Guidelines for Contacting Specialty Career Advisors

Each specialty at UWSOM has one or more dedicated Specialty Career Advisors (SCAs). Every student will connect to specialty career advising by the Spring of 3rd year. For competitive specialties, this contact usually occurs earlier.

You have an important role in the advisee-advisor relationship. Please give considerations to these responsibilities:

  • Respond within 48 hours to communication from your Specialty Career Advisor (SCA), department, and career advisors
  • Prepare for your meeting with your advisor by reading all information on this webpage and in the Specialty Guides
  • Update your SCA with any significant changes to your academic profile, additional red flags, personal concerns, dual application, etc.
    • If you are considering dual applying, please meet with Career Advising first to determine how much detail about the other specialty you will share with the SCA
  • Allow your SCA at least 5-7 days to turn around any application documents you have sent for review
  • Communicate with your SCA if you are no longer applying in this specialty
  • Respond within 48 hours to communication from Student Affairs staff and deans related to academic progress, residency application and Match

SCAs are faculty physicians named by their departments to:

  • provide advice on whether this specialty is a right fit for you and your future career
  • help you explore ideas for enhancing your experiences in the field or strengthen your preparation for the field
  • answer specialty-specific questions
  • discuss 4th-year rotations
  • assess students’ level of competitiveness for match
  • guide you on the residency application process for the specialty
  • advise on the number and types of residency programs to apply to

For many of the specialties, it is not critical to connect with SCAs in the first two years of medical school. However, for the competitive specialties, it is important to understand early on what these specialty pathways require and ways to engage with these departments through shadowing, research, etc. Advice you receive from SCAs will be instrumental in helping you understand this specialty path and how to prepare a strong residency application.

Once you begin to consider any of these competitive specialties, please schedule a meeting with your Career Advisor to discuss the timing and guidelines for contacting Specialty Career Advisors in these areas:

  • Dermatology
  • Interventional Radiology
  • Otolaryngology
  • Radiation Oncology
  • Surgical Sub-Specialties
    -Cardiothoracic Surgery
    -Neurosurgery
    -Orthopedic Surgery
    -Ophthalmology
    -Plastic Surgery
    -Urology
    -Vascular Surgery

It is important to be well prepared for a conversation with an SCA. Follow the guidelines below to ensure you use your time and the faculty member’s time most effectively. SCA contact information is found at the end of this page.

After you meet with your career advisor follow these steps before you contact an SCA for the first time:

  1. Develop an understanding of the specialty – review all content on the Specialty Guide for your intended specialty/ies
  2. Reflect on why you are interested in this specialty
    • What exposure have you had to it before or during medical school?
  3. Identify your goals for the conversation:
    • Be prepared with specific questions that demonstrate your interest in exploring this specialty
    • When preparing your questions, avoid asking about general information that could easily be found in other places
  4. Come prepared to share any aspects of your background or academic profile. This will help your SCA gain a holistic view of you
    • e.g. your career interests, values, extracurriculars (leadership, research, service), Step scores, clerkship grades, etc.
  5. Respect the SCA’s time by planning for a 15-20 minute conversation
    • Don’t rely on the SCA to direct the conversation

Communication Guidelines:

Ensure your initial SCA contact goes well.

  • Address physicians by the title “Doctor” unless you are told otherwise
    • This includes emails, letters, and conversations
  • Reply to all emails, questions, phone calls, surveys, and requests in a timely manner
    • Read their emails/information
  • Stay in contact with your Specialty Career Advisor
    • Update them on any issues or concerns that may influence your residency application or match
    • Ask for help when you need it. You can contact your College Mentor or Career Advisor to talk something through before talking with your SCA
  • Follow up and let SCA know if you decide to apply into a different specialty and will no longer need their guidance
    • SCAs often keep lists of students they are supporting so it is courteous to email them with an update and thank them for their support

Foundations is an exciting time – you are learning about many aspects of medicine and possible career paths. You may be eager to connect to advisors in the various fields to learn more about exploring a career in their specialty.

Career Advising wants to help you be as prepared as possible for connections with Specialty Career Advisors (SCA). The advice you receive from SCAs over the next few years will be instrumental in helping you with your residency application. Make sure your initial contact with an SCA goes well by closely following the guidance given on this page.

Thinking about competitive specialties?

For many of the specialties, it is not critical to connect with SCAs in the first two years of medical school. However, for the competitive specialties, it is important to understand early on what these specialty pathways require and ways to engage with these departments through shadowing, research, etc. Advice you receive from SCAs will be instrumental in helping you understand this specialty path and how to prepare a strong residency application.

