Career Planning – Planning Your Future
The Wayne State University School of Medicine Career Planning section is a collaborative effort between faculty, staff, and students. Our goal is to provide online resources to assist students in planning their future careers in medicine from the first day of medical through commencement. Choosing a medical specialty is one of the most important decisions that you will make in your professional career. It is an on-going process that begins at matriculation into medical school and culminates on Match Day. There are stages to this process and this website is designed to help you develop an incremental and comprehensive plan that will allow you to reach the best possible decision.
There are a variety of resources at the School of Medicine and online to educate and assist you in your career development. The Career Planning section is designed to provide comprehensive, well-managed, and easily accessible information. We invite feedback on the website and suggestions for additional resources and information. You can provide that feedback by contacting Ms. Kate Connors in Student Affairs.
Career Planning Resources
As you begin your medical education, it is important to begin to explore which path you want your medical career to follow. There are many resources available to assist you in making the best, most informed decision.
Career Planning Goals in Year 1:
1) Adjust to medical school curriculum
2) Meet with your Class Counselor
3) Complete Self-Assessment resources on the Careers in Medicine Website
4) Participate in the School of Medicine’s Mentoring Program in Year 1 & Year 2
5) Join Specialty Interest Groups to explore fields of medicine you are considering
6) Attend the Medical Specialty Lunch Series in Year 1 & Year 2
7) Set up observerships with faculty members in the specialties you are considering
8) Convert your resume into a Curriculum Vitae (CV)
9) Make the most of your summer break by participating in externships, research and taking a vacation
The most important factor that will drive your competitiveness for any specialty is your academic and clinical performance. Any student interested in improving their academic performance can meet with their class counselor and with the Assistant Dean of Basic Science Education, Dr. Matt Jackson
Exploring Medical Specialties
In order to choose the correct specialty, it is important to thoroughly research and experience potential fields you are interested in.
During Year I Orientation, you were given a brief introduction to and an access code for the AAMC’s Careers in Medicine (CIM) website. If you do not have access, send an email to Ms. Kate Connors to request one. Access the CIM website here.
You will find an abundance of information related to medical specialties on the CIM website. There is information regarding Understanding Yourself, Exploring Options, Choosing a Specialty, Getting into Residency, specific Specialty Pages and your Personal Profile which is a compilation of your responses to the self-assessment exercises.
Students should complete the self-assessments found under the Understanding Yourself dropbox found on the CIM website during Year 1 and Year 2. The results of the Medical Specialty Indecision Scale, the Medical Specialty Preference Inventory, the Physician Values in Practice Inventory and the Personality Type & Learning Style assessments will provide you with important feedback to guide your decision making process. Practicing physicians have completed most of these, so through an algorithm, the CiM website will provide you feedback based on your individual characteristics. The website will suggest several specialty options for you to consider. If you are interested in completing the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator at no charge, your counselor can refer you to main campus. Students are advised to take the Careers in Medicine self-assessments again in Year 3 after completing 2 or 3 clerkships. These results can be compared with your earlier results which are stored in your Personal Profile.
Here are some other resources you can use in helping to decide which areas you are most interested in:
- The Pathway Evaluations Program for Medical Professionals
- The University of Virginia Medical Specialty Aptitude Test
Specialty Interest Groups
Another important resource available for students are our Specialty Interest Groups. Through these groups, students are able to network with faculty practicing in the fields you are considering. There will be faculty presentations at meetings which are an excellent opportunity to set up intensive shadowing experiences for the fields you are considering. For more information about Specialty Interest Groups.
Medical Specialty Lunches
Specialty Lunch series, which is another opportunity to meet faculty and hear about their experiences. Student are encouraged to attend as many of these lunches as possible during Year 1 and Year 2 to become knowledgeable about various specialties and network with faculty who can provide information, as well as shadowing and research opportunities.
We encourage all students to participate in the School of Medicine’s Mentoring Program. The WSU-SOM Mentoring Program is designed to provide medical students with a multi-layered system of support that provides academic, career and personal guidance and advocates for the professional development of each individual. Select physicians act as mentors for students throughout their four years of medical school. These mentors meet 3-4 times a year with their mentees and are available for one on one meetings.
