Career Planning & GME Placement
The Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine provides support in career development for all medical students in all stages of medical school. Following this four-year checklist prepared by our team will help to successfully guide you through understanding yourself, exploring your options, choosing a specialty and preparing for your residency.
Additional resources can be found on AACOM's Career Planning Guide for DO Students.
The journey to become an osteopathic physician is exciting with many events along the way. From early volunteering experiences in medical care settings and the anticipation that comes with applying to medical school to the first day of osteopathic medical education and all of the days in between matriculation and graduation, so many things happen and so many decisions are made. One important decision is where to go for residency, and almost as important, how to successfully navigate the residency application and interview process. The following information can inform and help to guide this process. We wish you the best on your journey!
It’s good that you are aware of the continuum of medical education. You’ll spend the next four years gaining the medical knowledge and clinical skills necessary to be a caring and competent osteopathic physician. Once you’ve graduated, you’ll pursue residency training in your chosen specialty and work toward full medical licensure. Once you’re in practice, you’ll pursue board certification in your chosen specialty and perhaps will continue your training with further specialization in a fellowship program. A rich and rewarding career is ahead of you!
I’m a first year student. What do I need to know about the residency process?
At this point in the osteopathic medical education process, it is important to successfully transition to the rigors of medical school and settle into the habits that will make the most of your time and effort to do well in coursework. It’s important to keep an open mind to all of the medical specialties and to delay any decisions about residency at this time. Focus on building a broad and deep medical knowledge base, and honing your clinical and OMM skills. You will have the opportunity to explore different specialties via student clubs, residency fairs, and meeting with your advisor to begin conversations that explore your areas of interest.
I’m a second year student. What do I need to do to prepare for the residency process?
Second year coursework continues to build on the knowledge and skills gained in the first year. With third year core rotations a few months away, some time will be spent focusing on scheduling those rotations and becoming oriented to the expectations for clinical rotations. You will update your CV and prepare Letter of Recommendation (LoR) packets. In the spring of year two, you will receive a token to register individual information in the Electronic Residency and Application Service (ERAS) so that LoRs requested in the third year may be uploaded to your ERAS file.
In December of second year, you will be instructed in registering for the COMLEX-USA Level 1. Throughout the year you will be guided through the process to finalize preparation for the COMLEX-USA Level 1 to be taken in May/June after second year classes finish.
I’m a third year student. What are the tasks I must accomplish for the residency process?
In July of year three, you will take the Clinical Preparations course. Part of this course will be to perform a 12-station Objective Structured Clinical Encounter (OSCE) in preparation for the COMLEX-USA Level 2 PE. Upon successful completion of these OSCEs as well as receiving a passing score on the COMLEX-USA Level 1, you will be approved to register and schedule the COMLEX-USA Level 2 PE between December of third year and August of fourth year. You will participate in 4-week core (required) rotations in the following specialties; Family Medicine, Emergency Medicine, Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, Surgery, Psychiatry and Women’s Health. It will be important to do well in rotations regardless of whether or not you are interested in pursuing that specialty as your first choice specialty. Evaluation comments from the preceptors will be included in your Medical Student Performance Evaluation (MSPE). During these rotations, you’ll requester LoRs from your preceptors. These LoRs will become an important part of your application packet for residency programs to review.
In the fall semester of third year, you will complete assignments pertaining to specialty selection, write personal statements and prepare for audition rotations in year four. You’ll learn more about the various residency match programs and associated timelines.
In December of third year, you will be instructed in registering for the COMLEX-USA Level 2 CE. Throughout the year you will be guided through the process to finalize preparation for the COMLEX-USA Level 2 CE to be taken in June/July after third year rotations finish.
In the spring semester of third year, you will continue to finalize documents necessary for the residency application process, including submission of personal statement(s) for review and edit, and contribution to your MSPE. You’ll complete a residency preparation month and meet with your advisor to discuss the specialties to which you plan to apply. You’ll have the opportunity to speak with physicians practicing in your preferred specialty. Practice for interviews will begin and continue through July of fourth year.
