Mentorship, Research, and Career Planning
To help interns and residents navigate the difficulties of residency and to shape the careers that they envision, our program has established multiple systems for support, guidance, and evaluation. Most notable among these is the advisor program. One of the primary goals for the advisors is to help housestaff members discover their niche in a general or subspecialty career – and then to help them develop into the doctors they strive to be. We select our advisors because of their commitment to fostering residents’ personal and professional growth. Through a structured faculty development program, we ensure that advisors have the necessary skill sets and the resources to be effective.
Housestaff Mentoring Program
All incoming interns are matched with a general medicine attending, who meets with them regularly each year throughout their residency. Interns are paired with advisors from their tracks as well as their clinics, and this relationship continues during the residency’s second and third years. This helps interns and residents develop a working relationship with their advisors each week in clinic. It enables faculty to get to know their residents on both a clinical and a personal level. The advisors provide personalized guidance on career development, feedback on evaluations of the residents’ clinical performance, and support on numerous matters involving the residents’ personal and professional development. The advisors are truly invaluable resources during the years of training that shape each resident’s future career.
Interns are also paired with a third-year resident before orientation. Peer mentoring was established to provide interns with a point person who could answer questions that arise during the first year – especially questions about issues that interns would rather discuss with a peer than a faculty member. In addition, peer mentoring presents third-year residents with the opportunity to share their own experience-based advice. All peer mentors are third-year residents who have volunteered to be a part of the mentoring program. Their primary goal is to be approachable and available for interns’ concerns or questions, be they of a personal or professional nature.
Career Development and Research Planning
One of our program’s key goals is to expose interns to opportunities in subspecialty careers. We recognize how important it is to help those who are interested to prepare for a fellowship following residency. With this in mind, we focus very early in the internship on helping interns find contacts within subspecialties so they can begin to explore their options. Each subspecialty division has designated a point person—often the Fellowship Program Director or the Division Chief—to meet with interns in the first few months of the year and then match them with a Division research mentor by the middle of the intern’s first year. By the time residents are applying for fellowships early in their second year, they will have well-outlined research agendas as well as personal letters of recommendation from their research mentor and other key supporters. Our residents match extremely well in all fellowships, both here at our institution and at diverse institutions across the country.
Meet-the-Subspecialists Day and Career Luncheons
Special events are arranged throughout the year for residents to meet with faculty from various subspecialties. Career luncheons are designed to help residents learn more about finding and applying for fellowships and jobs. They also serve as an opportunity for residents to establish contacts and mentoring relationships with faculty in subspecialty fields.
The first fellowship and research panel discussion is held in August of the intern year, and several additional meetings are scheduled in the fall. These serve as informal panel discussions that are geared toward interns and are attended by fellowship directors and other faculty members from each subspecialty. There is ample time to ask questions about the application process and research opportunities – and to become familiar with key faculty. Interns are protected from clinical responsibilities so they can participate in the discussions.
Interns and residents are also invited to scheduled lunches with fellows who have graduated from the residency program and who have remained at UPMC to pursue a subspecialty. These lunches are an excellent opportunity for interns to ask colleagues who have recently gone through the process to answer specific questions and provide information about navigating difficulties and achieving a successful fellowship match.
General Medicine Career Planning
Interns and residents who do not plan to pursue a subspecialty also receive active and essential support in career planning throughout their training. Our residents are extremely competitive and highly sought after for careers in all sectors of general medicine after graduation. Some choose to pursue general medicine and women’s health fellowships to prepare them for strong careers in academic internal medicine. A specific advisor is designated for residents interested in a general medicine career in a primarily ambulatory setting or a hospital. The advisors help residents design electives and develop contacts to gain the necessary skills for a successful career in general medicine.