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 key academic 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. Learn more about each pathway using the buttons on the left.

  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.

The Three Phases of Gateway & the Explore Program

The EXPLORE Program is intended to align with student needs at each curricular phase. In Phase 1, students gain understanding of each Pathway and choose one to gain more knowledge and skills during the EXPLORE Immersion. They also connect with mentors and work to define a scholarship project and take the first steps towards accomplishing their project’s goals.

In Phase 2, during the clinical rotations, students have the option of attending networking and learning opportunities for the four Pathways. Many students will continue longitudinal scholarship work during Phase 2 and some students may take 16 weeks towards biomedical research in this period.

In Phase 3, all students will have the opportunity to take up to 16 weeks to work on their own project. Students will also have the opportunity to further their knowledge and skills within the respective Pathways by choosing from various electives.

Phase 1: The EXPLORE Immersion Stage

During Phase 1, students will have the option to participate in lunch-time conferences to learn about mentorship and career paths within the four EXPLORE Pathways. The goal of these conferences is to expose students to each pathway and to prepare students to choose a pathway to participate in for the EXPLORE Immersion. Students will be asked to choose a pathway in late March for the purpose of the Immersion.

Critical Phase 1 Dates

September: EXPLORE Introduction
October: EXPLORE Mentorship Skills Session
October-February: EXPLORE Networking Sessions and Career Panels (one of each for each Pathway)
February: EXPLORE Pathway Speed Dating
March 29: Students select an Emersion Pathway for their EXPLORE Immersion
May-June: EXPLORE Immersion

What is the EXPLORE Immersion?

The EXPLORE Immersion is four weeks of dedicated time to: (1) learn the foundations of scholarship in academic medicine and (2) gain knowledge and skills in a student’s chosen pathway. All MD students will participate in the Inquiry Curriculum during the mornings of the EXPLORE Immersion and then will break off to participate in pathway-specific curricula in the afternoons. The Inquiry Curriculum will prepare students to be responsible and impactful scholars in any of the four pathways. The EXPLORE Immersion also sets aside time for students to network with potential project or research mentors and develop a project plan.

Phase 2: The EXPLORE Discovery Stage

During Phase 2, the clinical clerkships, students will have the opportunity to participate in the pathways as much or as little as desired, as long as clerkship engagement and performance is not jeopardized. The EXPLORE Pathways will each offer pathway-specific opportunities for networking and for learning. In addition, students may participate in voluntary research or project-work during this time. Many students will work with their mentor during this stage to plan project work to be done in Phase 3. A few students will have the option of deferring clerkships to do biomedical research during Phase 2.

Phase 3: The EXPLORE Deep Dive Stage

Phase 3 offers the most flexibility for EXPLORE activities. Students may pursue up to 16 weeks of scholarly project time. Students may also participate in EXPLORE electives during Phase 3, which will enhance their knowledge and skills in the 4 pathways. For those students who wish to pursue them during phase 3, scholarly accomplishments will be recognized with EXPLORE distinctions. Motivated students may elect to take additional time during phase 3 for dual-degree or the yearlong research programs.

The EXPLORE Symposium

All students are invited to participate in the annual EXPLORE symposium in December, an opportunity to present their work to faculty and peers, and to celebrate medical student scholarship. The EXPLORE Symposium is the primary research and scholarly conference for the medical school. It entails a plenary session at which select students will be invited to present their work as an oral platform presentation. A poster session and reception will follow. Students will receive feedback on their presentations and several awards will be available for promise (early-phase projects) and accomplishment (late-phase projects).

2022 EXPLORE Symposium Photos

View photos from the 2022 EXPLORE Symposium here

Additional Information

Find out more about how to get started and what additional options exist for Dual Degree Programs.