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Research opportunity

Discussion in 'Otolaryngology' started by stunna8, Apr 4, 2007.

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  1. stunna8

    stunna8 New Member

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    I first wanted to say thanks to everyone who posts here regularly and gives us med students some much needed info on all things ENT.
    I am a first year med student and I have the opportunity to do ENT research this Summer. I have been given the choice to pick between doing case reports, bench research, animal surgeries, basically anything. I have little research experience (actually none) and I was wondering what type of research you all would recommend. I definitely want to be challenged but I want to be pretty autonomous and not have to ask for help every 2 minutes. What do you all think?
  2. aggernodi

    aggernodi Private Practice ENT

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    I would suggest doing a research project involving bench or animal studies that has a high chance of being completed and published while a medical student. The key thing is having a good advisor with a clear vision of what the chances of successful completion are within a reasonable time period. That's ideal. However, most bench research never work out the way you want or most drag on for years and years and years and in the end never get published. But, you never know and can get lucky in getting great results in even a few months that's publishable. Little research experience is not an excuse. You just have to work a lot harder. Having research experience is a great thing to have when applying for ENT programs.

    Case reports are something you can do simultaneously and knocked out in one weekend of dedicated journal hunting, reading, and finally writing.
  3. resxn

    resxn

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    ditto, agger.

    Basic Science is generally better for presenting.

    However, if there is a gangbuster clinical project you can be involved with that would be good as well. Problem here is that it is tough to get on as 1st or 2nd author in these as a med student. You can more easily be that with basic science. The lower you are on the list of authors, the less you were considered crucial to the study (in general).
  4. Mephisto

    Mephisto Senior Member

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    I'm also a medical student, and this is the advice I always get when I ask about research. How do so many medical students get published? You're saying basic sciences, right?

    I worked for two years in a basic science lab before medical school and pumped out a LOT of data and some of it is on the verge of being published now with me as second author (the post-doc and grad studetns above me did a lot of the work after I left). I find that unless you get on the perfect project that is on the verge of publishing, you won't publish. And a project like that will generally make you a 2nd or 3rd author as you basically fine tune the results that have already been obtained for the purposes of figures in the paper. That's pretty much all you can do in a summer.

    Even those one year fellowships in basic research are only enough to really start and see a project through somewhat. A summer is almost nothing. I did summer research between M1 and M2 and in that time, the first five weeks was spent getting a right medium down in order to culture a group of finicky cancer cells, as well as a few genetic constructs we wanted to use for transfection, and final five weeks was putting out western blots to see what those cells were doing after transfection (most of them got killed in the transfection procedure, they were just so delicate in-vitro).

    And that was a HUGELY productive summer in terms of basic science research, but nowhere near paper-worthy!

    So, please, tell me, how do people publish first author basic science papers during their four years of medical school? I can see someone getting lucky after a one year fellowship, but a summer project? come on!
  5. aggernodi

    aggernodi Private Practice ENT

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    You are right... but that's why you need a good advisor with a clear vision of a good project that can be potentially pumped out even within 1 year... I majored in molecular biophysics and biochemistry and did basic research in snRNPs as well as murine lyme carditis cytokine progression over time... My advisors were fantastic. They understood exactly a student's need and always had small projects lined up and ready to go.

    Unfortunately, my first project with snRNPs didn't work despite 2 years work and lots of data. The results were "unpublishable"...

    My second project worked great and all results were obtained in about 9 months and got published one year later.

    The big question is who are these great advisors? Well, they are usually NOT big name labs or people. Usually they are young so they themselves still remember the position you are in. Also, they are small labs as they are relatively new (both my labs were less than 5 people). Next, you just have to interview a lot of labs and find one where the advisor can sit you down, scratch out exactly the overall experiment and estimated time to completion. Both my advisors were able to do that for me in the first interview with both my projects.

    You MUST use your judgement in whether to accept or decline a research a project. Don't automatically accept...EVER. This applies not only in medical school, but also residency.
  6. resxn

    resxn

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    Additionally, the very fact that it is difficult to get this type of research published as a student makes it the most impressive on a CV. It never hurts to have case reports, but it obviously fails to demonstrate the work that basic science research does.