Curriculum Vitae (CV)
It is also important to document your accomplishments and activities during your medical education. You should convert your resume into a Curriculum Vitae (CV) as soon as possible.
You will find 5 CV samples in the Getting into a Residency dropbox on the Careers in Medicine website. Samples are also available on the Career Advisory and Mentoring Committee of the Student Senate website.
Additionally, the Career Advisory Committee and the Office of Student Affairs organize an annual CV workshop with faculty members. Get your CV in order now and update it annually so that when Year I Summer Opportunities, research and job opportunities, and the residency application process come around, you are prepared with an up-to-date CV.
Looking ahead to the break between Year I and Year II is very important. The time off allows you to participate in Summer Externships through the Southeast Michigan Center for Medical Education (SEMCME) as well as getting involved in research that could help to enhance your residency application. In all cases you are encouraged to take time off for vacation, since you will not have another such opportunity until Year IV. View more information on Summer Opportunities.
As you begin the second year of medical school, continue to research specialties that you are considering. Your involvement in the Mentoring Program, Specialty Interest Groups, Medical Specialty Lunches, Summer Opportunities and Shadowing are all designed to help reduce your list of options and become more knowledgeable about various fields of medicine.
Career Planning Goals in Year 2:
1) Adjust to the Year 2 curriculum and incorporate practice questions into your study plan
2) Meet with your Class Counselor
3) Meet with the Academic Skills Counselor to maximize your academic performance
4) Continue to complete Self-Assessment resources on the Careers in Medicine Website
5) Participate in the School of Medicine’s Mentoring Program in Year 1 & Year 2
6) Join Specialty Interest Groups to explore fields of medicine you are considering
7) Attend the Medical Specialty Lunch Series in Year 1 & Year 2
8) Set up observerships with faculty members in the specialties you are considering
9) Update your Curriculum Vitae (CV)
The most important factor that will drive your competitiveness for any specialty is your academic and clinical performance. Performing well in Year 2 courses and posting an excellent score on USMLE Step 1 are important factors for a strong residency application. Meet with your class counselor & Dr. Matt Jackson, Assistant Dean of Basic Science Education.
CAREERS IN MEDICINE (CIM)
During Year 2, you should finish up the Understanding Yourself exercises available on the CIM website. The next phase in your career development is Exploring Options. The CIM website offers several additional tools that you can use in your career choice decision process. To access the CIM website: AAMC Careers in Medicine
Many faculty advisors are available for you to consult with in regard to the various fields you may be exploring. You will find them to be a wealth of information regarding the fields you are considering, how competitive you are for various specialties, as well as specific residency program information. Click here for a current list of WSU SOM Faculty Advisors.
Year 3 CLINICAL CAMPUS
In the late winter of Year 2, you will participate in the Year 3 Clinical Campus Lottery. Through this, you have the opportunity to enter your choices for which Clinical Campus you will be assigned to for all of the required Year 3 clerkships. You will provide a list with your first choice through your last choice of our Clinical Campus partners. In some cases, you will be re-assigned to another facility for Clerkship education not offered at your particular Clinical Campus. Your will have 1 elective in Year 3 and this does not have to be done at your assigned clinical campus. The Office of Records & Registration will send all the necessary details to you prior to the opening of the Year 3 Clinical Campus Lottery.
YEAR 3 CLERKSHIP SEQUENCE
A few weeks after the Clinical Campus Lottery has been completed, you will participate in the Year 3 Clerkship Sequence Lottery. There are six different possibilities for how your Year 3 courses will begin and progress through the year. You will provide a list with your first choice through your last choice of the six different options. Your choices should be driven by which specialties you are considering in order to maximize your exposure to those fields. Consulting with your class counselor and faculty advisors can help you to rank your choices to your best advantage. The Office of Records & Registration will send all the necessary details to you prior to the opening of the Year 3 Clerkship Sequence Lottery.
At the end of your Year 2 coursework you will have the opportunity to participate in two Comprehensive exams. The Academic Skills Counselor will handle the registration process for both the Kaplan Diagnostic and the NBME Year 2 Comprehensive exams. Both are designed to provide you with a good assessment of your current knowledge base and provide feedback that identifies both your strengths and weaknesses by subject and topic. Your performance on these exams is a good basis for developing your final USMLE Step 1 study schedule.
