I've been helping medical students and graduates apply to residency programs through ERAS since 2001, and over the years, there have been a variety of changes. The "dean's letter" changed to the Medical Student Performance Evaluation, which went beyond a simple name shift to a restructuring of the format and content of the document. The USMLE Step 2 CS exam was introduced, used for many years to examine clinical skills in a performance-based setting, and then during the pandemic, it faded away. But other than the means of transmitting ERAS documents changing from physical disks to web-based, the application itself had typically seen only smaller, iterative changes, until now.
I encourage all of you to click and read "What’s New in the 2024 MyERAS® Application" to get a detailed explanation of the upcoming changes. But the modifications that caught my attention include:
1) A limit of ten experiences in ERAS. Although some applications will barely change as a result, this will be a seismic shift for some other applicants (although an outlier, a new client applied on their own last year without matching, and had a staggering 31 experiences listed at the time, which I believe makes it difficult for program directors to focus on what is most important to you). In related news, applicants will be able to select the three experiences within those ten that are most meaningful to them, and add a brief explanation as to why.
2) In prior years, experiences had to be clustered under "Work", "Volunteer", or "Research", and at times those distinctions felt arbitrary. This year, the list has been expanded to:
* Military Service
* Other Extracurricular Activity/Club/Hobby
* Professional Organization
It appears that the old "Hobbies & Interests" section has been removed this year. But there are still ERAS sections titled "Other Awards/Accomplishments" and "Membership in Honorary/Professional Societies", so given the limit of ten experiences total, some applicants may consider removing conference participation as an experience to make room for a potentially more relevant clinical endeavor.
3) There won't be a supplemental ERAS application for 2023-2024, but many of this year's changes were inspired by that previous application component. For example:
* Additional details about each experience can be provided, including the setting (such as urban versus suburban versus rural), participation frequency, the primary focus area, and the key characteristic.
* If desired, applicants can share certain preferences with programs, including a shortlist of programs that they would truly like to interview at, as well as a subset of geographical locations that are of particular interest, and/or the setting that they would like to train in. This will help the programs tell if an applicant applied to their region, or potentially to that particular hospital, for a reason that might elevate their standing with that interview committee.
If you've previously applied on your own without success and are worried about how to update your application for the new ERAS season, or if this will be your first time and you're worried that you might not stand out in a crowd of applicants, I encourage you to reach out to me for a free consultation. I would be happy to evaluate your residency documents and then schedule a conversation with you.