Friday, February 16, 2018

How to write ERAS CV for the USMLE match and FAQs about the application

Writing ERAS CV

The ERAS CV is a very important part of your application. After filtering applications, your CV is given points based on special activities (international volunteering, unique  skills, exceptional research) and if your CV points reach the threshold set by the program, you're invited for an interview (I was told this by a faculty in an interview!) 

Take. This. Seriously.

The ERAS CV is very different from the usual CV because you have to fill in a pre-made format. It's confusing. You don't know what to do. This post is based on what I know about what's preferred. There's no right or wrong.

I'm writing this post is a question and answer format so it's easier to refer to. 

These are just preferences - see if it suits you! I tried to give credit to the friends that gave these tips along the way. Most of them are American Medical Graduates (AMGs) and my input is IMG lol (International Medical Graduate). 

How to start:
List all your accomplishments. Then, ask your parents when you finish jotting down everything - You may forget your achievements but your parents will remember every random award you won. (Thanks MB for the tip!) 

Bullets. Easier to read when you are reading 100 applications on the other side of the table.


What type of wording should I use in the description section? 
Example one: "Worked as a volunteer, duties included..."
Example two: "I had the opportunity to work with Dr. Smith as a volunteer..."
IkaN tip: Both are equally good but prefer one as it is short and sweet! 

Here's what the Dean of an AMG emailed (thanks for sharing HM!): No need to use complete sentences with activities. Use active verbs like a resume. It is NOT wrong to use full sentences if you prefer that approach, but it not expected. Example: “Delivered lectures to first-year medical students on cardiac physiology.”

How long should my descriptions be? 
IkaN tip: Keep it short. Write tweet-sized descriptions.

HM's Dean on how much to write: Think about how important the activity is and how many of these applications your readers are reading. If you have a critical role you may want to write more. A mere participant should not belabor the point too much.


What do I write for "Reason for leaving"?  
IkaN tip: Be elaborate. The reader should know in a glance why you left. I read an AMGs CV and he was very clear even with respect to non-medical jobs. He wrote, "I had to leave because of change in location or because of better opportunities but I was never fired from any of these jobs." or "I left the leadership role but I continued as a volunteer..." (Thanks for sharing this MS!)

The downside of not being specific is that curious faculty may call you to know your reasons. This is what my IMG friend was asked by the PD on a phone call: "Why did you leave your XYZ training after 3 months? Why did you leave the lab after working for a year? I see no publications out of it!"
She had definite reasons and she explained to them elegantly on the phone and was granted an interview. But had she been elaborate on the CV, she probably wouldn't have received the anxiety-provoking phone call! 

HM's Dean on how much to write: Okay to say “activity concluded” or “graduated” or “internship ended.”

IkaN used: End of bonded service, End of internship, End of rotation (Because I didn't know this before!)

Because of the period and hours, you worked in is important!

If I am currently working and do not intend to stop working during the interview season, can I put the "to" date in the future, say March 20XX, depending on my hire agreement? Or do I leave it blank? (PS: "Present" option isn't available in the ERAS CV.) 

It's okay to use future dates.

Since residency starts in July, your Program Director (PD) would want to know how will you manage to work for them and working for the other work, side by side. Keep answers ready :) 

What if I work 3 hours every month for a volunteering organization? How do I put it in weeks on the ERAS CV?
PDs are aware of the inflexibility of the ERAS CV when it comes to editing certain parts. You can mention the minimum number of hours in the hours/week box. Then describe the hours and frequency of your work clearly in the description.

Usually, it is the name of the Hospital or Medical School you rotated in.

If there is no organization and you worked voluntarily to do something - can you put the organization "Self"?

Self-doubt: Is it work experience? Or does it go into extracurriculars?
I was confused while mentioning the blog (Medicowesome) and the book I wrote. 

A fellow I know replied this:
I would include the website/book in the extracurriculars section (not sure if there is a section like that but whatever is closest to that) unless it was an organization that was being run with a formal job post. I was a part of a youth organization in medical school and had held several posts but included those in the extracurricular section because it is not formal work experience. You could ask some other people for advice on this as well but I think work experience is not the most accurate.

I was leaning towards extracurricular since I was not really working for an organization. Not sure if being an entrepreneur counts as work experience! Also, I think ERAS says that if you are paid for it, you put it in work. If not, it's a volunteer experience. Since I wasn't getting paid, I doubted putting it under work experience.

What did I do? I listened to my gut and put it under Work Experience. Best decision I made :)

Artwork – especially if the artwork is displayed at a gallery or show
Music – make special note of shows or places you have performed at
Many people make the mistake of putting significant artistic skills in the ‘Hobby’ section.  This does not give yourself enough credit if you have done legitimately IMPRESSIVE artistic accomplishments.  You have to realize that faculty members are glazed over by all the research projects from candidates.

Think about this, wouldn’t you rather talk to someone about their artwork than their summer research project on colon cancer screening?  Me too.  I’d rather hear about something unique and new.  So if you have done some significant artistic, musical, or talent PUT it in the WORK SECTION. 



