PCE Advising

During the 12 months of the Principal Clinical Experience, students rotate through eight core clerkships at their assigned clinical sites. Throughout their clerkships, students have opportunities to immerse themselves within the various specialties. Career exploration can help students narrow down their specialty interests to a few choices.

Each student in the PCE is assigned to a hospital-based mentor. Students continue to meet with their assigned society advisors, who can assist them through their goals and the guidelines of the AAMC Careers in Medicine career planning program. HST students have a formal advising meeting twice during their PCE.

  • A practicing pediatrician shows a small child a stethoscope while two students are shadowing him with his patient. Photo: Channing Johnson
  • A faculty member in scrubs pointing to a brain scan on a screen and speaking to a student in scrubs.
  • A faculty member in a white coat leaning over to show something to a student in a white coat. Photo: Colin May

Exploring Options

Knowing about all career options that exist ensures well-informed decisions. During the PCE (Principal Clinical Experience) Phase, students begin planning for the Post-PCE Phase by meeting with their PCE and Society Advisors and have opportunities to explore within specialties through specialty-specific resources, residency panels and boards review sessions. 

Students can continue to utilize the AAMC Careers in Medicine Program for detailed resources on self-exploration and exploring career options. (AAMC Careers in Medicine log-in required)

Individual Career Advising

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 features a career advising nook with Match resources, HMS-specific Match data, post-Match surveys, advisor list and specialty-specific resources.

Society Advisor

All students are assigned to an Academic Society and a society-specific primary advisor who acts as a “Primary Care Physician” of the advising team. The society advisor serves as a liaison to curricular, extra-curricular, research, career and specialty advisors throughout a student's journey at Harvard Medical School. Advisors help with finding a mentor and shadowing experiences, specialty choices, and the residency application process: MSPE (Medical Student Performance Evaluation) guidance, obtaining Letters of Recommendation, reviewing Personal Statements, filling out application sections and preparing for interviews.

Office of Recruitment and Multicultural Affairs (ORMA)

ORMA focuses on the recruitment and support of medical students who are from groups underrepresented in medicine (URiM), including those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ); first-generation college students; and students who are economically disadvantaged. ORMA fosters an inclusive and respectful environment that is supportive of all students, faculty and staff.

Alumni Advisors

HMS has formed a network of 400 alumni from throughout the US and some international locations representing a spectrum of medical specialties. They might be available for an email exchange, a phone call, a visit or shadowing at their workplace. Students may reach out to alumni at any time during their medical school career. Prior to the residency application process, students may check in with these alumni before interviews for specific details about particular hospitals, programs and careers.

To connect with Alumni Advisors, contact the Alumni Liaison (HavardKey log-in required) and send her a short description of your inquiry and/or interests. She will find someone to help you.

AAMC Careers in Medicine Program

Students can utilize the AAMC Careers in Medicine Program for detailed resources on self-explorationexploring career options, choosing a specialty and preparing for residency. (AAMC Careers in Medicine Log-in Required)

Specialty Mentors

Every year graduates list specialty mentors and advisors within their HMS Post-Match Survey responses. These can be found under each specialty category in the report. This report is not comprehensive and students can reach out to other advisors to help them identify additional specialty mentors. (HarvardKey log-in required)

Group Career Advising Curriculum

(some links below require HarvardKey log-in)

Group career advising includes various class meetings and pertinent panel presentations aligned with the curriculum.


Effective Communication on the Wards

This session provides students with the tools to foster clear and effective communication on the wards, particularly when challenging situations arise.


Class Meeting: Post-PCE Preparation for Pathways

Overview of the Post-PCE curriculum and update on the clinical assessment program, hosted by the Dean for Students and the Dean for Medical Education.

Class Meeting: London/HST Rising 3rd Years

For more information, contact the HST Director of Administration.

Retake “Careers in Medicine” AAMC survey


Fifth-Year Options (Pathways)

Seniors who have done Fifth-Year research, received fellowships, or are enrolled in another degree program serve as panelists and share their experiences in a session moderated by the Director of Career Advising. More information on fifth-year funding and combined degrees can be found through the Office of Scholarly Engagement.

Fifth-Year Options (HST)

For more information, contact the HST Director of Administration.


USMLE Step I Support Session

This session provides an overview of how to prepare for USMLE Step 1 (including taking a practice exam, making time to evolve study approaches, suggesting resources) in a panel discussion in which senior students share lessons learned, study strategies, resources and thoughts on balancing work and personal life throughout the Step 1 study period. Presented by the Director of the Office of Learning Resources and Support.

How I Chose My Specialty: General Approach to Study Cards

A session for all PCE students in which fourth-year students talk about what comes next after PCE, including how to set up elective choices and how they decided their specialty selection after taking Step 1. Moderated by the Director of Career Advising.