gap year advice: clinical research vs. medical assistant/scribe

Mar 30, 2021
2
0
Status (Visible)
  1. Pre-Medical
I've seen this asked many times before but wanted to be a lil' more specific...

I go to Berkeley and study chemical biology (CoC lesgooo), am graduating in three years, spent half of it online. I have:

3.66 GPA
have not taken MCAT - will be studying this summer/fall

~400 research hrs on chemistry/polymer research mimicking enzymes (bio-inspired, but definitely no bio - NMR analysis)
~600 hrs volunteering as a virtual patient advocate + scribe @ UCSF - offering educational materials, talking with patients about questions/concerns/anxieties, attending appointments, note-taking, communicating with provider
~300 hrs other volunteering as tutor/etc.
~500 hrs doing leadership club things (founded a research/journal club during COVID + other extracurriculars for fun)
~0 hrs shadowing (as of now - planning on getting more with whatever position I get for gap year)

1) do my patient advocate volunteering hours count as clinical? (I know I'm not close enough to smell them, but I would think COVID would give leniency?)

2) I'm looking + applying for gap year jobs. I am still considering MD/PhD, but not entirely sure yet, and I don't want to risk not being able to get into MD only programs by spending all my gap year time on basic science. That being said, I don't want to risk not being able to get into MD/PhD programs by not having basic science research experience other than my 400 hrs above. From what I've heard, clinical research isn't very valued for MD/PhD programs, right?

Right now, I have an offer from a clinical research assistant position at MGH but hesitant to take it because they said it would have 15% patient interaction, 50% IRB work, and the other time spent on data analysis. I do like research, but is this enough for clinical work? Are most other clinical research positions like this, or does it depend on the PI/job?

I'm waiting to hear back from a bunch of other clinical research positions and some basic science positions. I also started considering doing a medical assistant/scribe job for more hands-on clinical work. Should I look for medical assistant/scribe jobs at a small clinic instead of the clinical research positions?

Thanks ~~~
 
Last edited:

mmchick

2+ Year Member
Sep 4, 2017
442
1,006
Status (Visible)
  1. Medical Student
1) I'd say no in terms of that counting as the only clinical experience you have. Perhaps if you had other IRL experiences, that would be a nice supplement, but alone, no. COVID doesn't matter. There are tons of applicants that have those experiences and can tell a more compelling story considering they have solid clinical experience. Clinical is being in front of a patient, close enough to smell them, as justification for why you want to do medicine. Tele-encounters, while a nice touch, do not help make a case for why you're getting into medicine considering your entire career will be seeing patients IRL.

2) You need clinical experience for either. I'd focus on that first. There is some leniency to this with MD/PhD programs, but you have to have something solid at least. Yes, more research - heavily involved in experimental design, data collection, analysis, etc. things that would justify you wanting to be in a lab after school and conducting research head-on are also extensive requirements for MD/PhD. You typically should also have at least 1-2 pubs with a close mentor + PI that can speak to your research aptitude.

Given your virtual lack of clinical experience now, I don't think stuffing in 15% clinical experience in what appears to be mostly back end desk research will quite cut it for what I'm assuming you'd want for a 2022 cycle. Maybe it could, depends on how hands-on you are with the patients and what the "clinical work" entails exactly. If it's anything less of you interviewing patients, touching them, or discussing their medical care with a provider, I don't think it'll work. You might want to consider that scribe position first for several months and then tackle a research position. I know that might push your timeline back a bit, but such are the extra hurdles of MD/PhD programs with the extensive requirements of hands-on research, pubs, and experimental design. I'd be surprised to see anyone tackle a MD/PhD acceptance a year out from college graduation. Those spots really are generally for people who have been highly motivated to explore research post-graduation + acquired the minimal of clinicals needed for even a MD spot.