Career Advising will help you connect with Specialty Career Advisors in the competitive specialties:

  • Dermatology
  • Interventional Radiology
  • Otolaryngology
  • Radiation Oncology
  • Surgical Sub-Specialties
    -Cardiothoracic Surgery
    -Neurosurgery
    -Orthopedic Surgery
    -Ophthalmology
    -Plastic Surgery
    -Urology
    -Vascular Surgery

Meet With Your Career Advisor First, Before Scheduling with an SCA

As a clinical student, the following information is helpful for you to share during your meetings with Specialty Career Advisors. By providing this info, SCAs will be better equipped to provide an accurate assessment of your level of competitiveness relative to the specialty and advise you on your application strategy.

  • Career interests, notable achievements, extracurriculars, research, possible fellowship interests
  • Step Scores
  • Clerkship Grades
  • Sub-Is or APCs you have/will be taking, dates scheduled, and final grade if known
  • List of Letter of Recommendation writers
  • Couples or Military Matching
  • Leaves or expansions
  • Academic challenges:
    • Foundations fail
    • Step fails
    • Low Step 1
    • Low Step 2 CK
    • 2 or more Passes in clerkships (not including Pass/Fail electives)
    • Clerkship fails or withdrawals

We encourage you to connect with the SCA of the specialties you are considering by the spring of your 3rd year. SCAs understand that students change their minds about specialties. Getting connected, joining department listservs, and starting to develop relationships in the 3rd year will ensure you receive the information and advising you need as you finalize your specialty choice and prepare to apply to residency.

If you are considering dual applying, please meet with Career Advising first to determine how much detail about the other specialty you will share with the SCA.

This table provides contact information and indicates the earliest you may reach out to a Specialty Career Advisor.

If you have trouble getting in touch with a SCA, let your Career Advisor know and we can support you in connecting with them.

 SCA NameContact InformationEarliest Contact TimeOther Info
Anesthesiology Dr. Holly Snyderholly.snyder@seattlechildrens.orgMS1Contact at any time you are interested in hearing more about anesthesiology, have questions about the specialty, or are ready to discuss pursuing as a specialty.
Cardiothoracic SurgeryDr. Kathleen S. Berfieldberfield@uw.edu MS1Competitive specialty: early contact and planning recommended
Contact as early as possible so the SCA can make sure you are on track for applying to residencies.
Child Neurology Dr. Jim Owensjames.owens@seattlechildrens.orgMS1You are welcome to contact me during the MS1 year if you would find that helpful but there is no need to. As a clinical student, if you are unsure what electives to pursue then I can help think about that.
Definitely contact me during your clinical years as you are trying to figure out if this is what you want to do, or if you are sure it is and are strategizing about applications. Always happy to hear from you!
DermatologyDr. Jay Vary jvary@uw.edu MS1Competitive specialty: early contact and planning recommended
Please contact the SCA whenever you consider Dermatology as a possible career choice.
Emergency Medicine Dr. Jamie Shandrocc advisor Alexis Rush (rusha@uw.edu) on emails to Dr. Shandro (jshandro@uw.edu)MS3From MS1 to early MS3: Alexis Rush is the best first initial contact. She can answer most any questions you have about a potential EM application. EMIG also hosts many general events that offer opportunities to learn more about the field.
During MS3 year: let Alexis know if you are strongly considering EM so we can add you to our EM-specific advising list.
Family Medicine Drs. Tomoko Sairenji & Jeanne Cawse-LucasFirst point of contact, Ivan Henson: famed@uw.ed
[link to advising intake form]
All MS3 students interested in Family Medicine should contact FM Specialty Career Advisors spring/early summer to make sure they're on track for applying in the fall.

Advising appointments are available to students at any point from career exploration in the first year to residency applications in the fourth.
To schedule an appointment with an advisor, please fill out our Advising Intake Form

Contact ASAP if any of the following apply: Step failure, clerkship failure, professionalism concerns, other red flags
Medicine Drs. Doug Paauw & Jenny Wright

Initial contact: Ruth Sanchez, Assistant Director, Medicine Student Programs
Initial inquiries: Ruth Sanchez, ruths7@uw.edu

Other emails: dpaauw@uw.edu, sonic@uw.edu
MS3Contact Ruth Sanchez during your MS3 year (September - January) to be included on our list of interested students.

