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Personal-Professional Compass (PPC): An Elective Program at the CCOM


The purpose of the Carver College of Medicine Personal-Professional Compass program is to help medical students understand, articulate, and integrate their personal and professional values and goals as they navigate their way through the four years of medical school. This program will promote students' growth as humanistic professionals through written reflections on personal experience, readings from the literature of medicine and the humanities, and ongoing dialogues within a community of peers and mentors. Written reflections will culminate in the capstone project of writing a fourth-year personal statement for residency applications.

Enroll in the PPC program using this form.


  1. To encourage students to integrate their personal and professional values and goals.
  2. To encourage students to reflect on and learn from their personal experiences in training.
  3. To encourage students toward virtues needed for the humanistic practice of medicine.
  4. To facilitate peer and mentor relationships that can enhance personal-professional integration.
  5. To prepare students to write an authentic and compelling personal statement for residency applications.


  • PPC Co-Directors: Brittany Bettendorf, MD, Katherine Harris, MD, and Lauris Kaldjian, MD, PhD 
  • PPC Coordinator: Suzanne Gurnett Stretitz, BA
  • Administrative Support: Program in Bioethics and Humanities (CCOM).

When to enroll in the PPC

Students should enroll in the PPC by the end of the first semester in the M2 year, but later enrollment may also be possible.


Students will receive 1 credit for participating in the program once all requirements are completed.

Required Activities

  1. Submit a copy of the personal statement used for application to medical school.
  2. Submit four written reflections (500-1000 words each) in the first three years of medical school. These written reflections will encourage students to consider who they want to become as persons who will be physicians. While writing their reflections, students are encouraged to think about the personal qualities (virtues) they hope to be able to incorporate when writing their personal statements for residency application. The following question prompts will guide the four reflections:
    • By January 1st of the M2 year:
      • a mentor or other person admired and emulated for personal/professional characteristics that are relevant to a medical career
      • identification and reflection on the virtues that are considered most important in medicine, and how these virtues may relate to each other
    • By July 1st of the M4 year:
      • a patient-based encounter in which a professional's character was instrumental to a humane approach to care.
      • awareness of a personal mistake, failure, or deficiency related to one's professional work that needs to change, with reflection on how that change might come.
  3. Submit a copy of the personal statement for residency application by September 30th of the M4 year.
  4. Meetings with Faculty Mentors. Each student will meet with his/her faculty mentor to discuss written reflections (by April 1st of the M2 year, October 1st of the M4 year). 
  5. Attend (as able) five Personal-Professional Compass Community Gatherings per year:
    • September:  meet and greet session, with introductions and general discussion (informational for M1s)
    • November: discussion of insights identified by past students
    • February: discussion of the year's shared readings
    • April: guest presentation (student or faculty)
    • May: ice cream social / discussion of writing residency application personal statements