How can I get hospital research experience as an undergrad?

May 31, 2014
I'm looking to get hands-on clinical experience by working in a hospital research facility (paid or non-paid, doesn't matter). How can I go about this as an undergrad pre-med student? I'm already doing basic science research for pay at a lab facility so I'm not completely new to the concept of research but I've never done clinical research before. Who are the people at the medical center I should contact and how should I contact them? I'm well aware that with basic science research, the way to get started is emailing some professors with your indication of interest in their study and inquiring about an open position in their lab. So should I do the same approach with hospital-based research? And who should I contact within the department?

Thanks in advance for your guys' responses!


2+ Year Member
Jun 21, 2015
If you go to school near a medical school then you could TRY contacting attendings, but a better bet would probably be residents. They are unfamiliar with you too, though, so I don't think its too likely you'll find a project through just cold emailing people.

Your best bet would be to identify an attending you'd like to do research with and apply to that medical school's REU (Research Experience for Undergrads) with them as your preferred mentor. I was a part of one this summer and my mentor (an attending ortho surgeon) gave me some great projects to work on, one of which I executed on my own and will be first author on. In order to increase your chances of getting in, I highly recommend getting in contact with the attending before you apply. Previous to applying, I had shadowed this doctor before, asked about his research, and displayed interest in ortho. I then asked if he could be a mentor for the summer program and he said of course, and so I applied.

A lot of people on these forums apply to like 10 REU's and have varying success - even with past research experience and stellar stats. I applied to 2 without research experience and got into the one where I had talked to the attending. I think there is a lot to be said for the efficacy of face to face contact and being accepted into these programs with a specific mentor.

Let me know if you have any ?'s.
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