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 application is a great opportunity to provide program directors and faculty with the skills and aptitudes you developed throughout your medical school journey. In this blog, learn tips to create your ERAS experience entries and read excellent ERAS Experience section examples that you can use to inspire your own!


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8 min read

What Should You Include on the ERAS Experience Section? How to Structure Your ERAS Experience Descriptions Additional Tips for Your ERAS Experience Section ERAS Experience Section Examples FAQs

What Should You Include on the ERAS Experience Section?

The ERAS Experience section is part of your residency CV. You can fill in up to 10 experiences and designate 3 of them as the “most meaningful”. You can also share any significant obstacles you faced and overcame in medical school in the “impactful experiences” category.

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.

“I started by compiling a list of all my experiences through medical school. Then, I categorized them as volunteering, work, or research. I pared down my list in order to focus on the most important experiences to me, and to ensure that the reader wouldn’t have application reading fatigue as often times experiences just get glanced over.” – Dr. Monica Taneja, MD, Harvard South Shore, Psychiatry.


Remember that you can recycle some of your most notable experiences from your medical school application, and any activities you completed during a post-bacc program or special master’s program!

“I reused things from my medical school application. I included all of my research achievements which spanned from undergraduate through medical school. I also included items that occurred in my Master’s program before starting medical school which I completed after starting medical school.”


For each experience you include, you will be required to provide the following information.

Focus on including experiences that would fit into the three main 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.

ERAS Work Experiences

Aim to include any paid or unpaid clinical or teaching positions you may have. This can include clinical positions you held throughout your years 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.

Showing genuine interest in your specialty is key in making a strong impression to residency programs, Dr. Taneja says:

“Psychiatry specifically focuses on a holistic view of applicants and creating cohesive residency classes. I showed preparedness and interest in psychiatry by engaging in research and taking advantage of unique psychiatry rotations offered at my medical school. These both gave me plenty of stories to talk about how I validated the field and showcase how I see my career progressing in psychiatry.”


ERAS Research Experiences

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.

“We were provided a good database of research opportunities within our medical school. When I started medical school, I also looked at National Research fellowships that I could pursue during the summer between 1st and 2nd year. I really didn't seek out work, other than paid research, during medical school and most of my true work experience was from before medical school.” – Dr. Monica Taneja, MD.


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.

“I think that there are some specialties where showing your dedication is very important and one of the easiest ways to do this is through publications and presentations. There are also usually opportunities to spearhead an interest group within your medical school.” – Dr. Taneja, MD

 

ERAS Volunteer Experiences

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.

Dr. Taneja says she found plenty of volunteering opportunities locally, but don’t hesitate to search for more opportunities online.

“For volunteering, my institution provided a list of local organizations that often had medical student participation. Beyond that, I did a fair amount of online volunteering as well.”


International Experiences

However, if you are an international medical graduate with experience in another country or a medical grad who took a gap year before residency, 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. Try to include any IMG clinical experience you gained in US.

For our admissions expert Dr. Terrell Coring, MD, clinical exposure in the US was built into his medical school program at Ross University School of Medicine:

“I attended a medical school that contracted with US hospital systems for clinical experiences. Therefore, these US clinical experiences were built into the program within my medical school. These clinical experiences within the US allowed for great letters of recommendation and great opportunities to network to increase my chances of matching within that health system.”


On the other hand, if you’re a US med student who’s interested in gaining some international experience, this is more than possible, too!

“[As a med student] I could easily set up rotations within South Africa in my final year as a medical student, and I had several colleagues complete rotations in clinics abroad, such as in Kenya and Guatemala, without issue … My advice is that if international or global health is something you are interested in, make sure you research which specific area you are dedicated to ahead of time to ensure that this is an option for you.” – Dr. Shaughnelene Smith, DO

 

How to Structure Your ERAS Experience Descriptions

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.

The selected experiences section has two parts:

  1. Up to 10 experiences that demonstrate who you are and what your passions are. For each entry, you’ll include a description, position title, organization name, start and end dates, frequency, location and setting.
  2. Your 3 Most Meaningful Experiences. From your 10 selected experiences, select 3 that had the biggest impact on you.

Your description is the most important part of every entry. You are given 1,020 characters to describe the activity and your responsibilities and 300 characters for the 3 most meaningful entries.

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:

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:

Additional Tips for Your ERAS Experience Section

1. Do Not Repeat Yourself

Your residency applications are meant to demonstrate the diversity of your experiences, your versatility, and your curiosity, among other qualities. Do not write about the same experiences in all your residency components. While it's expected that you will have some overlap between your residency CV and MSPE, try not to discuss the same experiences in your residency personal statement.

Additionally, keep in mind that you may be able to complete the Supplemental ERAS Application, in which you can further discuss your most important activities. Do not feel the need to emphasize the same activities and qualities over and over again to make the right impression – you will have plenty of opportunities to discuss a variety of experiences that demonstrate your strengths.

2. Do Not be Afraid to be Yourself

If you were involved in activities that were not necessarily related to medicine, like music, art, sports, etc., do not be afraid to include these activities in the Experience Section. You can and should include these if they have been especially formative in your life and taught you skills and lessons important for your medical career. For example, if you were a captain of a soccer team while studying in medical school, you should be proud of your time management skills and leadership skills.

Additionally, keep in mind that it is experiences and skills like these that often grab the reader’s attention. While most of your residency application should focus on the story of your journey to residency and how you chose your medical specialty, there is space to discuss other aspects of your life that enriched this journey.

3. Start Early

We may sound like a broken record with this advice, but rushing your applications is one of the biggest mistakes you can make as a candidate. Choosing which experiences to include and crafting your descriptions is time-consuming! Do not think you can do this in a week. Give yourself at least 5-6 weeks to narrow down a list of experiences and craft compelling descriptions of each activity.

4. Proofread

Another piece of advice that may seem trivial, but following it is essential for your success. Your residency application components must be near-perfect. Any typos, errors, and mistakes will hinder the impression you make with your application. Triple-check any of your components to make sure there are no errors.

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.

FAQs

1. What is the ERAS Experience section?

The ERAS Experience section is a part of your residency CV. 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 1,020 characters to describe the activity and 300 characters for your 3 “most meaningful” entries. 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?

You can include up to 10 selected experiences and 3 most meaningful, chosen from the original 10.

6. Can I include experiences I already talked about in other parts of my application?

You can, but try not to. Use this opportunity to showcase a variety of your involvements and 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

BeMo Academic Consulting


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1 Comments

ANDRES FERNANDEZ

Hi. I need help in how to add my publications at ERAS? I have one plublications and 4 posters. Thanks

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BeMo Academic Consulting

Hello Andres, please reach out to us to see how we can help you with the Experience Section. 

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