How to find a good clinical research mentor?

CuriousMDStudent

Full Member
Oct 30, 2019
76
64
  1. Medical Student
    I'm specifically interested in doing clinical research (retrospective clinical studies) in a specific field and I got matched with a research mentor at my medical school.

    Based on some light research, I found that he typically published 3-6 articles a year and he primarily does the research I am interested in. I'm waiting to hear back from him to get a better sense of what he is like.

    However, I wanted to ask, "what is considered to be a good research output from a PI?". During college, I was mentored by a PI who barely published because he was doing basic science and so I spent 4 years in a lab without a publication. A major reason for that is because I never thought to check a research mentor's research output before working with them so I just wanted to ask this question now.

    I also wanted to ask what are some other qualities that I should look for in a good research mentor?

    I think my priorities in finding a mentor are:
    1) Supportiveness
    2) Good research output
    3) Allowing me to be flexible in my time (i.e not forcing me to do research when I have exams/understanding I am a medical student)

    Are there other things I need to consider?
     

    slowthai

    holding a barbell.
    7+ Year Member
    Jul 11, 2013
    1,959
    4,606
    In my gaff
      As far as productivity, I'd say around a pub a month. They should also have published recently; it likely means that they've got multiple ongoing projects.

      You also want someone that returns emails in a timely fashion and is a good communicator.

      Edit: Also, the way research works is kind of inherently flexible. It's student driven. PIs won't be on your neck to get stuff done unless you fail to meet their deadlines. It's more of a "Do this thing, let me know when you're finished" kind of relationship.
       
      Last edited:
      • Like
      Reactions: 4 users

      OnePunchBiopsy

      Allergies: Clinic
      7+ Year Member
      Feb 3, 2014
      949
      2,216
      1. Resident [Any Field]
        3-6 pubs a year is not bad for an attending with a full practice, especially if they are first/last author.

        Research output can wax/wane depending on the number of active research residents/medical students, practice responsibilities, and if they have reached full professorship already.

        If you’re gauging an attending based in their research output, here is what you check:

        1. What author are they? If they don’t have a first or last author pub in the last 5 years, they are in the back seat, and other people are doing most the work.
        2. Where do their papers go? Make sure their research is going to decent, PubMed indexed journals
        3. What are they publishing? Textbook chapters, letters to the editor, etc. are not very reassuring since they are often invited publications, and are not likely to add much to the CV of a medical student compared to an actual manuscript in a peer-reviewed journal.
        4. How frequently are they publishing? Like I said above, 3-5 *first/last author* pubs a year is excellent if in full practice.
         
        Last edited:
        • Like
        Reactions: 2 users
        About the Ads

        CuriousMDStudent

        Full Member
        Oct 30, 2019
        76
        64
        1. Medical Student
          3-6 pubs a year is not bad for an attending with a full practice, especially if they are first/last author.

          Research output can wax/wane depending on the number of active research residents/medical students, practice responsibilities, and if they have reached full professorship already.

          If you’re gauging an attending based in their research output, here is what you check:

          1. What author are they? If they don’t have a first or last author pub in the last 5 years, they are in the back seat, and other people are doing most the work.
          2. Where do their papers go? Make sure their research is going to decent, PubMed indexed journals
          3. What are they publishing? Textbook chapters, letters to the editor, etc. are not very reassuring since they are often invited publications, and are not likely to add much to the CV of a medical student compared to an actual manuscript in a peer-reviewed journal.
          4. How frequently are they publishing? Like I said above, 3-5 *first/last author* pubs a year is excellent if in full practice.
          Yeah the researcher I have been matched with is in full surgical practice. He's actually a surgeon and specializes in a specific field that I find interesting and want to learn more about. He seems very accomplished as a doctor and has gotten hundreds of favorable patient reviews (Idk if that matters) but I feel that his patients rate him highly for qualities that I wish to have one day as a physician/surgeon. I feel that I can learn a lot from him in terms of career advice and through shadowing.

          He's been the last author on 15 pubs in the last 3 years so Idk how worried I should be about this.

          In summary, mentor is an experienced surgeon with his own practice and produces 3-6 pubs a year. I think he'd be a great mentor in terms of career advice and learning how to become the physician/surgeon I want to be. Just want to know if I should be worried about research output as I spent 4 years in a basic science lab in college where I got 0 pubs. Then again, that was basic science and this is clinical science research.
           

          OnePunchBiopsy

          Allergies: Clinic
          7+ Year Member
          Feb 3, 2014
          949
          2,216
          1. Resident [Any Field]
            In summary, mentor is an experienced surgeon with his own practice and produces 3-6 pubs a year. I think he'd be a great mentor in terms of career advice and learning how to become the physician/surgeon I want to be. Just want to know if I should be worried about research output as I spent 4 years in a basic science lab in college where I got 0 pubs. Then again, that was basic science and this is clinical science research.
            Sounds like a good pick to me. Basic Science is a different world. Every medical student I talk to who did basic science for X number of research years as a premed got 1 to 0 pubs out of it. Clinical research is completely different. If you work hard, 1 solid year of clinical research in surgery should land you at least 2-3 publications.
             