USMLE Step 1
Year 2 students must sit for and pass the USMLE in order to be promoted to Year 3 of medical school. The deadline for taking the exam is the Friday before Year 3 Orientation, usually the last Friday in June.
The School of Medicine offers a free Step 1 prep program, Prime Step 1 Prep, developed and led by 1 of our alumni, Dr. Courtney Moore. This Step 1 Preparation Program for M2 students begins in October with an introductory session. Led by our course director, Dr. Courtney Moore this session will review the nuts and bolts of the program, including curriculum design, time commitment, and the educational resources needed to optimize Step 1 studies. Additionally, other exam logistics such as Step 1 registration and the structure of the exam will also be discussed. Students interested in attending must register through the Office of Academic and Student Programs. Students who do not successfully pass Step 1 are allowed up to one year to post a passing score. For additional information regarding the USMLE Step 1 exam: USMLE Website
Career Planning Goals in Year 3:
1) Adjust to the Year 3 curriculum, balancing clinical learning with preparation for NBME subject exams
2) Meet with your Class Counselor each semester to discuss specialty interests
4) Continue to complete Self-Assessment exercises and explore specialties on the Careers in Medicine website
5) Consider participating in the School of Medicine’s Mentoring Program as a peer mentor
6) Participate in Specialty Interest Groups to explore fields of medicine you are considering
7) Consult with SOM faculty advisors in your areas of interest
8) Set up observerships with faculty members in the specialties you are considering that are not part of core clerkships
9) Update your Curriculum Vitae (CV)
Year 3 Orientation
Year 3 Orientation is conducted prior to the beginning of your first clerkship in July. You will be introduced to clinical learning and given many tools to assist you to achieve success in Year 3. You will also attend a one time Site Orientation for your clinical campus on the first day of Year 3 Orientation. Attendance is mandatory at both events. On the first day of your clerkships you will attend clerkship orientation, which is also mandatory.
During your Year 3 required clerkships you can earn a grade of Satisfactory (S), Satisfactory with Commendation (S ) or Honors (H). Your evaluation is based on several components but most importantly your academic performance (the score on your NBME shelf exam) and your overall clinical performance. To earn Honors you must receive an outstanding rating in both of these factors, along with other criteria as set by the each clerkship’s department. You may earn Satisfactory with Commendation by achieving an outstanding rating in either your academic performance or your clinical performance. To achieve a Year 3 Comprehensive Grade of Honors, you must earn Honors for a minimum of six months, not including the Continuity of Care Clerkship or elective month. For more information about the Year 3 curriculum and grading policies, please consult the Year 3 Curriculum Guide.
Year 3 Elective
You are required to take one elective month during Year 3. This can be a very important month for your medical specialty decision if you are applying to a field other than the required clerkships (Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Neurology, Obstetrics/Gynecology, Pediatrics, Psychiatry & Surgery). You will be contacted at the appropriate time to register for this elective directly with a representative of the Office of Records & Registration. You will be given a list that details the electives you are allowed to take as Year 3 student and how to make your selections. In many cases, you cannot take an elective until you have completed the required clerkship in that specialty. You are allowed to take the Year 3 elective month off if you choose, but you will then will need to take the Year 3 elective during Year 4. This will result in only 2 vacation months in Year 4, rather than the usual 3 months. For those who have co-curricular credit and choose to use it, you will have 4 months off in Year 4, but only 3 months of vacation if you postpone your Year 3 elective.
Year 3 OSCE
You will participate in an Observed Structured Clinical Exam during Year 3. These will be scheduled through the Clinical Skills Training Center and occur at various times during Year 3. Many students find the OSCE is excellent preparation for the USMLE Step 2 CS exam. For more information regarding the OSCE please consult the Year 3 Curriculum Guide.
