Career Advising

Careers in Medicine at HMS

The Careers in Medicine Program at HMS guides students on their path to selecting a specialty as well as other career interests. Through regular meetings with Advisory Deans, Advisors, and other faculty, as well as career workshops and class meetings, students are able to explore a variety of possible career options under the guidance of faculty. In addition, program coordinators in each of the five Academic Societies provide a first point of contact for career advising resources.

Career advising begins for students during their first week of medical school and continues throughout their tenure at HMS. Career advising programs are built into every stage of the curriculum—preclerkship, clerkship/Principal Clinical Experience (PCE), and post-PCE—to help launch students into residency.

General Career Advising 

Preclerkship Advising

PCE Advising

Post-PCE Advising


Career Advising Resource for current students (log in required)

HMS Career Resources

Preclerkship

Appointments with

Society advisors*

Dean for Students

Multicultural Affairs Office

Career shadowing

*Pathways students are required to meet with their Society advisor eight times per year. HST students are required to meet with their Society advisor twice per year. Additional appointments may be scheduled at any time.

PCE

Appointments with

Society advisors*

Dean for Students

Multicultural Affairs Office

PCE hospital-based mentors

*Pathways students are required to meet with their Society advisor eight times per year. HST students are required to meet with their Society advisor twice per year. Additional appointments may be scheduled at any time.

Post-PCE

Appointments with

Society Advisors*

Dean for Students

Multicultural Affairs Office

Residency mock interviews

*Pathways students are required to meet with their Society advisor eight times per year. HST students are required to meet with their Society advisor twice per year. Additional appointments may be scheduled at any time.

General Career Advising

Spanning all four years, faculty and staff support HMS students through mentorship and enrichment opportunities. The following resources are available to students at any point in their HMS education:

Individual Career and Academic Advising
 

Individual Advising with Society Advisors
Every student attends formal one-on-one advisory sessions during each period of the curriculum for a combination of academic, career, and life advising. In addition to the formal, required advising sessions, students are encouraged to schedule informal advising sessions as well. Pathways students meet with their Society Advisor (Cannon, Castle, Holmes, and Peabody Societies), and HST students meet with their HST Academic Advisor.

Preclerkship Period
Pathways students meet with their advisors upon arrival at medical school and then every two months thereafter, including scheduled times during Professional Development Weeks (PDW’s). HST students have a formal advising meeting twice during the preclerkship period. Students are encouraged to explore their interests and career aspirations, address any challenges and obstacles they may face while pursuing their career goals, and learn to maintain a personal and professional life balance.

PCE Period
Pathways students typically meet with their advisors multiple times per year.  HST students have a formal advising meeting twice during their PCE.

Post-PCE Period
Pathways students typically meet with their advisors multiple times per year with the following session goals:

  • Strategic planning of third- and fourth-year schedules
  • Identifying career choices and planning for the residency application process
  • Finding a mentor in your chosen field, which may be facilitated by your Society and/or by your PCE Mentor
  • Advising students who are writing their personal statements, completing their applications, and interviewing for residency programs 

Individual Advising with the Dean for Students 
The Dean for Students works with students across all years and all Societies to explore ways to enhance or address aspects of the entire student experience, from education to student life to career planning, and works with students to develop innovative solutions to issues and concerns. The Office of Student Affairs (OSA), located in TMEC Suite 244, is home to the Dean of Students and the OSA staff. The office has a career advising nook with Match resources, HMS-specific Match data, advisor lists, and specialty-specific resources.

Individual Advising with the Office of Recruitment and Multicultural Affairs (ORMA) 
Located in TMEC Suite 244 with the Office of Student Affairs, ORMA recruits and provides support services to students underrepresented in medicine and dentistry and the economically disadvantaged. ORMA fosters an inclusive and respective environment that is supportive of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students, faculty, and staff.

Group Advising Events
 

Medical Specialties Groups
HMS/HSDM Student Council sponsors an array of medical specialty interest groups open to all medical and dental students. Interest groups host talks and other activities to bring together students and faculty with shared interests in a particular specialty. Interest group specialties may include dermatology, emergency medicine, family medicine, neurosurgery, ob/gyn, oncology, and palliative care.

HST Career Advising Dinners
Held twice each year (Fall and Spring), the London Society hosts dinners open to HST students in all years. Talks are given by HST alumni and faculty. Students are informed about these events by email.

Finding School-Life Balance
The Holmes Society Advisory Dean offers students in all Societies a presentation of tangible tools to help them balance school, professional, and personal life experiences.

Conversations in Medical Life Series
This lunch-time seminar series is themed to provide information and ideas to help students flourish in their professional and personal lives. Past seminars include Katrina Armstrong, MD, Physician-in-Chief, Department of Medicine at MGH, on Ambulances, Epidemiology and the End of the Week; Elizabeth Nabel, MD, President of BWH, on Translating a Rare Disease into Common Knowledge; Jerome Groopman, MD, Chief of Experimental Medicine at BWH, Staff Writer for The New Yorker, on When Experts Disagree: The Art of Medical Decision Making; Gary Gottlieb, MD, former President and CEO of Partners Healthcare, on Reflections; and Dr. Atul Gwande, Staff Writer for The New Yorker, Endocrine Surgeon at BWH, on Checklist Manifesto.

Clinical Scientist Series
A lunch-time series offered three times per year featuring guest speakers with accomplishments in both medicine and research. Past seminars include Farouc Jaffer, MD, PhD, Cardiologist at MGH, on Interventional Cardiology and Translational Imaging Science:  Treating Coronary Disease from Both Sides; Tyler Berzin, MD, Endoscopy at BIDMC, on Tackling Life’s Problems through an 11 mm Scope: Starting a Career in Advanced Endoscopy; Rose Goldman, MD, Chief of Occupational & Environmental Medicine at Cambridge Health Alliance, HSPH faculty, on Combining Clinical Practice & Environmental Health: Occupational/Environmental Exposure.

