Advising & Career Development

Career exploration and residency application knowledge are two key factors in your success as a future physician, in whichever specialty you may choose. We’ve culled these resources for UCSF medical students, their career coaches, and other faculty advisors to prepare and support your success.

Meet with a Career Advisor

match day 2018UCSF School of Medicine faculty career advisors, Drs. Brent Kobashi and Heather Whelan, are available as ongoing resources for general career advising from the beginning of F1 to graduation, specifically to:

  • Provide general career advising resources to coaches and students
  • Address questions that the coach feels is beyond their knowledge, skills or capacity
  • Meet and advise students along their career development path

Please schedule an appointment with either advisor below.


Meet with a Specialty Advisor

To speak with an advisor experienced in a specific specialty, we have both confidential and non-confidential specialty advisors available to speak with you. Confidential advisors are not on the residency selection committee, and do not share information about students with whom they have met with the selection committee. Meeting with the confidential advisor in a specialty is ideal for students who have not yet decided whether to pursue a specialty, but need to be able to speak openly and honestly with a faculty person in the field to get advice.


graduationMeet With an Academic Advisor

Academic Advisors provide a broad spectrum of academic support, including tutoring, medical school orientation, curriculum cadence and leave, resource referrals, clinical clerkship scheduling and the residency application process. Additionally, academic advisors can help guide you with Foundations 1, Foundations 2, or Career Launching. For all your questions, please contact DoQuyen Tran Taylor for Foundations 1, Nikki Williams for Foundations 2 and Wenia Lee for Career Launch.

Visit the Academic Advisor page for more information

When to Seek Advisor Support

Academic and career advising support the whole student through your UCSF journey, but some experiences warrant a little additional support, insight or guidance. If you’re:

  • Struggling academically and want to apply to very competitive specialty (at any time, particularly in late F2/SOM 3A before taking Step 1)
  • Not interested in a particular specialty or is uncertain if you want to stay in clinical medicine (usually by mid to late F2/SOM 3A)
  • Interested in multiple (particularly if seemingly disparate) specialties/career paths (usually by mid to late F2/SOM 3A)
  • Considering alternate career paths (at any time)
  • Considering gap years, including possible activities, goals for the year and how these would support career, life, or path logistics (usually by mid to late F2/SOM 3A)


Timeline: Career Exploration & Residency Application Alongside Assessment, Reflection, Coaching & Health (ARCH) Weeks

Timeline/ARCH Weeks


Early F1/SOM1 Tasks

  • Access the AAMC Careers in Medicine (CiM) website and resources, and:
    • Complete the Medical Specialty Preference Inventory Revised Edition (MSPI-R)
    • Complete the Physician Values in Practice Scale (PVIPS)
  • Consider attending the Student Organization Fair in August


  • Meet with your Coach and use the results of the above inventories to inform your next steps in career exploration
  • Set a goal to do one exploratory activity—attend at least one student interest group and/or sign up for a shift in a student-run clinic, etc.


  • Explore the UCSF Career Advising website and schedule a meeting with either a confidential advisor or a Faculty Career Advisor
  • If interested in a competitive specialty (e.g., dermatology, psychiatry, orthopedics, plastic surgery, urology, head and neck surgery/ENT, emergency medicine, etc.), meet with the confidential advisor within the first three months of F1/SOM1 to learn what types of activities/projects might strengthen your application
  • If you are considering a non-clinical career, schedule a meeting with your Coach and with the Faculty Career Advisors to discuss plans/options
  • Meet with your Coach or Faculty Career Advisors to discuss your plans for the summer between SOM1 and SOM2. Options might include: research with a mentor in a specialty that may interest you as a specialty; projects in quality improvement, medical education, community health, health advocacy, health policy, public health and epidemiology, health IT; work with a healthcare startup; global health experience, among many others.


  • Perform at least one informational interview in Late F1 prior to the start of F2


  • Choose CiEXs to help explore career interests


  • As you progress through F2, use the AAMC Clinical Evaluation Worksheet to record your likes/dislikes about various specialties, as well as which factors contribute to that impression
  • After block 3, revisit the MSPI-R and PVIPS to clarify whether your preferences are stable or evolving
  • Identify and notify in person potential mentors (people you admire) or mentors/advisors (faculty, fellows, residents, senior med students, etc.) about your interest and and follow through after the clerkship for career advice, potential sources for letters of recommendation
  • Meet with your Coach or mentors to discuss your interest in a gap year


  • After completing Block 6 of F2, if you are still feeling very undecided about your career path, consider scheduling an appointment with one of the School of Medicine Faculty Career Advisors
  • Clarify your career/specialty goals and reflect on whether you are competitive for the specialty you wish to pursue. Review The Match - National Resident Matching Program's charting outcomes resource for reference points related to competitive Step 1 scores in your chosen specialty
  • Toward the end of F2/SOM 3A, consider how your Inquiry/Deep Dive project can align with career exploration and/or goals and identify a mentor for Inquiry
  • Consider which Career Launch experiences can enhance career exploration and/or strengthen your skills/knowledge/CV, define the appropriate timing for your residency application


  • Ensure that you are on track to get all of your residency application materials in ON TIME by SEPT. 5. Sample timeline (for Main NRMP Match only - for other specialties, discuss this with your Coach):
    • April - Meet with the specialty advisor
    • May - Request letters from letter writers
    • June - Update CV*
    • July - Complete near-final draft of personal statement
    • August - Remind your letter writers and send them your CV/statement
    • September - Confirm all materials (including letters) are uploaded and submit on time
  • Post Residency Application Submission: evaluate residency application process. If not scheduled for at least 8-10 interviews by Nov 1, schedule a meeting with the Faculty Career Advisors and/or Dean Jones
  • Consider accessing the Office of Career and Professional Development for assistance with crafting your CV and preparing for residency interviews.


  • Continue your best efforts in the remainder of Career Launch clinical rotations as your application can be updated later with your improved performance in the case that you do not match and participate in SOAP.
Deadlines: Important Inquiry, Step Exam & Residency Application


  • Summer F1 Deep Explore
    • March 15 - Summer Explore Grant application due for summer between SOM1 and SOM2
  • Career Launch Deep Explore
    • December F2/SOM 3A - Preliminary Deep Inquiry project title and mentor due
    • February F2/SOM 3B - Final Deep Inquiry project title and mentor due
    • End of March CL/SOM 4A - Final Deep Inquiry project proposal due
    • April SOM CL/SOM 4B - Deep Explore abstract and poster due

Step Exams

  • By end of February - take Step 1
  • By first week of September - take Step 2 CS
  • By end of November - take Step 2 CK

Residency Application

  • June - ERAS opens
  • Early June - Emergency medicine applicants will register for the Standardized Video Interview (SVI) when completing their ERAS application
  • July 16 - Emergency Medicine applicants must have completed the SVI
  • July 1 - MODS opens
  • Aug 30 - Plastics opens
  • Aug 31 - MODS (Military residency match program) application due
  • Sept 15 - ERAS application due
  • Sept 15 - NRMP opens
  • Oct 1 - Programs receive MSPE
  • Oct 15 - MODS application locked
  • Nov 13 - Urology rank lists open
  • Nov 30 - NRMP standard registration closes
  • Dec 12 - Match Day
  • Jan 2 - Urology rank list due
  • Jan 3 - Ophthalmology rank list due
  • Jan 11 - Ophthalmology Match Day
  • Jan 15 - NRMP rank lists open
  • Jan 18 - Urology Match Day
  • Feb 20 - NRMP rank list due
  • Mid-March - NRMP SOAP week
  • Mid-March - NRMP Match Day