vashka

Junior Member
10+ Year Member
May 25, 2005
194
4
Status
Medical Student
I'm an MS4 who is interested in heme-onc or rheum fellowship after IM residency. I have absolutely no research and I'm really apprehensive about planning a career in IM if I would not be competitive for a fellowship later. How can I get enough research in order to be competitive? Is it worth it to take a year off before/after graduation so that I can do a research project before residency starts? Thanks
 

QuizzicalApe

7+ Year Member
Mar 28, 2010
707
84
Status
Fellow [Any Field]
I have a single paper to my name in which I am not the first author. I did it during residency. I got into my fellowship. I have a number of colleagues who were more motivated than I who did more during residency.

You're overthinking this.
 

visari

5+ Year Member
Sep 14, 2013
410
192
Status
Attending Physician
Step 1: get into a good residency program with a track record of sending people to good fellowships
Step 2: be a good resident
Step 3: identify a good mentor early on (ask senior residents and fellows on who might be a good mentor), have him/her give you simple research projects that can be done in a relatively short time and are appropriate for a resident.
Step 4: stay away from bad mentors and research projects that are either too lengthy, unlikely to go anywhere or too big for you as a resident no matter how interesting they might seem (you'll spend months learning how to do things and planning things out and the next thing you know you're applying for fellowship with nothing solid to put in there). you need to be a little pragmatic about it.

and yes, you are overthinking this. if you just want to match, do the above steps and you will match. probably in a good place. If you want to match in a top-tier program, it's a different story and you actually need to be more involved with some track record of academic work and high-quality research.
 

burgodelia

5+ Year Member
Jul 4, 2010
20
6
Status
Fellow [Any Field]
I agree with Step 1 being finding a good residency. That, by itself, will be very measurable on your application. If you start a solid project and invest in it, your mentor will appreciate that and help you find a good fellowship later on. That might be either at your institution or he/she will pick up the phone or write a strong letter that will get you places.

Alternatively, take some time off and even ponder a PhD program if you're reaching for the stars.

It all depends on where you see yourself in the future (which kinda sucks because it is pretty difficult to do that with good accuracy), but trust me, it really does work out in the end.
 

visari

5+ Year Member
Sep 14, 2013
410
192
Status
Attending Physician
Alternatively, take some time off and even ponder a PhD program if you're reaching for the stars.
I have to disagree with this for a variety of reasons. going to a PhD program just to increase your fellowship match chances is a bad bad idea. Also, if you're genuinely interested in a PhD program, your final goals are usually to be a physician-scientist and you have to understand that this is becoming extremely difficult because of funding. Signing up for a PhD program is a big decision and I never recommend it to med students unless they know exactly why they're doing it and have a clear objective in mind. Doing it because "it looks good and it will probably help you in the future" is a bad life decision.
 
  • Like
Reactions: HelpPleaseMD

HelpPleaseMD

7+ Year Member
Aug 4, 2011
1,059
234
Status
Resident [Any Field]
I have to disagree with this for a variety of reasons. going to a PhD program just to increase your fellowship match chances is a bad bad idea. Also, if you're genuinely interested in a PhD program, your final goals are usually to be a physician-scientist and you have to understand that this is becoming extremely difficult because of funding. Signing up for a PhD program is a big decision and I never recommend it to med students unless they know exactly why they're doing it and have a clear objective in mind. Doing it because "it looks good and it will probably help you in the future" is a bad life decision.
this plus 1000.
 

burgodelia

5+ Year Member
Jul 4, 2010
20
6
Status
Fellow [Any Field]
I have to disagree with this for a variety of reasons. going to a PhD program just to increase your fellowship match chances is a bad bad idea. Also, if you're genuinely interested in a PhD program, your final goals are usually to be a physician-scientist and you have to understand that this is becoming extremely difficult because of funding. Signing up for a PhD program is a big decision and I never recommend it to med students unless they know exactly why they're doing it and have a clear objective in mind. Doing it because "it looks good and it will probably help you in the future" is a bad life decision.
I am not encouraging OP. To apply for a competitive fellowship, you have to be competitive. Research makes a CV more competitive. In the context of OP, I outlined that his options would include not doing any research and going for it, doing some research during residency, taking time off and doing a lot of research. My advice would be that if s/he were to do a lot of research, then doing it under the umbrella of a structured program with a degree (MS, PhD, MSci, whatever) at the end would be more optimal in my opinion. I agree that going for a commitment such as a PhD strictly to guarantee a good fellowship is a bad idea because it is overkill and will result in a lot of misery along the way. But that being said, people won't know how much they or dislike something until they try it. I can give teens of examples for that.

My personal experience is that I took 2 years off and did research not because I wanted to, but because I really did not know what am I doing with my life. The experience I gained from that was invaluable - publications, but more so, interacting with people and facets of the research world that I would have never gotten otherwise. I still wish I could have consolidated my experience into something such as a masters degree.

Also from personal experience and public knowledge, people with MD/PhD who apply get substantially better interviews and match at highly ranked academic places as compared to others.

Bottom line, my point previously was that more research is better. If OP really wants to invest in it, then a PhD is an option to consider. There are other options that will get a good fellowship though.

My point now is that it is not the worst idea in the world.