The ideal time to apply for USMLE residency is by September 28 of the year. But the fact that thousands of students have readied the documents in ERAS and are ready to submit on the first minute of September 7, is based on speculation of first come first serve or better chance of your CV getting into interview list. The idea is not wrong. The complete CV and on time application definitely has the benefit while late application always puts you in unfavourable condition like-
- Inadequate response
- Low number of interviews
- IV from low tier programs only.
The ERAS application timeline is one of the most crucial things that you need to keep in mind while pursing USMLE journey. If you do not plan for a season well, you may end of in situations where you lose a year or end up applying with incomplete applications or late applications. Specially as an International Medical Graduate (IMG) , you are already under lot of disadvantage and competition is getting huge. So you would not want to add another drawback by submitting the ERAS application late or incomplete.
Having said that, the circumstance may lead you to end up in dilemma, where you must apply late or with incomplete application. Losing a year and waiting is not a petty thing, so you may be tempted to apply this year itself, even if it is November, but the chances get slimer.
Here is an experience and this may not be true for everyone. My idea is to give an overview of my journey, hoping to highlight the hurdles and good points.
LATE FOR APPLICATION into USMLE Residency?
The last date for application as per ERAS timeline was 28th September for the year 2022. We can’t ignore the fact that on September 7, when ERAS submission opens, thousands of applicants are ready with complete application ready for first hour submission. There is a general concept that you will have an early advantage as Interviews and waitlists are main on first come first serve order. However, I have no confirmation if this is true, but this is accepted in general by all.
But in certain cases, you may need to apply late. Condition is that you want to apply this year but one of the following is your status-
- You haven’t completed Step 2 exams, your results or pending
- You haven’t appeared or passed OET
- Both OET and Step 2 done but you are yet to be ECFMG verified.
- Your important Letter of recommendation isn’t uploaded yet
- Yet to complete application form
The prime confusion arises here. No one exactly knows what is right and wrong from here.
If you apply in time with incomplete application:
- You can submit Step 2 score or OET result, or certificate once done, and you can update the programs with email.
- Chances are Incomplete applications can go down the drain after being filtered.
- But chances are that programs may download the application if you submit in time and if they like your CV, you could get early Interview or waitlist.
- Incomplete application lower chances of IV for IMG students.
- But you still will get the interviews, number will be affected.
If you apply late with Step 2 score or ECFMG Certification:
- You have missed the important programs. Most competitive programs are said to send IV early and fill their waitlists.
- Your application may never be seen.
- You may get few interviews, but numbers will be lower.
And another dilemma is that you may feel like you are wasting money if you apply broadly to many programs when you apply late. Application process is quite expensive. Or if you apply less programs in confusion, you may feel later that you didn’t apply enough programs.
Believe me, it is not worth getting into this conflict. The best thing you can do, is if you have good amount time in hand, try to adjust your exams and make it in time for early application deadline. Work into the application well ahead of time. Upload LORs, Personal statements, Photo, update your CV timely and submit everything on September 7 for the best outcome and not later than 28th September. If you got unlucky, not late than 1st week of October.