Overall Medical School Performance (Ranking)
At the end of your Year 3, your Overall Medical School Performance will be determined and included in your Medical School Performance Evaluation (MSPE). Separate ratings will be determined regarding both your academic performance and your clinical skills. Students are divided into one of these six categories:
Overall Comparative Performance in Medical School
|Level of Academic Performance and Clinical Skills|
|Outstanding academic performance and Superb clinical performance
PLUS Comprehensive Honors for all 3 Years
|Outstanding academic performance and Superb clinical performance|
|Outstanding academic performance and Proficient clinical performance
OR Very Good academic performance and Superb clinical performance
|Very Good academic performance and Proficient clinical performance
OR Good academic performance and Superb clinical performance
|Good academic performance and Proficient clinical performance|
|ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE BASIC SCIENCE (Average Standardized score over Years 1-2) [(Year 1 Standardized score plus Year 2 Standardized score divided by 2]
Outstanding Academic Performance ≥ 485 (approximately 60%)
|CLINICAL PERFORMANCE (Year 3 Grades Converted to Scores)
Superb Clinical Performance ≥ 35 points (approximately 25%)
Proficient Clinical Performance = 14 to 34 points (approximately 74%)
Competent Clinical Performance ≤ 13 points (approximately 1%)
Toward the end of your Year 3 you will meet with a member of the administration who will discuss with you the development of your Medical School Performance Evaluation (MSPE). The MSPE gives an overview of your work during medical school with the greatest emphasis placed on your Year 3 performance. The MSPE is one component of your residency application and is posted to the Electronic Residency Application Service on October 1 of your Year 4.
USMLE Step 2 CS
Posting a passing score for Step 2 CS is a graduation requirement. Many students will want to take the NBME clinical skills exam in the free time you have between the end of Year 3 (mid to late June) and July 1st. The NBME only conducts these exams in 5 locations with Chicago, IL being the closest to Wayne State University. Due to the limited exam appointments, it is important to schedule your Step 2 CS exam early in the fall of your Year 3. For more information, please refer to the NBME website. The School of Medicine deadline for taking Step 2 CS for the first time is October 31 of Year 4.
USMLE Step 2 CK
Posting a passing score for Step 2CK is a graduation requirement. Many students will want to take the NBME Clinical Knowledge (CK) exam in either July or August of Year 4, just after completing all of the Year 3 NBME subject exams. Most programs want to see the Step 2 CK score early in the application process. This will require you to register for and select a test date in late winter/early spring of your Year 3. The School of Medicine deadline for taking Step 2 CK for the first time is December 31 of Year 4.
You will need to attach 3 or 4 Letters of Recommendation to your residency applications through the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS) and to non-ERAS Matching Programs. Such letters are best written in the second half of your Year 3 after you have developed your clinical skills. Your best LORs will come out of Year 4 Sub-Internships or electives in the field to which you will apply. In many cases, one of your 4 LORs will be a Chairman’s Letter, written by the WSUSOM Department Chair in the field to which you will apply. You will request these letters through the LoRP Electronic Portal where you will be waiving your right to read the letter. ERAS does allow you to collect more than 4 LORs, but you can only attach 4 to each application.
Year 4 Required Clerkship Lottery
In early spring of your Year 3, you will participate in a lottery for the 3 Year 4 required clerkships: an Ambulatory Medicine clerkship, Emergency Medicine clerkship and a Sub-Internship in either Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Pediatrics or Surgery. The lottery is for the time for which are able to access and register for the courses through the WSU Banner System. Registration will remain open for one week to allow to you to make adjustments.
Year 4 Elective Lottery
Subsequent to the Year 4 Required Clerkship Lottery, another lottery will be held for your register for your remaining Year 4 electives. Again, the lottery is for the time that you are able to access the Banner System.
As you begin your clinical clerkships, you are encouraged to use the CiM to assist you in gathering your thoughts, feelings, and reflections on each specialty. Throughout your third year, review the Charting Outcomes in the Match report to assess qualifications and competitiveness for different specialties. Additionally, begin conducting informational interviews with our clinical faculty advisors and participate in activities and events. You will be notified periodically of several School of Medicine events including the Residency Recruitment Fair, Specialty Dinners with Program Directors, the Year 4 Schedule Approvathon, Alumni Career Night, and the CV and Personal Statement Workshop all of which will help your career planning stay focused and current.
At least by midway of Year 3, you should meet with your faculty advisor(s) to discuss your top specialty choices. If you are having difficulty making a specialty decision, you can complete the CiM Specialty Indecision Scale and discuss the results with your advisor and/or counselor. You are also advised to complete the other self-assessment exercises. If you are interested in more than one specialty late into Year 3, don’t fret. You will be able to schedule additional electives in Year 4 to help clarify your top specialty choice. It is permissible and recommended that you apply to more than one specialty if you are undecided or are applying to extremely competitive specialties.
