Stephanie Zia, MD, MACM, clinical assistant professor of medicine (clinician educator) at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, and the career advising staff recently started holding brown bag lunches for Keck School first- and second-year students to raise any questions they may have about their futures as medical professionals.

Zia, who was recently appointed assistant dean for career advising at the Keck School, said the office has made some important changes that are designed to better serve the needs of students at the Keck School, which include expanding career advising for first- and second-year students.

Another of her new initiatives is a monthly newsletter, called Career Corners, which is aimed at helping medical students find answers to one of the most important decisions they face while in medical school: choosing a specialty. Career Corners introduces students to specialties they may not know much about, such as otolaryngology, radiation oncology and physical medicine and rehabilitation.

“We surveyed the students and there are specialties they know a lot about and others they don’t,” she said. “Introducing them to specialties they know less about may spark their interest.”

The office has multiple staff advisers to answer questions about specific specialties, as well as to review their resumes and personal statements. They work in conjunction with designated departmental faculty advisers for each specialty and are creating more opportunities for students to shadow faculty.

Zia said she brings a unique perspective to the office. A graduate of the Keck School, she also completed her residency in internal medicine and pediatrics at Los Angeles County + USC Medical Center and, for five years, served as the assistant program director for the combined medicine/pediatrics residency program.

In other words, she is keenly aware of the pressure that Keck School students face. And, since she is still involved with selecting LAC+USC’s residents, she is well-acquainted with the selection process for residency programs.

“I love watching students discover their identities and interests in medicine and learn about who they are as developing physicians,” Zia said. She encouraged all students interested in learning more to drop by her office in KAM 100C. For more information, go to

— Hope Hamashige