Feb 26, 2010
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Hi everyone!

So basically I have been doing clinical research for about a year now testing firefighters maximum oxygen consumption levels correlating it to cardiovascular disease. I believe this is classified as clinical research because I don't perform any 'bench' work per se. The project is coming to a close as our manuscript is almost written and now I have two options.

I can either continue this research next fall by maybe starting up another project under the same PI relating to the first project or pursue bench research in the microbiology department. The kicker is that I do not know how adcoms view clinical vs bench research and whether one "counts more" towards actual research that they are looking for. I highly enjoy the research I do now and especially like all of the people I work with so that is a major motivation. I also just got accepted to the SIP at the NIH for this summer and figured that might fulfill my empty bench research hole.

So basically, my question boils down to this, is there a real difference between these two in the eyes of the adcoms? And which would be more beneficial for my growth and development as a researcher? I am aiming for the research heavy schools and would also like to know how much research a typical applicant would have or how much they expect.

Thanks for reading and thoughts are appreciated! :)
 

RogueUnicorn

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do what you want to do - it's what's going to impress people most in the end.
 

imperfections

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Pretty sure that adcoms wouldn't have a preference for bench vs. clinical research. If you love what you're doing now and have great relationships with the people you work with, then that passion will shine through in your application and interview which is the most important thing.
 

BlueElmo

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Like others said, stick with your current clinical research.
 
Nov 22, 2009
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Random question, but does research with animals also fall under bench research?
 

LizzyM

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Random question, but does research with animals also fall under bench research?
It depends what you are doing with them. Are you at a bench? If so, then yes, it is bench research. However, if you were studying animal behavior (teaching apes to interact with an ATM-type machine, for example) then that's more like clinical research. In either case, AMCAS does not diferentiate between clinical and bench.

Adcoms don't have much of a preference for clinical vs. bench if you are having some say in how the experiments are conducted, in the study design, hypothesis generation, and/or in the data analysis and manuscript writing. It is a little iffy when the research consists of handing questionnaires to subjects, collecting & shipping samples, and the like according to a protocol & hypothesis in which you have no say.

Adcoms want to see that you have some understanding of the scientific method and that you enjoy research enough to keep at it or that you tried it and found it less interesting in medicine thus helping you narrow your career path. Either is a valid reason to be admitted to med school but some schools are seeking one type of student over the other which then gets to the issue of "a good fit".
 

iFearMCAT

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Feb 16, 2010
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Adcoms want to see that you have some understanding of the scientific method and that you enjoy research enough to keep at it or that you tried it and found it less interesting in medicine thus helping you narrow your career path. Either is a valid reason to be admitted to med school but some schools are seeking one type of student over the other which then gets to the issue of "a good fit".
Is it safe to say that all the top 25 medical schools and all the schools that offer MD/PhD programs (but just considering MD admission) fall into the first category?
 
Dec 30, 2009
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Second this.
For me, bench taught me I hate bench. :D
+1 man

I feel exactly the same way. I was originally going to do a career in biomedical research at the lab bench until I spent a summer working full-time in a research lab. While the research was interesting at times, I could not see spending 40 years of my life bymyself stuck in the corner of a lab not interacting with anyone just to see failure after failure of results and not knowing what the hell caused them so I could stop getting poor results. Plus, my spine wouldn't allow it. There was nothing left of my cervical spine and back after being continually bent over at the lab bench for 40-50 hours a week! At least in medicine, unless your in surgery or pathology, your not continually bent over or sitting all day long. I need a job like primary care FM or IM where you get to move around most of the time, talking or examining patients, looking something up, etc! A career in medicine is much more people interactive and varies from day to day compared to bench research.

I'm much more of a hands on, people person, which is what has drawn me to medicine. I really enjoy talking and trying to help people. Much more interesting way to spend ones life I think. Though there r others who love bench research. All power to them!

Personally after doing bench research, if I had a choice, I would want to do clinical, especially if it involves people because at least part of the time you'll get to interact with people/subjects and the other people/researcher involved in the trial/research! I'm hoping to work in a combo of health care work/clinical research while I wait to get everything in order to apply to med school!
 
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LizzyM

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Is it safe to say that all the top 25 medical schools and all the schools that offer MD/PhD programs (but just considering MD admission) fall into the first category?
Some applicants who discovered in doing research that they don't like it and that they just want to practice medicine will still be attractive to the adcom of a top 25 or to a MD/PhD school if other factors are present (e.g. language/culture and a desire to serve underserved local communities, impressive leadership experiences such as military or other long-term "service" such as Peace Corps.)