Even further reason you should go for the clinical experience first is that you're still unsure about MD/PhD. These programs are radically different than MD alone and not only take double the time to graduate, but require stopping your medical education around 2nd year to pursue research before resuming clerkships after all of your classmates are almost done with their residencies + requiring you to brush up on clinical aptitude after spending a handful of years strictly in lab. It's a radically different road. Would really speak to someone about this before you were to choose something like research for beefing your app up instead of something way more vital like clinical.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: 3 users
Jun 5, 2020
715
693
Status (Visible)
  1. Non-Student
Really great advice above. I would focus on getting some solid clinical volunteering experience during your gap year. Maybe on the order of 400-500 hours. You could consider research at the same time. Like 16 hours a week clinical volunteering and 24 hours a week in a research lab if you can find one that will hire you part time. I would lean toward basic science research.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user
About the Ads

Banco

5+ Year Member
May 28, 2014
2,485
3,755
Status (Visible)
  1. Medical Student
I think you can make the case for both since you do have both research and some clinical experience.

Maybe find a balance to strike - in your position I'd do clinical research at MGH (since it might net you some publications, some patient interaction anyway, a strong LOR, a big name on your resume) and volunteer in a hospital a couple hours a week and shadow here and there throughout the year.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user
Mar 30, 2021
2
0
Status (Visible)
  1. Pre-Medical
1) I'd say no in terms of that counting as the only clinical experience you have. Perhaps if you had other IRL experiences, that would be a nice supplement, but alone, no. COVID doesn't matter. There are tons of applicants that have those experiences and can tell a more compelling story considering they have solid clinical experience. Clinical is being in front of a patient, close enough to smell them, as justification for why you want to do medicine. Tele-encounters, while a nice touch, do not help make a case for why you're getting into medicine considering your entire career will be seeing patients IRL.

2) You need clinical experience for either. I'd focus on that first. There is some leniency to this with MD/PhD programs, but you have to have something solid at least. Yes, more research - heavily involved in experimental design, data collection, analysis, etc. things that would justify you wanting to be in a lab after school and conducting research head-on are also extensive requirements for MD/PhD. You typically should also have at least 1-2 pubs with a close mentor + PI that can speak to your research aptitude.

Given your virtual lack of clinical experience now, I don't think stuffing in 15% clinical experience in what appears to be mostly back end desk research will quite cut it for what I'm assuming you'd want for a 2022 cycle. Maybe it could, depends on how hands-on you are with the patients and what the "clinical work" entails exactly. If it's anything less of you interviewing patients, touching them, or discussing their medical care with a provider, I don't think it'll work. You might want to consider that scribe position first for several months and then tackle a research position. I know that might push your timeline back a bit, but such are the extra hurdles of MD/PhD programs with the extensive requirements of hands-on research, pubs, and experimental design. I'd be surprised to see anyone tackle a MD/PhD acceptance a year out from college graduation. Those spots really are generally for people who have been highly motivated to explore research post-graduation + acquired the minimal of clinicals needed for even a MD spot.

Even further reason you should go for the clinical experience first is that you're still unsure about MD/PhD. These programs are radically different than MD alone and not only take double the time to graduate, but require stopping your medical education around 2nd year to pursue research before resuming clerkships after all of your classmates are almost done with their residencies + requiring you to brush up on clinical aptitude after spending a handful of years strictly in lab. It's a radically different road. Would really speak to someone about this before you were to choose something like research for beefing your app up instead of something way more vital like clinical.
Man, this is super helpful, thank you SO much!! I definitely agree that the 15% didn't sound right for me, so I said no to that offer. Will be looking into more scribing/assistant positions.

I actually just interviewed with a translational research position with a lot more hands-on experience with patients, opportunities for leadership, and an independent project during the second year. Hopefully that pans out, and I'll compare scribing/assistant positions with this opportunity.
 
About the Ads

Your message may be considered spam for the following reasons:

  1. Your new thread title is very short, and likely is unhelpful.
  2. Your reply is very short and likely does not add anything to the thread.
  3. Your reply is very long and likely does not add anything to the thread.
  4. It is very likely that it does not need any further discussion and thus bumping it serves no purpose.
  5. Your message is mostly quotes or spoilers.
  6. Your reply has occurred very quickly after a previous reply and likely does not add anything to the thread.
  7. This thread is locked.