Am I focusing too much on research for MD application?

  • Yes

    Votes: 3 23.1%
  • No

    Votes: 10 76.9%

  • Total voters
    13

cheerios123

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Jun 4, 2017
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Hi I am a rising sophomore in college. I worked in a research lab for my freshman year and I am working there full time during this summer. I recently finished writing a manuscript, and I will send it to a journal by the end of this month; I will be first-author. I am starting 2 more independent projects, and this will take 12 hours/week during my sophomore year. I have also put a lot of time into tutoring and making a tutoring program at a school with a non-profit. For clinical exp, I am only volunteering 4 hours/week at a hospital. I feel that I am not spending enough time on clinical experience because I am so passionate about research and working on tutoring programs. What do you people recommend? I don't want the absence of good clinical exp ruin an app. I'm just trying to plan ahead so I can get some good experiences before I apply to med school.
 
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cheerios123

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That's true. But is research really that important for MD? I feel that 2/3 first author publications on a MD application wouldn't be as great as 2/3 first author publications on a MD/PhD application.
 

Dox4lyfe

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Feb 7, 2017
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Obviously it'll carry more weight for an MD/PhD applicant, but if you're passionate about it (like you said you are) and enjoy it, don't sacrifice it for something else. Also, if the rest of your app is golden, this extensive research experience will set you apart from the rest at the research driven schools such as Stanford.

If you continue 4hrs/wk for the next two years (assuming you haven't done any thus far) you'll have around 200+ hours which is more than enough.
 

Pagan FutureDoc

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If you are passionate about research I'd say it's fine, especially at schools with a lot of research.

Maybe I'm missing it, but you could use some kind of voulenteering with those less fortunate than you.
 

Pleides

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It also depends on your target schools. Top 20 schools love and care a lot about research. Lower tier schools not so much.
 
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Pepe18

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Do what you like, but don't sacrifice your grades. My clinical experience was shadowing I did 6yrs before applying and ~50hrs in a hospital right before submitting my app. I have thousands of research hours. All schools like research
 
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Hi I am a rising sophomore in college. I worked in a research lab for my freshman year and I am working there full time during this summer. I recently finished writing a manuscript, and I will send it to a journal by the end of this month; I will be first-author. I am starting 2 more independent projects, and this will take 12 hours/week during my sophomore year. I have also put a lot of time into tutoring and making a tutoring program at a school with a non-profit. For clinical exp, I am only volunteering 4 hours/week at a hospital. I feel that I am not spending enough time on clinical experience because I am so passionate about research and working on tutoring programs. What do you people recommend? I don't want the absence of good clinical exp ruin an app. I'm just trying to plan ahead so I can get some good experiences before I apply to med school.
Your research is sufficient as it is for general med school application purposes. If you have the high grades and high MCAT score to be considered by highly-selective MD schools or by MD/PhD programs, then additional research will act strongly in your favor. So will a substantial leadership experience, but it looks like you're on top of that, too.

I agree that by the time you apply, if you continue at the same rate, your active clinical experience will be fine. Don't forget to get in some physician shadowing, as well, but there's no rush for that since it won't require that many hours (50 is fine).
 

Lucca

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If you like doing research and are good at it, keep at it. It will help your MD application even if you don't want to go the research career route. Just make sure you are also keeping up your grades and other ECs!

To answer your question more directly, research is more important at some schools than others. I doubt you can have "too much" research at Stanford Med but a school like Stritch will wonder if you're seriously committed to service to others if you spend 95% of your EC time pipetting
 

md-2020

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If you like doing research and are good at it, keep at it. It will help your MD application even if you don't want to go the research career route. Just make sure you are also keeping up your grades and other ECs!

To answer your question more directly, research is more important at some schools than others. I doubt you can have "too much" research at Stanford Med but a school like Stritch will wonder if you're seriously committed to service to others if you spend 95% of your EC time pipetting
And yet if you can convince them that you'd matriculate they certainly won't lose any sleep about a multi-first authored student!

