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Pre-surgical residency: Getting into a research group/vacancy

Discussion in 'Surgery and Surgical Subspecialties' started by Knight_MD, 10.05.06.

  1. Knight_MD

    Knight_MD Member

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    Need some help here.

    Say that, just like any other IMG, I want to join an official research group before applying to the match for a surgical residency... what steps should I make (from the moment I land off the plane, or even before travelling)?

    That, provided I've already finished my USMLEs, and waiting a year/less for the match application, and I want to join a research group in the time being... what exactly should I do? Who should I contact? Is it always university-affiliated?

    Do I even get paid for this pre-residency research?

    Any information is appreciated... Thanks.
  2. geekgirl

    geekgirl Senior Member

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    there is much you can do before arriving.

    first check with your local resources to see if they have any contacts or collaborators that you could potentially work with here in the US.

    then figure out WHERE you want to be
    or
    figure out WHAT you are interested in studying

    from that point, find the prominent people in that field. if you have mentors who know people in the field that helps. if not, just email the people you've indentified as those you are interested in working for.

    make sure you have a CV together.
    have a statement of intention (i.e. why do you want to work with this person. what are your interests. goals. career plans. background. etc)

    re: funding. usually these positions are funded. each position is different. and funded differently.

    good luck.
  3. Knight_MD

    Knight_MD Member

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    Thanks a lot.

    From what you say, the entire process of pre-residency research seems so "casual" and unofficial. So I need to "find" a prominent attending/prof, and just volunteer for a year of research?

    I thought there were Universities/Hospitals or "Research Institutions" with research positions for post-grads... where someone could spend a year of (funded) researching to use when applying for the match later on... no such thing? It really is that casual?

    So if I'm interested in Surgery, and am willing to do transplantation research, all I have to do is define the state(s) I am interested in, contact the prominent personells in the field, and ask for research postings there...

    Is is that casual a process? As regards funding, I'd be satisfied with anything that keeps me alive and "sheltered" for the duration of the research, that's all, nothing major or even close to it :)
  4. Winged Scapula

    Winged Scapula Cougariffic! Administrator SDN Senior Moderator Lifetime Donor

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    The process CAN be that casual, or it can be more formal as you've described, with hospitals/research institutions advertising for someone who applies in the traditional sense.

    The suggestion that geekgirl made, in essence to "cold call", is a good one. Oftentimes research positions are not advertised widely or perhaps someone has some extra funding but isn't in dire need of an assistant, doesn't have time to look for one, etc. Or perhaps even you've called and inquired about such before they've had a chance to post it. I use the last as a real world example - I knew of a job in the department where I am completing my fellowship before it was advertised. I also knew of another fellow who was looking to move to this state - I contacted her, she contacted the faculty here and so got her foot in the door before the word was even out that a position was available. Wish I could say she already had the job (makes for a better story) but since this just occured last week and since the state requires us to advertise for applicants, I can't do that as of yet. But you get the picture.

    So, your best bet is, as geekgirl notes, is to decide what you are interested in, and what areas of the country (if any) and see if there are positions in that field available. Check national research institutes like the NIH and CDC, check local adverts and adverts in respected journals. Call or email faculty members publishing in your area of interest to see if they have any positions or know of any. Many a great career has started by just getting to know people.

    Hope this helps.
  5. Knight_MD

    Knight_MD Member

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    It helps a lot... Connections are clearly everything. Everyday that passes, the idea of getting an away rotation sounds even more essential.

    I'll look for the websites of the national research institutions you mentioned. I was really wondering about the dynamics of the entire process. Now I have a pretty good idea. As I always hear ppl telling me, "You may have to spend a year doing research...", and I'm always thinking, "AND? how do I do THAT?"

    Thanks :)
  6. Winged Scapula

    Winged Scapula Cougariffic! Administrator SDN Senior Moderator Lifetime Donor

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  7. Knight_MD

    Knight_MD Member

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    You've been a great help, as usual. These are exactly what I've been looking for.

    I reckon that for a Surgical residency, doing transplantation and cancer research are the two best fields, am I right assuming that? (I was particularily interested in molecular Embryology but I dont think there's much research there)

    If you have any personal experience with research, it would help a lot too.

    Thanks.
  8. Winged Scapula

    Winged Scapula Cougariffic! Administrator SDN Senior Moderator Lifetime Donor

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    Certainly transplantation and cancer research are important topics but I wouldn't necessarily say they are the best. That depends on your interests; what's best for me might not be for you. There is lots of work in the field of Breast Cancer, as well as Colorectal and of course, transplant immunology.

    My research background is in the social sciences as it applies to biology and not directly surgical. Done long before I ever dreamed of being a surgeon.
  9. AlloImmune

    AlloImmune

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    As mentioned, many of these research job positions may not be posted nationally. You might try searching jobs on institutions' own websites. If you know of a city that you are interested in moving to, you could potentially search all of the academic medical centers in that area. Paid positions for research associates and research assistants are often posted. I agree that contacting investigators individually is also a good approach.

    You might want to inquire about the expected time commitment for each position. Some investigators (but not all) wish you to dedicate about two years minimum for a paid position. This is because of the amount of training required for a new research technician, especially if you do not have a significant amount of previous experience. If you are willing to volunteer and work for free, the time commitment will likely be less strigent.

    Good luck!
  10. Knight_MD

    Knight_MD Member

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    Thanks a lot, really. Of course this 2-year dedication is impossible for me (or any other intern for that matter), because I don't think one can integrate the time spent on research with the 1st year of residency... (or can I?)

    I'm going to take an advanced 1-year long research training course in my country, during my obligatory post-grad internship year, so that I could be considered for a 1-year long paid research vacancy before applying for the match...

    Just knowing that most research posts are paid is a relief...

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