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Tips for Preparing a Great ERAS Application in 2024

doctor in front of chalkboard with a list of tips for ERAS

Written by David Lombardino  |  Updated February 28, 2024

15+ Years' Experience

With over 15 years’ experience in guiding candidates in applying for medical residency and fellowship, and having reviewed and edited 1,000+ ERAS Applications during that time, I have seen firsthand just how far the way in which you fill out your ERAS Application goes in communicating to program directors the kind of resident or fellow you would be in their programs.

Are you thorough in your work? Do you share insightful, well-considered details? Do you present yourself in a professional and welcoming manner?

Demonstrate Your Character

All these characteristics are ones you can demonstrate through how you fill out your ERAS Application. It communicates the kind of resident or fellow you will be, how you will fit into the program, and how you will approach meeting, diagnosing and caring for the program’s patients.

In this article, I will cover the details residency and fellowship applicants commonly overlook as well as answer common questions related to the ERAS Application.

After you’ve covered these basics, get our expert advice and recommendations on your ERAS Application by signing up for our ERAS Application Editing & Feedback service. The service comes with two rounds of review and can be completed in as little as two days.

Step 1: Use a Personal Email Address

One of the first items residency and fellowship programs will see is your email address. Are you providing your personal email address, one hosted by a common domain like, or Have you made sure to avoid using an email address with "dr" or "md" or something similar in it?

Following these recommendations will help you come across as personable and approachable.

For international applicants, when considering which email domain to use, make sure to select one that will provide reliable communication with programs in the U.S. Certain domains, like and, often experience issues when communicating with correspondents in the U.S.

Step 2: Make Your Mailing Addresses Spotless

The present and permanent mailing addresses is one place program directors look to see if there is a geographic connection to their programs. It is also the area most commonly left with basic, easy-to-fix errors by candidates when filling out the ERAS Application.

Take a moment to double-check them. Are they spelled, capitalized and punctuated correctly?

Step 3: Check Your Phone Numbers

Use Only a Mobile Phone Number

Ensure you list your mobile phone number as your Preferred Phone #, Permanent Address Phone # and Mobile #. If you have more than one mobile number, choose the one you use primarily.

Make Your Phone Number Easy to Read

Make sure your phone numbers are easy to read. For U.S. phone numbers, use ###-###-#### for the format.

If you have an international phone number, break it up with spaces (e.g., +33 6 1234 5678).

Step 4: Take Advantage of Hometowns

Hometowns represent an opportunity to list the places that have played a significant role in shaping you and your experience.

More importantly, they offer an opportunity to show geographic connection--if you have one--to where the program is located. Did you spend three years in Houston during middle school? List it to show your geographic connection to Baylor College of Medicine.

Include all such hometowns, even if it was not where you were born or where you live now.

Step 5: Consider Your Geographic Division Preferences Carefully

A quick look at the changes the AAMC made to the ERAS Application in 2023 shows easily the motivation behind them. Their aim is to get from candidates the information they find to be most relevant when deciding who to offer to interview.

This applies to geographic connection, a long-standing characteristic program directors have wanted to see and therefore a long-standing recommendation we have made for how to distinguish yourself in your personal statement. Whether you are married, own property or have close friends or family, we have long advised to make a tailored version of your personal statement to convey this information to relevant programs.

With the recent changes to the ERAS Application, you now have a second option for conveying this information--the census division.

The question is: Should you use it?

What Do Program Directors Want to See?

Program directors favor applicants with a personal connection to the program. Geographic connection is part of this. And with the 2023 changes, programs can now filter applications by geographic division. This doesn't necessarily mean they will.

If they do, then an advantage of stating a preference for the same census division as the program's will allow your application to pass the filter.

That said, if you are a compelling candidate for a program (e.g., you meet their minimum requirements for Step score), you should expect that most if not all the people interviewing you have read your personal statement. One program director I talked to said this is where she goes to see if there is a geographic connection.

She doesn't use the census division preference (e.g., the west coast) in ERAS because, she stated, it doesn't do enough to show specific geographic connection to her particular program.

When to State a Preference

If all the programs you are applying to fall within three U.S. Census regions, then it is to your advantage to state that preference and to provide a key, compelling reason for doing so.

