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Medical Education
Medical Student Education

Career Information: Medicine

Specialty: Medicine

Completed by: Karen Hauer

Date completed/updated: updated August 2012

  1. What can students do in the 1st and 2nd years to explore and/or prepare for this career?
    Participate in the Internal Medicine Interest Group and through noon presentations.
  2. What common variations exist in the length/content of residency programs for this career?
    IM residency is 3 years. There are traditional categorical programs, which are inpatient based. Categorical residents usually pursue subspecialty fellowships afterward (e.g., cardiology, infectious disease), but can also become hospitalists or primary care physicians. Primary care residency programs are also 3 years, but incorporate more clinic time and small group seminar teaching.
  3. What common variations exist in this career after training?
    Endless! Subspecialty practice, hospitalist, primary care doctor, clinician-scientist, clinical researcher, outcomes researcher, health policy, international health, medical education.
  4. What is a typical work day for someone in this field?
    Varied! Clinically, internists may work predominantly in the inpatient or outpatient settings. Many internists combine clinical practice with leadership, research, or educational work.
  5. What is the culture of this career?
    Diverse interests, interested in the whole patient, motivated to teach and learn, enjoys problem solving and analysis.
  6. How compatible is this career with raising a family? How is this different for men and women?
    Wealth of options for part time or full time work make it potentially very compatible with the rest of your life.
  7. What are the most important qualities or character traits for a person in this field?
    Commitment to patients, critical thinker, strong work ethic - to be thorough and careful. Enjoy teamwork.
  8. How competitive are the residency programs in this field?
    UCSF students match extremely well in IM - at the top programs in the country. UCSF students are highly sought by residency programs.
  9. How competitive is the job market after residency?
    There are many jobs for internists, particularly for hospitalists and primary care physicians.
  10. What programs have been popular among UCSF applicants, or how should applicants go about considering programs?
    The most commonly selected IM residencies by UCSF students in recent years are: UCSF (categorical and primary care), Brigham and Women's Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital, UCLA, Stanford.
  11. What resources (eg, websites, books, professional groups) would you recommend for students interested in learning more about this field?
    American Medical Association:
    American College of Physicians:
    UCSF Internal Medicine Residency:
  12. How important are each of the following for admission to a competitive program?

Very Important

Somewhat Important

Not Important


volunteer work










Honors in third year




Including Summary Evaluation comments in the MSPE










Just the required IM subI at UCSF; no need to do away subinternships






Other: Core clerkship grades in other specialties