What if I worked from home for an organization based in the US? How do I put it in?
Use the location of the organization, however, while writing the description use the words, "I worked remotely for..."
I needed this advice while figuring out how to mention Editor of First Aid, the company is based in Kentucky, not India (from where I usually worked)

I hope this gives a good general idea. I will be updating more points soon! Lemme know your questions in the comments below or email


Where do we put electives in my ERAS CV?
Work experience.
Who is the supervisor for electives?
The attendings you rotated under. Limit to two or three names. If you had multiple attendings, choose your favorite two. You can write 4-6 names but it is too much to read.

Can you include non-medical volunteer experience in your ERAS CV?
Here are a few things I am confused about:
Organized a medical conference
Was an editor for the college magazine
Can you write non-medical accomplishments in medical school awards?
Won a prize in a poster making competition (art, not research poster)
TOEFL score?
Accomplishments before medical school?

YES. Add whatever makes you look good and like a well-rounded person. It will help you during your interviews. 

Which hobbies should be included?
Only list hobbies that show initiative, perseverance, or skill (ie. sports, cooking, language fluency)
Do not list hobbies that would show a Program Director that you may be distracted (ie. social media, fantasy football, trying out different bars, playing video games)
List hobbies with achievements first - Like if you like to dance write about dance courses, etc. (Thanks AS for the tip!)

What can you edit once the CV is submitted?
I called ECFMG and found out - "personal information" section can be edited throughout the application season.

Will the program see the "view print CV" or "view print application" version of the CV?

How is the CV sorted? 
The CV is sorted in chronological order (dates) with your most recent accomplishments first, so don't worry about what to enter first.

Do we leave AOA and GHHS blank "select" or choose "No chapter at my school"?
No chapter at my school if there is no chapter.

Are you Board Certified? What does this mean? Is this the same as ECFMG certification?
No, it is not the same as ECFMG certification. Board-certified means having taken an American board exam.


Can we write about any of the articles that are submitted for publication? But bot published yet?

If you've done a research project but also presented it as a poster, do we include that in our research experience or only as a poster presentation?
You can include it in research experience and as a poster.

What about Oral / PowerPoint presentations?
You can include it somewhere - I gave a presentation during electives so I wrote it in the work experience section.

There's another section under publications for oral presentation - Can you put elective presentations in that?
No. I had read long ago that only grand rounds are worth mentioning. ("Presentations" refer to presentations that have been FORMALLY accepted or invited at regional or national academic meetings. Presentations that you do in the context of your education, for instance on rounds or in clerkship conferences, etc. are NOT academic presentations and should not be listed on your CV.)
Do you add conferences you attended in work experience?
I don't know, I did not mention it in my CV- feel free to answer them if you know for sure.

What counts as a book chapter? Do textbooks such as First Aid count?
Yes, as long as you played a major role in writing a book chapter.

I have done my residency in India already. Do I add that to previous experience or previous training or in medical education as there is an option of master's training?
Previous training.

How do I write about a project that I worked on in research experience that has not been published?

I worked on the XYZ project at ABC hospital.

Responsibilities included:
- Collecting data of inpatient post-op patients for 18 months.
- Doing a statistical analysis of the data.
- Doing the literature review.

Questions from Indian medical students:

What about the column on Membership in Honorary/Professional Societies - How much importance does it have in a CV?  Which kind of societies can we put in? Do we have to describe them?
Some students have put:
- Student member, Rotaract Club of Caduceus (20XX-20XY)
- Member of Maharashtra Medical Council, Mumbai (Sr. No.: MMC/XIII/0515253; Reg. No.: 2140M137)
Can we include volunteer organizations such as Rotaract? Isn't MMC a council, not a society?
No need to mention. My seniors advised me against it. 

Writing about INDIAN INTERNSHIP in your CV:

How should we write an internship in work experience? Month wise for every rotation or one year experience as a whole?
One year experience.
Why? Month wise will make the CV redundant and long. It may be too boring to read. The reader might not focus on your other accomplishments based on longevity.

Was your medical education being extended? There was an extension in the internship - it's okay to check "No" if it was for electives (you extended it for training). If you had other reasons, go for "Yes".

Who is the supervisor for the internship? The dean or the head of the PSM department?
Anything is fine - You may also leave it blank or say, "Multiple supervisors".

Can we put an internship as a post-graduate training experience instead of work experience?
No. It is not post-grad because you are required to do it for a med school degree.
The internship is equivalent to the Americans intern year (which is PG training for them). They are supervised when they rotate through various departments and get paid for it. (That's what we do as well!) - So, good question!!!

That's all!

*phew* that was a lot! 

I hope this gives a good general idea. I will be updating more points soon! Lemme know your questions in the comments below or email

Hoping to match this year,
IkaN (Pray for me, pray for the match in March!)


  1. Hey,could you elaborate a bit more if we should write about volunteer organisations or no? Like I was among the director board in rotaract and a member of msai. Worth mentioning or no?

  2. There was an extension in my internship as I took time off to study for the steps. But I found from my medical college that they indicated there was no extension in my medical education. I'm not sure how to proceed. Any suggestions? Thanks for the help appreciate it!

  3. Thank you, IKan. You make our life easier.

  4. This was really helpful. Thanks a ton!

  5. Amazing post, very informative and helpful. Thanks a ton!

  6. The superbly written article, if only all bloggers offered the same content as you, the internet would be a far better place.


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