The question is what to do if you are applying to programs outside those regions? If you state a geographic preference, then you lose the opportunity for communicating to those programs that you do not have a preference, that your reason is you prioritize quality of training over geography.

Step 6: Selected Experiences—The Header

Fill out Every Field

For each selected experience you list in your ERAS Application, provide as much information in the header for the experience as possible.

The “header” means the Organization, Experience Type, Position Title, Start Date, End Date, Country, State/Province, City, Postal Code, Participation Frequency, Setting, Primary Focus Area and Key Characteristics.

Completely fill out all fields for each experience—to the extent you can do so—even if the fields are not marked as required.

Be Comprehensive

Put as much contextual information as possible in the Organization and particularly the Position Title fields to remove the need to put it in the Context, Roles and Responsibilities description.

For example, for the Position Title, instead of just putting "Observer," put "Observer, Internal Medicine,” or put “Dept. of Medicine, Jones Hospital” instead of simply “Jones Hospital” for the Organization.

Are you looking to match into residency or fellowship? If so, you’ll want to ensure your ERAS Application shows program directors what makes you a strong candidate. That’s where DLA Editors & Proofers comes in.

Led by David Lombardino, DLA Editors & Proofers is a team of expert editors and consultants that helps applicants match to medical residency and fellowship. With their expertise across many specialties, programs and unique candidate circumstances, DLA Editors & Proofers makes improving your ERAS Application easy until it’s ready for submission.

So if you are looking to ensure your ERAS Application shows program directors what makes you a strong candidate, take your time—use DLA Editors & Proofers to give your ERAS Application the edge it needs to set you apart. Try DLA Editors & Proofers today, and take the first step toward matching into residency or fellowship.

Step 7: Selected Experiences—Context, Roles and Responsibilities

Provide a Comprehensive Understanding of What You Did/Are Doing

When thinking of what to write, keep the descriptions focused on what you did. If describing a research experience, for example, do not talk about what the project or lead investigator was doing as something separate from you. Instead, describe what you did within that project.

Stick to the Facts

State what you did in the experience. Avoid ancillary commentary, for example, how much the experience inspired you to want to serve others. This will be reserved for your three Meaningful Experiences. Instead, here, state what you did, and let the facts speak for themselves.

Be Specific and Thorough

Be specific, concise and thorough. Have as your goal that the program director will have a comprehensive understanding of your experience from reading your description. Provide specific details and examples.

Use Sentence Fragments When Possible

Each item of your description should start with a past participle or present tense verb.

The exception to this is a description where it is necessary to write sentences with different subjects. In this case, write the subjects for the verbs to avoid confusion.

Choose Compelling Verbs

Since verb choice is key to a compelling description, make sure to use good ones. Avoid weak or vague verbs (e.g., worked). Instead, be as specific as possible about the actions you took or take in the experience.

Use Bullets

Use bulleted lists. Depending on what you need to convey, you can introduce the bulleted list with one or two full sentences to provide context, for example, if you want to provide an overview of a study you were involved in followed by a bulleted list of what you did for the study.

Step 8: Focus Your Meaningful Experience Descriptions on the Key Characteristic

When considering which experiences to choose as "meaningful," it is important to consider the entire application. For example, is it okay for your meaningful experiences to overlap with what you write in your personal statement?

While you can certainly use one experience for a meaningful experience and in your personal statement, it is important to recognize that the focus is different, and it should therefore be used differently.

In the Meaningful Experience description, the focus should be on the Key Characteristic. How specifically did the experience challenge you, or did you grow in the experience, relative to the Key Characteristic you have selected for the experience? What was so impactful about the experience relative to the Key Characteristic?

For the personal statement, the primary question to answer is why this specialty? Where did this passion come from, and through what experiences was that passion reinforced, broadened, deepened or refined? When you use the experience in your personal statement, this, therefore, should be the focus of what you narrate there.

Step 9: Optional for Publications & Presentations

If you were to prepare your CV outside of ERAS, you may prefer to put your name in bold in the author list. The way to do this in ERAS is to put your name in ALL CAPS. If you do this for one presentation or publication, then, for consistency, do it for all presentations and publications.

However, this is personal preference. If you want to do this, you can. If you don't want to, that's just fine as well.

If you want to distinguish your titles, put them in ALL CAPS. If you do this for one presentation or publication, then, for consistency, do it for all presentations and publications.

Posted in  Applicants
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