I’m about 3 days away from starting the Family Medicine Residency here in Alabama, so I’ve decided to write this post to help all of those who will be participating in the 2020 Match. Joining in the 2020 Match means you will be applying to programs THIS YEAR (2019) on September 15th.✓
So how does this process work? What is the timeline? What should you be doing, and when? These are all questions I had, and it if weren’t for my amazing friends who also updated me and reminded me to get my token to get certify my NRMP and submit my application…. Well… let’s just say I probably would be worse off.✓
So let’s get right into it. Now! The process is a little different for US Med School students compared to (International Medical school students – future international medical graduates) IMGs.
I’ll be talking about the process for IMGs who must use the ECFMG website to get their token.. more on this later.
These two things you may already know: as an IMG from SGU, at least… your 3rdyear clinical rotations are made for you. And you can schedule your 4thyear rotations yourself: When, where, and for how long. This is an essential piece of information.. why?
Because you might want to schedule electives in places you will like to apply to so that they can get to know you. This was something I didn’t do. I didn’t think I should, therefore, never did. These are known as audition rotations—something to think about if you can still make a few changes to your schedule.
So now you’re a 4thyear, and tokens are available to purchase on the ECFMG website. This is only for IMGs. Anyone NOT from a US medical school… Tokens became available on June 25th2019. So if you haven’t purchased it.. get to it! Fees down below.
Someone asked me on social media: “what is the benefit of getting your token early.” Once you get your token, you can access ERAS and begin working on your application. But what does that even mean?
Here are the ten things that makeup “working on your application.”
- Personal Statement
This is a HUGE part of your application. Programs will have access to your picture, your scores, your letters of recommendation (LoRs), your MSPE. Everything. Your statement is the one place you can show them who you are as a person, as an applicant and why you would be a great addition to their program. This is where you talk about your trials and tribulations. This is where you address any RED FLAGS in your application. Red Flags include dealing as we called it in SGU (meaning dropping or failing a class and having to re-take it another term.. therefore extending your years in med school), leaves of absence, anything that extends your med school years, low scores or failing Step 1 or 2. Don’t just list them. Explain how you GREW from it, what you LEARNED from it. Talk about a positive from the negative.✓
This is also where you can talk about why you’ve chosen that field of medicine to apply to. Why you loved it when you enjoyed it, why you’d be good at it, you can talk about your future aspirations as a doctor, where you see yourself in the future. You can talk about what made you who you are. And, You can talk about the things you value, of character traits you have. You can talk about specific patient encounters that changed you or showed you something about yourself. Don’t just list the qualities you have; give examples that show it!
If applying to more than one specialty… write more than one personal statement. 1 for each specialty you are applying to.✓
This is your resume! Your academic career, your research projects, publications, volunteering, clubs you’re in, or associations you’re a part of such as AMSA. Be as thorough as possible. Even if not published, list it as pending or in progress and just specify that it is not published.
- Score Reports
You permit them to access your scores. This just means that once you pay for and submit your application, all the programs you’ve applied to will have access to your score reports. If you have taken step 2 and are waiting for the news… don’t worry.. you can still submit your application. Once your report is released, the system will notify the programs that your score is available.
SIDE NOTE: If there’s a program you’re very interested in interviewing with… send them a personalized email and let them know your score report is now available and express your interest in their program.
This is what the programs that see your application will see. Make sure you look professional. Don’t just upload any picture of yourself. The more recent, the better!
- Letter’s of Recommendation (LoR)
As a 3rdand 4thyear med student, you should be or should have been expressing your intentions to request a letter of rec from your attending in different rotations. The earlier you do this, the better. Remind them. They are busy people! So be sure to send reminder messages here and there. ERAS will create LoR request forms, which you can download and send to your attendings. These forms have instructions for them to follow. The system will ask you if you defer the right to see/read the letter… I always deferred. I wanted my letter writers to be as honest as possible and NOT be pressured by my possible access to the message.
- MSPE Letter
Your school handles this. They will ask you for information, maybe even your resume, and they will do the rest. Make sure you let them know you will be applying and ask them what is needed.
- PTAL (for California Residencies)
This is a big one! If you’re going to be applying to programs in California, you need to fill out a PTAL. This is a pretty long process, so do this ASAP! The fee is also pretty big ($ 491), not including any other costs associated with getting the right documentation to them. It takes about 2-3 months to process, and then ERAS takes roughly another 2-3 weeks. So do this as early as you can to avoid issues. I will talk a bit more about assigning documents, but just know that you MUST ASSIGN the PTAL to ALL California programs you apply to. ONLY California programs!
ERAS will let you see all programs by both specialty and location. As an IMG, my school (SGU) recommended that I apply to more than one specialty to improve my chances of matching. I would listen to their recommendations, ESPECIALLY is its something you can afford.
HOW TO CHOOSE A PROGRAM:
Go to their website and look up their requirements. If you’ve failed a step or been out of med school 1-3 years, etc.. make sure the program accepts this you’re applying to. If you’re on a budget… this research will save you $$$$$! Do not just apply to all the programs! Hundreds are depending on specialty. So read their requirements for step scores, for years out of school, etc. ASSIGN documents to them! (more on this later).✓
Also! Apply broadly… make sure you match your first time through the system! Don’t limit yourself to certain cities. Make sure you look through as many programs as you can and apply to those you are interested in applying to and that you also fulfill the criteria they request.
TOKEN fee: $130
Your USMLE or COMPLEX transcript fee: $80
NRMP registration fee: $85
ERAS program fees are as follows:
Up to 10 programs: $99
11-20 programs $15 each
21-30 program $19 each
31 or more programs $26 each
So when I say Apply wisely! I MEAN IT! You can quickly rack up $8,000.
Once you’ve uploaded your statement, your LoRs, your picture, and everything else… Assign them to programs. You can choose more than one plan at a time to assign documents to.
If applying to more than one specialty, make sure you assign to correct personal statements and LoRs.✓
On June 6th, ERAS opened, and you were able to start working on your application. This means you should already be writing your statement because trust me… time flies when you’re busy and when you least expect it …It’s September 15thand its time to send your application to the programs you’ve saved or applied to.
Few things I should mention here. If you’re applying to Urology, your match results come in January… NOT March. Just a little FYI.
Also…do, don’t forget that you also need to register and certify into the NRMP so you can RANK the programs you interviewed with and to be able to participate in SOAP just in case you don’t match.✓SOAP is a kind of scramble that allows you to see programs that still have open spots, and you can apply to those during match week.
So I know this is a lot! And it’s a crazy time…BUT make a checklist and start getting things done if you have any questions at all! Feel free to reach out to me on IG @doctor.vero and ask away! I’ll be doing a youtube video on this too, just to make sure more people can have access to it.