Procyon

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So what's the best way to go about getting research experience? Right now, I'm still split between going for an MD/PhD or just a regular MD, but I figured either way, trying to get research experience can't be a bad idea. Mind you, I'm a freshman. But my adviser still told me that if I'm considering an MD/PhD, I should contact a professor here about trying to get research experience with them in the future by the end of the semester.

So I found a professor in a field that I was interested in, and decided to e-mail them. I explained who I was, expressed my interest in the area, and asked to meet with them during their office hours if they thought I might be able to assist with their research in some capacity. In the reply, the professor told me that, while they appreciated my enthusiasm, they usually only take on juniors or above to assist them with research. They mentioned that, if I'd like though, I could fill out an application to do research with them next year.

Is that the norm? Am I thinking about trying to get research experience too early? I'm so confused. Obviously my application wouldn't look very competitive compared to an upper-classman's; the only science/lab I've done so far is Gen Chem. Should I try asking a different professor, or am I going about this all the wrong way? :confused:
 

Pills Of Soap

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fill out the app for next year.

even if you start doing research as a sophomore, thats already a really good start. but you can also keep trying to look for a research position from other professors if you'd like. usually its just preference of the PI of whether or not they want to train you. sometimes freshman who have interest in research are very valuable to labs, because by the time they are seniors they are just as productive as newer grad students.
 

ShinyDome19

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Yes and No...It sort of depends on the lab and a lot of times the number and experience of graduate students in the lab as they are the ones that will generally be responsible for teaching you and putting you to work, unless the lab is extremely small and consists completely of the PI. I have only seen the latter at small private schools where research is not even required of the PI.

Now, assuming your not at one of the small private schools, the BEST way, IMO, to find a lab position is to talk with the individual graduate students --> probably your lab TAs...Get to know them, get to know their research, show them that you can kick ass in the lab they are teaching, and at the end or middle of the semester ask them if you could possibly volunteer in the lab...If you say the magic words - "I wash dishes", I would bet money, unless they already have a couple undergrads under their wing, they will go to their PI and say "Hey, I found an undergrad that is interested in research..mind if he helps me out periodically"...It will get your foot in the door.

Also, I suggest not mentioning the fact that you are Pre-med and/or interested in MD/PhD. Remember that the majority of people who are pre-med, end up dropping from it not to far in...Professors/Graduate students know this too. Hence, the whole pre-med thing are a major turnoff in the academic research world, especially to graduate students who's degree depend on their research and pre-med students often have the intention of getting a semester or two under their belt, then admitting they hate the crap out of research and hit the road or just decide that pre-med is too much work and then they dont need the research anymore. This is a pain in the ass for the graduate student who just trained you to take care of basic lab techniques, which they once again have to train some other noob to handle. So, I would just suggest to you, instead of mentioning your interest in medicine, show a simple interest in science and research in general.
 
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TexasPhysician

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I would keep trying if I were you. Surely someone needs help with research. Research is nice either way, but if you don't LOVE it, don't apply MD/PhD.
 

Procyon

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Thanks for your input, guys. :)

fill out the app for next year.

even if you start doing research as a sophomore, thats already a really good start. but you can also keep trying to look for a research position from other professors if you'd like. usually its just preference of the PI of whether or not they want to train you. sometimes freshman who have interest in research are very valuable to labs, because by the time they are seniors they are just as productive as newer grad students.
Yeah, I was kind of hoping starting early like this would allow me to form a partnership with a professor for the long haul. I think it would be fun to be involved in research over an extended period, and I think it would give me a better idea of whether or not I actually would like to go into research myself...Do you think it's OK to fill out the app just in case, but to ask another professor anyway? And then if she ends up contacting me in the future but I've found someone else to work with, just explain that someone else hired me? :S

Also, I suggest not mentioning the fact that you are Pre-med and/or interested in MD/PhD. Remember that the majority of people who are pre-med, end up dropping from it not to far in...Professors/Graduate students know this too. Hence, the whole pre-med thing are a major turnoff in the academic research world, especially to graduate students who's degree depend on their research and pre-med students often have the intention of getting a semester or two under their belt, then admitting they hate the crap out of research and hit the road or just decide that pre-med is too much work and then they dont need the research anymore. This is a pain in the ass for the graduate student who just trained you to take care of basic lab techniques, which they once again have to train some other noob to handle. So, I would just suggest to you, instead of mentioning your interest in medicine, show a simple interest in science and research in general.
Haha, thanks for mentioning this. I was debating on whether or not to mention the whole pre-med thing in my e-mail, and I ultimately decided not to because I thought it would be better to just express a genuine interest in science. I didn't even think of that whole other dimension of the "quitter pre-meds" though, haha.

Also, I go to a small leaning on medium-sized private uni, so we don't even have TAs or anything. I don't think there's really much of an option besides approaching professors directly.

I would keep trying if I were you. Surely someone needs help with research. Research is nice either way, but if you don't LOVE it, don't apply MD/PhD.
Thanks for the tip. :) And I think I will try asking another professor. There must be some professor who's doing something interesting and needs some help.
 

apumic

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Also, I suggest not mentioning the fact that you are Pre-med and/or interested in MD/PhD. Remember that the majority of people who are pre-med, end up dropping from it not to far in...Professors/Graduate students know this too. Hence, the whole pre-med thing are a major turnoff in the academic research world, especially to graduate students who's degree depend on their research and pre-med students often have the intention of getting a semester or two under their belt, then admitting they hate the crap out of research and hit the road or just decide that pre-med is too much work and then they dont need the research anymore. This is a pain in the ass for the graduate student who just trained you to take care of basic lab techniques, which they once again have to train some other noob to handle. So, I would just suggest to you, instead of mentioning your interest in medicine, show a simple interest in science and research in general.
Better yet, just don't be that annoying jerk yourself. Don't make a point of being "a premed" during an interview and don't make other premeds look bad by being the jerk that leaves a semester or two into the project. I mean... a little courtesy goes a long way and you can be sure that leaving midway is going to destroy any chance you might have had of getting a good LOR out of the thing. Just sayin'...