University of Southern California

“The right specialty will find you if you keep an open mind and enjoy the medical school process.”

–Kelsey Richardson, 4th Year 2011–Matched in Peds 3/17/11


Start working on your personal statement early!  This is definitely an important part of the application for pediatric residency programs.  Most interviewers will have read it prior to your interview and will want to discuss part of it with you.  If you are struggling with putting your application together, contact the KSOM Career Center for help.  Just remember, they are very busy during application season, so don’t wait until the last minute.


For pediatrics, away rotations are not required.  If you have a location, or specific program, that you are interested in, it is worth trying to schedule a rotation at that hospital.  The most important factor for getting an away rotation is sending in your application early!  Most rotations for visiting students do not depend on merit, instead they are given out on a first come, first serve basis.  Even if you know a program will not look at your application until June, submit it in February or March.

It is okay if you don’t do your away rotation before you start receiving interview offers.  An away rotation can help even if you don’t do it until November, December or January of your fourth year.  Although at this time it will not be possible to ask for a formal letter of recommendation, you can ask your attending physician and resident to email the program director on your behalf.

When you are a visiting student, make sure you are always enthusiastic and friendly to EVERYONE you work with.  This includes residents, attending physicians, nurses, ancillary staff, administrative staff and other medical students.


This rotation, which takes place at the Eisner Pediatric and Family Medical Center, is a great place for students interested in pediatrics to brush up their general pediatrics knowledge and skills.  In addition, this is a great place to practice Medical Spanish as it pertains to pediatric history taking and physical exams.  Students enjoy this rotation and working with the preceptor at this clinic.


When you are planning fourth year, consider how many letters of recommendation you still need and what rotations would be ideally suited to get those letters.  If you are looking for two different pediatric faculty members to write letters, consider a rotation at LAC+USC and another at CHLA for variety.  Some programs request a “director” letter.  This is a flexible requirement.  You can ask the residency program director at LAC+USC or CHLA, the clerkship director of your third year clerkship or the chair of pediatrics at either LAC+USC or CHLA.  In addition, not all of your letters need to be, or should be, from pediatric faculty.  Consider other third year rotations and faculty you developed good relationships with.  At least 2 of your letters should be from the department of pediatrics, but feel free to go outside of pediatrics for a third, and possibly fourth, letter.


Pediatrics residency interviews are known for being offered early in the interview season.  However, because most pediatrics programs are fairly large, there are many interview dates to choose from.  Dates do go fast, so respond as soon as you get an interview offer!  You can always try to change dates or cancel later on.  Students often wonder when the best time to take time off for interviews is when applying to pediatrics programs.  There is no perfect answer to this question.  Consider other factors, such as when you plan on taking USMLE Step 2 CK and time you want to reserve for relaxation and holidays.  Remember that interview season includes Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s.  As a result, most programs do not offer interviews the week surrounding each of those holidays.

Beyond Medical School


There are many loan repayment programs available to students pursuing a career in primary care.  Below are a few resources for different loan repayment options.

AAMC Recommended Programs:

California State Program:

Research Loan Repayment Program:

Contact Alicia Rugley with further questions:

Fellowship Opportunities

Below is a list of many of the fellowship programs possible to physicians following a residency in pediatrics.  Not all the programs listed below are offered at USC/CHLA, but many are available!

Academic Pediatrics

Adolescent Medicine



Developmental/Behavioral Pediatrics




Hospitalist Medicine

Infectious Disease

Medical Genetics

Neonatal Intensive Care


Pediatric Critical Care




As you finish your medical training at USC, consider the many alumni resources KECK-USC has to offer.  The Office of Alumni Affairs can provide more information.


–Overview written by Kelsey Richardson, Class of 2011, Peds