ERAS Experience Section: Dos, Don’ts, Tips & Tricks

Medical Residency Application & Interview Preparation Specialists

The ERAS Experience Section is vital to your application, forming one of the main parts, and thus being a principal focus for program directors and faculty that are assessing you as a candidate. Here we will work through some of the core Dos and Don’ts for this section.

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ERAS Experience Section: Dos

The first Do is to run the content that you’re including past as many others as possible. Initially, this means thinking at a higher level – is it appropriate to include X, or should it be replaced by Y? Do you have a broad enough sample of experiences for each of work, volunteering and research? Ask staff from your medical school, as well as other students, in order to ensure that the experiences that you focus on are the correct ones.

The second Do is to further edit and proofread each part of the section when you’ve decided on the content that you are going to include. This can be done as much by other medical students, friends and family as it can by senior figures at your medical school – the goal here is to offer accurate and precise grammar and spelling. Ensure that you run it past a few different people, as each might pick up on different errors.

Next, do remember to include activities that don’t relate entirely to Medicine. These can be used to add some character and colour to your application, and thus make you stand out from other applicants. Program directors and faculty are looking for residents who will be good, interesting team members as well as simply good doctors – and they are much more likely to feel comfortable with you as a candidate if you can use some outside experience to highlight who you are as a person. For example, you might include experience in a volunteering role that was relatively less-related to Medicine, but that goes some way to showing who you are as a person, what your interests are – and that of course can be related to the specialty that you are interested in as you reflect upon it and what you learnt.

In fact, remembering to reflect is another core Do when writing this section. All experiences must be tied back in with your chosen career. Think about the attributes or characteristics that are most important to the specialty that you are interested in, and then ensure that these are put front and centre when writing up each experience. Do not include an experience without reflecting upon it and how it relates back to Medicine or your own suitability as a candidate.

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ERAS Experience Section: Don’ts

Don’t repeat yourself. The residency application document should be as concise and succinct as possible. Therefore, do not include information in your experiences section that you have already put elsewhere – it will serve to make your application look weaker, not to add strength to this part. Of course, there will be overlap between the ERAS application and your personal statement, for example, and this is perfectly expected and acceptable.

Don’t rush through the application process. Instead, you must allow yourself adequate time to write each section carefully, and to diligently create a robust application. That means not just the time that you need to spend writing, but the time that you then spend speaking to others to see their feedback, the time spent putting that feedback to use, and of course then seeking further feedback afterwards! Therefore, you should give yourself more than enough time for each section of the overall application process, and for the ERAS application itself. You can see our guide to the residency application timeline for more information.

Don’t try to persuade someone of something without being able to evidence it. It’s vital that you demonstrate each characteristic or attribute that you want to bring attention to, rather than that you simply state it – in other words, your leadership should be shown through a specific experience, named in granular detail, rather than you attempting to claim that you are a good leader without having the specifics to back up such a claim.

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