Around May of MS4 year, you will receive information about 1:1 advising sessions that occur in June and July prior to residency application.
Medical Genetics Dr. Fuki Marie Hisamafmh2@uw.edu End of MS2Contact after doing a rotation in Medical Genetics and before applying to the Match (usually end of 2nd year or during 3rd year).
Medicine-Pediatrics Dr. Susan Hunthunts1@uw.edu MS3Contact SCA as you are setting up fourth-year schedules. Med-Peds applications require letters from both pediatric and internal medicine providers; SCAs can help you discuss how line-up of 4th year rotations can strengthen your application
Neurological SurgeryDr. Richard Ellenbogen206.744.9321MS1Competitive specialty: early contact and planning recommended
Neurology Dr. Eric Krausekraus@uw.edu MS1Contact anytime; especially before making your 4th-year schedule
Obstetrics-Gynecology Dr. Vicki Mendirattavmendira@uw.edu MS1I welcome all students who are interested to meet with me. Ideally once during Foundations then as needed in 3rd and 4th year
OphthalmologyDr. Shu Fengshufeng@uw.edu MS1Competitive specialty: early contact and planning recommended
Contact as early as possible
OrthopedicsDr. Lisa Taitsmanvia coordinator, Plinette Sanchez plinsan@uw.eduMS1Competitive specialty: early contact and planning recommended
Contact us if you have questions that we can help answer, and once you decide you intend to apply in orthopaedics (or at least are very likely to apply).
Otolaryngology Dr. Jake Dahljake.dahl@seattlechildrens.orgMS1-3Competitive specialty: early contact and planning recommended
Best time would be after a shadowing experience during Foundations. This permits a more informed and meaningful conversation, as you will have had first-hand exposure to the specialty.
Pathology Dr. Mara Rendimararend@uw.edu MS1Reach out to Dr. Mara Rendi as early as you can, even if you just want to know more about Pathology. We can schedule a shadowing session or tour of the department. Many of our clinical and educational activities are conducted online, so we can be flexible.
Pediatrics Dr. Michelle Terrymichelle.terry@seattlechildrens.orgMS3Please contact us as you prepare to preference your 4th-year schedules.
Physical Medicine & RehabDrs. Mindy Loveless & Ian Loganmlovel@uw.edu, ianlogan@uw.edu MS1Being a small specialty with only a few students interested in the field each year, we are happy to field questions at any time.
Plastic SurgeryDr. Jeffrey Friedrichjfriedri@uw.edu MS2Competitive specialty: early contact and planning recommended
Early in MS3 year is optimal
Psychiatry Dr. Sina Shahsinashah@uw.edu MS2You are encouraged to contact the Psychiatry SCA when:
-you want more clarity on whether this specialty is a right fit for you and your future career
-to explore ideas for enhancing your experiences in the field
-to either make a more informed decision or strengthen your credentials
-to receive specific guidance on the residency application process in Psychiatry
Radiation OncologyDr. Ralph Ermoianralphpe@uw.edu MS1Competitive specialty: early contact and planning recommended
Sooner is better than later, it is never too late.
We prefer to meet you in the first (or second) year to provide you with opportunities to learn more about our specialty and plan research or other activities.
There are students who successfully match who don't consider our specialty until summer before applying for residency.
RadiologyDr. Jonathan Medverdjmed@uw.edu MS1Competitive specialty: early contact and planning recommended
Contacting the SCA is appropriate if you are simply considering a career in Radiology or already certain it is your path. For the former, it is never too early to reach out. For the latter, you would want to connect with the SCA, preferably, before planning your MS4 schedule. If you make your Radiology career decision after this time, it is still not too late. Contact the SCA as soon as is reasonable for you to do so.
Surgery Dr. Kristine CalhounContact via Medical Student Education Manager, Laura Yale, surgstus@uw.eduMS1Seek advice sooner rather than later, ideally near the beginning of 3rd year or sooner if considering General Surgery
It is perfectly acceptable to seek an advisor in Surgery when trying to choose between Surgery and another specialty.
UrologyDr. Judith Hagedornjudithch@uw.edu MS1Competitive specialty: early contact and planning recommended
Contact early if you would like to explore the specialty in the pre-clinical years. At the latest as a MS3.
Vascular SurgeryDr. Niten SinghSinghn2@uw.edu MS1Competitive specialty: early contact and planning recommended
We believe that if you are interested in Vascular Surgery it is beneficial to learn about what we do. Contact us or participate in the VSIG during your Foundations years.