All schools love research. The lower ranked ones are just convinced that you (and other research superstars) will matriculate a research powerhouse over them and so focus on other things.
 
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gonnif

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In a 2013 AAMC survey* where 127 medical admissions offices responded, found research experience is only of medium importance at private schools and of low importance to public schools as an experiential factor in offering both interview invitations and acceptance. Healthcare experience, community service/volunteer experience, experience with underserved populations, navigated through cultural barriers or challenges, leadership experience were considered of higher importance in factors for interview invites and offers of acceptances. This was further borne out in the 2015 AAMC Survey** where 130 medical school admissions found that both community service or volunteer in both medical and non-medical settings ranked higher in importance than physician shadowing

*https://www.aamc.org/download/434596/data/usingmcatdata2016.pdf#page=7
see page 3 (pdf p7) Table 1. Mean Importance Ratings of Academic, Experiential, and Demographic Application Data Used by Admissions Committees for Making Decisions about Which Applicants to Receive an Interview Invitation and Offer Acceptance (N=127)

** https://www.aamc.org/download/462316/data/mcatguide.pdf#page=10
See page 4 (pdf page 9) Table 1. Mean Importance Ratings of Academic, Experiential, Demographic, and Interview Data Used by Admissions Committees for Making Decisions about Which Applicants Receive Interview Invitations and Acceptance Offers (N=130)
 

DameJulie

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I also spent a lot of time in research. I wonder how does one demonstrate on the app that their research is more as a commitment in future medicine rather than giving the impression of "This candidate is better of with PhD?" I felt like there's an easy trap there for someone who had research-heavy EC to turn their research into a disservice.

Also, how to present research in a way that low-tier schools won't see it as "he/she is going to research powerhouse" and resulting a rejection?
 
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cheerios123

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Thank you everyone for your input! @gonnif, I have seen those tables on a previous post. But don't the sample sizes (n=127 and n=130) make research-focused schools (e.g. top 20) a minority in that analysis? Therefore, reducing the perceived importance of research? I am aiming for top medical schools.
 
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cheerios123

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@DameJulie, I feel that spending a lot of time in lab has given be a good idea of what research is. I personally don't want to do it for the rest of my life. But I like learning about the medical implications of the research I do. I do MRI research, so I learn a lot about surgical procedures and diagnostics.
 

gonnif

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Thank you everyone for your input! @gonnif, I have seen those tables on a previous post. But don't the sample sizes (n=127 and n=130) make research-focused schools (e.g. top 20) a minority in that analysis? Therefore, reducing the perceived importance of research? I am aiming for top medical schools.
So if you dont get into a "top" medical school are you planning not to go to medical school? So by focusing and preparing solely for the perceived "top" medical schools, which are obviously more selective, are you then limiting your chances to be accepted at all the other schools? What is your goal here: to be a doctor or to be a graduate of a top 20 medical school? Shall I remind you that

Applicants apply to an average of 15 medical schools
just under 50% of all matriculants get a single offer of acceptance
that means 50% of matriculants had a 7% acceptance rate
40% of those with a 3.8 GPA or higher, dont get an acceptance
60% of those with a 3.6-3.8GPA dont get an acceptance
20% of those with 517 MCAT or higher, dont get an acceptance
 
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cheerios123

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@gonnif, you make very good points! Similar to most ambitious students, I aim for top medical schools. The reason why I made this thread is to make sure that I am not reducing my changes to get into any medical school by doing too much research. I have a good amount of volunteering and leadership through tutoring and with a non-profit I work with. I am also doing some clinical stuff, but only 4 hours a week By the recommendation on other posts and replies on this post, I will continue what I am doing, but I will make sure that I am not designing my app for the Top 20s.
 

