2 summer research experiences better than 1?

Discussion in 'Medical Students - MD' started by Hednej, Apr 29, 2007.

  1. Hednej

    Hednej ***** Level 60
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    Hey SDN peeps,
    Entering MS-I here. I've already been able to set up a research project for the summer as part of my school's formal program, get funding, etc. But now I'm thinking that I might want to travel or do other stuff. Is having 2 summer research experiences on your app for residency twice as good as, or significantly better than, having one?

    I also want to assume the worst, so for now, all I'm assuming I'll get out of both experiences are only posters and presentations and no pubs. Advice from people familiar with the residency process highly appreciated.
     
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  3. OddNath

    OddNath Senior Member
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    Most of us here have not gone through the residency process yet, but I have done research for the past 7 summers of my life. I think it'd be worth it if you worked in the same lab for both summers, making it more likely that you could get some solid findings and possibly a publication (especially if you stay a little involved during your med school years as well).

    Or, perhaps you could take a couple weeks for travel this summer and still meet the requirements for funding?

    Anyhow, to answer your question, I'd say that 2 summers of research would be twice as good as one *only* if you have that much more to show for it. 2 summers of research with 2 abstracts? Probably not. 2 summers of research (with work during your MS1 and MS2) with publication, then yes, worth it.
     
  4. Critical Mass

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    Well the "worst" would be not even a poster or seminar, but I think that we would have a tough time quantifying the "value" of research experience. I know a lot of faculty who won't even give an acknowledgment to a medical student.

    This may just be the view of myself and that of the recent M4's who I've talked to, but basic science research conducted during M1/2 with little to no clinical relevance and no publication has almost no value whether it's 1 summer or 10 summers.

    Like I've said before, the only reason to do research is because you want to make a contribution to the field. Competative residency programs use it to gauge your interest and aptitude compared to others with respect to the specialty applied to.

    I've personally worked for about 5 basic science labs over many years and picked up a handful of publications. Do any of them have to do with my specialty? Nope. Will they hold weight? None whatsoever if I tank step 1.
     
  5. Pinkertinkle

    Pinkertinkle 2003 Member
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    A publication wud be better than 10 research experiences.
     
  6. Critical Mass

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    I agree that a program director would feel this way.

    A USMLE I of 260 with no publications will get you more interviews than a 200 with ten publications.
     
  7. Hednej

    Hednej ***** Level 60
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    so if there are no publications, one summer isn't that far away from 2 summers?
     
  8. Critical Mass

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    I'd pretty much call them equivalent.

    This is however like some of those pre-allo debates about med school admissions in which they seem to ignore the importance of the MCAT score. You are first ranked by your boards. Research is looked at down the line and really only a player in the competative fields/programs.

    My advice would be to spend M1/2 focusing on step 1. Study for step 1, then prepare for step 1, then study some more. When you think that you're ready to take it, study further. When you are certain that you are ready, then you really just haven't studied enough. To summarize, dedicate your academic life to nailing USMLE step 1. After you've already kicked it's ass, then rule M3 while narrowing your specialty hunt, making contacts, rubbing elbows with relevant faculty, and getting your name listed 5th on a handful of clinical case reviews in sundry journals in the field.

    Research experience before and during the preclinical phase is often like patient-contact. The school gives you access to some, but your ability to do significant things is muddled by the fact that they need you to rock your USMLE 1.
     
  9. Dr.Inviz

    Dr.Inviz Membership Revoked
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    Can't you do both research and study for USMLE Step I? I'm thinking about starting clinical research this summer and then go back the following summer for another project under the same lab. I figure that while doing research, one can still study for USMLE ... right, or wrong?
     
  10. Critical Mass

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    It can be done, but my view is that you always have time for research later on, but you can only take step 1 once (assuming you pass). At my place, the opportunities for clinical research are just so much more plentiful as an M3 compared to M1/2.

    If you get a good clinical project with an MD as a PI, then yeah, I'd probably go for it especially if it is in a specialty that you are interested in.

    :luck:
     
  11. Hednej

    Hednej ***** Level 60
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    My impression was that you're going to be so busy during M3 you won't have time to breath. So how would you find the time to do research?
     
  12. Pinkertinkle

    Pinkertinkle 2003 Member
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    Given that it can take a months to a year to get a paper peer reviewed and in press, starting research third year will likely be too late to get any publications before ERAS is due. This is especially true for basic science research which is more highly regarded than the run of the mill case report.

