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A plan for scramble

Scramble experience, suggestions, strategies

A plan for scramble

Postby anatolyk » Mon Mar 13, 2006 4:16 pm

There is an absolute 30 applications limit in ERAS. Try not to waste it. Some programs will not accept applications in any form but ERAS. Most likely those are the programs that usually do not have any problems in getting well-qualified candidates and therefore are very competitive. If there are any particular programs that you really want to get into, submit ERAS application there. But leave 3-5 available applications for programs that may have had a telephone interview with you and want to get verified version of your documents from ERAS.

A plan for Scramble Day
Here is a suggested schedule for your scramble day:

11:50PM EST - Log on to ERAS and navigate to the Programs tab and then to the Search Program section, where you can select the programs to apply.

12:00PM EST - Log on to NRMP and get the Unfilled Positions report for your specialty. If you are looking for more than one specialty, you will have to run the report multiple times.

12:05PM EST - Having both windows open, ERAS and NRMP, start picking programs from NRMP's list and selecting them in ERAS window. When making ERAS selection, assign appropriate LORs and Personal Statement to the programs. The best selection would be in or around your city. As soon as you have 25-28 selected, navigate to the "Apply to Programs" tab in ERAS, check all the programs in this window, and click at Apply to Programs button.

This will take you from 20 minutes to an hour depending on how fast you can navigate between the windows. Try to do some test runs before the scramble. You can search for the last year list on the Internet.

If at any time through this process you get a phone call, drop everything and fully concentrate on the interview.

Should you be calling the programs?

This is the question everybody asks. You shouldn't dismiss this opportunity altogether but it is very important to set your priorities right. When you are calling the programs you can get three possible answers:

"Please submit your application".
If you say that your application has been submitted, the answer will be either "We will call you after we look at the application in case if you qualify" or
The best one - "let's talk"
Unfortunately in 99% of the cases you will be getting answers 1 or 2.

Please keep in mind that each call will take 5-10 minutes of your time. Compare this with 1 minute per program with ERAS.

The bottom line is that it may help calling the programs, but only after you are done submitting your ERAS applications.

Please let us share some real-life scramble experience.

Your goal is to have as many programs as possible to become interested in your candidacy and call you for a phone interview. Any call may be the only call from programs on that day, so please be prepared and do your best. Typical interview subjects are:

- Your prior work experience

- Your dedication to medicine and to a specialty in particular

- Your short and long-term goals

- Where do you see yourself ten years from now (urban/rural, practicing, teaching, attending, etc.)

- How comfortable are you being a mentor for interns and medical school students as a senior resident

- And many-many more

There are no correct and incorrect answers. Program faculty is just trying to see if you are a good fit personality-wise. If you got a call, you have already passed credentials screening and program liked most of the things about you. So, just be who you are. Be enthusiastic. At the end of the interview you will have a chance to ask your questions. You should ask about anything you really want to know (how many attendings at the program, are there any research opportunities, are there any other IMGs at the program, is there a day care facility at the hospital, how good local schools are, what is the traffic situation). Your questions should demonstrate that you really are interested in the program.

The interview is usually 15-30 minute long. You should expect ANY type of subject being discussed.

Some programs will ask to schedule a face-to-face interview for the next day. This is not very common though. You sure should go, but have your cell phone with you in case if you get a call from another program.

Offers are usually made on a spot. So, be ready for your Yes or No answer right away.

What you can do, try to research the program as you speak. But do it only if this won't affect your interview performance. You can go to and just type program name there. You will get a link to the program web site. This may help you evaluate the program better. This can also help if you show the interviewer that you already have some information about the program and you like it.

Please also take a look at this page at

Have at least two phone lines available:

- The one that you put on your application should be used for inbound calls only

- Use the other one for calling the programs

- It also is a good idea to have call waiting feature on the telephone you are using for inbound calls, so that you can take a quick break from your current interview, find out who is calling, switch back and call the other program after that

It is a good idea to have a fast Internet connection. This way you can research the program on the spot.

Clean up you e-mail to make sure there is enough free space to receive programs feedback. We will send all of you a test message on March 13th approximately at 10PM EST. If you have not received the message, there is something wrong with your e-mail.

Check your e-mail every 3-5 minutes.

Make sure you have correct name in your e-mail account settings, so when you send an e-mail, a program can easily find your application by name in the From: field. Even though you prefer to be called by a nickname, please change it to the name matching your documents at least for this week.

If you use a cell phone for inbound calls, periodically check your phone voice mail indicator to make sure you have not missed a call. Sometimes cell phone calls get routed directly to the voicemail.

It is an extremely stressful day. Try to get a good night sleep before that. Have some snacks at your residence to avoid being away for lunch.

I wish you the best of luck!
Last edited by anatolyk on Wed Mar 15, 2006 11:29 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Joined: Tue Jan 25, 2005 1:17 pm


Postby tasneembanu » Mon Mar 13, 2006 11:13 pm

Thanks a lot,your post has given many tips and has boostedmy self-confidence.hope i make it in the post match scramle,all the best to everyone who is scrambling.

Thank you anatolyk/GL everyone!!!

Postby doctodd » Mon Mar 13, 2006 11:47 pm

Thanks for your guidance anatolyk, I matched, but wish all out there the best of luck!!!!

Cheers!!! :wink:

Re: A plan for scramble

Postby sashsa » Tue Dec 01, 2009 7:47 pm

Hi anatolyk,

how do i get all the documents ready for the scramble? All my documents are with ERAS and my LORs have my right's waived. After the 30 programs that ERAS will let me apply to, what documents do i need for the scramble all I have is my MSPE, one LOR, CV and an unofficial transcript from school?

your help will be appreciated. I am lost about this.
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Joined: Sat Nov 28, 2009 6:03 pm

Re: A plan for scramble

Postby anatolyk » Tue Dec 01, 2009 9:08 pm

You can use unofficial copies of whatever documents that you have. I also recommend adding a list of LOR writers with titles, specialties and brief description of where do they know you from for the waived letters.

You can use for putting your documents together - it's a free service.
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Joined: Tue Jan 25, 2005 1:17 pm

Re: A plan for scramble

Postby sashsa » Thu Dec 03, 2009 8:51 pm

Thanks anatolyk. :)
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Joined: Sat Nov 28, 2009 6:03 pm

Re: A plan for scramble

Postby Ron » Sat Nov 27, 2010 9:45 am

There is one crucial point not mentioned in the post above (at least I didnt catch it) and that is to get a couple of friends together to help you with all the various tasks that need to be done.

The way it was done in my school is that those who matched split into teams of 5 to help those that did not match, That way there was one person handling the fax, one the email, another the ERAS application, and another making calls on behalf of the applicant and getting them interviews (yes its done this way and its no problem). In this way the applicant would pretty much focus on the phone interview itself as opposed to on making the fax work....

This is very important, get a team together and divide responsibilities. All our applicants matched and everyone was decently happy at the end of the day.

i always recommend reading this site , its got lots of useful info there

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Re: A plan for scramble

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