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. Your responsibilities are to:

  • 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.
  • Allow your SCA at least 5-10 days to turn around any application documents you have sent for review. SCAs are very busy so plan ahead!
  • Communicate with your SCA if you are no longer applying for 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:

  • answer specialty-specific questions
  • provide suggestions for enhancing your experiences in the field and/or to strengthen your preparation for the field
  • discuss 4th-year rotations
  • assess your level of competitiveness for match by identifying strengths and weaknesses of your application
  • advise you on a residency application strategy including the number and types of residency programs to apply to

For many specialties, it is not critical to connect with SCAs in the first two years of medical school. However, for the most 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.

Most Competitive Specialties

Once you begin to consider any of the most competitive specialties, we encourage you to connect with the Specialty Career Advisor when you are ready, and to meet with your Career Advisor earlier in the winter of your first year:

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

Competitive Specialties

These are specialties that are considered competitive based on residency match rates. You can review match rates on the NRMP Data and Reports page. If you are considering one of these specialties, you do not need to meet with your Career Advisor earlier, and we encourage you to follow the recommended timeframe to meet with a Specialty Career Advisor by reviewing the table below.

  • Anesthesiology
  • Diagnostic Radiology
  • General Surgery
  • Medicine-Pediatrics
  • Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
  • OB/GYN
  • Radiation Oncology

Directory of SCA Contact Information

Find names, emails, and guidance on when to contact SCAs in each specialty.

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
SCA NameContact InformationEarliest Contact TimeOther Info
Anesthesiology Dr. Catherine ChenCatherine.Chen@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. Jan Martinjan.martin@seattlechildrens.orgMS1At any time! However, it is likely more useful at some point in the 3rd year to think about sub-I and elective planning and residency application strategies. Always happy to hear from you!
DermatologyDr. Josiah Hansonhansonjf@uw.eduMS1Competitive specialty: early contact and planning recommended
Please contact the SCA whenever you consider Dermatology as a possible career choice.
Emergency Medicine Dr. Caitlin Schrepelcc advisor Alexis Rush (rusha@uw.edu) on emails to Dr. Caitlin Schrepel (caipsch@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

Pediatric Medical Genetics
Dr. Fuki Marie Hisama

Dr. Katrina Dipple and Dr. Anita Beck
fmh2@uw.edu


katrina.dipple@seattlechildrens.org and anita.beck@seattlechildrens.org
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.eduMS1Contact 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. Mia Hagenvia 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. Rebeca Alvarez
Dr. Vera Paulson
Dr. Mara Rendi
ralvar@uw.edu
vpauls@uw.edu
mararend@uw.edu
MS1Reach out to any combination of the advisors 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. Lyndsey Booker & Ian Loganlbook32@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. Sarah Goldsberry-Longsgoldsbe@uw.eduMS1Competitive specialty: early contact and planning recommended
Department will help Foundation students get connected to the field.
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.
Diagnostic RadiologyDr. Ramesh Iyer & Dr. Mahumd Mossa-Bashariyer@uw.edu, mmossab@uw.eduMS1Competitive 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.
Interventional RadiologyDr. Ethan Huaethanhua@uw.eduMS1Competitive 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, Kristen Seiler, 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. Matthew Smithmcpsmith@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.

Preparing for First Contact with a SCA

It is important to be well prepared for a conversation with an SCA. Follow the guidelines below to ensure you use the faculty member’s time most effectively.

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 most 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.

You may consider connecting with Specialty Career Advisors in the most competitive specialties according to the guidelines listed below in the SCA Contact Information section:

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

The following information is helpful for you to share with Specialty Career Advisors so they will be 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 and the reason for
  • Academic challenges:
    • Foundations course fail(s)
    • Step 1 or Step 2CK fail
    • Low Step 2CK score for your specialty
    • Clerkship fail or clerkship exam fail
    • 2 or more Passes in Patient Care Phase, not including pass/fail rotations (this is specialty-dependent)
    • Pass in a rotation in your specialty of interest

We encourage you to connect with the SCA in the specialties you are considering by the spring of your 3rd year. Find SCA contact info on this page or at the bottom of each Specialty Guide.

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 discuss how to navigate this conversation with the SCA.