Today’s poster is from a student with a ton of questions mostly on research, volunteering, and courses. We specifically take questions from the Nontrad Premed Forum. If you haven’t yet, please be sure to sign up for an account today so you can join a collaborative community of like-minded students gearing up on this journey towards medical school!
[01:06] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:
Question #1: I worked in clinical research for 6-7 years (on clinical trials). Would that count towards clinical experience or research experience? How would that be broken down? For three and a half years I approached patients in the ED for an observational study for enrollment and follow-up. We also completed Cognitive assessments on patients with potential delirium, and scored them on the CAM. I managed staff and three studies at this role as well as managing the paperwork to the IRB. I then joined another hospital where I worked for the department GI cancers and approached all new patients for consent into our sample and data collection study for GI cancers.
[02:47] Clinical or Research?
What students don’t typically think about is that you can classify the same activity in two different ways. As a clinical research coordinator, you can put it as clinical experience or as shadowing or research if you are involved in the research side of things. Being an admin in the research project doesn’t mean you’re involved in the research. So you have to be involved in the research side of things if you want to call it research.'Just being involved in the admin side of things for a research project doesn't mean you're involved in research.'Click To Tweet
A lot of times, a clinical research coordinator position is really the coordination stuff so it’s admin. It’s a great clinical experience because you are interacting with the patients. But it’s typically not research-oriented.
Nevertheless, you can break down experiences into multiple different types of experiences. So you could have it as clinical experience, or research, or even shadowing – again depending on what you’re really doing for each thing.
[05:05] Chemistry or Upper-Level Biology Courses
Question #2: I started retaking chemistry this semester but I do not know if I should continue with chemistry or just take upper level biology courses. I have been listening to your podcast for old premeds and the premed podcast. I understand that it may be that I am on an upward trend since finishing college but am concerned because I took my premed courses over 10 years ago. Of the classes after college, 2 of the 5 have been at a community college. Otherwise, they have been night classes at a 4 yr institution. Now, my overall GPA is: 3.17 and a science GPA of 3.14. During college, I had difficulty deciding on English vs biology for a major. I decided on biology my junior year and then had to double/ triple on sciences with lab. That didn’t do my gpa any good but I was worried at the time because my high school did not have very rigorous science prep available. I graduated with an overall GPA of 2.99 and science GPA of 2.75 (excluding math courses). When I took chemistry, I got a B-, now, my grade is an A. I don’t know how it will look to admissions for retaking it though? Should I be doubling up with an upper level biology course along with my full time job? I took a few classes in the past but had gotten B and B+ in them because I had prioritized my work.
[06:30] Retake Your Courses
At this point, it’s a good idea to think about redoing all of your courses since the premed courses were over 10 years ago. This eliminates any school from saying that your prereqs are too old. It also helps you build a solid foundation for the MCAT. It might not be what you want to hear but this will open more doors for you at medical schools that have age cutoffs or time cutoffs for prereqs. So just take as many classes as you can and do really well and keep pushing forward.
[07:42] Not Enough Time
Question #3: I have not had time with the clinical research jobs to do volunteering the past years. The jobs have generally required a 50-60 hour work week because I was an exempt employee. This year, I am in industry and now have regular hours. But I have had a family issue to deal with early in the year and now, I am back to taking classes. Will it be hard to explain why I haven’t been volunteering since I started the clinical research jobs?
The easiest answer is always the honest answer. So just explain what happened. But continue to try to do as much as possible. Tell the truth and you’ll be fine!