; enter “Electronic Document Submission / Attn: Ms. Anna Iacone” in the subject line

• Be familiar with and able to apply the core

content of the rotation specialty. Before

your rotation begins, take time to review one or

two relevant textbooks and go over any notes

you may have. Be sure to draw on this body of

knowledge as you demonstrate your diagnostic

and clinical skills.

• Read as much as you can about the illnesses

of the patients you are seeing. Monitor your

patients’ charts daily. Research patient problems

using journals, reference manuals recommended

by your team, and Internet sources, such as

Medline or UpToDate. This will help you prepare

for rounds.

• Be a team player. Get to know your ward team

– who they are, what they do and how your role

interacts with each of them. Having a good working

relationship with the ward team is highly valued in

the clinical setting. True standouts evenly share

responsibility, are well liked, and communicate

effectively with other team members.

• Dress professionally, be on time and be

enthusiastic. Attitude and appearance count.

Take extra care on your rotations to look your

best. On the first day of a rotation, unless you

know that scrubs are acceptable attire, dress

professionally. Make sure your style of dress is

appropriate for the setting. Showing up early or

staying late could also score you points – as long

as you are being productive and learning in the

process (and not just “hanging out”). Finally, in

everything you do, no matter how dull, boring or

insignificant the task, show enthusiasm.

• Establish an informal learning agreement

with your preceptor, resident or attending at

the beginning of each clinical rotation. This

exercise affords you and the supervising physician

a touchstone for you to learn the clinical decision-

making and procedural skills you want from the

rotation. Agreeing on goals and understanding

how information will be taught ensures that your

clinical experience is valuable.

• Keep a journal for each rotation. Record such

things as the number of patients you see every

day, the types of illnesses your patients have,

any of your medical “firsts” (i.e., the first physical

you perform, the first baby you deliver, etc.) and

any expectations you have for the rotation before

you begin. This will help you remember your

experiences and process your feelings. When

it’s time to choose a specialty, your journal will

help you reconcile your experiences with your

expectations and goals.

• Learn to ask enough questions to satisfy your

hunger for knowledge without monopolizing

precious time. Although you don’t want to stifle

an important question, it is necessary to make

the most of limited time with attendings, residents

and interns. Pay attention to other students and

learn from them – if other students are getting on

your nerves because of their constant barrage of

questions, don’t repeat their mistakes.

• Maximize time spent waiting during rotations.

Since you never know when you’ll have extra time,

don’t go anywhere without something to read.

Keeping journal articles or reference materials

with you will afford you the opportunity to study,

read up on a patient, or prepare for your next set

of rounds.

• During down time, resist the urge to engage in

excessive non-rotation tasks, such as personal

e-mail, Web surfing, blogging or personal

phone calls. Your residents and attendings may

interpret this as boredom, distraction or disinterest.

Instead, check out online resources such as Virtual

FMIG, and the AAFP’s Board

your rotation experience.

• When you are on call (or working a long shift

on rotations), take time to go outside for a

few minutes. Even if you are extremely busy,

you should be able to find at least 30 seconds to

stick your head out the door and take in few quick

gulps of air between patients or hospital errands.

You’ll be amazed at what a breadth of fresh air can

do to your psyche – especially when you’re going

to work in the dark, going home in the dark, and

you’re bathed in the fluorescent light of hospital

bulbs during most of the day.

• To stay awake and alert while you are

on call, find ways to keep physically and

mentally active. Take the stairs, write notes

while standing up, stretch, read stimulating

materials, or talk to other staff members.

According to experts, the normal circadian cycle

involves a 4:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. slump. During

this period, remaining awake or maintaining

alertness is most difficult. The key is to keep

physically active.

• In the middle of each rotation, ask your senior

resident or attending for a verbal evaluation.

Don’t wait until your final evaluation to find out how

you’re doing. If you get feedback early in your

rotation, you can use it to improve before you are

formally evaluated.

