Consider These Things When Planning Your Fourth-Year Schedule

Every school has different requirements in fourth year of medical school, and you’ll likely be astonished by the variety when you chat with fellow applicants on the interview trail. 
Regardless of your school’s specific schedule requirements, here are some things to consider when planning your fourth year of medical school. 
Buffer time around ERAS® submission day. Besides starting on your ERAS® application early, you should also plan to spend significant time on it around the time of submission. The week prior to submitting, you should be triple-checking your application from every angle. Are the right letters and personal statements assigned to the right programs? Is everything factually correct? Are there any typos? Are you following our ERAS® tips? (link)
Don’t blow off Step 2 CK… mostly. Depending on when you’re planning to take it, (link) programs will either see it as part of your original ERAS® application, or they’ll see it later on after you decide to “push” your scores to them. If you’re taking it early, leave at least 2.5-3 dedicated weeks to study. Yes, the curve is much more generous than in Step 1, but don’t rely on that alone to get a good score — especially since taking it early means that it’ll automatically go to every program you apply to. And if your Step 1 wasn’t stellar, it’s extra important to take time for Step 2 CK.
Letters of recommendation take time. Keep in mind that you’ll need to give faculty at least 4-6 weeks to write you a letter, if not longer. If you’re doing an away rotation or sub-internship to get a letter of recommendation, you need to schedule that rotation in the summer/early fall. Leave enough of a buffer period for the faculty member to get to know you, work with you multiple times, and still have that 4-6 weeks notice before ERAS® opens.
Leave yourself a stress-free interview season. Depending on your school, you may have the chance to take “easy” classes or even have a vacation period during interview season. Utilize these. You will need to channel your energy into preparing for interviews (link), coordinating travel, and feeling your best. Try to have as few school-related distractions as possible during this time.
Leave some “off” time in the spring. Schools vary on their fourth-year requirements. If you can, opt for lighter classes in the spring. Trust us, you’ll welcome a few weeks (or even a few months!) of decompressing after applications and interviews. Go on a vacation. Hang out with friends you haven’t talked to in a while. Pick up a new hobby. Explore!

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Electronic Residency Application Service® (ERAS®) is a registered trademark of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and is used under the fair use doctrine. Med School Mentors is not affiliated with, endorsed by, or in any way officially connected with the AAMC.
United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®) is a registered trademark of the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) and is used under the fair use doctrine. Med School Mentors is not affiliated with, endorsed by, or in any way officially connected with the NBME.