By Edison Cano
The ERAS® application is another crucial milestone of the journey that you started so long ago. In many of our home countries, we are not familiar with application processes, and some terms vary from our unique education systems. In this post, I want to highlight some details that could you may find useful.
Overall, the application process is very clear and well structured. If you have your ERAS® Token and you are finishing your application on the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS), the second website you’ll be using is the On-line Applicant Status and Information System (OASIS), where you will upload letters of recommendation (LORs), postgraduate training authorization letters (PTALs), transcripts, and medical student performance evaluations (MSPE).
Education tab: For most IMGs, the best selection is NONE since this is reserved for higher education. In some Latin American education systems the term “Bachiller” is a high school degree, so it’s not the same as a Bachelor degree or a Baccalaureate listed in the options, which are higher education degrees.
Medical Education tab: This is where you include your med school. If you want to translate your med school’s name, that’s OK. I think doing so fits better in an English application. I haven’t found any academic resource with a recommendation about this, but the last time I needed help from a certified translator, he used the translated version keeping the proper names of my med school. For instance, “Universidad Catolica de Santiago de Guayaquil” was translated as “Catholic University of Santiago de Guayaquil.”
Training tab: For most IMGs, this is NONE as well unless you’ve completed a residency or fellowship program before.
Medical licenses tab: NONE as well for most of IMGs.
Now, let’s cover some details about the ERAS® Support Services website. As stated in the AAMC website, “ECFMG is the designated dean’s office for all IMGs,” and this is the platform to upload documents and your photo.
Upload Photograph: If you check the specifications in the ERAS support services website your photo must be in JPEG format, less than 100 KB, and no larger than 2.5 by 3.5 inches in size. If you take a look at MyERAS Residency User Guide, you’ll find more details. Remember your photo should be in color, not black and white, with a plain white or light colored background “as dark colored backgrounds do not display very well in the program’s software.” I had my first photos taken with a black background, and I had to rush to get new ones.
Upload LOR: This is to upload letters you have not waived your right to view for your ERAS application. Let me explain – you only use this if you had the opportunity to read the letter and you upload the letter yourself. If not, the LOR writer should upload the letter on your behalf. Letters you have not read are held in higher regard than ones you’ve seen.
Upload PTAL: Use this if you have a California letter and you want to apply to a residency program in California. Remember that if you have started the PTAL application process, you can upload your application receipt. For more information please visit http://www.mbc.ca.gov/.
Upload MSPE: As IMGs, please ask how much time in advance you should ask for this from your med schools. US graduates MSPEs’ include AAMC number, but for IMGs this is a bit difficult, because we get the token by July and we need the MSPE ready for September. This document must be less than 1.2MB. If you search for “shrink a PDF,” you’ll find several options to drag your file and get a smaller version.
Upload Transcript: This works the same as the MSPE, but every school has different deadlines, so please try to get everything as soon as possible. Size, as well, should be less than 1.2MB.
You can track these items using the ADTS link in the upper right corner of the ERAS® website. If you would like to ask a specific question, you can use the message center located near the ADTS link.
I hope you find this information useful and good luck with your application!