• If you are not afforded the opportunity to

perform some clinical decision-making and

procedural skills that you wish to perfect

during a rotation, ask your supervising

physician what you can do to gain more

experience. In a busy practice or on the wards,

it may be difficult for the supervising physician

to know which skills you want to enhance. If

your supervising physician indicates that you will

not have an opportunity to perform a particular

procedure, ask what you can do to gain that


• When you have completed a rotation, take a

moment to assess what you’ve learned. Here

are some key questions to ask yourself: What

did you learn about illnesses and diseases

from your patients? Did you achieve a level

of proficiency in any procedures during this

rotation? Which ones? What procedures do

you need to work on? What procedures would

you like to gain a greater proficiency in? Are

you more comfortable presenting patients?

What areas do you excel in? What areas need

improvement? What did you learn from your

mistakes and those of others? How frequently

did you seek out verbal feedback? How did you

benefit from this feedback? Use your responses

to these questions to help make the most of your

next rotation.

• At the beginning of your ambulatory block

experiences, identify opportunities to gain

skills beyond doing H&Ps, documentation and

procedures. With your preceptor, identify the

clinic’s most pressing needs as they relate to the

care of patients. Examples might include patient

education programming, developing stronger ties

to community-based ancillary health agencies

and participating in the clinic’s quality assurance

process. Also, keep in mind that a preceptor may

be hesitant to assign tasks if he or she thinks you

are uncomfortable. Don’t be afraid to volunteer.

However, be prepared if the preceptor prefers to

do a task alone.

• Avoid asking questions of the preceptor

during the patient encounter. You should

have some time built in at the end of the day or

between patients to ask questions.

• If you find yourself on the receiving end

of harsh criticism, don’t take it personally.

Remember that the attending, intern, resident or

preceptor is not criticizing you as a person – they

are criticizing your actions. No doubt you have

experienced criticism many times by now, and you

will experience even more during residency. Try to

understand that you are human and you will make

mistakes. Distance yourself from the criticism or

situation, deal with it and move forward.

• Do your best to get through emotionally

draining experiences and, when you get a

chance, take a few minutes to process your

thoughts and mentally recuperate. Students

as well as interns and residents can experience

some powerful emotions during rotations and on

call. Because these situations are often stressful

and don’t allow you to get away immediately, find

a quiet place or walk outside for a few minutes

when you can. For really tough situations,

consider discussing your emotional reactions

with a student support group. Many schools offer

such groups to help students get through the

challenges of medical school. Ask your office of

student affairs what resources are available on

your campus.

• As the end of third year approaches and

you start to work more independently,

it’s important to ask your preceptor for

suggestions for improvement. Preceptors are

under pressures and time constraints and may

not be as focused on teaching as you would

like. Because of the hurried environment, your

preceptor may not take the time to give you the

counsel and constructive feedback that you need

to improve. Remind your preceptor that his or her

input is important to you by asking “What skills do

I need to work on?” or “What can I do to become

a better physician?”

• If you are on an away rotation, take steps

before the rotation begins to get oriented to

your new location. Many fourth-year medical

students opt to do an away rotation in the fall.

September seems to be an especially popular

month for medical students to do a rotation at a

particular residency program of interest. These

rotations are sometimes referred to as “audition”

rotations. If you are on an audition rotation or any

away rotation, you will need to become familiar

with your new working environment quickly. Here

are some tips:

1. Study the hospital layout ahead of time.

Before your rotation begins, tour the facility.

Obtain a map, if necessary, and locate the

essential areas, such as the patient floors,

operating rooms, labs, cafeteria, etc. Knowing

your way around will reduce some of the anxiety

associated with being at a new place with new


2. Find out where your ward team will meet

on the first day. Before your rotation begins,

phone your contact or call the department’s

main office at the university or program to

confirm where you will meet the first day and at

what time.

3. If you know individuals who have done this

rotation, ask them for pointers. Find out what

they felt were the greatest challenges and the

most rewarding experiences. Pay particular

attention to their comments about people you

may be working closely with.

