Career Counseling and Residency Planning Program

Overall Objective

  1. To provide medical students with the information, counsel, advisement and resources to enable them to make sound, individual career choices
  2. To assist students as they navigate the residency match process so each will ultimately take their place in the House of Medicine as professional and caring physicians.

Careers in Medicine (CiM) Program

Careers in Medicine is a four-phase program designed to assist you in understanding specialty choice options and selecting and applying to a residency program that meets your career objectives. For many students the idea of choosing a specialty seems far off. Careers in Medicine offers a structured, organized way of thinking about this process; giving students the chance to think systematically about their options. Choosing a medical specialty and developing a vision for your future is an evolutionary process and requires time to thoughtfully digest information about yourself (personal careers assessment), information about career options (career exploration), and a determination of what the best fit is for you.

Why Careers in Medicine?

You may have thought, “Hey, I know my career.  I’m going to be a doctor.  Why do I need to do any more planning?”  But how many of these questions can you answer without hesitation?

  • Why did you choose medicine as a career?
  • What specialties have you considered and why?
  • What specialties are you not considering and why?
  • Do you know how competitive residency programs are in each specialty?
  • What will you do if you don’t get a residency position in your first-choice specialty?
  • How many hours a week do you intend to work?
  • What practice setting appeals most to you?
  • Where do you want to live?
  •  What type of lifestyle do you want?

If you can’t answer all of these questions with certainty or if you have never really thought about them, you can benefit from this program.

How People Make Career Decisions

Careers in Medicine uses a widely accepted career development model that helps you answer these questions.  In this model, career planning and development is a four-phase process:

  • Phase One: Personal Career Assessment – You begin exploring who you are, what you like to do, what’s important in your life, and how you interact with people.  This is an assessment of your interests, values, personality, and skills.
  • Phase Two: Career Exploration – You begin to learn about medical specialties – what physicians do in these areas, reviewing available information, and meeting and talking with physicians in various specialties.
  • Phase Three: Decision-Making – Once you have collected enough information on all of the possibilities, you can then compare your interests, values, personality, and skills with information about the specialty and other medical career options.
  • Phase Four: Implementation – You will implement your decision by applying for and being accepted into a residency program.  We will guide you through the process of applying to selected residency training programs, interviewing, and completing “The Match” (the National Residency Matching Program, run by the AAMC).  Transitioning out of medical school and into residency will complete the program.

Careers in Medicine Website

AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges) logoThe Careers in Medicine Website contains the entire program online, including many tools useful to students and links to sites that provide other recommended tools.  In addition, you’ll have access to the Careers in Medicine specialty pages for Phase 2, which will help with gathering information about specialties that interest you.  Remember, the website can help you work through the decision-making process, but it is always important to talk to others to help sort out the information you are finding.  Therefore, be sure and take full advantage of the group resource sessions that will be provided for you.

What If I Still Can’t Decide?

For many people a step-by-step approach to making career decisions is difficult to follow.  If you’re struggling with this approach, talk to the Associate Dean of Student Affairs.  Individual conversations can help you identify other ways of deciding on a specialty or career option.

More on CiM

Medical Student Performance Evaluation (MSPE), or Dean’s Letter:

Graduation from medical school leads to post-graduate training (graduate medical education) in one of over 100 specialty fields.  Students begin planning for residency once they decide which field best fits their life’s goals.  This is a big decision and may involve a lot of reflection, as well as discussions with colleagues, advisors, and the Dean of Student Affairs.

All students select a specialty and begin the residency application process during either the spring of the third year or the fall of the fourth year.  A component of the residency application is the Medical Student Performance Evaluation (MSPE), also known as the Dean’s Letter.  This is not a recommendation letter, but a review of each student’s performance during his or her undergraduate (medical school) education.  This will complement letters of recommendation written by faculty members.  At Mercer, students assist in the writing of the initial page of the MSPE, and that process starts in January of your third year, when you will receive an email with some general directions.  The letters are written over the spring of the third and the fall of the fourth year, and are released to residency programs on October 1st.    All students are given the privilege of proofing the document prior to its entry into the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS).

Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS):

Screenshot: AAMC - MyERAS Welcome to the Electronic Residency Application Service - Log in or register for MyERAS

The Electronic Residency Application Service® (ERAS®) is a service of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). ERAS consists of MyERAS® for applicants, Dean’s Office Workstation (DWS) for the ERAS Fellowship Documents Office (EFDO), Program Director’s Workstation (PDWS) for training programs and the ERAS Letter of Recommendation Portal (LoRP) for LoR Authors.

ERAS is comprised of four (4) main components:

  1. MyERAS is the website where applicants complete their MyERAS Application, select programs to apply to, and assign documents to be received by programs.
  2. DWS is the software used by the designated dean’s office. From this software, medical school staff create the ERAS electronic token that applicants use to access MyERAS. They also use this system to scan and attach supporting documents to the application, such as photographs, medical school transcripts, MSPE, and LoRs. These documents are then transmitted to the ERAS PostOffice.
  3. PDWS is the ERAS software used by program staff to receive, sort, review, evaluate, and rank applications.
  4. ERAS PostOffice is the central bank of computers that transfer the application materials from applicants and their designated dean’s office to residency programs.

Learn more about how ERAS works