ERAS Experience section examples can be a great guide to planning your own experience descriptions. Whether you are applying to the most competitive or least competitive residencies, your applications must be outstanding. The Experience section of your Curriculum Vitae is a great opportunity to provide program directors and faculty with your professional background, experiences, and skills you developed throughout your medical school journey.
In this blog, we will discuss how you can use the Experience section to increase your chances for matching your top-choice programs and share excellent ERAS Experience section examples that you can use to inspire your own!
>>Want us to help you get accepted? Schedule a free strategy call here.<<
What is the ERAS Experience Section?
The ERAS Experience section is part of your ERAS residency CV. Its format is not going to be unfamiliar to anyone who has applied to medical school. The format of this residency application section is very similar to that of the AMCAS Work and Activities section or of the TMDSAS Employment and Activities section, or the Experience Section of the AACOMAS application system. And if you applied to medical schools in Canada, most of you filled out some form of description of your experiences, skills, and extracurriculars.
First things first, you should know that there is no specific number of experiences you need to include, i.e., there is no minimum or maximum number you need to hit. Depending on your experiences and circumstances, you can theoretically include as few as 1 or as many as millions. However, remember our golden rule – quality always trumps quantity. Focus on including experiences that were truly meaningful to your growth as an individual and a professional. If you want to strive for a number, try to include around 12-15 experiences in total. Keep in mind that each experience will be categorized as either work, research, or volunteer experience. We will discuss what kind of experiences you should include in this section in more detail below, but as you plan how many you should include in total, keep in mind the categories of activities you should plan to incorporate.
For each experience you include, you will be required to provide the following information:
What Kind of Experiences Should You Include?
As we already mentioned, you will be required to break down your experiences into three categories: work, research, and volunteer. And this leads to the next important consideration: instead of focusing on including a certain number of experiences in total, focus on including experiences that would fit into these three categories. In other words, do not leave any of the categories blank. Try to have a balanced representation of activities in the ERAS Experience section.
When it comes to including work experiences, aim to include any paid or unpaid clinical or teaching positions you may have held. This can include clinical positions you held throughout your training in medical school or your role as an MCAT tutor for medical school applicants.
And if you are wondering whether your clinical rotations and electives can be included in your ERAS Experience section, you are not alone. Technically, you can include these experiences. However, you should base your decision to include or exclude them based on your status as an applicant. What do we mean by this?
If you are still in 3rd or 4th year of med school figuring out how to prepare for residency applications, you most likely do not have much experience outside of your rotations and clerkships. So it would make sense that your experiences in rotations can be considered as some of the most important, formative activities on your journey to becoming a doctor. In this case, you can include a description of your experience in a specific rotation that solidified your decision to pursue your chosen specialty, for example. However, you can include your experiences from all the medical specialties you worked in. The clinical work you include does not have to be from your chosen specialty only.
However, if you are an international medical graduate with practice experience in another country or a medical grad who took gap years after graduating from medical school, including your clinical rotations may be a faux pas. Firstly, because they may seem outdated, and you are encouraged to include your most recent experiences in the ERAS Experience section. Secondly, if you include clinical rotations you had during school, it may seem like you have not been using your time wisely after graduation. Instead of including your rotations, include clinical work experiences you gained after graduation.
Right off the bat let’s make it clear that the research activities you are to include in the ERAS Experience section and your publications are not the same. You will actually have a whole separate section to include your publications in the ERAS application. For the Experience section, you need to include research activities you participated in, i.e., positions you held, such as assistant, investigator, technician, and so on.
If you're interested in a research assistant position, check out these cover letter tips:
ERAS encourages all applicants to include their unpaid and extracurriculars in the volunteer category of the ERAS Experience section. This means that if you have many clinical experiences that you want to include in the Experience section, you can divide them up between the clinical category and the volunteer category, but make sure to only include unpaid experiences in the latter.
How to Structure Your Experience Descriptions?
Your description is the most important part of every entry. You are given 1020 characters to describe the activity and 510 characters to discuss any extraordinary circumstances that led you to leave your position.
First things first: your description must concisely demonstrate what position you held, what your responsibilities were, what kind of impact you had, and what you accomplished in this role. Make sure to dedicate some space to discuss what you learned from this experience and why it was so significant in your journey to residency. Include solid examples of how and why you learned your skills. For example, if your clinical experience taught you how to read patient histories and lab results, make sure to describe under what circumstances you learned this skill:
“As part of my duties at Y Hospital, I assisted Dr. X in patient roundings. I reviewed patient histories and recent lab results, such as blood and urine tests. As my expertise grew, Dr. X delegated to me more duties, including review of results of other medical procedures, such as x-rays, CT scans, and electrocardiograms. I participated in organizing treatment plans with the patients and their families.”
And while not all of your experiences have to be medically related, the characteristics you developed and lessons you learned should be applicable to medicine. For example, if you were a part of your med school's student council, committee, or organized a fundraiser, your description of this activity should include what kind of leadership lessons you learned, what organizational qualities you developed, and so on.
