Understanding the Differences between the ERAS and the NRMP

For foreign medical graduates, there’s no denying the complexity of the process of landing a position in a US medical residency program. From the day you start brainstorming your personal statement to the final hours of Match Week, it is essential to make sure that you stay on top of all the requirements and check all of the necessary boxes so that you can end up in the program of your dreams. One of the things that can initially be confusing is the fact that there are two separate organizations that are heavily involved in the overall process of landing a US medical residency: the ERAS and the NRMP. Read on to learn about the role that each of these organizations plays in the process as you go from a foreign medical graduate to a US medical resident.

The Key Distinction between the ERAS and the NRMP: A Question of Purpose

As you try to land a US medical residency, you will work with both the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS) and the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP). Perhaps the most significant distinction between these two organizations is that they differ in their fundamental purpose. Specifically, the ERAS is the system through which you will submit all of your residency application materials, while the NRMP is the organization that facilitates the actual matching process, once all of your documents have been submitted to your programs of interest.

From a practical perspective, this means that you’ll be focusing primarily on ERAS requirements during the first part of the process, while the NRMP takes over during the second half. With the ERAS, your goal is to make sure you get all of your application materials into the system so that they are sent out to the programs of choice–complete and on time. Once the programs have evaluated these materials and you have had the chance to interview with interested programs, the NRMP facilitates the creation and submission of ROLs, and it generates the results that you end up receiving at the start of Match Week, and it coordinates the SOAP process until the final results are announced on Match Day.

Comparing the 2018-2019 ERAS and NRMP Timelines

Because the ERAS and the NRMP are two different organizations, they operate on two separate  timelines. They have different registration start and end deadlines, and they separately set other key dates as well. If you are looking to participate in the 2018-2019 application and matching process–that is, if you want to start your US medical residency program in July 2019–it is important to be familiar with the schedules of both the ERAS and the NRMP for the 2018-2019 season.

The ERAS 2018-2018 timeline is already underway. It started on June 7, 2018, when it first became possible for applicants to register on MyERAS and start preparing their US medical residency applications. If you haven’t started the registration process, now is the time. In less than a month–on September 5, 2018–applicants can start sending their applications to ACGME-accredited residency programs through the ERAS system. These programs start receiving the application materials ten days later, on September 15, 2018

Conveniently, that date coincides with the start of the 2018-2019 NRMP timeline. At 12:00 p.m. Eastern time on September 15, 2018, applicants for 2019 US medical residency programs can register with the NRMP. Registration remains open for the next two and a half months, until 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on November 30, 2018. After that date, candidates are required to pay a late fee alongside their main registration fee.

The last important date for the ERAS is October 1, 2018–the day that Medical Student Performance Evaluations (MSPEs) are released to residency programs. That means you have to be absolutely sure that your medical school has submitted your MSPE by that date. Alternatively, as a foreign medical graduate, you may need to submit the MSPE yourself, so you should make sure that you are ready to meet that deadline.

After that, no more documents will be submitted through the ERAS. However, the MyERAS 2019 season technically continues alongside the matching process facilitated by the NRMP. As a result, MyERAS will remain open until May 31, 2019, so you’ll always have easy access to your documents if you need them.

As the role of the ERAS essentially ends in the fall, the NRMP basically takes over in the winter and early spring, which means there are a series of important dates you need to be aware of in the lead-up to Match Day. First, on January 15, 2019, Rank Order List (ROL) entry opens at 12:00 p.m. Eastern time, and candidates have until 9:00 p.m. on February 20, 2019, to certify their ROLs. Match Week begins on March 11, 2019, when candidates find out if they got matched and the Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program (SOAP) opens for those who did not. It all ends on Match Day–March 15, 2019–which marks the end of the NRMP timeline.

The Bottom Line: ERAS vs NRMP

The bottom line for foreign medical graduates is that the ERAS and the NRMP differ in both their purpose and their timelines, but understanding and working effectively with both organizations is essential for landing the residency position of your dreams. FMG Portal is here to help you with all of your needs when it comes to the residency application and matching processes. Contact us today to learn more about all of our services for foreign medical graduates!

