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When is the best time to do a Research year?

I am an MS2 and I am debating between 2/3 years, or 3/4.

Which one is better? I kind of figure doing it between my 2nd and 3rd would give me more time to study for boards. Im scheduled right now for June 25th so I guess I could even get boards studying with done with before I begin my year of research.

Also, my entire 4th year is out rotations. So would it be better to get my main rotations out of the way and THEN go on to the research?

Any help would be appreciated, thank you.
 

jdh71

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When is the best time to do a Research year?

I am an MS2 and I am debating between 2/3 years, or 3/4.

Which one is better? I kind of figure doing it between my 2nd and 3rd would give me more time to study for boards. Im scheduled right now for June 25th so I guess I could even get boards studying with done with before I begin my year of research.

Also, my entire 4th year is out rotations. So would it be better to get my main rotations out of the way and THEN go on to the research?

Any help would be appreciated, thank you.
I think extending your 4th year into two years would be the best way. It allows for smooth taking of step 1 and step 2 without any breaks in the regular basic/clinical science courses. Plus splitting 4th year into two years gives you a ton of time both for research and lots of time to interview.
 

Mr hawkings

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I think extending your 4th year into two years would be the best way. It allows for smooth taking of step 1 and step 2 without any breaks in the regular basic/clinical science courses. Plus splitting 4th year into two years gives you a ton of time both for research and lots of time to interview.
I'm just a 1st year so i would obviously defer to your experience. i have a question though. Since a lot of 4th yr is made up of electives and easy rotations (depending on where you go to school) would taking that year b/n 3rd and 4th yr present a problem in terms of forgeting a lot of the 3rd year clinical stuff so close to intern year?
Thats why i was thinking that maybe taking that yr after passing step 1 would be best. That way you are done with preclinical stuff and you can start clinicals when you are done with the year away.I would just be worried about coming back rusty to the clinics after a yr off and still be expected to perform as well as other 4th yrs.
 

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It is not a good idea to take a year away from school unless you get some kind of degree (MPH, MBA, MS) for doing this. Many medical students are able to do research without extending their medical school years. Residency programs are not happy about people taking years off to study for boards and do research unless it leads to a degree (Ph.D).
 

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It is not a good idea to take a year away from school unless you get some kind of degree (MPH, MBA, MS) for doing this. Many medical students are able to do research without extending their medical school years. Residency programs are not happy about people taking years off to study for boards and do research unless it leads to a degree (Ph.D).
is it true that some residency programs don't consider students if they take a year off medical school even if it leads to a degree without looking at any other factors?
 

JacobSilge

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It is not a good idea to take a year away from school unless you get some kind of degree (MPH, MBA, MS) for doing this. Many medical students are able to do research without extending their medical school years. Residency programs are not happy about people taking years off to study for boards and do research unless it leads to a degree (Ph.D).
Caveat to this advice: while residency programs don't want to see people take off random years, especially not for studying, doing a research year can look very good if you are productive. If you are interested in this, you should look into formal year out programs such as Doris Duke, HHMI Med Fellows, and the NIH programs. In a year you can have a far more in depth research experience than a random summer.

That being said, when to take the year out is somewhat dependent on what you want to do. If you are interested in clinical research, then after 3rd year is pretty much a must.
 

jdh71

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I'm just a 1st year so i would obviously defer to your experience. i have a question though. Since a lot of 4th yr is made up of electives and easy rotations (depending on where you go to school) would taking that year b/n 3rd and 4th yr present a problem in terms of forgeting a lot of the 3rd year clinical stuff so close to intern year?
Thats why i was thinking that maybe taking that yr after passing step 1 would be best. That way you are done with preclinical stuff and you can start clinicals when you are done with the year away.I would just be worried about coming back rusty to the clinics after a yr off and still be expected to perform as well as other 4th yrs.
I suppose there are a number of rational strategies. I just kind of think making 4th year into two years makes the most sense. Mix an match a little. At the school I went to you could do this and didn't have to deal with tuition/loan issues the way they had it set up. I'm not sure this is the case everywhere. But I think do 1-3 in a row, and between 3 and 4 could be a reasonable time if you can't split the 4th year.
 

jdh71

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It is not a good idea to take a year away from school unless you get some kind of degree (MPH, MBA, MS) for doing this. Many medical students are able to do research without extending their medical school years. Residency programs are not happy about people taking years off to study for boards and do research unless it leads to a degree (Ph.D).
I have to kind of respectfully disagree. I guess I don't know what it's like in the surgical world . . . but it seems that a good explanation for an extension, especially if it nets you basic science research experience and a publication is a good explanation for an extension, especially for someone interested in going the physician scientist route. I think its next to impossible to do anything meaningful in a basic science lab while trying to be a full-time student as well. I agree students can be involved with clinical research with some expense of personal free time while being a full-time student.
 

