Gap Year: Clinical Research or Clinical Consultant?

Spongeman7

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Hello! I will be taking a gap year between undergrad and med school and just wanted to see what you guys thought about my two potential options, I know by the time I submit my application med schools will probably not even see what I am doing (since the gap year doesn't start till June). I am very interested in both but wanted to see what you think may help in my career down the road!

The first is a Clinical Research Coordinator position at a T5 Research Hospital where I would be helping with enrolling patients, expand studies, and potentially pursue my own research meanwhile as well. Positives: Could develop connections that could help down the road, closer to home, improve my clinical & research areas, good understanding that this is a gap year position. Cons: Pays VERY low

The second is a Clinical Consultant position where I would be looking at hospital revenues, cost savings, and medical bills, more of a corporate job. Positives: More recruits my age for more collaboration, pays well, if I can't get into med school might be a different path forward haha. Cons: Quite far from home, won't directly provide clinical or research experience, might have to take days off for interviews.

Thank you for the insight in advance!
 

darkeon

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Boy......you better take the higher pay lol
There's enough CRCs or CRAs premeds that I think it's not really as special as you might think it is. As one myself, I've seen some get into med school but also a good number not get into med school. I feel the consultant gig has more utility to you as a future doc for you'll gain some insight into the financial side of healthcare.
GL with your decision
 
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lumya

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So I actually have worked both positions. I was previously a CRC and now I work as a clinical trial consultant. Do you have clinical experience? If you do, I'd go with the consultant position. The pay is better, it offers you a valid backup plan, and I've found that my work has provided me a very unique look into other aspects associated with medicine that's not purely clinical care. A lot of my current co-workers are previous CRCs and we all agree that our jobs now are wayyyyy nicer.
 
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seeinghowitgoes

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Assuming you’ve got interest in both areas, take the latter job. It’ll be as impressive (if not more so) to medical schools if talked about correctly, will give you insights you may not get in medical school (whereas you will get research experience if you want it), and has the benefit of better pay.

Generally I also just think there is minimal value in having a reseaech coordinator job if you have other options. Recruiting patients for somebody else’s study isn’t teaching you nearly as much about research or the medical system as being a researcher designing and carrying out studies.
 
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Spongeman7

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Boy......you better take the higher pay lol
There's enough CRCs or CRAs premeds that I think it's not really as special as you might think it is. As one myself, I've seen some get into med school but also a good number not get into med school. I feel the consultant gig has more utility to you as a future doc for you'll gain some insight into the financial side of healthcare.
GL with your decision
You don't think that research experience will help you for residencies and stuff in the future?
 

Goro

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Hello! I will be taking a gap year between undergrad and med school and just wanted to see what you guys thought about my two potential options, I know by the time I submit my application med schools will probably not even see what I am doing (since the gap year doesn't start till June). I am very interested in both but wanted to see what you think may help in my career down the road!

The first is a Clinical Research Coordinator position at a T5 Research Hospital where I would be helping with enrolling patients, expand studies, and potentially pursue my own research meanwhile as well. Positives: Could develop connections that could help down the road, closer to home, improve my clinical & research areas, good understanding that this is a gap year position. Cons: Pays VERY low

The second is a Clinical Consultant position where I would be looking at hospital revenues, cost savings, and medical bills, more of a corporate job. Positives: More recruits my age for more collaboration, pays well, if I can't get into med school might be a different path forward haha. Cons: Quite far from home, won't directly provide clinical or research experience, might have to take days off for interviews.

Thank you for the insight in advance!
I understand the need to make a living, but being a consultant will add absolutely nothing to your app, other than a year of employment. IF you combine this with significant volunteering, then that will look better.
 
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Spongeman7

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I understand the need to make a living, but being a consultant will add absolutely nothing to your app, other than a year of employment. IF you combine this with significant volunteering, then that will look better.
Hi Goro, I do not think either of these will show up on my medical school application (unless there is an essay asking what you will do during your gap year) because I will be submitting my primary application before starting the positions. So I guess which one would look better and add more to my resume down the road (residencies, jobs, etc.). Thank you!
 
