Connections, conversations and greater career clarity



December 11, 2013

Physicians share expertise with medical students during annual Medical Specialty Speed Dating event

Anushka Shenoy, MS1, arrived at OHSU with a very specific goal for her future: psychiatry.

But at an event she attended on Nov. 21, she met 32 physicians who spoke about their own careers. Those encounters expanded her thinking and generated new ideas for her career path.

"There was a pediatric oncologist in particular whose comments resonated with me," said Shenoy. "I never thought I would want to work with really sick kids, but I found myself drawn to his experiences. He and the other physicians there helped me realize that I can pursue less traditional residencies to personalize my practice, such as med/psych or peds/psych."

Helpful conversations such as these are precisely the point of Medical Specialty Speed Dating, which is hosted by the OHSU School of Medicine Alumni Association. This annual event connects first- and second-year medical students at OHSU with practicing or retired physicians from the Portland area who represent a variety of specialties and sub-specialties. Groups of students spend approximately 12 minutes conversing with a physician about his or her practice area and career before moving on to the next physician.

The goal is to expose students to multiple specialties and career stages, increasing their knowledge of potential career paths and assisting them in their professional development.

This year, 60 students interviewed the 32 physicians – 20 of whom are alumni, 12 of whom are current School of Medicine faculty members and six of whom are current residents – representing more than 25 areas of medicine.

sd-121313"It was very beneficial to have the opportunity to compare and contrast different specialties at a single event," said Kyle Robinson, MS1. "I was amazed to learn about all the sub-specialties that exist within a given specialty."

Now in its fourth year, the popular event has become an important way for M.D. alumni as well as faculty, residents and community physicians to connect with the School of Medicine's M.D. program and provide a valuable service to medical students.

"I've participated in the [medical specialty] speed dating event a number of times over the last few years, and it is always enjoyable," says Jessica Flynn, M.D. R '06, assistant professor of family medicine at OHSU. "I like that students can interact with professionals from various disciplines in a casual format where the students can ask any question they want. Our conversations often go in directions I don't anticipate. Students have very good questions, and these change each time. But I always like to share that it is possible to earn a decent living and have a great job as well as a life outside of work, all at the same time."

Why should other professionals participate? "Because it's a great way to interact with bright students and show them what you love about being a physician," said Dr. Flynn.

In particular, it's a great way for students to connect with alumni. "It was amazing how many alumni came out to talk with us, and it was inspiring to hear their stories and reflect on how medicine has changed and not changed since they were in school," Shenoy said.

Gregory Thomas, M.D. '81, associate professor of pediatrics (hematology and oncology), always likes to give this sound piece of advice: "Be open to different specialties and opportunities. You might be surprised what you end up liking."

Medical Specialty Speed Dating, sponsored by the School of Medicine Alumni Association, is organized and run by OHSU Alumni Relations Program.

Calling all physicians!

Are you interested in participating? Contact Aimee Bloom at 503 552-0745 in the OHSU Alumni Relations Office for more information.