    Another point regarding clinical vs basic science research: many of the interviewers will have more questions regarding your research if it's basic science simply because they won't be as familiar with it. Often the clinic research is fairly straight-forward and often times the results are predictable. Most board-certified ENT's are going to have a good understanding of the problem, solution, and process so it won't be as interesting to them. Now a blockbuster study like the VA study that you'll hear about ad nauseum is an exception and is, in my opinion, the best type of project to be involved in. But these are so few and far between that IMO basic science research is a safer bet if going for a good paper with good rewards.

    Like Agger said, do some other stuff in the meantime if possible--book chapters with attendings, case reports, etc.
  7. Mephisto

    Mephisto Senior Member

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    Thank you, that's really helpful. I guess my problem is that I'm uncomfortable approaching a PI and asking for a project that's so clearly laid out and publishable. If I were a PI, I wouldn't take a kid if it looked like all he wants is to get published and only has a cursory interest in the research. I would like an interesting project, sure, but I'll take a slightly less interesting one if it's more likely to get published. In my experience, unpublished research is pretty much research not done. At this point in my career, I have research "experience" and I doubt program directors really even care about research "experience". They'd much rather see production. Because lets be serious, EVERYONE has research experience.

    So tell me, how do I approach a PI about my needs as a student? THe last time I approached a PI, he turned to me and said, "so what are your interests"? Clearly referring to my research interests and which aspects of his lab I was interested in. I didn't want to say, "I want to work hard and get published, I don't care which project you put me on" and I certainly didn't want to say "Whichever project is on the verge of being published". HOw do I get my needs as a student across without sounding like I'm basically using him?

    You guys are so helpful, I really appreciate it. If someone could also comment on this. I'm thinking about taking a year off to do research between 3rd and 4th year of medical school. I think it would be good amount of time to really get some work done. Maybe multiple clinical projects with a full-time basic one. How do I look for opprtunities, with whom should I speak, and is taking a year off a good thing?
  8. resxn

    resxn

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    Two ways to deal with your first question.

    #1, talk to one of the attendings in the ENT department. They are quite aware that you want to do something that will get published and the limited amount of time that you have to do it. Ask them if they know of any labs that are doign something like that--it will just help take the guess work out.

    #2, I see no reason why you can't be honest with the PI. You don't need to say that you don't care which project you're on because you are just looking to get published. BUT you can say what your goals are. "Hi. I'm a 1st year med student who is interested in going into otolaryngology. I only have a limited amount of time allocated for research and I'm really interested in maximizing my opportunity. I've been told it's important to try to be involved with a project that I can complete in the time I have available. Certainly, I'm willing to come in on weekends or after hours as needed because I'm dedicated to seeing my project completed and submitted for publication if appropriate. I've heard you may be involved in (or starting) a project like this."

    As for taking a year off to do research, that's entirely a personal decision. Certainly, you'll be able to get some publications out of it unless you just have terrible luck. But it's probably not necessary to get into ENT.
  9. aggernodi

    aggernodi Private Practice ENT

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    Ditto rsxn... keep in mind that the PI also knows you are a medical student. That by definition means you (unless you are MD/PhD) won't be going into research as a career...

    Also, if you do have extensive research background, propose a project (experimental outline, resources needed) you would like to do that you think can be accomplished within your time constraints and is something the PI would be interested and essentially sponsor for you to do...

    Now THAT would show true motivation. It is sometimes exasperating for a PI/attending to do all the thinking and would prefer a motivated student/resident to be autonomous.
  10. dryogeshmore

    dryogeshmore

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    i m in my final yr of ENT residency,in bj medical india,as a resident i have worked immense in otology,laryngology
    i am intrested in research in ENT related topics in US
    i have cleared my USMLE boards with 99/98 scores in step 1/2 resp
    i have three international publication in south korean journal of rhinology
    four national publication in indian journal of otology
    can some one please guide me where do i search for research opportunity in US?and what more ground work do i require?
    i know it is difficult for foreign med grad to get in ENT in US.
    a have got enough of depressing replies,almost i had to give up hopes of ENT RESEARCH
    PLZ SOME ONE HELP ME OUT

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