4. Have copies of your CV, personal statement

and other application materials. This

information will come in handy if you decide

to request a letter of recommendation from an

attending (to give the attending as supplemental

information about you) or if the program asks to

interview you while you are still on the rotation.

Posted by: medhelpteam | July 5, 2009

ERAS Step By Step Guidance


  • Developed by the AAMC for transmitting residency applications, LORs, the MSPE, transcripts, and your photo to residency programs using the internet

The ERAS Process

  • Explore the ERAS website at

  • Research programs at their websites to gather information

The ERAS Process

  • In mid-June click on “Resources to Download” – select “ERAS 2009 Applicant Manual” to download it
  • In early July use your token to register for ERAS

The ERAS Process

  • Use your CV to complete your CAF in ERAS
  • Save your PS as a text file, then copy and paste it into ERAS
  • The ERAS Post Office opens Sept 1st and that’s when programs can begin downloading your documents
  • Type names of LOR writers into ERAS


  • Once you approve, designate in ERAS, and assign LORs to your programs, It will be uploaded to the ERAS Post Office for programs to download


  • Application fee (10 progs) – $60
  • 11-20 programs – $8 each
  • 21-30 programs – $15 each
  • ≥ 31 programs – $ 25 each

USMLE Scores

  • Know your USMLE ID number – you’ll need it to release your scores via ERAS and the NBME
  • First question: answer “yes”
  • Second question: if you want Step 2 score automatically released, say “yes”

USMLE Scores

  • If you want to see your Step 2 score before the NBME re-releases it to ERAS, say “no” to second question
  • Then remember to go into ERAS and manually re-release your Step 2 score


  • Use the Applicant Document Tracking System to see what documents have been uploaded and downloaded in ERAS

The ERAS Process

  • ERAS is designed to be dynamic
  • Don’t wait till every document is in place before you submit your ERAS
  • Complete the profile and CAF (the CAF can’t be changed once certified and submitted) near Sept 1st

The ERAS Process

  • LORs, transcripts, and photo can be added as they arrive
  • The sooner programs get your profile and CAF, the sooner they can invite you to interview
  • Programs will want your application complete before you interview there
Posted by: medhelpteam | July 5, 2009

More Personal Statement Tips

I. Some Words on Structure

Structure refers to how you choose to present the information in your personal statement. Good structure will make your piece flow, and enhance the reader’s ability to understand what you are trying to get across.

Some people can write well without thinking too much about structure. They naturally organize their information to be seamless, transitioning well between points and making their comments relevant to a theme. Most people, however, need to work at it a little more. Here are some very basic tips on how to make sure your personal statement has good structure.

Choose a FOCUS

What is it?
Focus refers to the main point of your statement. Sometimes it is called a theme. Most of what you say in your statement will contribute to supporting your focus. In the very broadest sense, the focus of all medical school personal statements is “Why I Should Be Accepted to Medical School,”. However, you need to choose something a little more subtle and personal to make a positive impression. Your focus should entail a value or an observation that has shaped you as a person. Most of the time a focus is an abstract quality: the desire to help others, the importance of individual contribution, the drive to unite science and compassion.

How to choose it.
Because of the abstract nature of focus, it can seem like a daunting task to choose one for your personal statement. Instead of sitting down and trying to come up with abstraction that you think defines you, it is much easier to come up with a list of experiences that have had an impact on your life. You can then examine the experiences to see what, exactly, about them made them important. This will often yield a good focus.

Here are some tips to consider when choosing an experience to evaluate for a focus:

  • It should be unique. It does not have to be life shattering, but you should be able to write about it with conviction, enthusiasm and authority.
  • It should be an experience you feel some passion for. You must be able to support it as a “turning point” in your life. Ask yourself, “How did I change as a result of this experience?” For example, did it give you a new perspective or understanding, did it give you a new direction in life, or help you come to an important realization?
  • Don’t limit yourself to thinking of experiences that can translate well into the moral of ” . . . and that’s why I want to be a doctor.” Choose something that you feel is truly representative of you, and something that you feel you can use to transition to other relevant aspects of your life. Otherwise, your statement may come off sounding staged or strained.
  • It should be sustainable throughout your statement. In other words it has to have enough depth and flexibility to carry you through your statement while avoiding repetition. The details of the event should afford you opportunity to talk about related experiences that you want the people who are considering your for an interview to know.