    240 with 10 publications will get more interviews than 260 with none even/especially in the competitive specialties. Boards are like the MCAT, past a threshold (35 or 240) other things come into play. I recommend keeping a good balance of board review and research to maximize your chances.
     
  13. SupergreenMnM

    SupergreenMnM Peanut, not chocolate
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    You can always use the good ol trick "Submitted for publication". Weak, I know, but better than nothing if the journal (cough cough/kicks neuron in the butt) drags their feet in getting your article published.

    OP: general rule of thumb is if you don't publish it, it didn't happen, if you present it at say...an ASTRO conference or something (insert your field here)then it happened but wasn't all that great, but better than nothing.
     
  14. Critical Mass

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    Naw, you've got down time during geriatrics and selectives like derm. Hook up with a PI in the late afternoon when you are done with your shift. In my experience, the big time MD's won't risk wasting their time on an M1/M2 anyhow.

    I think that there is a misconception about clinical research compared to basic science stuff. Good academic docs have their hands in many projects at the same time, and they don't have a problem sharing with young bucks. It's not like your biochemistry prof who has a handful of post-docs and grad students fighting over the handful of pubs that come out every year at the cost of hundreds of thousands. Clinical medicine is much more of a "we take care of each other" kind of environment. If you put up some top numbers in school and draw the respect of your faculty, docs will see that you have potential.

    If you blow on your boards on the other hand, why would a strong faculty clinician want to waste his/her time on you? If you don't stand a chance of matching well, why provide an LOR? It makes the recommender look bad if you suck. Let's say you've got a good program at your school in a competative specialty. Who are the faculty going to want to work with? The reason that they kick ass is because they were the AOA rockstars when they were in medical school. Like dissolves like.

    Keep in mind that doing research can lead to good advice, LOR's, connections, etc. in addition to publications. Just don't do something half-assed as a means to an end. Do research because you enjoy the work. It will show when people ask you about it during interviews.

    There may be schools out there where underclassmen get publications out of their 10-week summer experiences, but I'm inclined to think that the norm is more like a poster, a small stipend, and a photo in some campus bulletin. This is just based on my experience as a grad student and visits to scientific meetings here and there.

    So I say get your didactic stuff in order first.
     
  15. lord_jeebus

    lord_jeebus 和魂洋才
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    Hednej, are you coming to UCSD? There's a lot of busy time (no geriatrics or selectives like derm), but if you already have a project in place you may find bits of time here and there to work on it during third year.

    If you are really interested in research I think you can take advantage of the preclinical elective system to set aside lots of time for research throughout the first 2 years. In retrospect I wish I had done this (although I did learn how to hypnotize people).

    UCSD makes you front-load the core rotations, so doing research during M3 is hard. Year 4, however, is almost a vacation (3 months vacation, 2 months optional research, lots of rotations with afternoons off) and I've got a big clinical project waiting for me in 8 weeks...
     
  16. Hednej

    Hednej ***** Level 60
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    Hehe, no it's actually at another school. I just wanted to make sure that I wouldn't be missing out on much if I gave up to UCSD and gave up that project.

    And I was really thinking about doing it during the electives time. But would PIs give me clinical research as a MS-1 and would I be competent enough to do it?
     
  17. OddNath

    OddNath Senior Member
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    Maybe I'm missing something, but most people take step 1 after M2, right? If I had studied for step 1 last summer (between M1 and M2), I wouldn't have known any path or pharm. I mean I guess I could've looked over anatomy and micro all summer, but I don't think it would've been a good use of time.
     
  18. Critical Mass

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    I've spent M1 going through First Aid. The material in M2 is rote memory just like M1. Having someone explain things to me is a waste of time, hence I don't go to class either. I think that it will be a rather good use of time for me to be ahead of the game on path.

    I'm not saying that you should avoid research at all costs during M1/2 summer. I'm just saying that it may not turn out to be as profitable as you thought it was.

    To me, the best reason to do research over the summer is for the pay.
     
  19. Long Dong

    Long Dong My middle name is Duc.
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    Having just gone threw the match I agree with all this :thumbup:
    Pinker it on point. During summer between first and second I did path research which was hella kick back and I got paid. I was rich biaatch. Also during the down time during my path research I read goljan's review of path and listened to his path lectures while working out, thus when I got pimped during autopsy or slide sign out I knew a little sumthang sumthang and it helped me do well my classes during year 2 and for step 1. And top of that my LOR from my path PI helped me score my res big time cuz during interviews I talked about how I want to do a dermpath fellowship.
     

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