Career Development

Career development resources help students explore and define their own individual career interests, goals and aspirations.

Research opportunities for all MD students

In addition, all medical students have access to comprehensive research opportunities, through the guidance of the Office of Medical Student Research and Scholarship.

Learn more about student research »

Advising and career development

Students entering prior to 2020

All medical students benefit from formal and informal advising and career counseling provided by an accessible and engaged teaching faculty.

Learn more about advising and career counseling »

Students entering 2020 and beyond

Explore Program: Supporting Career Development

The Explore Program in the Gateway Curriculum is a formalized approach to career development that helps WashU MD students find their niche in academic medicine. It allows students to explore and define their individual career interests and aspirations, then to pursue those interests and gain exposure to academic careers. Explore is a longitudinal, immersive experience that begins during Phase 1 and continues throughout medical school. It connects students to physician role models and mentors, creates opportunity for scholarship in any of the four pathways, and provides core training in the respective career pathway.

The Four Academic Pathways

Students choose from four academic pathways, with flexibility to change pathways after the explore immersion as desired.

  1. ADVOCACY/GLOBAL HEALTH: Learn first-hand about the challenges to health in resource-limited settings globally and locally and how to contribute to addressing them.
  2. EDUCATION: Gain knowledge, skills and experience in curriculum design, program evaluation, assessment, and teaching.
  3. INNOVATION Experience how ideation, valuation, and implementation pair with excellent clinical skills to create advances in medicine such as developing a product or changing a system.
  4. RESEARCH: Learn how scientific discovery takes place and influences the way we practice medicine.

Three Stages

Within each pathway, students move sequentially through three stages of training to explore their area of interest. In Phase 1, students engage in a 4-week Explore Immersion, which is composed of two parts. The first part is the Inquiry Curriculum, which is designed to prepare students to do scholarly project work in any pathway. The second part is a specialized curriculum for the Explore pathway of the student’s choosing. During Phase 2, continued mentoring and scholarship opportunities will be provided as students rotate through the core clinical specialties. In Phase 3, students have great flexibility, allowing them to spend significant project and research time pursuing scholarly work within Explore, develop strong relationships with mentors and communities, and obtain additional training in the 4 pathways through elective opportunities.


Research Pathway

WashU encourages all medical students to consider conducting research—either within the Research Pathway or less formally. The Office of Medical Student Research connects each interested student with seasoned investigators in the student’s area of interest. As valued members of research teams, students gain a richer understanding of how scientific discoveries influence practice at the bedside, and vice versa.

Students have full access to WashU’s research enterprise, which is among the most extensive in the world. The school conducts internationally renowned work in virtually every area of biomedicine, including neuroscience, diabetes, diagnostic imaging, cardiovascular diseases, genetics, personalized medicine, aging, immunology, high-throughput genomics, women’s infectious diseases, membrane excitability disorders, health policy and many other fields. In addition, discovery happens across the full spectrum of research, from fundamental basic science to clinical and translational investigation.

Funding and training opportunities are available for those who aspire to develop themselves as clinical researchers. One option is the school’s MD/PhD medical scientist training program—one of the largest in the country.

Koong-Nah Chung, PhD, Research Pathway Co-Director
Brian Gage, MD, MSc, Research Pathway Co-Director

Innovation Pathway

Providing cutting edge medical care requires physicians to do more than provide care to patients at the bedside or in the operating room. To truly advance health care for patients, physicians must engage in bringing valuable ideas from conception to execution. This may sometimes mean organizing and leading a health care team to treat a disease. At other times, it could mean working with health care organizations to improve the value of care we provide by changing systems to become better stewards of healthcare resources. It could also mean identifying a potential medical need and developing a product or device to address it.

The Innovation Pathway is designed to help students experience ways in which the techniques of ideation, valuation, implementation and leadership all pair with excellent clinical skills to create advances in medicine that further improve the care we can provide patients. Through a balanced combination of didactics, discussions and experiential learning opportunities, the pathway will introduce students to the foundations of innovative thought and provide the skills necessary to use these approaches throughout their careers. Opportunities to learn from and interact with leaders and innovators in areas of hospital leadership, payers, healthcare-related business and startup companies will span across the curriculum. In addition, students interested in pursuing a dual MD/MBA will find mentorship and guidance available to help them meet this goal.

Aaron Chamberlain, MD, Msc, MBA, Innovation Pathway Director

Education Pathway

Education is everywhere in medicine. Physicians are not only learners and teachers within the medical education system, we are also facilitators of education for our patients and our communities. The same concepts that drive how we educate physicians can be applied in the clinical and community settings to patients. Through the Education Pathway, students will learn about learning science, curriculum development, classroom and clinical teaching skills, assessment and program evaluation. Students will also learn about what it means to be scholarly in education and will have the opportunity to engage in scholarship in education, including educational research.

In Phase 1, students will have the opportunity to learn what it means to be an educator, including why people choose education and what roles educators may have in their careers. Students who elect to participate in the Education Pathway during the 4-week Explore Immersion will learn about and apply the concepts mentioned above to small group teaching projects, which will be completed during the 4 weeks. In Phase 2, student interests will be supported through conference opportunities with members of the education community, mentoring support, and engagement in thinking about project work. In Phase 3, students will have the opportunity to spend time immersing themselves in scholarly projects with an education focus and to take electives that will enhance knowledge and skills in research, leadership and teaching.

Amber Deptola, MD, Director, Explore; Education Pathway Director

Advocacy/Global Health Pathway

To deliver truly effective health care, future physicians must acquire a deep understanding of the many societal factors that influence health and drive health inequities. Washington University School of Medicine addresses this need by integrating community-based learning on health equity locally and globally throughout all three phases of the curriculum.

The goal of the Advocacy/ Global Health Explore Pathway is to aid in the development of leadership and advocacy skills among physicians in order to improve health and healthcare systems. This pathway will help prepare WUSM students to consider the role of advocacy at multiple levels (e.g., patient, professional, community) and specify appropriate targets for intervention, including but not limited to the development of policies. This pathway will emphasize the cross pollination of strategies between local and global contexts as well as fostering a culture of humility that is necessary to work effectively across the globe. Key skills that will be honed through the Advocacy/Global Health Explore Pathway include leadership, communicating with multiple audiences (e.g., community members, policy makers), and community engagement strategies (e.g., stakeholder mapping, developing coalitions).

Darrell Hudson, PhD, Advocacy/Global Health Pathway Co-Director
Caline Mattar, MD, Advocacy/Global Health Pathway Co-Director

Dual Degree Options

Several dual degree and year-long programs are available in the areas of clinical investigation, population health sciences, public health, business administration, applied health behavior research and biostatistics. Students interested in pursuing any dual degree option, including the Medical Scientist Training Program (MD/PhD), can find further information via the Degree Programs page.

Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP): 

Starting in 2020, students who matriculate into the MSTP program will participate in the MSTP thread during Phase 1. These sessions will occur alongside the Explore Program’s Noon Conferences. The MSTP thread is a new component of MSTP training developed in parallel to the School of Medicine’s curriculum renewal. The core objectives of the MSTP Thread are to:

  1. Promote scientific curiosity by introducing MSTs to landmark research that underlies the textbook knowledge presented in the Gateway curriculum.
  2. Explore what it means to ‘think’ like a scientist by modeling scientific discovery and teaching students to critically evaluate published manuscripts.

We hope that our lectures energize students to think about and question the knowledge they’re learning, leaving students inspired to conduct research.

Learn more about the MSTP Program and opportunities within the program »