First-year resident Olivia Henderson, MD, credits advanced development director (ADD) Beth McNulty, MD, with playing a key role in her medical career journey.
After several clinical rotations during her third year of medical school, Dr. Henderson said she could not decide on a specialty to pursue. She recalls enjoying aspects of every field that she rotated on, but she did not feel passionate about any particular one—until she spent time shadowing in the ear, nose, and throat clinic (ENT), and “everything fell into place”.
“ENT merged everything I wanted to do with my life into one field, but once I made my decision, I wasn't sure how to navigate the next steps”, said Dr. Henderson.
That’s where Dr. McNulty, associate professor of otolaryngology, came in.
Dr. McNulty has been counseling students in the department of otolaryngology - head and neck surgery, since 2016. Though the ADD role had a different title when she began her tenure, she said the work remains the same each year — to offer expertise and guidance and help students pursue their dreams.
An ADD is a faculty member who is dedicated to career counseling in their specialty. ADDs meet with students throughout medical school to offer information about their unique specialties, connect students with faculty and peer mentors, and provide guidance on the residency process.
Medical students begin meeting with ADDs as early as their first year of medical school. During their third and fourth years, students meet with ADDs more frequently to receive counseling on the competitiveness of their applications for residency, as well as for away rotations, research funding, and scholarly submissions.
Dr. McNulty encourages students to dream big but also isn’t afraid to have difficult conversations when those goals are out of reach. She shared, “the hardest part of my job is telling someone that their efforts may not be good enough.” The conversations never end there though— she works closely with students to help them discover alternative opportunities aligned with their goals.
“I was so scared I wouldn’t match,” said Dr. Henderson, recalling her anxiety surrounding last year’s Match Day, an annual March event when aspiring physicians across the country learn where they will complete their residency training following graduation. “Dr. McNulty always made time for me; we discussed my concerns and she helped me come up with my ‘plan B,’ just in case.”
Over the years, Dr. McNulty has helped several students come up with their “plan B.” According to her, “the most fulfilling part of being an ADD is seeing things come full circle.” She also serves on the College of Medicine Admissions Committee, which allows her to interview prospective students and follow their journey after admittance, sharing “it’s just so rewarding to watch students that I interviewed be successful here and develop an interest in our specialty.”
As an ADD, Dr. McNulty also helps students coordinate their fourth-year schedules, connects students with research and clinical mentors, and hosts mock interviews to help them prepare for residency interviews. She also serves as the primary contact for visiting students within the department and takes pride in sharing its successes and in “making a good first impression” on the future physicians.
Now well into her first year of training, Dr. Henderson is confident she made the right choice. She really enjoys being more hands-on when it comes to patient care, noting “it’s no longer about studying to pass the next test, but about learning to care for people in the way they deserve to be cared for.”
To learn more about departmental ADDs and see a full listing of them, click here.