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Hi Goro, I do not think either of these will show up on my medical school application (unless there is an essay asking what you will do during your gap year) because I will be submitting my primary application before starting the positions. So I guess which one would look better and add more to my resume down the road (residencies, jobs, etc.). Thank you!
I'm not an adcom but if you're aiming for top schools I actually think there's a lot of value in doing something "out of the box." Also will help if you want to apply for an MD/MBA down the road. Obviously getting your name on publications is a plus for residency, but you can also just be really on top of that during med school
 
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lumya

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Hi Goro, I do not think either of these will show up on my medical school application (unless there is an essay asking what you will do during your gap year) because I will be submitting my primary application before starting the positions. So I guess which one would look better and add more to my resume down the road (residencies, jobs, etc.). Thank you!

I'm going to advocate for the consulting job because that's what I do and I like it. My background is in health policy/admin and it was a very central part of my application which I felt my job supplemented. I also make more money and have more free time working this job than I ever did as a CRC w/ a PI breathing down my neck. If you're already going to submit your app and want to do something a little less stressful, I highly recommend working as a consultant. It'll also help you with a lot of soft skills related to professionalism which I've found only comes with actual work experience. With the whole work from home structure, I haven't had any issues taking time off this past year for interviews - there's a lot of flexibility where I'll just work later in the evening to make up for an interview day or crunch out some projects on a weekend and none of my managers have had issues with this.
 
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Goro

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Hi Goro, I do not think either of these will show up on my medical school application (unless there is an essay asking what you will do during your gap year) because I will be submitting my primary application before starting the positions. So I guess which one would look better and add more to my resume down the road (residencies, jobs, etc.). Thank you!
If this is the case then go for the consulting job.
 
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seeinghowitgoes

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I understand the need to make a living, but being a consultant will add absolutely nothing to your app, other than a year of employment. IF you combine this with significant volunteering, then that will look better.

Rarely have anything to add to the seasoned voice of @Goro but in this case will just say I don’t think it’s quite so black and white about it not mattering to med schools or residencies. The school I came from, the one affiliated with my residency, and my residency program itself would absolutely look at the consulting you describe as a positive if sold correctly on an application (i.e. fits the narrative of wanting to have a component of your career in healthcare delivery, etc).

I add this just to say I do think what schools think about it will vary depending on both the school and their mission, how much the job actually mirrors your career interest, and how you describe it to them. It’s not the thing that’s going to get you a job in the future but I think it can be more than a paycheck for you depending on how you approach it and what you choose to take from the experience.
 
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Spongeman7

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Rarely have anything to add to the seasoned voice of @Goro but in this case will just say I don’t think it’s quite so black and white about it not mattering to med schools or residencies. The school I came from, the one affiliated with my residency, and my residency program itself would absolutely look at the consulting you describe as a positive if sold correctly on an application (i.e. fits the narrative of wanting to have a component of your career in healthcare delivery, etc).

I add this just to say I do think what schools think about it will vary depending on both the school and their mission, how much the job actually mirrors your career interest, and how you describe it to them. It’s not the thing that’s going to get you a job in the future but I think it can be more than a paycheck for you depending on how you approach it and what you choose to take from the experience
Do you think when applying to residencies, having a year of clinical consulting would be worth it instead of potentially a publication from a top research hospital? I guess it would matter on how you frame your year of experience in consulting and how that would make you a better physician?
 

seeinghowitgoes

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Do you think when applying to residencies, having a year of clinical consulting would be worth it instead of potentially a publication from a top research hospital? I guess it would matter on how you frame your year of experience in consulting and how that would make you a better physician?
Depends on what you want to do with your life. If you say you want to be a researcher than a publication will help more. You say you want to implement risk based contracts to better align healthcare with population health incentives, consulting will help more. You say you want to be a trauma surgeon full time with no admin or research time neither probably matters that much.

It is hard to advise you on how these things will be perceived years down the road because you’re so seemingly undifferentiated right now (at least based on your posts). So do what interests you and don’t always be thinking about what’s going to impress others because it’s very dependent on many factors including how your professional future plays out.

P.S. to everybody because I’ve seen a lot of premeds mention it - a publication from a top research hospital is not a thing. A first author publication is a thing, a middle author publication is a thing, a publication in a top tier journal is a thing - those are all independent of where the research was conducted. Sometimes a big name in a field will carry more weight when writing a letter, but again there are big names at lots of places and in academia big name is all relative because few people are Fauci and transcend their specialty focus. If you do research at state U and it gets published in JAMA it’s better than a paper published in Journal of Mediocrity even if you did the research at Harvard. You’re focusing far too much on the name and not the output. The output is what matters.
 
