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Global Health Pathway vs Research

ChymeofPassion

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Hello, going into my first year of medical school in the fall. My school (Top 50 public) offers a very cool pathway that focuses on global health, for sure an interest of mine. The summer after M1 you go on a 6-8 week trip to a partner site where you conduct clinical research with a PI. However, the majority of the research is, as one might expect, primary care focused. This isnt a problem for me, but would going on this trip, and not doing research at my home institution during that summer, eliminate my chances for competitive specialties (derm, ortho, etc). I'm not set on either, and I could see myself doing global health with any speciality, but I was wondering if I might screw myself.
 

Espressso

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It really depends on what you're trying to do. Are you set on an ultra-competitive speciality like ortho or derm? Or are you set on doing something in public health? I'm not familiar with derm docs doing work with MSF, you know? If this public health pathway only means the summer of M1, I don't think that excludes you from any future ortho research. Plenty of opportunities in 2nd and 3rd year.
 
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ChymeofPassion

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It really depends on what you're trying to do. Are you set on an ultra-competitive speciality like ortho or derm? Or are you set on doing something in public health? I'm not familiar with derm docs doing work with MSF, you know? If this public health pathway only means the summer of M1, I don't think that excludes you from any future ortho research. Plenty of opportunities in 2nd and 3rd year.

I understand what you're saying about not being familiar with derm docs doing work with these organizations. I guess that's something I've never understood? I figured that these populations may also be, for example, underserved with undiagnosed melanomas. I dont know though, maybe I need to do more research. I guess my question boils down to just how crucial is that first summer to nailing down a competitive speciality like you've mentioned; is there time during 2nd and 3rd year to make meaningful strides; especially not coming from a top academic school?(T50 public).
 

OnePunchBiopsy

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If you’re interested in a competitive specialty, research based in that specialty will be important.

I say do whichever activity will make you happier and you will enjoy more. Sounds to me like you love global health. You’ll have plenty of time in 2nd, 3rd year to look into research more focused in the specialty you want to do.

Furthermore, even though one could make the argument that all research will help you, this notion is more true when discussing publications. Will this summer experience with this PI likely result in a publication? It doesn’t sound like it to me. While I’m not training in a primary care specialty, I would image that the ability to find something novel, undescribed, and worthy of publication coming from a summer clinical research experience in primary care will be difficult. A global health experience will look better on your CV than a “research experience” with nothing substantial to show for it.
 
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Espressso

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I understand what you're saying about not being familiar with derm docs doing work with these organizations. I guess that's something I've never understood? I figured that these populations may also be, for example, underserved with undiagnosed melanomas. I dont know though, maybe I need to do more research. I guess my question boils down to just how crucial is that first summer to nailing down a competitive speciality like you've mentioned; is there time during 2nd and 3rd year to make meaningful strides; especially not coming from a top academic school?(T50 public).

As OnePunch mentions, you should have time to get meaningful research in a specialty you're interested in after the summer between M1 and M2. It sounds like this opportunity is fairly unique.

I'm personally interested in global health and if my school had that I'd be all about it. I'm also applying IM this year and have never been interested in an ultra competitive speciality so that decision would have been easier for me. I've volunteered with global health/medical non profits and I have yet to see a derm on the front lines lol. But that's not to say it isn't possible.

I think you should do what you really want to do. When it comes to these specialties, boards trumps all. Then the research.
 

ChymeofPassion

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As OnePunch mentions, you should have time to get meaningful research in a specialty you're interested in after the summer between M1 and M2. It sounds like this opportunity is fairly unique.

I'm personally interested in global health and if my school had that I'd be all about it. I'm also applying IM this year and have never been interested in an ultra competitive speciality so that decision would have been easier for me. I've volunteered with global health/medical non profits and I have yet to see a derm on the front lines lol. But that's not to say it isn't possible.

I think you should do what you really want to do. When it comes to these specialties, boards trumps all. Then the research.
@OnePunchBiopsy

Both of your responses have really helpful. I guess what you're saying is that this experience wouldnt be a waste for any speciality I apply to, given I demonstrate interest and passion, and that I'll have plenty of time to do research during M2/M3, could even do a research year, as long as I kill boards (well, Step 2). Thanks!!
 
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JSReed

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Hello, going into my first year of medical school in the fall. My school (Top 50 public) offers a very cool pathway that focuses on global health, for sure an interest of mine. The summer after M1 you go on a 6-8 week trip to a partner site where you conduct clinical research with a PI. However, the majority of the research is, as one might expect, primary care focused. This isnt a problem for me, but would going on this trip, and not doing research at my home institution during that summer, eliminate my chances for competitive specialties (derm, ortho, etc). I'm not set on either, and I could see myself doing global health with any speciality, but I was wondering if I might screw myself.

You're going to have to figure out what "global health" is to you and how you're planning to integrate it into your career. If you're going to be a salaried US doc and go on "mission trips" whatever name they're using for voluntourism, then this whole route probably isn't necessary. If you're trying to work for MSF/WHO/IRC/something of that ilk, maybe its a bit more useful.

Re specialties: You've gotta figure out whether you're trying to go for the more disaster relief angle or the development side. From a disaster relief perspective, you're going to want to stay as general as possible: Gen Surg, EM, IM, FM, etc. Only real sub-specialties you could make an argument for would be ID and trauma surg. If you're on the development side, your options are going to be a little more open: more ID, more OBGYN, maybe some oncology (I don't even know how you train for that), etc etc. From the development side you're also going to (generally) want to have some skills in the non-clinical stuff, so either a policy or implementation science angle.

If you're actually into global health as a career path, its worthwhile to look into an MPH while you're in school. Can be done concurrently at a handful of places, and the synergy between that and med school and global health research will be massive. Also massive connections, which is massive once you need a job.

So in short, you're going to have to figure out which is more important and go with it. Honestly unless you have a specific predilection for derm or ortho, I'd go the global health route. And if you find out you want to go for something more competitive, there's always time during 3rd year to throw together some case reports or whatever (so I'm told).
 
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