Can you give me an example?
Perhaps am experience that impacted you was the time you were thrown from your horse and dislocated your hip on the day before an important riding competition. It was a pivotal experience because it was the first time you were a patient with a serious injury, and because it was the biggest disappointment of your life. While in the hospital, your roommate was a woman who had just had both of her legs amputated due to diabetes. One possible focus that could be derived from this experience is how you learned how to put the elements you your life in perspective. This is a lesson that might have helped you in ensuing experiences, and you could outline ways that it could help you during medical school, or as a doctor.

There are also many ways to use the experience to talk about other issues involved in becoming a doctor. You could talk about how you felt as a patient, and the things about your treatment that you appreciated. Perhaps your doctors were attentive to your deep disappointment as well as to your injury. You could talk about how you used the time away from riding to develop an interest in sports medicine, or volunteering, or riding instruction, or psychology The possibilities of a well-chosen experience are limitless. As long as the experience was memorable and formed you in some way, it is a good candidate for the production of focus.

Create a FRAME for your FOCUS:

What is it?
When most people think of frames, they think of the structure around a picture, or the structure that holds something up-like a skeleton or building frame. That is a pretty accurate way to think about the frame in writing, too. A frame will give your statement a shape. It will provide a concrete way for you to introduce and talk about your focus.

Most of the time, if you’ve come up with a good experience from which to draw a focus, you can use details of the same experience for your frame. While the focus is often an abstract idea, the frame consists of concrete details-places, people, action It provides a means for anchoring your focus by setting a scene.

Many people think of the frame as a story, and in a lot of ways it is. In a personal statement, it usually consists of an anecdote that is introduced at the beginning of your statement and is brought to some sort of closure at the end.

Can you give me an example?
Keeping with the experience we used to derive a focus, here is an example of how frame might function to open a personal statement:

Nothing was more important to me on that warm morning in June than the upcoming competition. I’d been riding horses since I was six, and tomorrow I’d be riding the most difficult jump course of my life. I’d come out early to practice, and although it was sunny, there was still dew in the grass. The first time around the course I heard my horse’s hooves click against the top bar of barriers twice. Determined to have a perfect sweep, I sent her into the course a second time without stopping for a breather. My impatience cost me dearly. As my horse gathered herself to clear the third and largest fence of the course, I felt her falter and leaned forward to encourage her. My last minute adjustment didn’t help. The barrier caught her at the knees and we crashed down together.

Of course, you don’t want to use up too much of your limited space just setting a scene. Make sure your frame serves multiple purposes:

  • It introduces the occasion of the focus
  • It introduces you
  • It is creative enough to spark interest in the rest of your statement

By framing the statement with an anecdote, you provide your audience with immediate access to some aspect of your past, your character, and your personality. Also, you give them incentive to read on to find our what happens next.

Make sure you return, even if it is only in a cursory way, to the frame at the end of the statement. Often, this is a good opportunity to summarize the important points of your statement and tie them together into a concluding observation.

What is a concluding observation?
The concluding observation is a restatement of your focus, but in a way that shows how it has evolved over time from a lesson that you learned as a result of a specific event into a bit of wisdom that you’ve found useful to apply to other situations in your life–and that will continue to serve you in medical school and as a doctor.