            • Like
            Reactions: 2 users

            Cardinals1999

            Full Member
            2+ Year Member
            Jul 11, 2019
            22
            77
            1. Medical Student
              Quick question for those here: If I want to get involved in research in a particular department at my SOM, would it be wiser to email the PD about my interest, or email multiple individual attendings about my interest?
               

              GoSpursGo

              Allons-y!
              Staff member
              Administrator
              10+ Year Member
              Verified Expert
            • Sep 30, 2008
              33,236
              6
              9,271
              1. Attending Physician
                Quick question for those here: If I want to get involved in research in a particular department at my SOM, would it be wiser to email the PD about my interest, or email multiple individual attendings about my interest?
                Start with the PD. If there are specific attendings who you know have interests similar to you own, it's fine to mention that in your email to the PD, but the PD may have a better way of approaching that initial conversation.

                If you reach out to the PD and they don't respond, then cold-emailing attendings is fine.
                 
                • Like
                Reactions: 2 users

                jurassicpark

                Sith Overlord
                2+ Year Member
                Oct 19, 2018
                432
                929
                Death Star III
                1. Attending Physician
                  I really lucked into my first PI, introduced to him by a good friend. He was extremely supportive of me. Got me also in actual bench-research as well. Would take me home often where his wife, another physician would cook amazing dinners from their huge garden, chickens and rabbits. Or we would grill steaks on the BBQ. He taught me to shoot and bought me my first gun. Invited me to a conference in Japan where he promised endless Japanese girls will fall for an American student (couldn't go due to exams though). I miss him terribly.

                  My second PI was also a cool cat, he caught me chugging beer before an anatomy practical and we became great buds. We would travel to NYC to present, get plastered drunk and hit the night clubs. That was the life, one night he hired a limo for us. Was sweet.

                  But if # of publication are your goals.. don't latch onto the specific PI. Find residents! Residents have to either do a poster presentation or paper to graduate! Find a few that are desperate for scut monkeys.
                   
                  • Haha
                  Reactions: 1 user

                  Dr G Oogle

                  Full Member
                  2+ Year Member
                  Mar 8, 2017
                  505
                  787
                    Yeah the researcher I have been matched with is in full surgical practice. He's actually a surgeon and specializes in a specific field that I find interesting and want to learn more about. He seems very accomplished as a doctor and has gotten hundreds of favorable patient reviews (Idk if that matters) but I feel that his patients rate him highly for qualities that I wish to have one day as a physician/surgeon. I feel that I can learn a lot from him in terms of career advice and through shadowing.

                    He's been the last author on 15 pubs in the last 3 years so Idk how worried I should be about this.

                    In summary, mentor is an experienced surgeon with his own practice and produces 3-6 pubs a year. I think he'd be a great mentor in terms of career advice and learning how to become the physician/surgeon I want to be. Just want to know if I should be worried about research output as I spent 4 years in a basic science lab in college where I got 0 pubs. Then again, that was basic science and this is clinical science research.

                    are you worried because you think it is bad to be last author? Usually last is the most senior, and is as good as first as far as academic promotion. In fact he sounds like a good dude for not taking the first author spot as it allows more junior people to advance their careers. 15 papers in 3 years averages out to 5 per year which is a good clip. A decent number of first/last authors is 3-5 per year. Any more than that and I’d worry that research quality is poor.
                     

                    CuriousMDStudent

                    Full Member
                    Oct 30, 2019
                    76
                    64
                    1. Medical Student
                      are you worried because you think it is bad to be last author? Usually last is the most senior, and is as good as first as far as academic promotion. In fact he sounds like a good dude for not taking the first author spot as it allows more junior people to advance their careers. 15 papers in 3 years averages out to 5 per year which is a good clip. A decent number of first/last authors is 3-5 per year. Any more than that and I’d worry that research quality is poor.
                      I'm good now. I've just had PI's without a lot of research output so I just wanted to come here and get a better a sense of what is considered a good research output. It seems that the research output is good so I'm not worried anymore
                       
                      About the Ads
                      This thread is more than 1 year old.

                      Your message may be considered spam for the following reasons:

                      1. Your new thread title is very short, and likely is unhelpful.
                      2. Your reply is very short and likely does not add anything to the thread.
                      3. Your reply is very long and likely does not add anything to the thread.
                      4. It is very likely that it does not need any further discussion and thus bumping it serves no purpose.
                      5. Your message is mostly quotes or spoilers.
                      6. Your reply has occurred very quickly after a previous reply and likely does not add anything to the thread.
                      7. This thread is locked.