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Choosing a Career

While some students enter medical school knowing exactly which specialty they plan to pursue, many students (perhaps as many as 70 percent) will change their mind based on new information and experiences. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) recommends a four-phase approach to career selection. You can read more about the theory behind the four-phase approach here.

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Career Planning Framework

1. Understand Yourself

Learn about your interests, values and skills.

  • Read AAMC’s Understand Yourself
  • Complete the Careers in Medicine Assessments
    • Medical Specialty Preference Inventory (MSPI) – What do I like to do in medicine?
    • Physician Values in Practice Scale (PVIPS) – What in medicine is personally meaningful and satisfying to me?
    • Physician Skills Inventory (PSI) – What am I good at and how can I improve?
    • Specialty Indecision Scale (SIS) – Why can’t I decide?
  • Interpret the results
  • Attend Guide to the Match workshops

2. Explore Your Options

Gather information about different specialties and practice settings.

3. Choose Your Specialty

Realistically consider factors and increase readiness to make a decision.

4. Prepare for Transition to Residency

Gather required materials to submit residency applications (see also: The Match)

Career Planning Timeline

There are many paths to success in medical school. The following is suggested timeline for what to focus on as you progress through your coursework.