Career Planning

Planning your career and getting the residency position that you want is a four-year active process of self-assessment, career exploration, career decision-making, and implementation.  

To assist students in this process, the Office of Medical Student Education (OMSE) provides excellent resources, including counselors, career seminars, faculty advisors, student interest groups, and a helpful support staff. Our ultimate goal is to help you start down a successful career path in medicine. 

The key to success is to start early in terms of self-assessment and career exploration. When it comes time to make your final career decision and apply for residency, you will receive support and guidance tailored to your goals and needs. 

Contact OMSE if you have any questions or want to meet with someone to discuss your career plans. 

What's the Difference Between Shadowing and Mentoring?

In addition to providing an invigorating clinical exposure, shadowing and mentoring experiences are valuable components of career exploration.

Shadowing is an opportunity for you to observe a physician as they practice, observing what a "typical day" looks like in that discipline. You may set up a shadowing experience as a single day or as an ongoing engagement.

Mentoring is a more involved process where you develop a relationship with a physician through repeated meetings. Mentorship also provides an opportunity for career exploration and career counseling.

In your Clinical Trunk and Branches, you'll get an in-depth exposure to many of the medical disciplines during your clinical clerkships.

In addition, the Career Seminar Series is designed to assist you on the path to choosing a career. These one-hour events are led by department chairs, faculty, community physicians and resident physicians and provide a career overview followed by Q&A. Videos are available online to University of Michigan students and faculty members. Topics include:

  • Career Selection
  • Dual Degree Information Session
  • Career Selection and the Residency Application
  • Preparing Your Residency Application
  • Drop-In Sessions with key administrators such as our Residency Resource Staff (NRMP School Administrator and ERAS Coordinator), Counselors, and Learning Specialist, along with the four OMSE Assistant Deans and our Associate Dean for Medical Student Education:
  • Interviewing and Program Evaluation
  • Matching and Ranking

You'll also receive mentoring from clinical faculty serving as Faculty Career Advisors. These advisors are faculty chosen by their departments and receive special training in this role. Your faculty advisor is often your most valuable resource during the residency application process. Your advisor may also provide letters of recommendation for your application.

The Office of Medical Student Education also provides career development assistance and logistical help as you go through the residency application and Match process.

The Branches are the last opportunity to complement the experiences in your chosen residency. It's very important to diversify your experiences in preparation for a career where you’ll be fielding questions about a variety of medical conditions.

Being able to excel in other areas of medicine shows versatility and commitment. Training programs look for residents who will perform well in many different settings — from the outpatient clinic to the ICU.

When considering your options, an appropriate elective will typically help you achieve one of the following goals:

1. To facilitate the decision-making process regarding career choice:

If you are not yet sure you want to go into a certain field, we recommend you take an elective in that field or a sub-internship early in the Branches.

2.  To increase your chance of being accepted into a particular internship and residency program:

Good training programs are competitive. If you are extremely interested in a particular program, then you might consider taking an elective in that program (e.g. a subspecialty elective or sub-internship), and doing a first-rate job. This elective should ideally occur before July of your final year.

Caution: It is very important to discuss the risks and benefits of this goal with your career advisor, as in theory a sub-par performance may also hurt your chances to get into the particular program.

3.  To supplement the normal residency curriculum in your chosen field:

  • Choose an elective in an area that's not a standard part of residency training, but important to the practice in your field.
  • Choose an elective to provide added experience in an area of particular interest in your field subspecialties.

4.  To fulfill your personal needs and interests:

  • Choose an elective in an area of relevance or of interest to you. Take advantage of the opportunity to take an interesting elective before residency, when there will be little time. This might include a research elective or an elective in another country.
  • Choose an elective in an area that will broaden your knowledge base. Branches are not meant to be a mini residency in your chosen field. Pick an area that you want to learn more about in a different field.
  • Visit the Medical Specialties page for a comprehensive summary of the specified discipline including a basic description of the specialty, typical practice patterns, residency training duration, number of programs and number of residents nationally, opportunities for fellowship or subspecialty training, type of match, and overall level of competitiveness. You can find the faculty contact information for each specialty, as well as links to student interest groups.

As you begin to think about your areas of interest, read through the Match pages to help you prepare. You can also attend advice sessions on:

  • Preparing for the residency match process.
  • Preparing a CV and personal statement for the residency application.
  • Interviewing for residency, including mock interview practice with faculty.
  • Preparing the residency rank list.

OMSE also provides personalized counseling for students who may have a more difficult time matching.

For the very few students who do not have a successful match, OMSE helps with the Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program (SOAP).

The Match process culminates in our annual Match Day event, where students, families, friends, faculty and staff gather to celebrate at the North Campus Research Complex.