Here is how the frame and concluding observation might function at the end of a statement:

I’m sometimes a bit ashamed when I think that I had to dislocate my hip in order to learn that my approach to life was limiting my horizons. The first day that I returned to the saddle I was too sore to do more than ride very slowly through the fields near the stables. I remember that it was be best ride of my life, and to this day I only ride my horse for pleasure, not competition. To be honest, it’s because I haven’t had the time! My accident forced me away from a consuming passion and gave me the opportunity to discover other treasures in my life, treasures that to this day I find more rewarding than competitive riding. The foremost of those pleasures has been working at the summer camps for children who have lost arms and legs to amputation. I want to continue to broaden myself in medical school and beyond so that I might encounter yet more treasures along the path to becoming a pediatric surgeon.


Transitions refer to the language you use to move from one idea to the next. Most of the time transitions are accompanied by a paragraph break. You should never assume, however, that a paragraph break is enough of an indication that you are leaving one idea behind and moving on to another.

One way to check for clear transitions is to make sure the first sentence of every paragraph is somehow related to the last sentence in the previous paragraph. Even when you need to shift gears pretty drastically, you should find a way to create a “bridge” between your ideas.

If you have chosen a strong focus and frame, your transitions will come much easier. This is because you can use your frame and focus as a sort of hub that is the origin of each new idea that you choose to explore in your statement.

In addition to making sure that you transition well between your ideas, you should also make sure that your ideas are presented in a logical order that your reader can identify and follow. Many students choose to use chronological order. You might choose to order things from most to least important, or use categorize your ideas (e.g. academics, volunteer experience, work experience, etc.) Whatever order you choose, be faithful to it

II. Some Words on Style

Style refers to how you choose to use words to say what you have to say. There are a lot of different styles, and many of them are acceptable for a personal statement. However, you don’t want to compromise on several points:

Make sure that your syntax is correct. Not only must you be fastidious about basics such as spelling and subject verb agreement, you should pay careful attention to your form. Make sure that you don’t have sentence fragments or run on sentences. Use punctuation correctly. Always have someone proofread your statement, and if grammar is not your thing, have someone who is good at grammar check your statement for errors.

Follow Through and Flesh Out
If you bring raise issues, be prepared to follow through on them and offer explanation or background. A common mistake is to make a statement and then assume that the reader will be able to place it as relevant. You must be explicit, and make sure that you round out the issues you raise with supporting details. For example, if you introduce the fact that you are a single mother, you must make sure that it is relevant to your focus, and you should offer details about how it is relevant. If you say that your desire to become a doctor started after your trip to Mexico, you need to tell why this is so. If you say, “I didn’t think I’d ever make it at a college like Carnegie Mellon,” give the reasons that you felt this way. Sometimes writers rely too much on meaning that they believe to be implicit and leave the reader with questions. Remember, the person reading your essay knows very little about you, your life experiences, your character, or your personality. Be clear.

Show, Don’t Tell
This is the most valuable–and most cited–piece of advice given to writers. Writing that is preachy or full of generalities sheds little light onto the character of the writer and, worse, is boring. You can be perfectly technically correct in your prose, but if you’re just telling and not showing, you are not communicating.

Here is an example of writing that tells a lot, but really doesn’t say much:

The medical profession combines knowledge and wisdom from just about every aspect of life which is directed towards helping humanity. A physician is not just part of the heath care team but the leader of the health care team. He is free to practice broadly or to acquire a specialty of his own choosing. Thus medicine offers the challenges and fulfillment that I am seeking in a career.

These statements profess truths that might be indisputable, but they are also full of platitudes and common knowledge and offer the reader no real information. This sort of general language of telling should be avoided at all costs.

Often when writing personal statements, students fall into the habit of telling and not showing in an effort to squeeze in all their accomplishments, resume-style. They resort to lists:

My desire to work with people is demonstrated by my many interactions as a volunteer. In 1997 I aided elderly and blind residents at the Homewood Retirement Community read their mail and write letters. The following summer, I served food at the local homeless shelter. As secretary of my high school chapter of SADD, I arranged for speakers at several community and school fundraisers. In addition to my volunteer activities, I’ve held a job since I was twelve. I worked on my uncles farm until I started ninth grade, at which time I was able to get a position as dish washer at a family restaurant. When I got my driver’s license, I took a cashier’s job at the gift store at Mercy Hospital in Altoona.

