What is RealMD?

RealMD is a professional development program which takes a holistic approach towards the development of the student during medical school. Often, career development is something separate from leadership development. We don’t think they should be separate. Often, career development and leadership development take place in the context of tasks (e.g. writing your personal statement) or skills (e.g. negotiation), but with little or no connection to the development of the student’s professional identity. We believe the student’s professional identity must be cultivated and integrated into the context of career and leadership development.

RealMD (Professional Dev) = Professional Identity Dev + Career Dev + Leadership Dev

The goal of this program is to promote the professional development of physician leaders who embody the positive values of relationships, excellence, authenticity and leadership. The strength of the program is our engagement of the community (faculty, students, and staff) to be oriented towards fundamental values. These are our values:

  • Relationships: We succeed together

  • Excellence: We learn and improve by going outside of our comfort zone

  • Authenticity: We live congruently with our values and strengths

  • Leadership: We are committed to something greater than ourselves


The Three Components

The main strategy of the program is to link professional identity development with career development with leadership development. The integrated approach strengthens each component and makes the whole program more effective.

Professional Identity Development

Students and faculty will be encouraged to reflect and develop answers to key questions in the domain of Meaning (e.g. What matters most to me?), Community (e.g. How do I develop meaningful connection with others?), and Purpose (e.g. What am I committed to that is greater than myself?). The answers to the questions will be refined during medical school and will serve to help students define their professional Identity.

Career Development

Medical school is a professional school. We will be working with students on Day 1 to help define their professional direction. The career development component will define a robust process that demystifies the career development process. Students will be able to meet with career advisors to plan and navigate the process effectively, leading to positive outcomes (e.g. finding mentors, making good decisions on specialty, interviewing well, matching).

Leadership Development

We believe that all doctors are leaders. Leadership is a state of being rather a title or position. Leadership is developed in medical school through the reinforcement of professional values. This process is a relationship and a dialogue amongst those in the community (faculty, students, staff) about becoming the best doctor one can be to provide great service to patients and to the health of one’s community.