Is My New Research Opportunity Worth it in the Long Run?

Session 135

Our student today asks the question but kind of answers it as well. With a new opportunity for research experience, he’s wondering if it’s worth the sacrifices.

Questions in this podcast are taken from the Nontrad Premed Forum. If you haven’t yet, please register for an account for free and begin asking away!

[01:00] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

“I have heard Dr. Gray say a few times that one does not absolutely need research to get into med school. I just transferred to a four-year university and was accepted to a research program that provides mentorship and research opportunities. I am very excited about it, but the problem is I don’t believe I have time to do it. By going into this new school, I’ll have to start driving three hours a day. Plus I have a family, job, and volunteer at a free clinic. I was thinking of declining my acceptance to this program. But I was looking at the MSAR data and it shows that 90% plus os students admitted to medical school have research experience. I looked at Florida schools. What should I do?? I didn’t want to decrease my chances this much just because of research.”

[01:50] Self-Reported Data

Students look at the MSAR and they see this 90% research. But if you look at research and clinical experience, according to the MSAR, it looks like students have more research than clinical experience. How can there be a larger percentage of students having research than clinical experience? Maybe one of the problems is just self-reported data, and I’ve talked about this with admissions committee members.

I would look at that data with a grain of salt and understand that’s all self-reported data. When you learn about statistics and analysis, self-reported data is one of the weakest forms of data.

[03:05] No Time for Research and What is Considered as Research

You mentioned you don’t have time to do it, so why do it? Otherwise, try to find another physician near you who may be doing some clinical research and help do some data gathering and call that research.

One of the things several students don’t understand is that it doesn’t have to be medical research. Just the process of doing research, testing hypothesis, coming up with conclusions and formulating how research is going to be done – any of these is research.

Moreover, research doesn’t have to be related to medicine. One student I know even did a research on rocks and she got into medical school. It doesn’t have to be bench research. It can be clinical research which is easier to get involved in since you may only have to do chart reviews or calling patients on the phone, etc. And this could be research

[04:30] Be Careful with What You Read!

Again, if you don’t have time to do it, then do it. You can’t kill yourself through this process if you’re working and you have a family and volunteering. You can’t just “check off a box.” So even if there’s MSAR data out there, I don’t believe it since it’s only self-reported data.

I want to give you another example. I reviewed a student’s application and she didn’t get in. She didn’t put shadowing down as an extracurricular. And data is coming from the extracurricular activities. Even if you talked about it in your personal statement, you need to mention it still in your extracurriculars. So be very careful with what you’re reading. Always be skeptical about what you are looking at and try to think about maybe why the numbers don’t necessarily make sense.

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