The Office of Student Affairs staff and the SOM Faculty Advisors look forward to working with you during this exciting phase of your career development.
Career Planning Goals in Year 4:
1) Meet with your Class Counselor for Year 4 planning
2) Meet with Faculty Advisors to discuss specialty choice, requirements for successful match, Year 4 scheduling, personal statement review, program selection, and rank order list
3) Continue to refer to the Careers in Medicine website for Year 4 and Match Planning
4) Complete Year 4 Faculty Advisor Form and turn into Student Affairs
5) Update your Curriculum Vitae (CV)
6) Attend Personal Statement writing workshop and compose Personal Statement
7) Identify faculty to write you letters of recommendation for your residency application
8) Attend ERAS Training, Interviewing Workshop, and Mock Interviews
Year 4 Orientation
Year 4 Orientation will take place in early January of your Year 3. You will be introduced to how you will schedule your required and elective Year 4 coursework. You will be encouraged to take advantage of the many faculty advisors available to assist you in your scheduling, career selection and career planning process. An overview of all of the important Year 4 activities will be presented.
Year 4 Scheduling
Your faculty advisor, Assistant Dean of Student Affairs, Assistant Dean of Clinical Education, and your Student Affairs counselor are all available to assist and advise you as you plan for Year 4 and prepare for residency application. It is important that you connect with your Faculty Advisor for guidance in preparing your schedule and throughout the residency application process in order to improve your likelihood of matching, especially if you are considering a competitive specialty.
All Year 4 courses are 1 month in length and follow the calendar month. A Sub-Internship (in either Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Pediatrics or Surgery) and Emergency Medicine are required Year 4 rotations. You should also plan to take a month off to interview in November, December or January. Remember, students are required to pass both USMLE Step 2CK and Step 2CS.
USMLE Step 2CK – Required to take the examination by the end of December of Year 4.
USMLE Step 2CS – Required to take the examination by the end of October of Year 4.
The “take by” dates for these exams were developed based on the reporting schedules, to allow for a 2nd attempt prior to graduation if the 1st attempt is unsuccessful. Do not delay in taking the exam. Program directors want to see Step 2 CK and CS results prior to ranking, and some want to see CK scores prior to offering interviews. In order to be certified for graduation and allow sufficient time to have medical licensing forms completed, a passing result for both examinations has to be received by May 1. If you need time to prepare, you need to plan that into your Year 4 schedule. You may participate in up to three away electives (Use AAMC’S Visiting Student Application Service (VSAS) to streamline the process). You may participate in no more than three electives in the specialty to which you are applying.
Electives during Year 4 can serve a variety of functions:
- Solidify your interest in a specific specialty (should take early)
- Enhance performance in residency
- Broaden your foundation of knowledge
- Experience areas of medicine you won’t again experience
- Address areas of weakness
- Experience medical practice outside of the U.S.
- Expose yourself to a residency program you may be interested in (i.e. “Audition” elective July-December)
- Exposure to or completion of research projects
Please refer to the Year 4 Curriculum Guide and to the Elective and Away Elective sections of this website for more information.
Faculty Advisors are available to assist you in many ways. Students are encouraged to meet with advisors in their specialties of interest throughout medical school, but it is especially important during Year 3 as you begin to firm up your specialty choice. We encourage you to meet with faculty advisors at least once in the first half of Year 3, prior to Year 4 Orientation in January of Year 3 and before creating your Year 4 schedule. It is essential to identify faculty who can advise you throughout the entire residency application process. They can help in your decision to choose to go into their respective fields and help you assess your competitiveness for their field. They can assist you in developing your Year 4 schedule to your best advantage. You can learn more about the competitive nature of various programs to which you are considering applying. They can help you determine an appropriate number of programs to apply to given your specific academic record. They can also advise you about the appropriate number of interviews you need to attend and about compiling your Rank Order List for the Match. Fill out the Faculty Advisor Form.
