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Finding Clinical Research Positions

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by justadream, Jul 21, 2011.

  1. justadream

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    I know there are tons of threads about clinical research vs. bench research and the advantages and disadvantages of each. I have done bench research and am looking to enter clinical research in the near future.

    My question is: Where exactly do I find clinical research positions? I will be close to my college's medical school and hospital while I am an undergraduate student. I looked at the webpages of the professors for the medical school and most of them seem to be conducting bench research. Are most of the clinical research positions found by contacting physicians in the affiliated hospital? Or, should I look within the medical school?

    I appreciate your help :)
     
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  3. Doc of the Walk

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  4. LizzyM

    LizzyM the evil queen of numbers
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    Clinical research funding generally goes to the medical school, not to the affiliated hospital. So, hiring employees to do clinical research usually is done through the medical schools human resources (HR) department. Clinical research that involves studies that will be submitted to the FDA for approval of a new drug or device or use of an approved drug for a new use will require reams of paperwork including putting the name of every person involved in the study (as a worker or helper) on a permanent record. Changing and up-dating those forms can be a headache. Furthermore, the training required to assure that the protocols are followed systematically and consistently is lengthly (in some cases, I've seen pharmaceutical companies fly the entire team from every study site to a central location for 3-4 days of training on standard operating procedures). That type of study does not lend itself to a student volunteer.

    Generally, the best a student volunteer could hope for would be a very simple chart review study or a simple survey on quality of life in a sample from a clinical setting. The divisions of general internal medicine and general pediatrics are the best places to look. I'd suggest looking at the faculty pages of these divisions (sometimes called sections) within the Departments of Medicine and Pediatrics at your local med school. Look for faculty who have publications with titles that sound promising and then find copies of the articles (your academic librarian can help you with interlibrary loan if the articles aren't available to you online), and then contact the faculty member with an interesting question that is a spin off of their prior work. You can also ask if they have anything in the works that could use the assistance of a student volunteer. To be of assistance you should have some basic knowledge of statistical analysis and statistics software. Electronic medical records are making chart abstraction less common than it used to be but some old-fashioned practices might still need someone to pour over paper records and record information for data entry and analysis.
     
  5. bucks2010

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    From your post it sounds like you haven't started college yet? If that is the case, I would hold off on trying to find any research position yet - clinical or basic science. I say this only because I remember how naive I was when I first started college; if I had started a clinical research project then without having done any of the pre-reqs, gained any familiarity with biostats or with the field of medicine in general (through shadowing and clinical volunteering/work), I don't think I would've known enough about what I was getting into for the experience to be very beneficial.

    Plus, if you do clinical research for any length of time, you will probably want to get an LOR from your PI (the schools you apply to may even require one), and IMHO it will be much easier for them to write you a very good letter if you begin working with them after you have gained some maturity (yes I am calling you immature, because 99% of college freshmen are - I was too).

    My recommendation is to get a year of college coursework under your belt (including pre-reqs + biostats if you're serious about finding a clinical research position) and then look to start research during your sophomore year at the earliest.
     
  6. LizzyM

    LizzyM the evil queen of numbers
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    ^ I agree. Clinical research is most often engaged in during a gap year after college graduation or by non-traditional applicants who do some post-bac work to meet the pre-reqs which they didn't take in college. Either way, it generally comes after earning a college degree.
     
  7. bucks2010

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    This is exactly what I am doing. I've got a job at the hospital to pay the bills, and found a doc who has some side projects that I can help him with.
     
  8. 1TB4RKSB4CK

    1TB4RKSB4CK wussup doge
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    So LizzyM, you would not recommend to do Clinical Research during undergrad? Do you think it's too time consuming for the avg lets say 16 credit hour course-load +part time job?
     
  9. LizzyM

    LizzyM the evil queen of numbers
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    For the most part, it requires skills that college students don't have and is most effective if one is a full-time employee, particularly if it involves clinical trials (with all the paperwork involved to list you as a person involved in the study).

    Undergrads generally have up-to-date skills at the bench and are more productive there. Furthermore, bench research seems to be more appropriate for those who have no more than 10-15 hours per week to dedicate to it.
     

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