Preclerkship Career Advising

Career advising in the first 14-18 months of medical school introduces students to possible career paths.

Individual Career and Academic Advising
 

Shadowing 
HMS faculty, including Society Advisory Deans, can help arrange shadowing opportunities in which preclerkship students engage with clinicians and researchers in specialties of interest. Interested students may contact the Dean for Students, their Academic Society, or the Scholars in Medicine Office (SMO) for assistance.

Group Advising Events
 

Professional Development Weeks (PDW’s)
The Pathways curricular track builds in three Professional Development Weeks (PDW’s) during Year I. Students engage in assessment, feedback, and self-reflection activities related to clinical skills. These experiences help students, at an early stage in their medical education experience, to reflect on various components of practicing medicine. Early professional development helps guide students to develop individualized learning plans or pathways through medical school.

Specialty Interest Series & Mentoring Sessions
A lunch-time seminar series brings clinicians from affiliated hospitals to HMS to discuss a variety of career specialty areas and answer student questions. Specialties not experienced during the PCE are represented throughout the academic year. Lunch is provided, and the 12-13 seminars held once or twice monthly are moderated by the Society Advisory Deans. Session details are communicated to students by Society administration. Topics include career paths; work-life balance for careers; patient population; daily work life; residency paths; fellowship opportunities in research, global health, and medical education; and sample procedures that are field-specific. Directly after each Specialty Interest Series seminar, clinician speakers typically hold one-hour small group sessions with students who want to stay to discuss specifics about the specialty.

Peer-to-Peer Mentoring: How I Chose My Specialty
Fourth-year HMS students share with first-year students their paths in choosing a specialty through a panel discussion moderated by a Society Advisory Dean.

PCE Career Advising

During the 12 months of the Principal Clinical Experience (PCE), students rotate through eight core clerkships at their assigned clinical sites. Career exploration during the core clerkship year of medical school can help students narrow down their specialty interests to a few choices.

Individual Career and Academic Advising
 

Individual Advising with PCE Mentors
Each student in the Principal Clinical Experience is assigned to a hospital-based mentor.

Group Advising Events
 

Fifth-Year Options Panel Discussion
When considering an additional year to carry out research or to get another degree, students benefit from the experiences of seniors who speak about their experiences in a panel discussion moderated by a Society Advisory Dean. Both the Societies and the Scholars in Medicine Office offer these meetings about US and global research and study opportunities. Students receive emails notifying them about these panel discussions and additional information is included in a weekly newsletter from the Scholars in Medicine Office sent to all students. For more information, please see Fifth-Year Funding or Combined Degrees.

Class Meeting: Planning for Years 3 & 4
This meeting covers the following topics: specialty choice, study cards, grading, and graduation requirements.

Post-PCE Career Advising

Career identification and preparation for residency during the post-PCE period of medical school.

Individual Career and Academic Advising
 

The HMS Office of Student Affairs maintains a Career Advising Resource, which includes:

  • Class meeting recordings and handouts
  • Contact list of residency advisors – Provides contact information for faculty with a residency program role who are interested in mentoring students. Faculty may offer advice on specific programs and how to create a competitive residency application, and recommend relevant away rotations.
  • Mock interview list – Provides contact information for residents and junior faculty from specific specialties who are interested in helping students practice residency interviews
  • Applying to Residency – A guide prepared by the Office of Student Affairs for students applying to residency
  • Alumni list

Group Advising Events
 

Creating a Competitive Residency Application Panel Discussion
Students hear from HMS faculty involved in residency selection at Harvard-affiliated hospitals during a panel discussion moderated by a Society Advisory Dean. Experts explain what makes a strong, highly competitive application for each of the major specialties, including such considerations as USMLE Step scores, grades, research and/or publications, when to take a fifth year for research, advice on personal statements and letters of recommendation, when to expect invitations for interviews, post-interview protocol, and recommended advanced electives, away electives, or clinical research opportunities for particular fields. The panel of experts covers 19 specialties over three days:

  1. Generalist and Primary Care Fields
  2. General Surgery and Surgical Subspecialties
  3. Non-Surgical Subspecialties

Class Meeting: Personal Statement and CV Writing

Class Meeting: Tips on Interviews

Residency Mock Interviews
Over the course of three evenings, HMS faculty and residents from specialties that reflect students’ career interests are recruited to conduct mock interviews with students. Students may participate in two 20-minute interviews with representatives from the specialty interest(s) of their choice.

Rank List Panel Discussion
A diverse group of residents representing core specialties shares their specialty-specific intern year experiences with third- and fourth-year students. The discussion is moderated by a Society Advisory Dean. Residents discuss topics such as how to prepare for your intern year, the first day and the first few weeks of internship, responsibilities of being an intern, surprises that can occur during internship, useful apps and other technology, prioritizing duties, surviving night float, finding mentors, selecting publishable research, teaching obligations, strategies for staying organized (e.g., time management, to-do lists on patients), and work-life/family balance.

More Resources on Specialties

AAMC Roadmap to Residency

Careers in Medicine (CiM) 

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) career-planning program, which helps medical students make career decisions. CiM is available to all registered students; students log on using their AAMC ID number.

Medical Specialties Groups

The HMS/HSDM Student Council sponsors an array of medical specialty interest groups open to all medical and dental students. Interest groups host talks and other activities to bring together students and faculty with shared interests in a particular specialty. Specialties with interest groups may include dermatology, emergency medicine, family medicine, neurosurgery, ob/gyn, oncology, and palliative care, among others.

Career Advising Resource