As a future residency applicant, I have a critical objective: to showcase my qualifications and experiences in a manner that accurately reflects my abilities and strengths. My medical student colleagues all share in this goal as it will determine if and where we Match. However, the recent changes to the 2024 MyERAS application have made achieving this goal seemingly more challenging, as they raise concerns about the limitations of self-representation in what is essentially a job application.
One of the most significant changes to the MyERAS application is the restriction of experiences that can be listed to only 10, with three being designated as the most meaningful. This change has a two-fold impact on our ability to represent ourselves effectively. On one hand, it allows programs to get a more in-depth look at a subset of our experiences. On the other hand, it restricts our ability to fully illustrate the extent and variety of our achievements. Medical students have adjusted to the grading changes and must now adjust, once again, to this.
Additionally, the updated MyERAS application includes multiple-entry questions designed to capture mission-focused characteristics of each experience entry. These questions aim to give programs a more comprehensive view of our experiences and how they align with their mission, goals, and values. Despite this, there may be biases in the responses to the setting questions based on the location of the individual medical school. Our experiences often stem from or around our medical school and may reflect a majority rural or urban setting, depending on where the school is located. This new feature is mission-specific and may put applicants at a disadvantage if their experiences, on paper, do not align with a program's stated mission.
Another change to the MyERAS application is the option to share our geographic preferences with programs. The ability to make this preference is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it obviously emphasizes our preference for certain regions and should increase the chances of being considered by programs in those areas. However, it could also limit our chances of being considered by programs outside of those regions, including medical school “home” programs, where a match may be more likely, even if they are not in our preferred location. Unless residency programs no longer know what medical school an applicant attended, which seems highly unlikely given the necessity of a Dean’s letter, this change unfortunately amounts to little.
The limitations imposed by the updated MyERAS application are concerning as they could further restrict our ability to represent ourselves effectively in a job application scenario. In a job interview, it is not always possible to share every detail of our experiences and achievements, and the changes imposed by the MyERAS application could limit this ability further. It is crucial that residency applicants can effectively and accurately represent themselves to potential programs, and the changes to the MyERAS application may not always allow for this.
The changes to the MyERAS application come at a time when the USMLE Step 1 has also gone pass/fail, with no clear evidence of its impact on the residency Match process. Given this, the changes to the MyERAS application seem premature and could potentially harm residency applicants' chances of success in the Match process. Residency applicants are being forced to make difficult decisions about how to present themselves, without adequate guidance or transparency from programs about what they are looking for in an application. This lack of clarity creates an unfair and unnecessary obstacle to their job search, when in any other industry, a job candidate would have the opportunity to express themselves through a resume and interview.
A Concerned Residency Applicant
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The author is an upcoming third-year medical student in Pennsylvania and hopes to Match into radiology.
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