I’m a fourth year student. What are the tasks I must accomplish for the residency process?
This is an exciting time for the residency application and interviewing process with much to do! In July, you’ll complete your MyERAS application, pay and submit COMLEX-USA scores, and upload your photo and personal statement(s). You’ll continue to practice your interviewing skills. In September, you’ll apply to residency programs and as interview offers come in, you’ll confirm and attend these interviews. You’ll likely be traveling across the country for interviews from September through January with the months of October to December being particularly busy. Toward the end of interview season you’ll finalize your thought process for completing your rank order list. This rank order list is your designation of which program(s) you’d like to match with and in the order of your preference for matching.
In March, your anticipation will increase as you await the third Monday of the month. On that day you’ll find out if you matched to a residency program from your rank order list. Later in the week, you’ll find out where you matched. If the news on that Monday is not as anticipated, ICOM will assist any student needing to pursue residency placement through the Supplemental Offers and Acceptance Program (SOAP).
Following the match, all ICOM students will participate in Senior Month with the final assessment of the Core EPAs along with ACLS and BLS recertification. Graduation in May will soon follow!
Osteopathic medical students take the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Exam (COMLEX-USA) for licensure to practice medicine. Level 1 is a computer-based exam taken at the end of the second year of medical school. Level 2-Cognitive Evaluation (CE) is a computer-based exam taken at the end of the third year of medical school, and the Level 2-Physical Evaluation (PE) is a clinical skills exam taken during the third or fourth year at one of two national testing sites. Upon graduation, the graduate is a doctor in training and enters residency with a temporary medical license that requires the doctor in training to be supervised. During the first year of residency training, the Level 3 computer-based exam is taken. With successful completion of all phases of the COMLEX-USA, the graduate is awarded full medical licensure. Medical licensure is applied for and granted on a state-by-state basis.
Choosing a medical specialty
This may be something you’ve thought about since you first thought about attending medical school. Rest assured that you will not need to commit to a specific medical specialty until fourth year approaches. To help you in this process, ICOM will provide a Careers in Medicine (CiM) subscription. This online resource includes information about each of the many specialties and has assessments you can take to gauge your fit for any given specialty. Additionally, you’ll have the opportunity to talk with physicians practicing in the various specialties and their insight can be very helpful to you.
Timeline for residency application and interviewing
Some of the tasks for the residency application will need to occur as early as second year with most tasks accomplished during the fourth year. July through January of fourth year will be busy with the residency application process, audition rotations and interviews. ICOM will guide you through each step in the process.
Student responsibilities for the residency process
Your first responsibility is to give your best effort to coursework and rotations. Your patients will appreciate your knowledge and skills, and residency program directors will want to see a successful academic record. Tasks for you to complete will be to update your CV, prepare personal statements for each specialty of interest, contribute to the MSPE, complete your MyERAS application online, pay for and submit board scores, pay for and apply to residency programs, confirm and attend offered interviews, and submit your rank order list. Many of these tasks will have a deadline associated with them, so it will be important to follow the timelines provided. Your advisor will be available to assist and guide you as requested.
School responsibilities for the residency process
ICOM will guide you through the residency process and provide information as you need it. In addition to presentations and coursework related to residency, ICOM will work within the ERAS system to upload transcripts and MSPEs for each student. ICOM will monitor your progress throughout the residency cycle and assist where needed.
ICOM will assist with any paperwork required from the school for your residency program. You will receive a contract from the residency program and will need to sign it within a certain timeframe. By virtue of your participation in the match, the contract from the program to which you matched is a legally binding agreement.
Graduation and preparation for residency
In April, after the residency match process has been completed you will return to campus for the Senior Month course. You’ll have the final assessment of the Core EPAs as well as ACLS and BLS recertification.
ICOM, via the Registrar’s office, will help to prepare and submit your information for the temporary medical license.