RxnMan

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It is not a good idea to take a year away from school unless you get some kind of degree (MPH, MBA, MS) for doing this. Many medical students are able to do research without extending their medical school years. Residency programs are not happy about people taking years off to study for boards and do research unless it leads to a degree (Ph.D).
This is not correct. If my program is any indication, graduates of non-degree-granting year-out research programs do very well in the match. Including surgery and the surgical sub-specialties.

...I agree students can be involved with clinical research with some expense of personal free time while being a full-time student.
This is somewhat true. I spent the last 3 years creating and running a small clinical trial while a med student. It was possible to do by scheduling data collection times all in the week or so I had for vacation.

But then again, once you're up to snuff on the techniques, you can go into the lab at any time. You don't need to consent a plate of cells, so the scheduling constraints in basic science aren't as difficult as in clinical research. You can just set up a gel and study while it runs.

When is the best time to do a Research year?

I am an MS2 and I am debating between 2/3 years, or 3/4.

Which one is better? I kind of figure doing it between my 2nd and 3rd would give me more time to study for boards. Im scheduled right now for June 25th so I guess I could even get boards studying with done with before I begin my year of research.

Also, my entire 4th year is out rotations. So would it be better to get my main rotations out of the way and THEN go on to the research?

Any help would be appreciated, thank you.
My program has students who take off a year between 3rd and 4th, as well as a few who have extended their 4th year. I think, for a research focus, having at least MS3 year under your belt is a plus. My experience on the wards allows me to contribute to the lab on a daily basis. The PhDs in my lab, while very good, don't have that experience (not bad, simply different training). My different perspective, combined with their skills, allows us to figure out which research questions are most important and most interesting.
 

jdh71

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But then again, once you're up to snuff on the techniques, you can go into the lab at any time. You don't need to consent a plate of cells, so the scheduling constraints in basic science aren't as difficult as in clinical research. You can just set up a gel and study while it runs.
I don't know . . . The problem isn't just running one random gel, which would obviously support your point. I mean I hear what you are saying, and in the abstract is true, but within the context of the practical real world you're not just running one gel, you are running hundreds, as well as western blots, and PCR, and feeding the mice, taking care of the cell cultures . . . etc. This does not lend itself very well to "free-time" only research IMHO. And probably the reason why every fellowship program known to do basic science that I've interviewed at has protected research time free from clinical duties (outside of sharing ICU call a few nights per month).
 

RxnMan

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I don't know . . . The problem isn't just running one random gel, which would obviously support your point. I mean I hear what you are saying, and in the abstract is true, but within the context of the practical real world you're not just running one gel, you are running hundreds, as well as western blots, and PCR, and feeding the mice, taking care of the cell cultures . . . etc. This does not lend itself very well to "free-time" only research IMHO. And probably the reason why every fellowship program known to do basic science that I've interviewed at has protected research time free from clinical duties (outside of sharing ICU call a few nights per month).
I've done this sort of thing myself, so it's doable. So have many of my classmates. In your previous post, I think you're assuming a project like a case report, a systematic review, or maybe compiling data gathered by others. If this is what you meant, than I agree that's something that's easier to do in your free time.

But if you're running a small trial, like I have, it takes time to consent and test patients. Scheduling lab time and trouble-shooting procedures takes concentrated amounts of time, especially if you're a one-man show.

I believe the most important factors are the type of project and your level of involvement. Some projects lend themselves to small allotments of time here and there (as described above). The fellows in the programs you're describing are taking on ~full responsibility, so it makes sense they need protected time. The same holds true for clinical research.
 

jdh71

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I believe the most important factors are the type of project and your level of involvement. Some projects lend themselves to small allotments of time here and there (as described above). The fellows in the programs you're describing are taking on ~full responsibility, so it makes sense they need protected time. The same holds true for clinical research.
Agreed.
 

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There are costs and benefits of each of your choices, but just keep in mind that you will forget something about your clinical training either way. If you break between MS2 and MS3, you will likely forget most of your board prep (syndromes you've never seen, drug combos, etc), and transitioning into clerkships may be more difficult for you. On the other hand, if you break before MS4, you are not as likely to forget quite so much material...but expectations for your skills will likely be higher than they were at the beginning of MS3.

