How important is Research to Residencies

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Jun 9, 2004
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Im sorry if this question has been asked before but SDN wont let me search

I was wondering how important is having research on your residency applications? I’m asking this because I’m Not sure if I would like going into primary care. I’m a MS1 at a DO school and this summer might be the only chance I have. I did some research as an undergrad, never got published and didn’t enjoy it that much, but didn’t hate it either. I found some heart related research I can do this Summer but they probably wont pay. My other option is working at my school doing who knows what for professors. Overall, If I do fairly well on boards (USMLE 230+) will most residencies look down on a failed opportunity to do research?

Thanks for any responses.


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15+ Year Member
May 6, 2002
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I work at a teaching hospital and get to see a bit of the recruiting process for both residencies and fellowships (in fact, we have a number of fellowship candidates in today). The short answer is that it all depends. Some specialties are more predicated on cutting-edge research than others - radiology, for example, loves candidates with a research background because it's always evolving with regard to technology and diagnostic capability. Having an ability to push the edge of innovation is a highly relevant skill in that domain. You can certainly argue this for any medical field, but I believe anectdotally certain Program Directors look for research more than others.

Research will never hurt you - I've never seen/heard it come up as a bad thing (regardless of the quality of paper or journal). But it can certainly help you, even if you don't end up in research later in your career. It shows that you take a deeper interest in the science of medicine beyond the practice of medicine.

Another side note is that in academic medicine, "success" or "value" or fame even, is often measured (rather myopically, if you ask me) by how many research dollars you can bring into the organization. So if you're a hotshot researcher (clinical or basic), your stock in medicine goes up. This is a generalism but it's a significant issue in the most prestigious of medical centers.

I have no other evidence but to say that I've seen where research (of many qualities) have big payoffs, and have never seen it hurt anyone - but again, my evidence is anectdotal.