VSAS: Can You Start Preparing Too Early?

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Good! For all the MS-IIIs out there, I have your attention… and maybe some MS-IVs, who think the headline is either accurate or inflammatory. But while wandering around ACEP17 this year, the advice I received from nearly everyone – from MS-IVs to residents to program directors – was: for MS-IIIs, when it comes to VSAS, you can never start too early.

Now, that might be a slightly hyperbolic statement. However, a resounding number of independent parties insist it’s true. It makes sense. Third year is an incredibly busy time in medical students’ lives, and applying for VSAS is a process with a lot of moving components. Couple that with the upcoming holiday season, ongoing clinical responsibilities, exams, and extracurricular work, and the VSAS process can sneak up on students.

For the sake of assuaging fears, here is a brief overview of things to consider now for VSAS so you can coast through the application season.

What is VSAS?
The “Visiting Student Application Service” is a system for applying to away rotations at many institutions that accept students wishing to rotate in EM (as well as other specialties). Most EM rotations use this system. However, some programs have their own application process, which often can be found on their website. Make sure to do your research beforehand if there are specific programs where you hope to rotate.

What are some components of VSAS I can start working on and compiling now?
Again, VSAS has a lot of moving components and documents that must be submitted. Some application points to start considering and compiling at this point in third year might include:

Remember, this is not the comprehensive list of items due to VSAS, but certainly some application requirements students can begin to work on early.

When do I actually need to care about this?
VSAS opens in February, when you can start uploading documents for the application. Submission dates for programs can vary anywhere from March to June. Stay organized and make sure you designate the correct application materials for your programs of interest.

Good luck to all with the rest of clinical rotations and with the upcoming application season!

Sarah Ring, MS-III

Sarah Ring, MS-III

Sarah Ring is the 2017-2018 Southeast Coordinator for the EMRA Medical Student Council. She is in her third year at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
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