Join a specialty interest group early in your medical school

Hi all,
As soon as you think you might know what residency you may be interested in, join a specialty interest group at your school. This is important for a few reasons:
1. You get early access to the chairman of the department of the specialty that you are interested in. This is important because few residency directors are going to be interested in interviewing students who do not have the support of the department chairman at their school.
2. You get a number of more senior mentors who can help you navigate third-year clerkships, pre-board exams and other hurdles. Most specialty interest groups have sessions where more senior medical students, interns and residents give you a helping hand on getting through the requirements for the specialty.
3. You may get hints on how to start preparing early for residency application. This information is invaluable for the more competitive residencies such as neurosurgery, orthopedic surgery and dermatology.
4. You have something to put on your CV that indicates you have taken an early interest in your specialty.
5.Most specialty interest groups sponsor speakers who are in the field. These are usually distinguished faculty members who can assist you with securing a good residency slot or helping you get that competitive interview.

That is excellent advice.

I’ve also found that for the most part, most faculty members (department heads/residency directors included) are very receptive to meeting with students that show an interest in their specialty.

what about pre-meds with an interest in their specialty ?

Quote: from LisaS on 5:47 pm on Jan. 20, 2002
what about pre-meds with an interest in their specialty ?

Hi Lisa,
It is very difficult to include pre-meds in specialty interest groups at medical schools but not impossible. You could contact the specialty interest group of the nearest medical school and join in their activities.

What you can do at this level is visit the website of the national organization of the specialty group that interests you. The American College of Surgeons has a great website with plenty of information that is useful to pre-medical students and medical students. They offer a downloadable infomation flier on what it takes to be a surgeon and how to choose a residency. Good info for any pre-med or medical student. I am sure that other specialties have similiar information.

Our Surgical Society sponsored join-ins by first and second-year medical students to morning rounds so these students could get a good idea of how to formally present patients. We also sponsored summer mentorships with surgeons in our area based on the interests of the students. These students could spend time in the OR with various surgeons and learn how to scrub and conduct yourself in a sterile field. We also sponsored speakers who gave information on : Being competitive for residency; Balancing family life and surgery; Doing well on USMLE Steps I and II; Mock residency interviews; Career guidance for applying for surgical fellowships; Paid summer fellowships and researchships.

As I have stated before, most of these groups are geared toward the medical student but pre-medical students may find them interesting too.

If you’re interested in Emergency Medicine, here are the relevant websites:


is sometimes difficult because not all schools have EM departments or residencies. While that sounds strange, some hospitals run their EDs as two almost separate extensions of the surgery and medicine departments.

UTMB is this way. Our ED has two co-directors. One is a surgeon, the other an internist. Needless to say, we don’t have an EM residency.

Fortunately, at least one of them (the only one I’ve met so far) is supportive of EM as a speciality.

Take care,

Yes, in my experience they are receptive to meeting with premeds too. The sooner you start networking, the better. I actually met the residency director at my first choice residency as a premed. (I’ll let you know whether or not it pays off next March j/k)

There is also

That site is especially cool because they have a virtual adviser program where they hook you up with an EM faculty member who has agreed to serve as a (what else) virtual adviser.

As a pre-med one can gain invaluable experience doing volunter work in a department that you want to specialize in. It also gives you an idea if what you think you want to do is actually something you like. You can also shadow a doctor, makes for a good letter of rec for med school and again lets you know if you want to do that kind of specialty.

To reinforce what Nat has suggested, in the process of researching residency programs, my new current obscession…I have asked them how influential extra-curricular involvement is. Virtually every program has stated that not only do they desire demonstration of academic prowess through boards scores and grades (esp 3rd year grades), that the weight of your performance is greatly enhanced if achieved while simulataneously being involved in professional & community activites. And, they wish to see that you are a member of the Society(ies) corresponding to your profession in addition to the AMA &/or AOA.

Thats some good advice,

With that in mind, for those of you interested in emergency medicine the EMRA (Emergency Medicine Residents Association) is trying to get two medical student liaisons for every medical school in the country. Check out their webpage at

to see if your school is unrepresented. They do require you to join ACEP but medical student membership is cheap(er) and you get some useful reference material (pocket guides and a guide to emergency medicine). Also
SAEM ( has a virtual advisor program that assigns a volunteer em physician to be your very own virtual advisor.

(Edited by tonem at 7:50 pm on Jan. 22, 2002)

Hi folks,
An update on our Surgical Society at Howard University College of Medicine.

Yesterday, we had a suturing workshop for freshmen and sophomore students where they could come and learn a basic two-hand knot and instrument tie along with basic scrub technique. By having an introduction to proper technique, the individuals who participated will have a higher level of comfort in both observing and scrubbing-in on surgical cases.

Here at Howard, our chairman of surgery, encourages the pre-clinical medical students to participate in morning rounds with the residents and teams. This enables them to get a head-start on patient presentation and clinical discussions that might appear on Board exams. In medicine, any experience is a learning situation. While the students have to get up early in the morning, having some contact with patients makes you hit the books that much harder when you see why you are learning so much.

Everyone appeared to have a good time and everyone really learned very quickly. Knowing how to do an instrument tie will help with rotations such as emergency medicine where you might have to suture a simple laceration.

Hi folks,

This Thursday night (29 March 2002), the Dean of Student Affairs, is sponsoring a Career Night for prospective medical and Pre-Clinical medical students. On Career Night at Howard, students come and explore various medical specialties. There will be attending physicians, resident physicians and recently matched fourth year medical students who will answer questions. I am bringing three PowerPoint presentations: 1) So you think you Want to be a General Surgeon 2) Neurosurgery at Howard University Hospital 3) My Visiting Clerkship at Mayo Clinic. There will be similiar presentations for every specialty. I am letting my presentations loop continuously on my laptop for students to get addresses and see some photos from my experiences with my Clerkships, Interviews and The Match. The Dean of Student Affairs will have food catered in so most people will turn out for this event. If anyone is in the DC area, come on by Howard University College of Medicine, 520 W St. N.W. at 6pm. The program is open to everyone. :)

Hi Natalie,

I don’t recall if you are attending the conference in Dallas but if you are might you be able to bring that presentation? I know it’s WAAAAYYYYY early for most of us but it sure would be interesting to view!! :)