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M3 Year: Make the Decision

Now that you are in the M3 year, you've completed the Careers in Medicine assessments, researched specialty options, and narrowed your choices. It's time to bring it all together and make your decision. With all the information at your disposal, you'll need to devise strategies to prioritize your values, interests, and skills.

Competitiveness can also influence specialty choice, and some say education debt and potential salary influence your decision. Here's how to consider these other influences in choosing your specialty.

  • All students must have taken the COMLEX Level 1 at least one time by September 30 of their M3 year (please refer to the Student Handbook for additional information). 
  • Meet with M3 Career Advisor for specialty planning and decision after board scores.
  • Begin clinical rotations.
  • Develop relationship with Department Chairs for Department Chair Letters of Recommendation once you have chosen your specialty.
  • Complete the Residency Preference Exercise (RPE) through Careers in Medicine site.
  • Research desirable qualifications and competitiveness for specialties by using the CiM competitiveness tab under each specialty.
  • Prepare a Curriculum Vitae (CV) and include relevant information from Year 1 through Year 3.
  • Provide CV to Letter of Recommendation (LoR) writers.
  • Complete the Specialty Indecision Scale (SIS) Assessment in CiM if you are having a difficult time narrowing down your specialty choice or unsure of your competitiveness. This will help you uncover the reasons that you are unable to make a decision.
  • Schedule an appointment with your career counseling advisor if still having difficulty making a decision.
  • Attend COM Residency Fair in November. Watch recording if you were unable to attend or have questions.
  • Determine best timeframe to take the COMLEX Level 2 CE & PE and select your test dates.
  • Write your Personal Statement for MSPE
    • Include pivotal moments; influential and motivational patient experiences; aspects of specialties you enjoy or find inspiring; personal strengths you bring to a specialty.
    • Think deeply about your specialty choices; research desirable qualifications and competitiveness.
  • Meet with Career Counseling Advisor, society faculty advisor, or mentor to review your Personal Statement. Start Early!!
  • Research residency positions and programs. Use the Careers in Medicine Prepare for Residency.
  • Schedule "audition" rotations to top-choice programs for August-December of the 4th AOA programs interview earlier than NRMP; please check program due dates.
  • During Clinical rotations
    • Ask attending about his or her expectations of you and regularly ask for feedback (don’t wait for them to offer).
    • Let program directors know you are interested in the program.
    • Send a thank you after each rotation.
    • Don’t be shy and reserved; be memorable in a good way.
    • Find a trusted senior resident or physician to mentor you.
  • Complete M3 Clinical Rotations
  • Take COMLEX Level 2 CE and COMLEX Level 2 PE. Most programs require that you take and pass before they interview or rank you. If you did not do well on the COMLEX Level 1, a good score on COMLEX Level 2 CE is even more important.
  • Be aware of applicable early match deadlines or the Military Match
  • Attend Come Home Day and Complete Activities.
  • Register with ERAS once token emails are sent.
  • Begin uploading documents
    • Profile Picture
    • CV
    • Personal Statements
  • Begin applying to residency programs. Know your deadlines.
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