One of the most common questions I get is whether or not research is required to get into medical school.
So, is research really “required” to get into medical school?
No, it's not required to get into medical school. Although there's one exception that I know of and that's the University of Utah. When you look at their homepage for their admission requirements, they actually require a minimum number of hours.
But first, don’t forget to check out all our other podcasts on Meded Media to help you on your journey to medical school.
[01:15] Do You Need to Do Research and Publish the Data?
Many students go into research with the assumption that they need to publish. They need to get into a journal to prove that they've done research. And that's just not the case.
It's hard to start a research project and then have the data published in a journal. You actually have to write it, submit it, and have have it accepted for publication. This is not necessary to prove that you've done research. You just need to get involved to see if you like it. Go to a primary investigator in a research study. Go to your school or the hospital.
[02:27] The Goal of Research
A lot of the students don't realize that research doesn't have to be what most of them picture it to be. You wear white coat in a lab with pipettes. That doesn't have to be the type of research.
You can do clinical research and be around patients. You can do research outside of medicine and it's still considered research.
The goal of doing research or the goal of knowing that you've done research is to understand that you know what it's like to think critically through a hypothesis or data.
You can get this in a clinical setting or in a bench or wet lab setting. It can come working with rats or pigs or any animal model.
[03:58] Research Doesn't Have to Be Medical
One student I worked with this year is a former Geology teacher at a university. So she had a lot of Geology research. And that's research! You're forming a hypothesis and then you're creating a set of tests around that hypothesis to test that hypothesis. You're gathering data and you're analyzing it to see what the results are. So research doesn't have to be medical.
If you don't like research, that is okay. You don't have to get to an end point of actually publishing something to prove that you've done research.
[04:40] Grades, MCAT Score, Clinical Experience, and Shadowing
So as you're thinking about what you need to accomplish as far as extracurriculars, you need to line up things in order of importance. Grades and MCAT score are important. Those always come first.
Outside of that, you need to look at clinical experience where you're actually around patients. You also need to look at shadowing. You need to prove to the admissions committee that you understand what medicine is like.
Leadership experience, non-clinical volunteering – these are great “cherry on top” things.
And if you have time to and you want to try to work in research, try it. If you don't like it and it's not something you're passionate about going to all the time, that's okay. But just try it and see what it's like. As long as you have the time and you're not going to sacrifice grades, MCAT scores, and those other things.
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