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Student Advising & Career Development

We see academic advising and career development not as distinct endeavors, but rather as points on a continuum. As such, in 2014, we began our learning communities program in which each of our classes are divided into smaller cohorts that have community-established identities. Named after our regions Finger Lakes, each community is made up of students from each of the four classes and is facilitated by a team of faculty and professionals. Our learning communities take the form of five distinct societies with the following characteristics:

  • 130 students per society (32 per class)
  • Chair (clinical department head) and Co-chair (clinician)
  • Eight clinical faculty members
  • Two basic science faculty members
  • Two student affairs professionals
  • Team of student peer advisors

The purpose of the learning community model at Upstate is three-fold: to build strong community and pride among students; to offer the very best advising and career development for students; and, to facilitate a culture of professionalism and wellness.

Communities meet regularly throughout the academic year in both social and educational contexts. Three times each year there are full society meetings/gatherings that may blend social interaction with an educational message. In addition, there are targeted, class specific sessions that serve to complement advising and career development and enhance comprehension of such things as professionalism, cultural competence and team work. Such meetings also focus on things like summer opportunities, what to expect in year two and year three, review of CVs and personal statements, ERAS and the Match, interview preparation and Rank Order Lists.

One of the things that leads to the success of learning communities is their identity. Such identities are tied to the roots of the institution. Students are encouraged to “own” the identity through a project or shared goal.

This strategy of advising and career development provides opportunities for students to have interactions with several types of individuals who have no direct influence on their assessment or advancement decisions, including clinical advisors, basic science advisors and student advisors. Students are able to connect to the advisors with whom they feel most comfortable. Advisors in each Learning Community represent various disciplines.

Office of Student Affairs

The Office of the Dean of Student Affairs is available to assist with your concerns—big or small, personal or professional! Feel free to walk in, email, or schedule an appointment any time.

Learning Communities

All students are assigned to one of five learning communities and provided with four different types of advisors:

  1. Basic Science Advisors: During the pre-clinical years, students will benefit from the advisement of basic science faculty members. There are two such faculty members assigned to each learning community and student are encouraged to interact with these individuals as needed. There are three formal, one-on-one meetings during the first two years.
  2. Clinical Advisors: Each learning community has 8-10 clinical faculty members who voluntarily serve as advisors. These faculty members represent different medical specialties and they much enjoy advising students who are interested in their fields. While informal interactions are encouraged, we also have formalized one-on-one advising meetings between these folks and students twice in the third year of medical school.
  3. Student Affairs Liaisons:  There are two Student Affairs professionals assigned to each learning community. Their role is to be an accessible and easy-to-talk-to resource for all students. In addition, they work with student leaders in each community to plan social events and service learning opportunities.
  4. Student Peer Advisors:  Second and third year students are selected each year to serve as advisors for those in the classes following them. Our student peer advisors are trusted and looked to resources for “the real deal.” 

Research Advising

Our College of Graduate Studies is a great resource for medical students hoping to engage in scholarly research projects. Professional staff members and faculty are available to help find a research mentor and to lead you through the process from proposal to completion of your research project.

Career Advising

Career advising begins for students during their first week of medical school and continues throughout their tenure here at Upstate. Career advising programs are built into every stage of the curriculum—pre-clerkship, clerkship, post clinical requirements—to help launch students into residency.

Specialty Advising

Specialty advisors are available to assist you in the residency application process. Each Specialty Advisor has been selected by their clinical chair as knowledgeable and student-friendly go-to resources! Check out the list of specialty advisors.

Alumni Advising

Upstate alumni are available to mentor students. If you are looking for a mentor who can advise on your particular interests please contact the Alumni Office.

My Career: COM

This online resource includes timelines and information on preparing your application, interviewing, match/program data, specialty advising, and class meetings. Check out the My Career: COM webpage.