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What Is MSPE?

August 09, 2023
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Anyone who enrolls in medical school and wants to someday practice medicine should understand what an MSPE is. These documents contain a telling overview of a person's experience in medical school, spanning beyond a simple transcript. MSPEs are created mainly to inform the future residency programs of the student’ activity and performance during the medical school.  The residency program directors want to accept candidates into their residencies that are hardworking, work well with others, and had a demonstrated great aptitude for learning during their time in medical school.

With this helpful guide, you'll learn essential information surrounding the MSPE, what you can expect within the document, and how you can make completing this essential step easier by being proactive.

What Is the Medical School Performance Evaluation (MSPE)?

The MSPE or Medical School Performance Evaluation is an essential document that significantly affects your application to residency programs. Medical programs find the most suitable matches for their facilities by reviewing these documents and getting an idea of what prospective candidates are like.

Students will see a comprehensive overview of their time in medical school and can request a letter at the start of the year from their school's administration team. Some of what you may find in an MSPE document include:

  • Professional conduct with staff, educators, and other students
  • Any noteworthy awards, achievements, and character traits
  • Clinical rotation records and grades
  • Basic information about your time in school
  • Exam grades or any retakes of courses

You can learn more about what items yours will include by talking to your medical school administrative staff early on.

Why Is the MSPE Important for Every Med Student?

MSPEs show the uniqueness and specific experiences of individuals in medical school. Rather than take what students say at face value, residency programs can ensure they know exactly who they are placing and what type of people they're taking a chance on. For instance, a student may have top grades but struggle to respect their fellow classmates as well as some of their mentors and advisors.

Medical schools want to see their students succeed and often guide them throughout the process of building an MSPE. Having a good relationship with various departments in your medical school, spreading to-do list items out, and asking for help is essential.

While you should never try to tackle everything at once, staying on top of deadlines and taking action early can set you up for success.

How Does MSPE Differ from Letters of Recommendation?

Letters of recommendation (or LORs) can help show your connections with mentors and other professionals at your school. It can show your credibility as a student and residency candidate, but it is not the same as an MSPE.

Your LORs can help administrative staff craft your MSPE, but the MSPE has a designated area on ERAS (Electronic Residency Application Service).

What Items Make Up the MSPE?

Before the MSPE, students needed what was called the Dean's Letter, and some schools may use the two terms interchangeably. In the MSPE, you'll find medical school and identification information about who you are and where you attend. It also has academic progress and history.

Noteworthy characteristics are also present, which a school compiles after speaking to doctors and clinical Deans. It can include the good and bad experiences you might have had with peers, educators, and anyone else in medical school. More often than not, it highlights some of your best moments and can make you stand out from other candidates.

There is also an overall summary of your time spent in medical school.

What Happens If You Don't Have an MSPE?

You should try to make every effort to obtain a completed MSPE document to have the most thorough and beneficial application. However, if for some reason you are unable, you will need to put a short placeholder document indicating your lack of MSPE. Work with your school's staff to complete any missing requirements or to complete the document as soon as possible.

Medical school staff work hard to help every student succeed and are often juggling numerous tasks. Waiting until the last minute to request an MSPE may prolong the process and affect your residency application, so connect with staff early and in a respectful manner.

Get Started on Your MSPE as Soon as You Can

We hope you now know a little bit more about the MSPE and how essential it is for you to transition into a residency program. Residency programs can help you focus on the fields of medicine you're passionate about, but showing your time in medical school through an MSPE is vital to move forward. At Saint James School of Medicine, we help our students complete their MSPEs and are happy to answer any questions you may have during your time here.

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