Goro

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Hi I am a rising sophomore in college. I worked in a research lab for my freshman year and I am working there full time during this summer. I recently finished writing a manuscript, and I will send it to a journal by the end of this month; I will be first-author. I am starting 2 more independent projects, and this will take 12 hours/week during my sophomore year. I have also put a lot of time into tutoring and making a tutoring program at a school with a non-profit. For clinical exp, I am only volunteering 4 hours/week at a hospital. I feel that I am not spending enough time on clinical experience because I am so passionate about research and working on tutoring programs. What do you people recommend? I don't want the absence of good clinical exp ruin an app. I'm just trying to plan ahead so I can get some good experiences before I apply to med school.
The gestalt I have gotten from SDNers who went into Top Schools is that they do want clinical and nonclinical volunteering/employment. It seems to be one of quality over quantity, but those who have shared their success with me in this regard indeed have lots of research, often productive in some way, and 100s, even 1000s of hours in clinical and/or nonclinical volunteering.

As LizzyM like to say (and she's at a school up in the stratosphere) "Service to others less fortunate than yourself."
 

gonnif

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@gonnif, you make very good points! Similar to most ambitious students, I aim for top medical schools. The reason why I made this thread is to make sure that I am not reducing my changes to get into any medical school by doing too much research. I have a good amount of volunteering and leadership through tutoring and with a non-profit I work with. I am also doing some clinical stuff, but only 4 hours a week By the recommendation on other posts and replies on this post, I will continue what I am doing, but I will make sure that I am not designing my app for the Top 20s.
I find many students have the ratio of "research - shadowing - clinical - community service" emphasized backwards.
The other issue that overlaps this is overall" healthcare experience" which the ratio of shadowing-employment-clinical volunteering" emphasized backwards
I am giving some numbers below solely because students always ask for them. These are just my rule of thumb and applicants need to use judgement in what they have and what it says about themselves. Let me emphasize that: do not compare either hours or volunteer positions to each other (ie "which would be better EMT or CNA?") Rather think about what you have done or observed in any position and what it says about you and how it adds to you the overall picture that an application presents to a reader.

1) Clinical Volunteering/Community Service should be first.... Volunteering is something you do for others.
as a rule of thumb I say at least 150 hours in each, with 500 total as "excellent" level. Again, by no means some metric or criteria that reflects how schools evaluate this

2) Shadowing/observing. Shadowing is something you do for yourself.
I suggest 3 different areas/specialties/settings of about 10-25 each, with one of them being a primary care doc. The latter isnt because I think everyone should present themselves as wanting to be a family doc. Rather, much of any doctor's practice will simply be seeing, talking, interacting with patients in an exam room setting, so you should see it. Also be careful if your shadowing is heavy into research or high-end specialties. What does it say about a candidate who shadowed only a neurosurgeon, an orthopod and dermatologist. If you are volunteering or working in a position where you observe doctors closeup, shadowing is much less important. Again, don't overload on shadowing to expense of volunteering as, again, it may look that you are doing something solely for yourself.

3) Research: The reason I harp on this is so many applicants have the perception that is the most important thing they can have to get into medical school. So they spend huge amount of hours in this at the expense of the other two above. And they believe that they must somehow be published. Most applicants have any sort of publication/poster/presentation (the 3Ps) and the ones that do are far from the perception that most applicants seem to think. I have an applicant with three of the 3Ps: 2 campus wide student symposium poster and 1 presentation at a national student conference. Few applicants have anything in some high impact journal, so dont get caught up in that belief. Wet bench lab research is fine but is not required. Any sort of research, included clinical, public health, social medicine, is fine.

Of these 3 major areas, research is the least important. While most applicants have some sort of research, about 15% do not. I would venture to say that every applicant has significant healthcare experience/volunteering/community service.
 
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aldol16

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All top-ranked schools like research and passion. Having a passion for teaching is a good thing and you should develop that passion fully. They like research because strong research is what got them to the top of the US News research rankings. Research is also a crucial part of advancing the science of medicine. Having a first-author publication or publications is very good. Now you just have to spend a little more time getting some more clinical experience to show them that you know what you're getting into. That is, you will eventually have to answer the question "Why medicine" as opposed to graduate school multiple times. Being able to draw on a wealth of clinical experiences will help you answer that question and contextualize your research background.