Many students will want to participate in away elective in order to enhance their competitiveness for residency matching. The AAMC created the Visiting Student Application Service (VSAS) to standardize this process. The Office of Records & Registration will issue each student tokens to participate in VSAS in late winter of your Year 3. However, not all schools participate in VSAS. For such schools you may need to explore the individual requirements those particular programs. You are allowed to apply for only one program per month through this more traditional process. You will need to complete the Senior Elective Request Form for such programs.
Some student may want to participate in elective work not offered through the standard Year 4 curriculum. In many cases, this will involve participating in research in the field you are interested in pursuing. You cannot schedule independent electives if the WSUSOM offers an elective in that area. To schedule an independent elective, you will need to meet with your identified preceptor to establish your specific educational goals and objectives. You will document these and have the preceptor sign the Independent Elective form.. This form is then submitted to the Assistant Dean for Clinical Education for final approval.
Year 4 student are allowed to complete one international elective. To do so, you will need to meet with the International Elective Coordinator and provide all of the required documentation.
It is also important to document all of your accomplishments and activities during your medical education. You will find 5 CV samples in the Getting into a Residency dropbox on the Careers in Medicine (CIM) website.
Additionally, the Office of Student Affairs organizes a CV workshop with faculty members each year. Getting your CV in order now will help so you will be able to input the information easily into the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS) and provide it to faculty members from whom you have requested a LOR.
You will need to write a personal statement regarding your interest in your field of choice and as an introduction to your interviewers. Your statement should not exceed 3-4 paragraphs and be limited to one page. You may ask your counselor, mentor or faculty advisor to review it for feedback. Completing your personal statement as early as possible can help to relieve the stress of completing the ERAS process. ERAS does permit you to post more than one Personal Statement for those students who choose to apply to more than one specialty.
Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS)
During early June of your Year 3, the Assistant Dean of Student Affairs and the ERAS Coordinator will conduct an overview of ERAS. In early July of Year 4, this will be followed-up with small group ERAS training sessions held in one of the Mazurek Medical Education Commons computer labs or the ERAS lab located in the Office of Student Affairs. These are designed to be working, productive sessions so students are encouraged to bring their completed CV and Personal Statement.
Interviewing Workshop and Mock Interviews
During early Fall of Year 4, the Office of Alumni Affairs will host an Interviewing workshop by Dr. Diane Levine. The Office of Student Affairs will then organize mock interviews conducted by our faculty advisors. These are designed to allow students to practice their interviewing skills prior to interview season. This is an opportunity to learn how to handle the stress and anxiety that interviewing can present. These interviews are a great opportunity to practice how to answer potential questions you may be asked. Students who have experienced any academic difficulty should find this experience helpful in answering questions around the challenges they have faced.
Most residency interviews are schedule in the month of November, December and January. However, some can take place in late October and even early February. You are allowed to take up to 2 days off from a required Year 4 clerkship and up to 5 days from an elective for purposes of interviewing only. You will need to arrange the time off in advance. You will attend multiple interviews, most programs interview about 10 applicants for each position they have available. You will find helpful information on the CIM website regarding interviewing under Getting into Residency. The CIM website also has a Residency Application Evaluation form for you to complete after the interview to make notes regarding your impression of the program. This form is found in the Getting into Residency dropbox on the main CIM webpage.
Rank Order List (ROL)/National Residency Match Program (NRMP)
After you have completed all of your interviews, you will enter your ROL for completion of the match algorithm by the NRMP. This will take from late January to late February. You may wish to consult with a faculty advisor in order to make your final decisions about how to rank the programs where you interviewed. The CIM’s Residency Application Evaluation form can be very helpful in guiding your decisions. By submitting your ROL, you will be agreeing to a binding contract with the residency program where you match.
On the Friday prior to Match Week, you will receive notice from the NRMP that you are eligible for the Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program (SOAP). This simply means that you have submitted your ROL and, should a match not occur, you will be able to participate in SOAP (see below).
On the Monday of Match Week, you will receive notification from the NRMP of whether or not you have matched. No further information will be provided. If you do not match, you will participate in SOAP.
SOAP occurs from noon Monday of Match Week through Thursday at 5:00p.m. This program allows students who did not match the chance to apply for positions that went unfilled during the main match program.
Match Day is the third Friday in March. The WSUSOM will conduct match day ceremonies which will begin at 11 am. At 12 noon, you will open your envelope to find out which residency program you matched into.