Networking

Networking is a lifelong process of developing relationships with others. Building relationships with classmates, residents, attendings, mentors, and career advisors will allow you to get the personalized information and advice you need to make effective career decisions. Some of these people may become your future advocates. Nurture your network before you need it.

College Mentor
  • A core person in your professional network
  • Provides advice and is a sounding board
  • Can talk with you about their career path and experiences in their field
  • Will try to connect you to others and/or organizations in your areas of interest
Faculty
  • A key part of your network
  • Typically open to a conversation about their career path and experiences in their field
  • May be able to connect you to others and/or organizations in your areas of interest
SOM Classmates
  • Can help connect you to other professionals and mentors in their networks
Shadowing and Preceptorships
  • Provide opportunities to meet practicing physicians and learn about different specialties and practice areas
Student organizations, interest groups, leadership, community service, and research
  • Student involvement participation provides opportunities to learn from and meet new people
  • Expand your network through participation
Professional Society memberships
  • An essential resource for building your network in medicine
  • All specialties have a professional society and most offer discounted student memberships
  • Many provide opportunities to present and/or publish research

A great way to expand your network is to engage in conversation with a professional in a field of interest to learn about their career path, background, experience, and work responsibilities. These conversations help you learn about a vast array of career options.

  • Informational Interview Questions: suggested questions to ask when interviewing physicians in different specialties with the goal of learning more about​​ career paths; provided by AAMC Careers in Medicine

This AAMC article on Informational Interviews provides advice on how to arrange and prepare, questions to ask, and how to follow up after the meeting. It also provides this suggested structure for a 20-25 minute informational interview:

FocusLength of TimeTopics for Discussion
Present10 minutesCurrent responsibilities

Overview of current organization
Past5-6 minutesAcademic & professional background

How they found their current position

What else would they do if not their current specialty
Future5-6 minutesChallenges & opportunities in the field 5-10 years in the future
Advice5 minutesReferrals to speak with others

Recommended resources & activities to pursue

Will they review your CV

When career exploring, you don’t have to know someone who is practicing in the exact area of medicine for which you are interested. Rather, you need to think about who may be able to assist you with making a contact.

Your Connective Network:

-connects you to others who are in areas of interest
College Mentor

Faculty with whom you have regular contact

Students who are ahead of you in other years

Classmates in the same year

Physicians you already know
Your Informational Network:

-provides information regarding areas of interest

-mentors you as you work to solidify your career choice
Physicians in a specialty of interest

Research mentors

Physicians at student-run clinics

Students with similar lifestyle (single, parent, gender, etc.)

MS4 students going into your specialty of interest

Residents
Your Facilitative Network:

-provides longer term mentorship on specific areas of your future career

-collaborates on projects and initiatives

-assists you with residency application materials like the personal statement & letters of recommendation
College Mentor

Research PI

Project lead

Clerkship or Program Director

Department Chair

Adapted from PurposeMD.org Primer on Networking for MDs

“I was raised to believe that if I work hard enough, I will get to my goals, what I want, and be recognized.”

While many believe this, this statement is not always true. Some of the people we know now end up being our future advocates. By  networking with classmates, residents, attendings, mentors, and career advisors, it allows us to get the personalized information needed to make better career decisions and get access to resources.

“I don’t need to talk to my advisor any longer because when I met them that time, they answered all my questions.”

You want to interact with people not only at the time you need them, but also when you don’t think you need them.  Relationships take time and effort, and you don’t want them to go dormant without contact for too long. It’s important to remind yourself to contact the people in your network on a regular basis so that you can maintain your relationships. Drop them a friendly email or note, or pick up the phone and give them a call to check in and see how things are going. Plan a lunch together or an outing. The more you invest in your relationships, the more you both will get valuable outcomes from it.

“I’m so busy, I don’t have time to invest in relationships and network.”

Networking takes time, but it is a valuable part of your professional development. Networking isn’t just formal networking such as attending conferences or arranging an informational interview. There’s also informal networking that you can integrate into your day. Be mindful of your interactions and take the extra steps to connect with intention.

Networking is saying hello to the person in the elevator, sharing your contact information to a peer before you leave your clerkship rotation, having a conversation with a faculty who happens to be at the same gym as you, or talking to a resident in the lunch line.

“No one will speak with me; they won’t have time.”

This is a frequent concern of students but the fact is that most of the people you are talking to have been in the same place you are right now. Most people will be willing to help you if you are professional about your request and follow up, stick to a specific agenda, and ask good questions.

AAMC Careers in Medicine: Networking
  • Overview of networking for the medical student
PurposeMD.org Primer on Networking for MD
  • Effectively walks you through the steps of successful networking
UW Career & Internship Center’s Guide to Networking 
  • Suggestions from UW’s main campus career center