Residency Specialty Spotlight: Oncology

Cancer is one of the greatest medical challenges of our time. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it is the second-leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for about 1 in 6 of all deaths–a total of over 8.8 million people in 2015. It’s also been the subject of considerable biomedical research in recent decades, leading to significant advances in treatment and prevention options, so if you’re a foreign medical graduate, now is one of the most exciting times to train for a career in oncology in the United States. Not only will you be making a positive difference in the lives of patients struggling with the disease, but you will also have the chance to learn about the most cutting-edge techniques, technologies, and therapies used for treating the disease. Read on to learn more about the road to a career in oncology and what you need to do to pursue this specialty area of medicine.


Oncology Residency and Fellowship Training Options for Foreign Medical Graduates


As an aspiring oncology specialist looking for residency and fellowship training in the United States, there are two training paths for you to choose from. Both offer excellent training for foreign medical graduates, so you can’t go wrong either way!



  • Option 1: Internal Medicine Residency (3 years) + Oncology Fellowship (2-3 years)


The traditional route to becoming an oncology specialist is to start by completing a three-year US medical residency program in internal medicine before completing a three-year fellowship in Hematology and Oncology or (less commonly) a two-year fellowship program in Oncology. For foreign medical graduates, this can be a great option, especially since the latest data from the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) indicates that internal medicine is the most common residency specialty area for foreign medical graduates, accounting for about 43.9 percent of all successful matches in 2015. Spending three years studying internal medicine can also be helpful if you’re not yet sure which area of oncology you want to focus on for your career, because an internal medicine residency will give you in-depth insight into all of the different body systems that may be affected by cancer.


Although the most common fellowship option for aspiring oncology specialists in the United States is Hematology and Oncology, many institutions have also been adding more specialized programs, including some that last only a single year and are designed for physicians who have already completed both an internal medicine residency and a general oncology fellowship. Here are a few of the more specialized topics that you might pursue in a fellowship:

  • Breast Surgical Oncology
  • Cancer Anesthesia
  • Cancer Rehabilitation
  • Gynecologic Oncology
  • Head and Neck Surgical Oncology
  • Leukemia
  • Lymphoma / Myeloma
  • Musculoskeletal Oncology
  • Neuro-Oncology
  • Oncologic Emergency Medicine
  • Onco-Nephrology
  • Urologic Oncology


  • Option 2: Partial Internal Medicine Residency (1 year) + Full Radiation Oncology Fellowship (4 years)


An increasingly popular option, which has become available more recently, is to spend your first year in a medical residency in a generalist subject–such as internal medicine, surgery, or a related field–before advancing to a four-year residency program in radiation oncology. One of the advantages of this option is that the total training time is only five years, and you can start practicing as an oncology specialist as soon as you finish, without completing a fellowship program beforehand. However, it is important to note that you’ll have to go through the NRMP residency matching process again after the first year of your residency, which can be challenging and time-consuming, especially considering the obligations you’ll have as a first-year resident in your generalist program.


What to Expect from Oncology Residency and Fellowship Programs


Although oncology residency and fellowship programs differ in their scheduling and organization, there are certain things you generally expect from the training. After having gained a foundation of knowledge in your full or partial internal medicine residency program, you’ll have the chance to focus more specifically on oncology care, including cancer mechanisms, diagnostic imaging, treatment planning, side effect management, recurrence prevention, and even healthcare policy, among other topics. In some programs, you may have the opportunity (or be required) to conduct either basic, translational, or clinical research. With most programs, by the time you finish, you’ll be ready to achieve subspecialty certification in Medical Oncology and/or Hematology through the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM).


Pre-Residency Planning for a Career in Oncology


Oncology residency and fellowship programs can be highly competitive, so as a foreign medical graduate, you need to be able to show residency programs that you are a strong candidate. One way to strengthen your candidacy is to complete a graduate externship in oncology before you try to get matched. Completing a program like this can help you show an application reviewer that you are truly committed to the specialty area, and it can give you something to talk about during your residency interviews. It will also allow you to make connections with attending physicians in the United States, who may be able to write letters of recommendation to support your application.

FMG Portal offers graduate externships for foreign medical graduates in a wide range of specialty areas, including oncology. Contact us today to learn more about our programs!