Roadmap to Residency: Message #1

4th Year Advising Tip - April 21, 2014
April 21, 2014

Dear class,

Based on some feedback from the current seniors, apparently you all want MORE detailed emails from the deans about the entire residency application process.  so....  to that end, deans norris, haywood, and i will be sending you messages every week or two for the next YEAR about different aspects of this process.  first however, at the risk of beating a very dead horse, we always advise you to first consult dean haywood's legendary GUIDE TO THE FOURTH YEAR as questions arise.  this comprehensive guide contains at least starter information about EVERYTHING related to the application process as well as links to useful information about VSAS, ERAS, NRMP, MSPE's and the whole confusing acronym-filled world of matching!!  you have a hard copy that we gave you before the winter holiday, or you can access it on line at:

The most frequent questions we get relate to the TIMELINE of what you should be doing. let me remind you that the aforementioned legendary GUIDE TO THE FOURTH YEAR contains a comprehensive 18 month timeline on pages 2-4.  i have copied part of it below:

3rd year

  • Select an official GW Faculty Advisor (beginning on February 1st) from the list provided by the dean’s office

3rd Year

  • Review the Directory of Senior Electives and plan your fourth year schedule with the help of your advisor
  • Enter your fourth year schedule requests into the web based lottery program

3rd Year

  • Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS) Opens.
  • Lottery results e-mailed to students
  • All students meet individually with the Student Affairs Dean to review and modify schedules

3rd Year

  • Class meeting with Student Affairs and/or Curricular Deans to discuss residency applications
  • Complete the web-based biographic information form for writing of your Medical Student Performance Evaluation (MSPE; aka Dean’s Letter). (Your letter cannot be written without this!)
  • Military students complete applications
  • Early Matches (Ophthalmology and Urology) begin registration. See target dates at: for Ophthalmalogy and urology-and-speciality-matches.cfm for Urology.

You should have already done the things highlighted in yellow. if you had any trouble with any of those steps (eg. you don't know who to ask to be your specialty(ies) advisor(s)-- CONTACT YOUR ADVISORY DEAN FOR HELP!!!

Right now, you have all been randomly scheduled to meet with your advisory dean to review your senior schedule and address the various aspects of the rest of the timeline.  If you were randomly assigned to an appointment later in the process DO NOT, I REPEAT, DO NOT PANIC.  This does not mean that you will be shut out of adjustments that need to be made to your schedule.  Even if you are missing some elective or clerkship that you wanted, there are many, many, many changes to the entire schedule as we move forward and meet with all of you, so pretty much everything changes in this very fluid process.  Sometimes, being last is better than being first, depending on what the issue is!!  

Many of you have requested assistance in polishing your CV.  your advisory dean is happy to do this for you, and/or your specialty advisor(s) may be of assistance as well.  

Ok, the final issue for this message is VSAS and 'away' electives. first, laquita beale is the QUEEN OF VSAS--- she knows everything about this system and can help you with any questions.  call her at 202-994-2170 or email to  not all of will want or need to do away electives, that is OK. only about a 60% of each class does an away elective, and less than 25% of students match to a program where they did an away elective.  however, for some of you (narrow geographic preference, highly competitive specialties, etc.) away electives may be very important.  you should already have begun investigating these electives. picking programs to target for away electives may be easy ("i have to move to pittsburgh to be with my significant other"), but sometimes it is more complex.  in general, you want to pick programs at which you think (with the help of current seniors, your specialty advisors, or your advisory dean) you have a chance of matching and the boost of performing well on an away elective will be helpful.  there is no easy answer to this we are sorry to report, and it takes research and conversations with multiple people.  one group of people that may be helpful to you are GW graduates who happen to be training at those institutions!!  one 'suggestion' that we get from students about 10 times per week is:  "wouldn't it be great if you deans provided us with a list of all the graduates and where they are doing their training".  this question makes dean haywood's head EXPLODE!!  because, in the legendary GUIDE TO THE FOURTH YEAR there is a list of where everybody has matched for the last FOUR YEARS!!!!!!!  many of these individuals still forward mail from their email accounts (look them up in the university directory).  if that doesn't work, just send a polite message to the program coordinator at their program (see FREIDA; and if you don't know what this is, see the LEGENDARY GUIDE TO THE FOURTH YEAR!!!!). this individual will almost always help you get in touch with the person you are looking to talk to.

That's it for this week.

Your advisory deans: haywood, norris, and schroth 

W. Scott Schroth, MD, MPH
Associate Dean for Administration
phone: 202-994-2202 (dean's office only)
phone: 202-741-2222 (clinical office only)
fax: 202-994-0926