One piece of the ERAS residency application that still causes confusion for residency candidates is the MSPE document. The Medical Student Performance Evaluation (MSPE) replaced the Dean’s Letter and acts a direct evaluation of your medical school performance directly from your medical school. Unlike your other application documents, all MSPEs are held until applications are released to programs. Some answers to the most common questions about the MSPE are:
Is the MSPE important?
The MSPE document is a very important and influential piece of your overall residency application. The MSPE will give the residency program a more complete and comprehensive view of your time in medical school from the characteristics you have to the clinical rotations you completed. It is also important for residency programs to know that your medical school has faith in your abilities and that you are not hiding anything too serious that your medical school would know. For example, you may write in your Personal Statement that you are hardworking and a people person, but your MSPE could reveal you have failed four classes and did not get along with your professors and fellows students.
While some residency candidates treat the MSPE as optional, you should absolutely do your best to get one submitted. The absence of an MSPE will be noted by Program Directors and interview committees as the MSPE is rated as the top #5 residency application component cited by Program Directors in the 2021 NRMP Program Director Survey and rates a 4.0 out of 5 in importance.
Where does the MSPE come from?
The MSPE is typically submitted by the medical school you attended if the school participates in EMSWP ERAS.
If you are an International Medical Graduate (IMG) and your medical school is not connected to ERAS, you will need to obtain the MSPE from your medical school and submit it through ECFMG’s OASIS. (NOTE: Allow for 1-2 weeks processing time, especially during the busy season).
What does the MSPE look like?
There is no mandatory standard format currently available for medical schools to use. Each medical school is free to use whatever format they see fit. However, ACGME has released suggested recommendations for the MSPE. They suggest MSPEs contain the following information:
- Identifying Information
- Noteworthy Characteristics (previously Unique Characteristics)
- Academic History
- Academic Progress
- Medical School Information
The more detailed the information, the better your MSPE will serve you during the residency application cycle.
SUGGESTION: If you have time, ask your medical school if you can review a copy of your MSPE in advance to make sure the information is accurate and does you justice. While looking over your MSPE, see if there are substantial details, especially in the Noteworthy Characteristics and clinical rotations sections. If you feel the content is lacking or inaccurate, ask your medical school if you can make suggestions or even submit your own revisions.
Remember, your medical school wants to see you succeed! If you need ideas, you can view a comprehensive MSPE example here.
Does the MSPE count as a Letter of Recommendation?
ACGME states the MSPE is a Letter of Evaluation, not a Letter of Recommendation (LOR). It has it’s own slot in the ERAS Application and does not take up any space as an LOR.
What if I cannot get an MSPE?
If you are an International Medical Graduate (IMG) and you have exhausted every effort to get your MSPE, but cannot, you will need to indicate your lack of MSPE in the Additional Documents section of ERAS. A placeholder document will be released in place of the MSPE with the following text, “This document is provided in lieu of the applicant’s MSPE. Please contact the applicant with any questions you may have.”