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Career Development Program

Early Career Exploration Program

Purpose of the program: The primary goal of this program is to provide medical students in Phase One of the curriculum an opportunity to gain early exposure and experience in areas of medicine in which they may have an interest or want to explore. Students are encouraged to seek broad exposure to specialties in order to get a taste of a variety of practice options early in their medical careers.

How does the program work? A list of faculty contacts in each department is provided. Medical students in Phase One of the curriculum are free to email the faculty contact person to express their interest in that specialty and to request a shadowing opportunity. This will allow the student to be connected with a faculty member to shadow. Following that experience, the student may set up a separate meeting with a specific faculty member to further discuss the student’s clinical or research interests. Students are encouraged to fully utilize this program by contacting faculty from all and any specialties in which they may have an interest.

What role can Student Interest Groups play in early career development? At Penn State College of Medicine, we have many student-led specialty interest groups. These groups should be viewed, and used, as a gateway to the specialty. We strongly encourage students to begin their career exploration by first attending meetings of the specialty interest group. In particular, these groups hold periodic group meetings that serve as a broad introduction to a specialty.

Career Advising Program – Assignment of Specialty Advisors

This program pairs medical students with faculty advisors in the student’s declared area of specialty interest. All students must be paired with an advisor prior to the start of fourth-year rotations. This is intended to supplement a student’s relationship with their faculty advisor.

  • Toward the end of a student’s third year (Phase II), the Office of Student Affairs will contact any unassigned student and ask them for a specialty area they are currently considering.
  • The advisor will be expected to provide a realistic explanation of the specialty and answer the student’s questions. In addition, the advisor should provide the student with information regarding residency training in the specialty area (i.e., competitiveness of residency, length of training, fellowship training if necessary, future salary expectations, job market). Advisors can also discuss parallel plans with the student if needed.
  • The student should provide their advisor with a copy of their CV, personal statement draft and USMLE scores so that they can get candid feedback regarding their specialty choice.
  • The specialty advisor will be responsible for guiding the student through the residency application, interviewing and ranking process. This includes guiding the student toward residencies that match their interest and competitiveness, writing letters of recommendation if requested, providing guidance on interviewing, including conducting mock interviews, and assisting the student in the final ranking process. The Office of Student Affairs currently provides many of these services in parallel with specialty advisors and will continue to be available to students and advisors to provide additional support.