Although these accomplishments might be important to an application to medical school, they shouldn’t appear list-like in a personal statement.

The reader doesn’t get a sense for why you did these things, or how you felt about them, or what you learned.
Here are some ways that you can be sure to show and not tell:

  • Use sensory details to help set scenes. Note what the sky looks like, what color a child’s dress is, how the food smells. Make sure your reader is right there with you.
  • Share your personal emotions and indicate how your surroundings affected you. This will give the reader a better idea of your individualism and make experiences that are common seem unique.
  • Be anecdotal and use examples to illustrate your observations.
  • Write with the intention of communicating something original. Don’t just put down what you think the reader wants to hear.
  • Avoid general commentary.

Posted by: medhelpteam | July 5, 2009

Common application File


This is where the majority of your application is completed. You can complete the application in multiple sessions. The information in the application can be updated until it is certified and submitted. You can only submit your application once. Once your application is completed, certified, and submitted to ERAS, you cannot make any changes.

The application, or Common Application Form (CAF) as it is known, consists of 12 pages:


The Home section of the Application tab allows you to get a copy of the Worksheet (CAF), view your CAF, view your Curriculum Vitae (CV), and to submit and certify your application.

The copy of the Worksheet is a printable PDF of the CAF. Both your CAF and your CV are automatically generated as you fill out your application. The CV is the same information you entered in the application section of MyERAS. The Program Director’s Workstation (PDWS) will display it as a CV. The CV is nothing more than the CAF formatted in a different manner for the benefit of those programs that prefer to view a CV format. It is provided as a report so you can see how your information will be formatted.

You can submit your application by clicking Submit Your Application. Once you certify and submit your application you will not be able to make any changes to it.

This page contains a Quick Stats table that lists each page of the CAF and also lists whether or not it was saved.


Page One – General Information

Page one of the CAF allows the you to enter information such as your permanent mailing address, birth place and date, gender, and if you have any military service experience or obligations.


Page Two – Education (include only higher education)

Page two allows entries for each undergraduate and graduate school you have attended. Complete the required fields (marked with an asterisk *) and Save. The page will refresh to allow additional entries. For each undergraduate or graduate school you have attended you must list:

  • Institution name
  • Location
  • Education Type
  • Major
  • Degree earned or expected
  • And dates of attendance (leave month/year blank if experience is ongoing)

Since many non-U.S. educational systems do not follow the U.S. model, almost all students and graduates of international medical schools will indicate None on this page.


Page Three – Medical Education

Page three allows entries for each medical school you have attended. Complete the required fields (marked with an asterisk *) and Save. The page will refresh to allow additional entries. For each undergraduate or graduate school you have attended you must list:

  • Institution name and the country it is in (this must match the institution from which you received your token)
  • Degree expected or earned
  • Type of Degree
  • Dates of Attendance

For the question “Have you spent six or more months at a regional clinical campus?” you can either choose an option from the drop-down menu (if any are listed) or you can specify the name of the clinical campus in the “other clinical campus” field.

If your medical education is ongoing leave the month/year blank.


Page Four – Current/Prior Training

This page allows entries for type of training you have completed. Complete the required fields (marked with an asterisk *) and Save. The page will refresh to allow additional entries. For each entry you must list:

  • Type of Training
  • Specialty of the residency/fellowship
  • Institution/Program name, country, city and state
  • Years you were completing the residency/fellowship
  • Name of the Program Director
  • Name of your supervisor
  • Chief Resident (fellowship applicants only)
  • Dates of residency/fellowship
  • Reason for Leaving

If you have no previous training experience, select None.


Page Five – Experience(s)

Page five allows entries for each work, volunteer, and research experience/position you have attempted or completed. Complete the required fields (marked with an asterisk *) and click Save. The page will refresh to allow additional entries. For each entry you must list:

  • Experience Type (work, volunteer, or research)
  • Organization Name
  • Position
  • Name of your supervisor
  • Average Hours per Week
  • Description of Duties
  • Reason for Leaving
  • Dates of Experience

If you have no work, volunteer, or research experience select None.