As an aside, back in the day, my MD/PhD program allowed students to break for research between MS3 and MS4 years, but one of the major reasons this stopped was because students were not polished enough when they returned for MS4 year. You can start MS3 with "gentle" clerkships, but by the time you hit MS4 you are expected to be up to par. Is it worse to forget the facts as a new MS3 or to look clinically incompetent further down the road? That one's up to you...
 

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Did my research year after MS3. I thought it was nice in that I was able to tailor my research toward your long term career goals a bit better. I didn't notice much of an effect on my clinical abilities. If you're worried about it, you can always take CS right before you return to 4th year.
 
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thesauce

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It is not a good idea to take a year away from school unless you get some kind of degree (MPH, MBA, MS) for doing this. Many medical students are able to do research without extending their medical school years. Residency programs are not happy about people taking years off to study for boards and do research unless it leads to a degree (Ph.D).
How did you come to this conclusion? The "year off" research programs have incredible match lists. Check out the CRTP program, for instance:
http://www.cc.nih.gov/training/crtp/CRTPBook2008.pdf (starting on page 10)

or one of the Doris Duke programs:
http://dorisduke.cumc.columbia.edu/residency.html
 

JLC

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It is not a good idea to take a year away from school unless you get some kind of degree (MPH, MBA, MS) for doing this. Many medical students are able to do research without extending their medical school years. Residency programs are not happy about people taking years off to study for boards and do research unless it leads to a degree (Ph.D).

No offense but that's nonsense. When I was interviewing at Stanford I remember hearing that most students take a year off. Its also pretty common at the school I attend (Hopkins) to take a year off for research. Both schools match very well.
 

Mr hawkings

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How did you come to this conclusion?
I believe she is one of the people in charge of making the decision to accept you into her program. Or at least i thought she was
 

thesauce

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I believe she is one of the people in charge of making the decision to accept you into her program. Or at least i thought she was
I don't know why you worded your response this way.

If she's only speaking of her own experience at her own program, I'm not sure why she's generalizing it, especially considering that most people who participate in the year off research programs match incredibly well.
 

Mr hawkings

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I don't know why you worded your response this way.

If she's only speaking of her own experience at her own program, I'm not sure why she's generalizing it, especially considering that most people who participate in the year off research programs match incredibly well.
I was not referring to you specifically. I meant applicants in general. Calm down.
Maybe she should have specified what their program specifically looks for but we are all generalizing here. Others have given stories about someone they knew who got into one program or the other after doing XY and Z as evidence so i thought the input from someone who participates in that decision-making process at one institution might be worth sonething
 

thesauce

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I was not referring to you specifically. I meant applicants in general. Calm down.
Ha. Now you're just projecting. I'm finished with 4th year and post-match. You couldn't rile me if you tried.

Maybe she should have specified what their program specifically looks for but we are all generalizing here. Others have given stories about someone they knew who got into one program or the other after doing XY and Z as evidence
We aren't "all generalizing here." I gave links to 2 research fellowships that list every student who's participated in them and where they went for residency. I challenge you to find a non-academic program on either list. This isn't coincidence--this is what happens when you do a research fellowship.

so i thought the input from someone who participates in that decision-making process at one institution might be worth sonething
It's interesting and I'd like to hear her reasoning, which is why I asked. However, I don't know how much it's worth considering all specialties in nearly every major academic center are represented on the match lists of these programs, thus it can hardly be seen as a negative.
 

Mr hawkings

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I challenge you to find a non-academic program on either list. This isn't coincidence--this is what happens when you do a research fellowship.

.
I think you have the impression that i am arguing against your point. I simply do not know anything about this topic and i have not stated one opinion or the other about it. I was simply trying to explain why what she has to say might be worth hearing.
 

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Ha. Now you're just projecting. I'm finished with 4th year and post-match. You couldn't rile me if you tried.

We aren't "all generalizing here." I gave links to 2 research fellowships that list every student who's participated in them and where they went for residency. I challenge you to find a non-academic program on either list. This isn't coincidence--this is what happens when you do a research fellowship.
You seem a little riled up by this. Some of the people here certainly were generalizing so you can hardly claim that "we aren't" doing something and then support that by explaining what only you did.
 

thesauce

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You seem a little riled up by this.
1st grade called...

Some of the people here certainly were generalizing so you can hardly claim that "we aren't ALL" doing something and then support that by explaining what only you did.
You said it yourself: SOME were generalizing---he said ALL. You conveniently left that out of your response so I've reinserted it to show you where your logic derailed. See how your post makes no sense now?
 
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