Career Advising Committee
Year 1 Activities
Year 2 Activities
Year 3 Activities
Clinical Elective Advising
Year 4 Activities
Helpful Links
M2 Timeline
M4 Timeline
USMLE Pathways
Roadmap to Residency
Apply Smart for Residency
Advising of Specialties
AAMC VSAS Handbook
Summer Healthcare Intern Opportunities

Career Services

One of the most significant decisions students make while attending medical school is choosing a specialty in which to practice. The California Northstate University College of Medicine Careers in Medicine program, modeled after the AAMC’s CiM program, is designed to help students stay on track in making this decision during the four years of medical school with a four-step program of self-assessment and career exploration. The goal of the program is to help each student narrow their choices and select a specialty focus by the end of spring quarter of 3rd year and be prepared to begin the application to residency, interview, and enjoy a successful Match to the medical specialty of their choosing. The College of Medicine has budgeted for a full-time Career Counselor who will maintain an office for one-on-one career advising. The office will also be the location of a Career Guidance Library with various books and resources to help students in the process of selecting a medical specialty. The Career Counselor will have responsibility for providing the programing listed below. Some sessions in Year 4 will be Resident-Led. 

Year 1 Activities
Session 1: Introduction to the Careers in Medicine Program (during Orientation). Students will be given their “token” to access and register on the AAMC’s Careers in Medicine website. Students will be oriented to the website at this time and set up their personal portfolio for future completion.

Session 2: The Art of Understanding Yourself: Students are to take self-assessments available on Careers in Medicine website in advance of this session, so results may be discussed and understood in the context of medical specialty career decisions.

Session 3: Medical Specialty Groups: Helps students to learn about the specialty interest group’s activities. In addition, students will learn how to arrange for shadowing experiences to gain additional experience in various medical specialties of their choosing.

Year 2 Activities
Session 1: Students will be required to complete the Exploring Options section of the AAMC-CiM website and be prepared to discuss this information in this session.

Session 2: Becoming familiar with the many ways to practice medicine: Exploration of the various specialties and subspecialties and their related national organizations and web-based resources.

Lunch Sessions:
Several brown bag informative lunch sessions will be provided during the year featuring panels of physicians representing various medical specialties and sub-specialties. The guest panelists will be asked to provide a “day in the life” description of the work they perform, followed by a question and answer session.

Throughout the year: A USMLE Step 1 preparation program will be facilitated by the College of Medicine’s Academic Skills Advisor.

Year 3 Activities
Session 1: Career Exploration and Preliminary Decision Making: Medical students will be shown how to explore many specialties during their clerkships. They will further know how to ask important questions of their clinical rotations: "Do I enjoy continuity of care, certain procedures, certain types of illnesses, seeing immediate results, having long term relationships with patients, figuring out diagnostic puzzles, caring for people in the context of their community, addressing issues of mental well-being, prevention, working with the underserved, working with children, etc."

Session 2: Students will develop an understanding of how to best utilize the high yield preparation resources for study of the USMLE Step 2MK and Step 2CS examinations.

Session 3: Students will learn how to make realistic assessments of their competitiveness for the various medical specialties.

Session 4: Elective Selection - Students will learn about important considerations in selecting electives for their fourth year of study. They will be exposed to departmental recommendations of electives for those students considering applying in their discipline as well as being introduced to the Visiting Student Application Service provided by the AAMC. Students will also be encouraged to make an appointment with departmentally-based career advisors to obtain information on various residency programs for consideration.

Session 5: Students will be counseled about how and when to obtain letters of recommendation for the residency application process; how to write a strong personal statement; and how to utilize AMA’s FREIDA as a resource. Students will receive training on use of the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS) and the timeline and activities associated with the National Resident Application Program (NRMP), the Military Match, San Francisco Match, etc. Students will be instructed on how to develop a strategy for scheduling away rotations and time-off for interview season.

Year 4 Activities
Students will participate in the following exercises and activities in preparation for the Match:
  1. Reviewing the MSPE for accuracy.
  2. Submitting Applications for Residencies: Recommendations for consideration
  3. Interview Advice and Communication Skills
  4. How to Avoid the SOAP and Develop Plan B

The COM has an integrated curriculum with limited opportunities for elective choices during the pre-clinical phase of the curriculum, though some concurrent electives may be possible. Guidance about participation in such opportunities will be under the auspices of the College Master (faculty advisor) and approval for student participation will be done by the COM Director of Student Affairs and Admissions (students in good academic standing).

Upon the start of the clinical portion of the curriculum, each student will be assigned a clinical faculty advisor who will build an understanding of the student’s interests, strengths and weaknesses. The advisor will have access to a wide array of medical specialists who can meet with the student individually to share his/her own experiences.

A COM program in specialty career mentoring has been developed by the Associate Dean of Student Affairs, Admissions and Outreach. Implementation of the program will commence with the recruitment of clinical faculty and as students near completion of Phase A of the curriculum.

Please refer to Appendix MS 9.1, Student Handbook, pages 89 and thereafter, section on career planning and counseling.

Helpful Links
• AAMC Careers in Medicine (
• National Residency Matching (
• Workforce Statistics (
• Charting Outcomes in the Match (




California Northstate University College of Medicine ♦ 9700 West Taron Drive ♦ Elk Grove, CA 95757 ♦ Phone: (916) 686-7300