You can choose from three experience types: work, volunteer, or research. Work experience refers to any employment for which you were compensated. Volunteer work refers to service where there was no compensation. Research experience refers to employment where research was conducted regardless of whether or not you were compensated.

List only experience that you believe is relevant to your application.

If the experience is ongoing leave the end date blank.


Page Six – Publications

Page six allows entries for each of your publications. Publications can include but are not limited to abstracts, poster sessions, and invited national or regional presentations.

Complete the required fields (marked with an asterisk *) and click on the Save button if you have publications to enter. If not, select None. The page will refresh to allow additional entries.


Page Seven – Examinations

Page seven allows entries for each examination that you have taken. If you have not taken any examinations click on None. The examination options are:

  • USMLE Step 1
  • USMLE Step 2 CK (Clinical Knowledge)
  • USMLE Step 2 CS (Clinical Skills)
  • USMLE Step 3
  • ECFMG Examination (prior to 1985)
  • ECFMG English Test (prior to 3/3/99)
  • ECFMG-FMGEMS Day 1 (prior to 1994)
  • ECFMG-FMGEMS Day 2 (prior to 1994)
  • ECFMG-VQE (prior to 1985)
  • Osteopathic-COMLEX Part 1
  • Osteopathic-COMLEX Level 2 CE
  • Osteopathic-COMLEX Level 2 PE
  • Osteopathic-COMLEX Part 3
  • Canadian-MCCE
  • Canadian-MCCEQE Part 1
  • Canadian-MCCEQE Part 2
  • NBME Part 1
  • NBME Part 2
  • NBME Part 3
  • FLEX

You must indicate the status and month/year the exam was taken for each exam you list. The options you have for the status field are:

  • Passed on
  • Failed on
  • Awaiting results from
  • Will take on
  • Incomplete


Page Eight – Medical Licensure

Page eight is used to answer questions regarding medical licensure. Questions concerning malpractice cases, termination of your medical license, felonies and criminal offenses, and board certification and DEA Registration must be answered.

If you answer Yes to any of the licensure questions, a detailed explanation limited to 510 characters, must be entered in the Reason field.


Page Nine – State Medical Licenses

Page nine is used to list any state medical licenses you might have. For each state medical license you have you must enter:

  • State the license is from
  • License Type (Full, Temporary or Limited, or Inactive)
  • License Number
  • Expiration Month/Year

If you do not have any state medical licenses then select None.


Page Ten – Race

Page ten allows you to enter your race. This question is optional, if you choose not to indicate your race please select No Answer. The options you have for race are:

  • White
  • Black
  • American Indian or Alaskan Native (specify the name of the enrolled or princial tribe)
  • Asian (Asian Indian, Pakistani, Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, or other Asian)
  • Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander (Native Hawaiian, Guamanian or Chamorro, Samoan, or other Pacific Islander)
  • Other


Page Eleven – Ethnicity

Page eleven allows you to enter your ethnicity. Like page ten, this page is also optional; you are not required to identify your ethnicity. If you choose not to disclose your ethnicity select None. The options for ethnicity are:

  • No Answer
  • Not Spanish/Hispanic/Latino/Latina
  • Spanish/Hispanic/Latino/Latina

If you select Spanish/Hispanic/Latino/Latina you must select another option from the drop-own menu. These options are:

  • Mexican, Mexican American, Chicano/Chicana
  • Puerto Rican
  • Cuban

If you do not fit under any of these categories you can enter your ethnicity in the Specify Other field.

Page Twelve – Miscellaneous

Page twelve consists of two questions asking if you have any limiting aspects and if your medical education/training was extended or interrupted.

If the first question about limiting aspects is answered with a No, then an explanation must be entered under Limiting Aspects.

If the second question regarding interrupted medical education/training is answered with a Yes, then an explanation must be entered in the Reason field. These explanations are limited to 510 characters (including spaces).

