University of Southern California

Please visit the KECK Career Advising office to plan your 4th year in medical school.

Planning 4th year Selectives and Electives

Here is a link to a 2004 article in Family Medicine that you might find useful.

In addition to choosing selectives and electives that will help you in your career in Family Medicine, you should let your interests guide you.

Selective A Recommendations

  • ER at LAC+USC: I can hardly imagine coming to KSOM and not taking advantage of this rotation. Nowhere else will you ever get this kind of experience.
  • Peds ER at CHLA or LAC is another good choice if you especially like pediatrics.

Selective B Recommendations

  • The great thing about family medicine is that everything is relevant so you can really let your interests guide you. Your required selective B should be an inpatient experience.
  • Cardiology: is so basic to primary care that it is an excellent choice
  • Endocrine/ diabetes. Since there is an epidemic of diabetes and you will see LOTS, this is another good choice.
  • Infectious Disease is a good choice if you are interested in global health
  • Rheumatology is a good choice for your second selective B (or C) since rheumatologic problems are so protean in their presentations.

Selective B or C Recommendations

  • You need to choose 2 more selectives from either B or C
  • Any selective B is good; let your interests be your guide.
  • Dermatology is a good choice since there is so much in Family Medicine Practice
  • Radiology is a good choice if you focus your learning on what you need to know; chest x rays, bone films, abdominal films, and some basic ultrasound.


  • An elective in ophthalmology is just 2 weeks and a good idea if you can fit it in.
  • Consider a sub I in family medicine. This is not required or expected by program directors but can be helpful especially if you are interested in a competitive program.
  • Round out the 4th year with something you may not otherwise get to do- for example a global health experience or working with the Indian Health Service or whatever seems fun and exciting!

To see the official list of selectives and electives, go to MedWeb.

To see a list of selectives and electives in primary care, please visit the Selectives/Electives page.

Applying to Residency and the Match

Should I do an externship (sub I) at all the programs I am interested?

No! You should probably consider doing one sub I in family medicine for one of your electives but no more than one. Choose a program you are most interested in or one you are considering but not sure about. If you have any major “dings” in your academic record this is also an opportunity to show a program what you can do.

How many programs should I apply to?

There is no set answer to this question since it depends on many factors such as how competitive an applicant you are and what your own geographical and interest areas are. You should rank all programs you interview at unless you are convinced you would rather go unmatched than to go to a certain program. Virtually all U.S. graduates in 2007 who ranked 8 programs successfully matched in Family Medicine. The great majority of KSOM students who matched into Family Medicine in the 2009 match got their first or second choice.

What do I need to have as a step I and step II board score to be competitive?

Nationwide, students who successfully matched into Family Medicine in 2007 had an average step I score of 211 and a step II score of 218.

Who should I get to write my letters of recommendation?

Your letters should come from faculty who have worked with you closely, know you well, and can write you a strong recommendation. It is less important that the letter come from any particular rotation than that it is a personal and strong letter. Of course, if you can get a strong letter from a Family Medicine preceptor, that is ideal. I usually recommend a letter from your Family Medicine clerkship preceptor and the other 2 from other rotations.

Do I need to have research experience to be competitive?

Although research experience is always desirable, research experience is generally not necessary to be a competitive applicant in Family Medicine. If your research is focused on clinical care and especially primary care or community oriented practice, that would certainly help an application.

Strolling Through the Match is now available through the AAFP online catalog.

Family Medicine Residency Programs

For a full listing of residencies by region, please visit the FREIDA.

Fellowships in Family Medicine

Once you have completed a residency in family medicine, you have the option to pursue a variety of fellowships, including:

Faculty Development


Palliative Car


Urgent Care


Sports Medicine

Hospital Medicine

Orthopedic Medicine


Health Policy

. . .and many others. For more information on these and a list of programs, please visit FREDIA.

Careers in Family Medicine

Family Medicine is a specialty which offers many postgraduate training options/fellowships and a tremendous breadth and scope of practice when training is completed. For further information about the many career opportunities in family medicine, please see the following link: