Beginning in the Fall of 2012, the Medical School Performance Evaluation (MSPE) release date and the Electronic Residency Application Service transmission opening date will be two weeks apart instead of the usual two months apart. The MSPE release is scheduled for October 1st instead of the usual November 1st, and programs can start downloading residency applications from ERAS on September 15th instead of the usual September 1st. Clients have been asking me how these changes might impact them and the overall competitive landscape for the residency match.

Traditionally, “less” competitive programs and specialties tended to review applications starting on the September 1st ERAS opening before they had the November 1st MSPE release so as to ensure they “locked in” the best applicants for interviews.

However, more competitive specialities, such as dermatology, orthopaedic surgery and otolaryngology, often waited until after the November 1st release of the MSPE to review applications. Applicants to these more competitive specialties therefore often delayed submitting their applications and letters of reference since they knew, in all likelihood, that doing so would not put them at a disadvantage.

By moving the ERAS transmission and MSPE release dates closer together, programs will be able to review applicants more “holistically” by using all applicant data. It will be interesting to see if the ERAS and MSPE date changes motivate even the most competitive specialty residency programs to review applications early.

Given these changes, I advise all 2012 residency applicants, regardless of specialty to submit their residency applications as close to September 15th as possible.