University of Southern California

As a second year medical student, you can continue to explore a career in family medicine through the KSOM IMIG and ACP leadership, including the annual ACP Summer Conference. Additionally, you can use your KSOM required student project (RSP) to explore the field of internal medicine through shadowing experiences and through primary care/community based research interest projects. You can continue to be involved in community opportunities that are listed for the first year family medicine student. You will take Step 1 of your Boards at the end of the second year. The mean USMLE step 1 score for U.S. students who successfully matched into an Internal Medicine residency in 2007 was 222.


The RSP is a required research project that KSOM students complete in their second year of medical school. Many students who are interested in family medicine chose to do their research project on a topic which highlights community medicine such as experiences that focus on homeless health care, women’s health, etc. Other students chose to shadow family medicine doctors in a variety of clinical experiences and write up their experiences. Students interested in advocacy work or international health work have used their RSP to explore and develop ideas in these areas as well.

If you are interested in a Community-based research project, please contact Dr. Joel Schechter at


There is much discussion among medical students on the “right way” to plan third year in order to best prepare them for applying to any residency, especially Internal Medicine. There is no “right way”. In the case of Internal Medicine, because it is a required clerkship, you can have exposure to it no matter what. The big question is when should you do it. In general, it behooves one to do well during their clerkship because programs value this evaluation. Thus, it is important to do it at a time where one feels they will really be able to give their best performance.  Some find it advantageous to do it early because one is “fresher” and you can find mentors earlier in the year. Others find it more advantageous to do it later in the year because they have more experience being on rotations, their knowledge is bit greater, and they are more familiar with the testing.  In fact, the differences that arise from completing the clerkship earlier versus later are small, and there are pros and cons to each.  The new track schedule offers much more flexibility and will be new for everyone.  The advantage the new schedule has for students interested in Internal Medicine is that they have the opportunity to do elective rotations as opposed to a second six weeks of surgery. During this time, students may want to take time doing out-patient internal medicine to have a better understanding of what a practicing general internists does in the clinic. Other students might find this elective time useful to explore other specialties that they are considering to solidify their specialty choice. If you have questions and concerns about when to do your Internal Medicine clerkship during your third year, you should talk with the KSOM Internal Medicine faculty as well as third and fourth year students that have gone through the process.

For more information, please visit the  Clerkship page.

–Overview written by Nicholas Arger, Class of 2011, IM