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Looking for advice: I'm a current graduate student finishing up my MA degree this year (research-based MA program) and I'm debating between a lab tech position or working with ScribeAmerica for my second gap year. I am applying to medical school in this upcoming cycle. The tech job is a full time, 40 hrs/week paid position in a behavioral neuroscience rodent lab. Their work fits hand-in-hand with my current research project and interests. This lab is also associated with my dream medical school. I have upwards of 4000 research hours from my undergraduate and graduate lab work, but only have ~140 hours of clinical experience, excluding shadowing hours (~120 hours). I'm wondering if I should be looking solely for a full time clinical position (scribing, etc.) for my gap year or if I should take this tech position and volunteer in the university's hospital on the side. Other students in the lab have introduced me to a few clinical volunteer positions (hospice) in the hospital that each have 4 hour shifts per week. Given that this lab is connected to the medical school, am I turning down a good opportunity if I decline it? How much emphasis do admissions put on potential clinical hours, assuming that my application will be submitted before I start volunteering?

Are there other good gap year opportunities that I'm missing? Thanks everyone!
 

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Both would help you with your application- I'd just do what you want.

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"Lab tech" as in washing test tubes and making solutions? Or will you get at least a publication and/or poster out of it? Don't do research in your gap year if you aren't involved in the actual process of research.

Also 4,000 of research versus 150 clinical hours? And you want to add another ~2,000 hours of research? Unless you are applying MD/PhD, that ratio of research to clinical experience leaves you open to getting lit up in interviews with questions like, "if you like research so much, why not just get a PhD? Why didn't you spend more time in the hospital/clinical if you claim to like medicine?

If you choose to scribe, try to do it for a local physician group, NOT a big company like ScribeAmerica.
 
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Feb 18, 2021
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"Lab tech" as in washing test tubes and making solutions? Or will you get at least a publication and/or poster out of it? Don't do research in your gap year if you aren't involved in the actual process of research.

Also 4,000 of research versus 150 clinical hours? And you want to add another ~2,000 hours of research? Unless you are applying MD/PhD, that ratio of research to clinical experience leaves you open to getting lit up in interviews with questions like, "if you like research so much, why not just get a PhD? Why didn't you spend more time in the hospital/clinical if you claim to like medicine?

If you choose to scribe, try to do it for a local physician group, NOT a big company like ScribeAmerica.
"Lab tech" as in washing test tubes and making solutions? Or will you get at least a publication and/or poster out of it? Don't do research in your gap year if you aren't involved in the actual process of research.

Also 4,000 of research versus 150 clinical hours? And you want to add another ~2,000 hours of research? Unless you are applying MD/PhD, that ratio of research to clinical experience leaves you open to getting lit up in interviews with questions like, "if you like research so much, why not just get a PhD? Why didn't you spend more time in the hospital/clinical if you claim to like medicine?

If you choose to scribe, try to do it for a local physician group, NOT a big company like ScribeAmerica.
Thanks for the input—these are my exact concerns about taking the research position. I would be helping with running behavioral experiments for different studies, rat surgeries, analyzing data, maintaining transgenic lines, etc. The PI said that if I was willing to put in the time, publication could be an option. I don't have any publications at the moment, just 3 posters.

The reason why I haven't let go of this position yet is that this lab's research ties hand-in-hand with my long-standing interests in addiction, compulsive behaviors, specifically in eating behaviors, and my overarching interest in women's health. The eating disorder-specific research is a component of my "Why medicine" story. But I also get that I could seek clinical opportunities that fulfill this interest as well, and have the factor of working with people. The lab is a part of my target medical school, which is another factor that I don't know how I should weigh.

I've applied to various medical assistant positions also, but haven't had much luck because I don't already have MA experience. I'll keep trying though. I'm trying to gauge how worthwhile scribing is given that one doesn't formally interact with the patient—I've gotten all sorts of opinions from friends and mentors. If I was able to nail down the clinical volunteer experiences and add on an additional 200-300 hrs, would that still put me at a disadvantage given my research hours?

Thanks for your suggestions.
 

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Thanks for the input—these are my exact concerns about taking the research position. I would be helping with running behavioral experiments for different studies, rat surgeries, analyzing data, maintaining transgenic lines, etc. The PI said that if I was willing to put in the time, publication could be an option. I don't have any publications at the moment, just 3 posters.

The reason why I haven't let go of this position yet is that this lab's research ties hand-in-hand with my long-standing interests in addiction, compulsive behaviors, specifically in eating behaviors, and my overarching interest in women's health. The eating disorder-specific research is a component of my "Why medicine" story. But I also get that I could seek clinical opportunities that fulfill this interest as well, and have the factor of working with people. The lab is a part of my target medical school, which is another factor that I don't know how I should weigh.

I've applied to various medical assistant positions also, but haven't had much luck because I don't already have MA experience. I'll keep trying though. I'm trying to gauge how worthwhile scribing is given that one doesn't formally interact with the patient—I've gotten all sorts of opinions from friends and mentors. If I was able to nail down the clinical volunteer experiences and add on an additional 200-300 hrs, would that still put me at a disadvantage given my research hours?

Thanks for your suggestions.
No. Go for the clinical component.
 
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Looking for advice: I'm a current graduate student finishing up my MA degree this year (research-based MA program) and I'm debating between a lab tech position or working with ScribeAmerica for my second gap year. I am applying to medical school in this upcoming cycle. The tech job is a full time, 40 hrs/week paid position in a behavioral neuroscience rodent lab. Their work fits hand-in-hand with my current research project and interests. This lab is also associated with my dream medical school. I have upwards of 4000 research hours from my undergraduate and graduate lab work, but only have ~140 hours of clinical experience, excluding shadowing hours (~120 hours). I'm wondering if I should be looking solely for a full time clinical position (scribing, etc.) for my gap year or if I should take this tech position and volunteer in the university's hospital on the side. Other students in the lab have introduced me to a few clinical volunteer positions (hospice) in the hospital that each have 4 hour shifts per week. Given that this lab is connected to the medical school, am I turning down a good opportunity if I decline it? How much emphasis do admissions put on potential clinical hours, assuming that my application will be submitted before I start volunteering?

Are there other good gap year opportunities that I'm missing? Thanks everyone!
I think you need more clinical more than you need more research. Is there anyway you can take a smaller role in the lab that would allow you to work at least half time as a scribe or in a paid clinical role?
 
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Feb 18, 2021
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I think you need more clinical more than you need more research. Is there anyway you can take a smaller role in the lab that would allow you to work at least half time as a scribe or in a paid clinical role?
This PI told me that hours are flexible, but of course they would prefer a full time worker. Based on these suggestions and my gut instinct, I think I'm going to pass on this research position. There is another part time RA position in a clinical research lab at this university, though not paid, that fits with my overall story better and allows me to work with patients. I've been able to attend lab meetings and this seems like a promising experience! I'm also applying for a patient care attendant position at a local organization, so I'll be able to fill this year with more meaningful patient interactions.

Thank you all for your responses! They have been very helpful.
 
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This PI told me that hours are flexible, but of course they would prefer a full time worker. Based on these suggestions and my gut instinct, I think I'm going to pass on this research position. There is another part time RA position in a clinical research lab at this university, though not paid, that fits with my overall story better and allows me to work with patients. I've been able to attend lab meetings and this seems like a promising experience! I'm also applying for a patient care attendant position at a local organization, so I'll be able to fill this year with more meaningful patient interactions.

Thank you all for your responses! They have been very helpful.
Weekend CNA job would give you plenty of clinical experience, though not in your field of interest.
 
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