As a medical trainee, you are asked to invest years of your life and large sums of money into your training. For those pursuing a post-residency fellowship, the cost of applying and interviewing is yet another one of those investments.
At the outset of fellowship research, FREIDA™—a recently revamped comprehensive AMA tool that captures data on more than 11,000 residency and fellowship programs accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education—offers over 35 filters to sort programs by location, program type, application information, demographics, benefits, special tracks and more to help applicants find all of the programs available within their desired subspecialty throughout the country.
Breaking down application fees
For many prospective fellows, the application process is very similar to the one through which residency positions are found. The majority of fellowship applications are submitted through the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS).
It is worth noting that entire subspecialty areas do not participate in either ERAS or the National Resident Matching Program Specialties Matching Service, which matches fellows with subspecialty programs. In those instances, the applicant applies directly to the program, which takes more time and effort, but costs less.
For those applying with ERAS, the cost of applications is tiered. The ERAS token, which allows candidates to register in the system, is $105. In addition to that, there’s a blanket fee for the first 10 applications that costs $115 in total. From there:
- Applications 11-20 cost $13 each.
- Applications 21-30 cost $16 each.
- Applications numbering 31 or more cost $26 each.
It’s worth noting that fees for programs accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) and the American Osteopathic Association are accessed separately. ERAS offers a calculator tool to help determine fees.
How many programs will you apply to?
The average applicant applying to an ACGME fellowship applied to 40.6 programs., according to 2018 data from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). So, if we round up, the average ERAS applicant spends roughly $691.
That number may also shift based on the type of medical school you attended. Graduates of U.S. allopathic medical schools applied to an average of 28.2 ACGME-accredited programs, which would total $373 in fellowship application fees. Graduates of U.S. osteopathic medical schools applied to an average of 32.4 programs ($457 in application fees), while international medical school graduates (IMGs) applied to 60.1 programs ($1,185).
One other fee applicants should account for is the $80 it costs to get your transcript for the United States Medical Licensing or Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing examinations.
What it costs to interview
As is the case with the application process, the cost associated with the fellowship interview process will vary based on volume.
One 2014 study that spoke to 70 general surgery residents pursuing fellowship opportunities found that 35 percent of respondents went on somewhere between eight and 12 interviews. In terms of the overall cost, the majority of fellowship applicants (62 percent) spent more than $4,000 on interviews.
One other cost associated with the later part of the process: You are likely to incur some cost in submitting your rank-order list. In the instance of the National Resident Matching Program, which handled matches for 63 subspecialties in 2018, that fee is $80 total to submit your list.
How to save
The more you interview, the more you are going to spend. But you can save some money by following these tips.
Use your networks. That means staying with friends or family when possible. You also might consider working through your medical school or undergraduate school’s alumni office or social networking groups to see whether any alumni who live in the area would be able to host you.
Make the most of your miles and perks. Sticking with one airline, if possible, will allow you to accumulate the most frequent-flyer miles, especially if you acquire a credit card with a sign-up bonus that allows for the accumulation of miles on everyday purchases. It’s also worth keeping an eye out for associated travel discounts.