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darkeon

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Depends on what you want to do with your life. If you say you want to be a researcher than a publication will help more. You say you want to implement risk based contracts to better align healthcare with population health incentives, consulting will help more. You say you want to be a trauma surgeon full time with no admin or research time neither probably matters that much.

It is hard to advise you on how these things will be perceived years down the road because you’re so seemingly undifferentiated right now (at least based on your posts). So do what interests you and don’t always be thinking about what’s going to impress others because it’s very dependent on many factors including how your professional future plays out.

P.S. to everybody because I’ve seen a lot of premeds mention it - a publication from a top research hospital is not a thing. A first author publication is a thing, a middle author publication is a thing, a publication in a top tier journal is a thing - those are all independent of where the research was conducted. Sometimes a big name in a field will carry more weight when writing a letter, but again there are big names at lots of places and in academia big name is all relative because few people are Fauci and transcend their specialty focus. If you do research at state U and it gets published in JAMA it’s better than a paper published in Journal of Mediocrity even if you did the research at Harvard. You’re focusing far too much on the name and not the output. The output is what matters.
Absolutely agree and second this
 

Spongeman7

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Depends on what you want to do with your life. If you say you want to be a researcher than a publication will help more. You say you want to implement risk based contracts to better align healthcare with population health incentives, consulting will help more. You say you want to be a trauma surgeon full time with no admin or research time neither probably matters that much.

It is hard to advise you on how these things will be perceived years down the road because you’re so seemingly undifferentiated right now (at least based on your posts). So do what interests you and don’t always be thinking about what’s going to impress others because it’s very dependent on many factors including how your professional future plays out.

P.S. to everybody because I’ve seen a lot of premeds mention it - a publication from a top research hospital is not a thing. A first author publication is a thing, a middle author publication is a thing, a publication in a top tier journal is a thing - those are all independent of where the research was conducted. Sometimes a big name in a field will carry more weight when writing a letter, but again there are big names at lots of places and in academia big name is all relative because few people are Fauci and transcend their specialty focus. If you do research at state U and it gets published in JAMA it’s better than a paper published in Journal of Mediocrity even if you did the research at Harvard. You’re focusing far too much on the name and not the output. The output is what matters.
Thank you so much! Your reply means a lot and definitely puts it in perspective. I think I have a clearer choice of how I may want to proceed based on my own potential interests. Thanks again!!
 
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Banco

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Both positions sound good, but do you already have some research experience? If so, I would just take the consulting job. Seems interesting, pays more (will help with application and interview costs), and you can definitely spin that positively as it is very much intertwined with healthcare. Along with that I'd do some volunteering once in a while too. By the way, can't you put the position on your AMCAS and put "projected" hours?
 

Spongeman7

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Both positions sound good, but do you already have some research experience? If so, I would just take the consulting job. Seems interesting, pays more (will help with application and interview costs), and you can definitely spin that positively as it is very much intertwined with healthcare. Along with that I'd do some volunteering once in a while too. By the way, can't you put the position on your AMCAS and put "projected" hours?
I don't think they're a big fan of "projected hours" although I think there may be a space on secondaries stating what you will be doing during the gap year
 

Spongeman7

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If this is the case then go for the consulting job.
Do schools look down at corporate or healthcare consulting gap year positions at all? The last thing I want to do is have a negative gap year and have med schools think I don't want to be a doctor. Obviously I will continue clinical volunteering and nonclinical volunteering as well.
 
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Goro

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Do schools look down at corporate or healthcare consulting gap year positions at all? The last thing I want to do is have a negative gap year and have med schools think I don't want to be a doctor. Obviously I will continue clinical volunteering and nonclinical volunteering as well.
Employment is always good. Not everything you do has to revolve around medicine.
Continuing the clinical volunteering shows your dedication to Medicine
 
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Spongeman7

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Employment is always good. Not everything you do has to revolve around medicine.
Continuing the clinical volunteering shows your dedication to Medicine
Thank you! I plan to continue volunteering and do a little research on the side.
 
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