Nov 4, 2010
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I'm taking time off after college before applying to medical school. Should I apply for jobs in management consulting or in clinical research?

Do med schools tend to view a consulting background unfavorably? For example, as indicative as a lack of commitment to medicine? It would be awesome if I could go specifically into healthcare consulting or some nonprofit arm, but it's so competitive that I would be happy just to get a more "general" consulting job.

My reasoning for considering consulting is that even if I end up doing cases in a wide range of industries that aren't directly related to healthcare, I could still hone my ability to think analytically (among other skills) that could be an asset elsewhere, eg. in a global health nonprofit setting. I also have significant loans from college, and would like to be able to save money for a few years. Clinical research assistant salaries are pretty puny in comparison.

On the other hand, I have zero research experience so far (except within my social science major), and from reading these forums, I'm under the impression that having at least some research experience is a MUST. I'm not terribly interested in academic medicine, and I've heard that it's hard to land a satisfying RA job. My friends who are clinical RAs or coordinators describe their jobs as frankly pretty boring, and mostly office monkey-type work -- data entry, preparing IRB/regulations-related documents, etc. And I'm even less interested in basic science benchwork. Basically, I would be doing clinical research for 2+ years only dutifully, to strengthen my app for med school. I'm open to doing clinical research but not sure how to find a job that would be worthwhile... seems to be more a matter of luck?

Can anyone speak from experience about this? (Or even if you didn't work in consulting or clinical research, I'm still interested in your thoughts anyway!)

Sorry this was so long.
Thanks!
 

ktruon2

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You don't have to do or have research. However, if you decide to do something in consulting, I would at least get some clinical volunteer work going on or something. I doubt they look down on consulting, but they obviously want to see where your interest in medicine is derived from and some proof in your activities.
 

Charles_Carmichael

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If you're not interested in research, don't do it. It'll save you a lot of headache. Honestly, there are a lot of people who get into med school every year who don't have any research experience. It's not a requirement. You'll likely have a harder time getting into a school that's an academic powerhouse if you don't have research, but as long as the rest of your ECs pan out well, you'll still likely have a successful application cycle (after taking into account your GPA/MCAT as well, of course).

PS. I've only been immersed in basic science/translational research so I could be completely wrong here, but a lot of clinical research positions (especially for people who only have a BS/BA) seem to be administrative type positions where you're contacting patients, etc, without really contributing intellectually to the project. But, like I said, I could be completely wrong here since I have not been involved in clinical research (yet). Someone with more experience will hopefully chime in. Good luck!

Edit: Just read this part:

Basically, I would be doing clinical research for 2+ years only dutifully, to strengthen my app for med school. I'm open to doing clinical research but not sure how to find a job that would be worthwhile... seems to be more a matter of luck?
Seriously, don't pursue research unless you're interested in doing so. I've been involved in research (basic science/translational) for over two years and I'll tell you right now that research is not for everyone. Don't put yourself through the headache of working in a field that you don't have interest in. It's very unlikely that you'll find work in a clinical research lab where you would contribute intellectually and have a fair share of thinking involved. Do not pursue research for the sole reason of strengthening your app. There's a good chance that you will be miserable if you do so.
 
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