School of Medicine

Wayne State University School of Medicine

Year Four


Career Planning Goals in Year 4:

1) Meet with your Class Counselor for Year 4 planning
2) Meet with Faculty Advisors to discuss specialty choice, requirements for successful match, Year 4 scheduling, personal statement review, program selection, and rank order list
3) Continue to refer to the Careers in Medicine website for Year 4 and Match Planning
4) Complete Year 4 Faculty Advisor Form and turn into Student Affairs
5) Update your Curriculum Vitae (CV)
6) Attend Personal Statement writing workshop and compose Personal Statement
7) Identify faculty to write you letters of recommendation for your residency application
8) Attend ERAS Training, Interviewing Workshop, and Mock Interviews

Year 4 Orientation

 Year 4 Orientation will take place in early January of your Year 3.  You will be introduced to how you will schedule your required and elective Year 4 coursework.  You will be encouraged to take advantage of the many faculty advisors available to assist you in your scheduling, career selection and career planning process.  An overview of all of the important Year 4 activities will be presented.

Year 4 Scheduling

Your faculty advisor, Assistant Dean of Student Affairs, Assistant Dean of Clinical Education, and your Student Affairs counselor are all available to assist and advise you as you plan for Year 4 and prepare for residency application. It is important that you connect with your Faculty Advisor for guidance in preparing your schedule and throughout the residency application process in order to improve your likelihood of matching, especially if you are considering a competitive specialty. 

All Year 4 courses are 1 month in length and follow the calendar month.  A Sub-Internship (in either Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Pediatrics or Surgery) and Emergency Medicine are required Year 4 rotations. You should also plan to take a month off to interview in November, December or January. Remember, students are required to pass both USMLE Step 2CK and Step 2CS.
USMLE Step 2CK – Required to take the examination by the end of December of Year 4.
USMLE Step 2CS – Required to take the examination by the end of October of Year 4.

The “take by” dates for these exams were developed based on the reporting schedules, to allow for a 2nd attempt prior to graduation if the 1st attempt is unsuccessful.  Do not delay in taking the exam.  Program directors want to see Step 2 CK and CS results prior to ranking, and some want to see CK scores prior to offering interviews.  In order to be certified for graduation and allow sufficient time to have medical licensing forms completed, a passing result for both examinations has to be received by May 1.  If you need time to prepare, you need to plan that into your Year 4 schedule. You may participate in up to three away electives (Use AAMC’S Visiting Student Application Service (VSAS) to streamline the process). You may participate in no more than three electives in the specialty to which you are applying.

Electives during Year 4 can serve a variety of functions:

1. Solidify your interest in a specific specialty (should take early)
2. Enhance performance in residency
3. Broaden your foundation of knowledge
4. Experience areas of medicine you won’t again experience
5. Address areas of weakness
6. Experience medical practice outside of the U.S.
7. Expose yourself to a residency program you may be interested in (i.e. “Audition” elective July-December)
8. Exposure to or completion of research projects

Please refer to the Year 4 Curriculum Guide and to the Elective and Away Elective sections of this website for more information.

Faculty Advising  

Faculty Advisors are available to assist you in many ways.  Students are encouraged to meet with advisors in their specialties of interest throughout medical school, but it is especially important during Year 3 as you begin to firm up your specialty choice.  We encourage you to meet with faculty advisors at least once in the first half of Year 3, prior to Year 4 Orientation in January of Year 3 and before creating your Year 4 schedule.  It is essential to identify faculty who can advise you throughout the entire residency application process.  They can help in your decision to choose to go into their respective fields and help you assess your competitiveness for their field.  They can assist you in developing your Year 4 schedule to your best advantage.   You can learn more about the competitive nature of various programs to which you are considering applying.  They can help you determine an appropriate number of programs to apply to given your specific academic record.  They can also advise you about the appropriate number of interviews you need to attend and about compiling your Rank Order List for the Match. Fill out the Faculty Advisor Form.

 Away Electives/VSAS

Many students will want to participate in away elective in order to enhance their competitiveness for residency matching.  The AAMC created the Visiting Student Application Service (VSAS) to standardize this process.  The Office of Records & Registration will issue each student tokens to participate in VSAS in late winter of your Year 3.  However, not all schools participate in VSAS.  For such schools you may need to explore the individual requirements those particular programs.  You are allowed to apply for only one program per month through this more traditional process.  You will need to complete the Senior Elective Request Form for such programs.

