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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 students clinical or research interests, or they may agree that no further meetings are necessary. Students are encouraged to fully utilize this program by contacting faculty from all 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 Advisers

This program pairs third- and fourth-year medical students with faculty advisers in the students’ declared area of specialty interest. This is intended to supplement a student’s relationship with their primary society adviser. Faculty members who volunteer to participate in the program can decide how many students they would like to advise in any given year.

  • Toward the end of a student’s third year (Phase II), the Office of Student Affairs will contact each student and ask them for a specialty area they are currently considering.
  • Once a student replies, the Office of Student Affairs will forward the names and contact information of each student interested in a particular area to the faculty liaison in each clinical department. The faculty liaison will then either pair students with interested faculty, or set up an introductory group meeting with faculty and students. From there, if a student continues to be interested in that specialty, the students will be paired with individual specialty faculty advisers.
  • The specialty advisers will be expected to be available during the student’s fourth year. Once an adviser is assigned to a student, the liaison should notify the Office of Student Affairs with names of the students and their paired advisers. The adviser should contact the student to schedule their first meeting. The adviser will be expected to provide a realistic explanation of the specialty and answer the student’s questions. In addition, the adviser 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). Advisers can also discuss “Plan B” with the student if needed.
  • The student should provide their adviser 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 adviser 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 some of these services to students and will continue to be available to students and advisers to provide support.