Post-PCE Advising

Career identification and preparation for residency take place during this phase of medical school. Students decide what specialty or specialties to pursue and undergo the process to secure a residency program.

  • Dr. Susan Farrell talks with a student about Emergency Medicine during a mock interview session. Photo: Lipofsky
  • Two students, laughing and smiling, high-five while holding their Match letters during the Match Day Celebration. Photo: Rose Lincoln
  • A faculty member sits across from a student smiling during a mock interview session. Photo: Lipofsky
  • Three smiling students pose while holding up their Match letters together. Photo: Lipofsky.
  • A faculty member engaging with a student during a mock interview event. Photo: Lipofsky

Choosing a specialty and road to residency

Making a career choice that makes you happy is harder than you think. During the Post-PCE phase of the curriculum, students make their specialty selection and identify a Specialty Advisor. Students continue meeting with Society Advisors and begin preparation for the Road to Residency

Specialty-Specific Resources are individual HMS-created pages that contain ways for students to connect to Specialty Liaisons, Student Interest Groups and National Organizations, as well as explore and prepare for the residency application process. 

Students can utilize the AAMC Careers in Medicine Program for detailed resources on choosing a specialty and preparing for residency. (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.

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)

Residency Application Advisor

Toward the beginning of a student's graduation year, a faculty member in the specialty of interest will be selected to serve as the Residency Application Advisor. This advisor provides “specialty care” in the match process by supporting students throughout the Residency Application Process.

Example topics:
  • Developing personal criteria to identify residency programs
  • Selecting writers of letters of recommendation
  • Working out an strategy for interviews and post-interview protocols
  • Reviewing rank lists

Residency Application Advisors List

(HarvardKey log-in required)

Group Career Advising Curriculum

(some links below require HarvardKey log-in)

Month Event

Class Meeting: The Road to Residency (Part I)

Rising 4th-year students learn about the year ahead from the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS)onward, including how to choose a specialty, the process and timeline for the residency application, preparing and taking USMLE Step 2 CK, opportunities for advanced and away electives, meeting mandatory requirements and building a relationship with advisors. Presented by the Dean for Students and the Director of Career Advising.

How to Create a Competitive Residency Application: Opinions from Our Experts (Four-part series)

A panel of residency directors at Harvard-affiliated hospitals speak to rising 4th-year students about the qualities of highly competitive, strong applications in each of the main specialties. Topics include: USMLE Step scores; grades; research and publications; when to take a fifth- year for research; advice for Personal Statements and Letters of Recommendation; when to expect invitations for interviews; post-interview protocol; recommended 4th-year electives and when away-electives or clinical research are recommended in each of the fields. Moderated by the Director of Career Advising. A Specialties Fair follows each panel discussion.



Class Meeting: The Road to Residency (Part II)

A presentation on the Medical School Performance Evaluation (MSPE) process, application timeline, AAMC Careers in Medicine and application resources. Presented by the Dean for Students and Director of Career Advising.

Society and Specialty Advising Meetings: Career Selection

Students will meet with their advisor to discuss steps for residency application.

USMLE Step II CK Preparation Workshop

Overview of critical preparation for USMLE Step 2 CK (practice exam, reevaluation of approach, resources). A student panel discusses study strategies, study resources, and study schedules. Presented and moderated by the Director of the Office of Learning Resources and Support.



Personal Statements, Letters of Recommendation and CV Workshop

Workshop on how to develop effective, strong personal statements and Curriculum Vitae (CV), as well as the timeline and process of requesting Letters of Recommendations, identifying recommendation letter-writers and determining what information to provide to letter-writers. Presented by Society Advisors.

(some links below require HarvardKey log-in)

Month Event

Applying to Residency Using Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS)

Overview of need-to-know aspects of the application process and ERAS, with a focus on application timelines, sections of ERAS, applicant check-list, monitoring your application, registering for Match and reviewing important resources. Presented by Dean for Students and ERAS Coordinator.

Introduction to the Residency Interview Process

Workshop on general residency interviewing tips, types of interview questions, post-interview communication and additional important resources pertaining to the interview process. Presented by the Dean for Students.

Residency Practice Interviews

Students are matched with residents, HMS Society Advisors, and faculty from area hospitals, who are not members of the residency selection committee, based on their specialty choice, for two 25-minute practice residency interviews, including time for feedback. During these exercises, students can sharpen their interviewing skills, practice answering difficult or unforeseen questions, learn to present or explain certain aspects of their background and present themselves and demonstrate their genuine interest in a program.

Making Your Rank List

A diverse panel of residents from area hospitals discuss the factors and considerations that went into creating their own personal rank lists, including topics such as post-interview communication, comparing programs, information gathering, couples match considerations and matching in a different geographic region. Moderated by the Director of Career Advising.

Match Day

Match Day is an annual nationwide event at which students learn which residency program they will be attending. It is coordinated by the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) in Washington, DC. Match Day takes place in mid-March.
HMS Match Results

Transition to Internship

A panel of residents representing the main specialties share their specialty-specific experiences from their intern year, the first year of GME (graduate medical education) training. Topics on how to prepare for the intern year include: first day and first-week experiences; responsibilities of an intern; team relationships with hospital personnel; communication, professionalism, confidentiality, conferences, order writing; ideas for increasing efficiency; procedures interns perform; drug dose determination; most common problems for which interns are paged and how to respond; useful technologies; finding mentors; selecting publishable research projects; teaching roles; strategies for staying organized (time management, list of to-do’s on patients); maintaining work-life balance; and what the panelists wish they had known as new interns. Moderated by the Director of Career Advising.