Interested in 7 tips to make your ERAS Application stand out:
Description of Why Your Left
For the most part, your explanations will be laconic. For example, your description of why you left could be:
“The project was completed.”
However, if there were some other circumstances that prevented you from continuing with the project, you can openly state them here in under 510 characters. For example, if you had to stop a volunteer position because you moved to a different city, you can include this in the description:
“Due to my relocation to X city, I had to leave my position as Y at the Z organization.”
As you can see, for many of your activities, the description of why you stopped the activity will be far below the character limit. However, if there were any additional circumstances, please feel free to include them in the description. For example:
“I had to stop my participation in X organization, as my commitment to clinical rotations was taking up most of my time."
Full Sentences vs Bullet Points
One of the most common questions students ask regarding the ERAS Experience section is whether they should write in full sentences or use bullet points to describe their activity and involvement. Both methods are accepted and valid, and both have their own advantages and disadvantages. Let’s examine both.
Firstly, we want to emphasize that even if you write in full sentences, they must be concise. You do not have much space for your description so be economical with your writing. Write in brief, factual, clear, and concise statements.
The biggest pro of writing in full sentences is the ability to showcase your written communication skills. Program directors and faculty will take note of well-written, brief, and informative descriptions. Strong written communication skills are a huge asset for a physician, so you will definitely impress the reader if you are able to create strong entries using full sentences.
At the same time, crafting descriptions using full sentences takes a lot longer than creating a list of bullet points. A huge advantage of bullet points is that you can list all your duties, responsibilities, and the lessons you learned in a neat, well-organized list that will clearly show your involvement in the activity.
Ultimately, the decision of how to organize your entries is completely up to you. While programs seem to have no preference for how you organize your entries, you should take any chance you have to showcase your best self. This is why taking the time to write in full, concise sentences may be a good idea. Full sentences, even if they are brief, are more descriptive and engaging than bullet points. While there is nothing wrong with bullet points, showing that you took the extra time to craft well-written descriptions will be noted by the program directors and the program faculty.
Additional Tips for Your ERAS Experience Section
ERAS Experience Section Examples
Since we strongly encourage you to write in full sentences to add that extra bit of competitive edge to your entries, our descriptions will also be written in complete sentences.
As with any application component, put your best foot forward. Be selective in which activities you include in your Experience section. ERAS Experience section examples are a great start for planning your own entries. They can really help you gauge what is expected from you.
However, remember that choosing your experiences and crafting their descriptions will require not only your full attention but also great writing skills. In addition to being strategic about which activities you include, you must also carefully draft concise but descriptive narratives of your experiences. If you are not sure how to proceed or need help with crafting your descriptions, you might want to consider getting professional help. You do not want to miss out on the opportunity to demonstrate your best self in the current application cycle. Instead of figuring out how to improve your residency application after going unmatched next year, start planning your applications and their components now, and get the help you need as soon as possible.
1. What is the ERAS Experience section?
The ERAS Experience section is a part of your ERAS Curriculum Vitae (CV) application component. It’s meant to demonstrate which experiences and activities made the most impact on your choice of career and specialty.
2. What kind of experiences can I include in the ERAS Experience section?
You can include experiences from these three categories: work, research, volunteer. Note that you will have a separate section for publications in the CV, so for the Experience section, only include positions you held, not publications.
3. Is there a character limit for descriptions of each entry?
You will have 1020 characters to describe the activity and 510 to describe why you left the position. While you cannot go over the limit under any circumstances, feel free to write less than the required character count. Your descriptions should be informative, but concise.
4. Can I write my descriptions in bullet points?
While it is certainly allowed, we would advise writing your descriptions in short, concise sentences to show off your written communication and organizational skills.
5. How many experiences can I include?
There is no minimal or maximum limit. You can include as many as you wish. However, we would advise you to be selective in choosing the experiences you choose for this section. Try not to include too many – 12 to 15 experiences is more than enough to showcase your skills. Remember that you will have other application components you can use to add more, such as the rest of the CV, your personal statement, and the supplemental application if it applies to you.
6. Can I include experiences I already talked about in other parts of my application?
You can but try not to. As we mentioned in the article, you have several application components where you can talk about the diversity of your experiences. Use this opportunity to showcase a variety of your involvements. Be careful not to seem easily distracted, but try to show that you are a versatile candidate with a variety of experiences.
7. How can ERAS Experience section examples help me craft my own?
ERAS Experience section examples are a great way to start your research. Check out how others have structured and described their activities. Examples can help you decide not only how to write about your activities, but how to choose which ones to include.
8. Can I include non-medical experiences?
Yes, you can. However, keep in mind that you are still applying to medical residency, so your descriptions should aim to emphasize skills, characteristics, and lessons you learned that would be valuable for a physician.
To your success,
Your friends at BeMo
Like our blog? Write for us! >>
Have a question? Ask our admissions experts below and we'll answer your questions!