Career Advising Program Videos and Checklist

Career Advising resources have been designed to coincide with the Bridges curriculum’s Physician Identity/ARCH weeks, to give you time to review resources and discuss questions with your medical student coach. Watch Career Advising Program and Video Lectures on choosing a specialty, using clerkships for career exploration, and more. The Checklist tells you what you need to do during each year of medical school at UCSF to stay on track and support you along this journey. 

Joel Ramirez, MD

Be open-minded, excited, and ready to explore. There are many different ways that you can care for people and even more ways to make a positive impact on society and in your community. Choosing a specialty or career is identifying how you want to make your impact. I think that there are many misconceptions and stereotypes about different specialties, which can discourage students from exploring them. There is no right or wrong choice, it is just a matter of finding and pursuing your own passion.

Joel Ramirez, MD

Integrated Vascular Surgery Resident

Career Advising Program and Video Lectures 

Below is an overview of the career advising program. You can see how career advising is incorporated into ARCH Week sessions throughout your time at UCSF. Watch specialty information video sessions and overview lectures on choosing a specialty, using clerkships for career exploration, and more.

Foundations 1
  • Medical School Orientation (August)
  • Introduction to the Career Advising Program and Student Experience Team

Physician Identity Week 1  (September)

Physician Identity Week 2 (December)

Inquiry Immersion Session (January)

  • How to make make the most out of the summer

Physician Identity Week 3 (April)

ARCH Week 4 (September)

  • Nuts and bolts of the Foundations 2 Clerkship Year
Foundations 2

ARCH Week 5 (April)

ARCH Week 6 (August)

Career Launch

ARCH Week 7 (April)

  • WATCH: A Post-Match Panel: Students who have matched into surgical and medical specialties discuss the process of choosing specialties, compiling applications, interviewing for residencies, and creating a rank list

Residency Application Process

ARCH Week 8 – August

Specialty Information Session Videos

Career Advising Checklist

Follow these steps to take at different phases of medical school to prepare for your career in medicine.

Foundations 1

Physician Identity Weeks 1 – 3

  • Consider attending the Student Organization Fair in August
  • Access the AAMC Careers in Medicine website and resources
  • Meet with your Coach during the ARCH 1 week and use the results of the above inventories to inform your next steps in career exploration
  • Explore the Career Advising Website
  • 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
  • Perform at least one informational interview
  • If you are interested in a competitive specialty (surgical subspecialties, dermatology, emergency medicine) meet with the confidential specialty residency advisor within the first year of medical school
  • Near the end of F1, you will choose Clinical Immersion Experiences (CIExs) that can be used to explore career interests outside of the F2 core clerkships
  • Work to establish mentorship in at least one potential specialty field.
Foundations 2
  • Use AAMC Clinical Evaluation Worksheet to record likes/dislikes on clerkships 
  • After block 3, revisit the MSPI-R and PVIPS to clarify whether your preferences are stable or evolving
  • Identify potential mentors/advisors (faculty, fellows, residents, senior med students, etc.) about your interest and follow-through after the clerkship for career advice, potential sources for letters of recommendation
  • If you are interested in taking a gap year, meet with your Coach and/or mentors to discuss interest in and plan for gap year
  • If you are interested in pursuing external degrees during your gap year, plan ahead early -- in case you need to take qualifying exams, obtain letters/transcripts and submit your application
  • If still undecided at the end of F2, schedule a meeting with the Co-Directors of the Career Advising Program
  • If you have selected a career path, clarify with the confidential specialty residency advisor whether or not you are competitive in this field and how to strengthen your application 
  • Identify an Inquiry mentor
  • Consider which Career Launch experiences will best prepare you for your career path
Career Launch
  • Again clarify your career/specialty goals and reflect on whether or not 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. Compare your competitiveness to the experience of UCSF students, by viewing Post-Match reports on the specialty pages.
  • Consider how your Inquiry/Deep Dive project can align with career exploration and/or goals and identify a project and 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
Residency Application: Key Dates, Deadlines and Checklist by Month

Residency Application
Timeline Graphic for match 2021


  • Submit your MSPE information by the assigned deadline
  • Begin to solicit letters of recommendation if not already done. Many letter writers will not begin to write their letters until you provide a draft of your personal statement, but it is important to ask them to commit to writing a strong letter for you
  • Check with individual residency programs on their policies for completing Step 2 CK + CS
  • Activate access to the Texas STAR database
  • Applicants to military residency programs should contact the branch of the military to which they are applying


  • June 8: Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS) opens. UME issues tokens for registration to all students who plan to graduate the following spring
  • Attend ERAS orientation session
  • Work closely with your specialty advisor to develop an initial list of programs
  • Urology applicants register with the American Urology Association residency match
  • Applicants to preliminary or transitional programs should meet with the Medicine-Prelim advisor


  • Draft your personal statement and review it with your specialty advisor or Coach
  • July 1: Ophthalmology applicants register with SF Match. Ophthalmology programs have individualized target dates for application submission, which may be different—and earlier—than the September 15th target date specified in SFMatch. Check with each program on their recommended date to submit your application
  • July 1: Military residency match program (MODS) opens
  • Aug. 31: MODS application due


  • Sept.1: Students can begin to submit completed applications to programs through ERAS. Programs will not be able to receive these applications until October 21. There is no advantage to submitting an application on September 1 vs October 20; however, we encourage you not to wait until the last minute to submit your application in case there are technical issues submitting applications at later dates.
  • Sept. 15: NRMP opens for registration


  • Begin to schedule program interviews, typically for November, December, January and February
  • Oct. 15: MODS application locked
  • Oct. 18: Target date to submit applications through ERAS
  • Oct. 21 – Applications and MSPEs are released to residency programs


  • Nov.15: Review interview invitations. If not scheduled for 8-10 interviews, schedule a meeting with the specialty residency advisor and the co-directors for the Career Advising Program
  • UCSF School of Medicine deadlines for taking USMLE Step 2 and CK may change depending on the availability of exam proctoring. If you have not taken these exams by this time, check-in with Dean Davis and Dean Jones to ensure this will not impact your ability to Match and graduate


  • Urology and ophthalmology applicants work with specialty residency advisors to prepare a rank order list


  • Jan 12: Urology rank lists open
  • Jan. 25: Opthalmology rank lists due
  • Jan 31: NRMP standard registration closes. There are late registration fees after this date.
  • ERAS applicants: Work with specialty residency advisors to prepare your rank order lists


  • Feb. 1: Ophthalmology Match, Urology Match + NRMP rank lists open.


  • March 3: NRMP rank lists due.
  • Mid-March - NRMP SOAP week. Please do not travel during this week.
  • Third Friday in March: NRMP match results available (Match Day)