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.

Road to Residency (secure log-in required)

  • 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

Individual Career Advising

Society Advisors

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.

Students typically meet with their advisors multiple times during the Post-PCE with the following goals:

  • Strategic planning of fourth-year schedules 
  • Identifying career choices and planning for the residency application process 
  • Providing guidance on writing Personal Statements and CVs, obtaining Letters of Recommendation, completing residency applications, preparing for residency interviews and creating a rank order list 
  • Guidance with components of the Medical Student Performance Evaluation (MSPE)

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 in: identifying a list of residency programs, developing personal criteria to guide decisions about which programs to apply to, selecting writers of letters of recommendation, working out a communication strategy for interviews and post-interviews, and reviewing rank lists for breadth and depth.

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.

Group Career Advising Timeline

Year III - Year before Graduation Year


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 2 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.

Year IV – Graduation Year


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.