This page also allows you to list language fluency, hobbies and interests, medical school awards, other awards/accomplishments, and membership in honorary/professional societies.

If you do not wish to list anything for non-required sections on this page you can simply leave them blank.

Posted by: medhelpteam | July 5, 2009

How Should I Get Recommendation Letters for Residency?

I am getting ready to apply for residency. Who should I ask to write my letters of recommendation, and how should I approach them?

Response from Geoffrey Talmon, MD
Surgical Pathology Fellow, Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota

As a medical student applying for residency, I found it very uncomfortable to solicit letters of recommendation (LORs). After all, I needed letters from professor-level attendings who had the potential to affect my future. On top of that, I had heard that I was not supposed to review the letters before they were submitted. Questions percolated through my brain, ratcheting up my stress: Who, and how, should I ask? Would they say “yes”? Did they know me well enough to recommend me? What do these letters even say? It was not until I was involved as a resident in recruiting other house officers that I truly understood how LORs are used by programs and what constitutes a good one.

In several ways, the residency Match process mirrors the job application process in the business world. LORs can be viewed as professional references. As such, they should discuss attributes that are not explicitly outlined in other application materials. Qualities, such as work ethic, willingness to learn, enthusiasm, and teamwork skills, give the audience (ie, interviewers and program directors) insight into how you would function as a resident in their program.

In keeping with this purpose, the individuals who you ask should have worked with you enough to comment on these points, hopefully in a positive manner. To carry the most weight, this person should be a faculty member or practicing physician, not a resident. This can prove to be more difficult in certain specialties. On an internal medicine service, a medical student may work with the same team for an entire rotation. In my field of pathology, however, I worked with no fewer than 10 attendings during my 1-month rotation. I ended up having to ask for recommendations from those staff members who I believed were the best teachers and who saw glimpses of my enthusiasm.

Asking an attending physician to write an LOR can be a daunting experience, especially if it is a person with whom you have not worked extensively, as is often the case with a department chair. Keep in mind that most physicians who regularly deal with medical students have experience in writing LORs and understand what is required. They often will ask for the perspectives of your supervising residents and other faculty to garner the required information. In fact, you can explicitly suggest this to the person writing your letter. In reviewing applications, I have seen writers mention that their letter represents a sort of “consensus opinion,” which usually makes that letter at least as strong as any other.

It is most effective to approach your potential writers during a time when you are not on their service; the earlier in your application process, the better. I found that scheduling an appointment with the staff physician’s secretary was the most practical approach. Having a dedicated time gives you the opportunity to discuss your goals and plans while refreshing their memory about your time working with them. At the very least, you should provide a copy of your curriculum vitae and personal statement.

The best LORs that I have encountered integrate specific observations from the writer with information in the applicant’s personal statement. (For example: “On a daily basis I saw the dedication to patients’ spiritual needs that Ms. Smith mentioned in her personal statement as being an important part of her life.”) The more information that you can provide (conversations, application materials, etc), the easier it will be for your writer to write a strong LOR. Finally, agree upon a “due date” for the letter, preferably about a month in the future.

Resist the urge to review an LOR before it is submitted; although it may be difficult to accept that this portion of your application is outside your control, you should realize that residency programs view this “blindedness” as a control for bias. If you are overly concerned about what someone might write, you may want to reconsider asking that person to provide a recommendation.

Another important aspect is ensuring that your letters are submitted on time. The writers likely are incredibly busy individuals, and they may need to be reminded of the deadline; at the same time, you do not wish to be a pest. If you see that your LOR has not been submitted by the agreed upon date, send a polite email asking whether the writer needs more information, and then reiterate the due date. This is where giving your writer ample time is helpful.

In summary, the LOR is a professional reference that is meant to provide residency programs with additional information to determine whether you will fit in with their team. Strategies, such as setting up an appointment to converse with your potential writers, providing them with as much information as possible, and giving them plenty of lead time, can help them write an effective letter that ultimately benefits you the most.

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