 Independent Electives

Some student may want to participate in elective work not offered through the standard Year 4 curriculum.  In many cases, this will involve participating in research in the field you are interested in pursuing.  You cannot schedule independent electives if the WSUSOM offers an elective in that area.  To schedule an independent elective, you will need to meet with your identified preceptor to establish your specific educational goals and objectives.  You will document these and have the preceptor sign the Independent Elective form.  This form is then submitted to the Assistant Dean for Clinical Education for final approval.

 International Electives

 Year 4 student are allowed to complete one international elective.  To do so, you will need to meet with the International Elective Coordinator and provide all of the required documentation.

Curriculum Vitae

It is also important to document all of your accomplishments and activities during your medical education.  You will find 5 CV samples in the Getting into a Residency dropbox on the Careers in Medicine (CIM) website.

Additionally, the Office of Student Affairs organizes a CV workshop with faculty members each year.  Getting your CV in order now will help so you will be able to input the information easily into the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS) and provide it to faculty members from whom you have requested a LOR.

Personal Statement

You will need to write a personal statement regarding your interest in your field of choice and as an introduction to your interviewers.  Your statement should not exceed 3-4 paragraphs and be limited to one page.  You may ask your counselor, mentor or faculty advisor to review it for feedback.  Completing your personal statement as early as possible can help to relieve the stress of completing the ERAS process.  ERAS does permit you to post more than one Personal Statement for those students who choose to apply to more than one specialty.

 Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS)

During early June of your Year 3, the Assistant Dean of Student Affairs and the ERAS Coordinator will conduct an overview of ERAS.  In early July of Year 4, this will be followed-up with small group ERAS training sessions held in one of the Mazurek Medical Education Commons computer labs or the ERAS lab located in the Office of Student Affairs.  These are designed to be working, productive sessions so students are encouraged to bring their completed CV and Personal Statement.

 Interviewing Workshop and Mock Interviews

During early Fall of Year 4, the Office of Alumni Affairs will host an Interviewing workshop by Dr. Diane Levine. The Office of Student Affairs will then organize mock interviews conducted by our faculty advisors.  These are designed to allow students to practice their interviewing skills prior to interview season.  This is an opportunity to learn how to handle the stress and anxiety that interviewing can present.  These interviews are a great opportunity to practice how to answer potential questions you may be asked.  Students who have experienced any academic difficulty should find this experience helpful in answering questions around the challenges they have faced.


Most residency interviews are schedule in the month of November, December and January.  However, some can take place in late October and even early February.  You are allowed to take up to 2 days off from a required Year 4 clerkship and up to 5 days from an elective for purposes of interviewing only.  You will need to arrange the time off in advance.  You will attend multiple interviews, most programs interview about 10 applicants for each position they have available.  You will find helpful information on the CIM website regarding interviewing under Getting into Residency.  The CIM website also has a Residency Application Evaluation form for you to complete after the interview to make notes regarding your impression of the program.  This form is found in the Getting into Residency dropbox on the main CIM webpage.

Rank Order List (ROL)/National Residency Match Program (NRMP)

After you have completed all of your interviews, you will enter your ROL for completion of the match algorithm by the NRMP.  This will take from late January to late February.  You may wish to consult with a faculty advisor in order to make your final decisions about how to rank the programs where you interviewed.  The CIM’s Residency Application Evaluation form can be very helpful in guiding your decisions.  By submitting your ROL, you will be agreeing to a binding contract with the residency program where you match.

 Match Week

On the Friday prior to Match Week, you will receive notice from the NRMP that you are eligible for the Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program (SOAP).  This simply means that you have submitted your ROL and, should a match not occur, you will be able to participate in SOAP (see below).

On the Monday of Match Week, you will receive notification from the NRMP of whether or not you have matched.  No further information will be provided.  If you do not match, you will participate in SOAP.

SOAP occurs from noon Monday of Match Week through Thursday at 5:00p.m.  This program allows students who did not match the chance to apply for positions that went unfilled during the main match program.

Match Day is the 3rd Friday in March.  The WSUSOM will conduct match day ceremonies which will begin at 11 am.  At 12 noon, you will open your envelope to find out which residency program you matched into.