Do I Really Need to do Research as a Nontrad Premed?

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Session 88

Session 88

This week, our poster wants to know how important research is if he’s only applying to state schools that aren’t research-heavy medical schools.

We take questions directly from the forums. If you haven’t yet, join our collaborative community and ask away! Also, please check out all our other podcasts at MedEd Media Network.

[01:22] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

“I’m 29. I graduated in 2014 with my degree and I’m finishing up the prerequisite work. My GPA is very, very strong. So I’m not worried about the GPA/MCAT part of the application. I have a decade of work experience as a consultant doing business and finance management for small to medium sized businesses including medical offices. I will start doing some shadowing, clinical experience, and more recent, volunteering this fall. In general, what are medical schools looking for when they ask about extracurriculars? I know the extracurriculars are going to look different for someone like us who may have a decade or more in full time work experience. For the past year and a half, I have been repeatedly asked to assist tutor or TA for past professors. I have three semesters of TA-ing back when I did my degree. And I helped revise a textbook. I was added to the authorship. So I am not sure more of what would help. I keep being told I need to do research. But I’m trying to apply to mostly state schools and the ones I’m looking at do not list research as a requirement. Any suggestions from your experience?”

[02:45] Apples and Oranges

This is a very common question a lot of students struggle with, especially nontrads who don’t have a lot of extra time. I spoke with the Dean of Admissions at the University of Central Florida. We were talking about nontrads and how they loved nontrads. He specifically said that they understand nontrads have other requirements. They’re taking care of family. They’re working full time.

So it’s not all apples to apples. As a nontrad, you are the orange. Your experiences are not going to be looked at the same as a traditional student.

[04:12] Research, Shadowing, and Clinical Experience

Research is not that important. It’s good if you can get some, get your toes wet, and see if you like it. But it’s not a requirement. What is required is that you get experience in a healthcare setting. Put yourself around patients. Show the admissions committee that you understand what it’s like to be around sick people. See if you’re ready to devote your life to being around sick people. And this can come in many forms.

Many people think this is shadowing but it’s different. Shadowing shows you what the life of a doctor is. It shows you that it’s not Grey’s Anatomy or Scrubs. Shadowing is important. You don’t need hundreds of hours of shadowing. It’s not necessary for the majority of schools out there.

What you need a substantial number of hours in is clinical experience. It means being around and interacting with physicians. In shadowing, you’re not interacting with people. You are literally a shadow. But with clinical volunteering and experience, you are putting yourself around the patient, close enough to smell the patient. That’s the importance of a clinical experience. See if you enjoy and you don’t get turned off by being around sick people.

This poster mentioned being a TA and helping out in authoring a book. That’s great. But you’re entering medicine. Again, put yourself around patients. This is what’s missing in this person’s application. It’s a very common thing to miss. Go back and listen to Episode 171 of The Premed Years Podcast. According to the former Dean of Admissions at UC Irvine Medical School, the number one reason that students were not admitted was lack of clinical experience. I can’t stress how important clinical experience is.

[06:50] Final Thoughts

Share this podcast to your family, friends, mentors, advisors, etc. If you’re in a postbac program, make sure your premed advisor knows about OldPreMeds. It should be a resource that every nontrad person knows about.


MedEd Media

The Premed Years Podcast Episode 171: Reapplying to Med School – What You Need to Know to Improve


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