HeatherMD

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So I snagged a great research position under a wonderful professor at my university in July, and have been working in his laboratory ever since.

Graduate studies in O-chem has always been been a an academic/career path I considered because I thought I would enjoy it.. but honestly, I find research tedious and often discouraging (having to start over so often to find the ideal conditions blargghhh it's awful). In other words, I hate it and I often find myself wishing I could be anywhere but lab.

However, I know research is "good" for the med resume, so should I just stick it out so I have something more to write on my application? I feel I'm not getting much out of it, because I hate it so much, and sticking it out for a blurb in my medical school applications just feels like I'm abusing my prof's resources and his kindness (he's dead-set on me graduating to work in his lab.. has no idea I want to be a physician, I feel too guilty to tell him).

Nevertheless, because my grades currently leave something to be desired, I'm desperate to hold fast to any experience that could make me a better applicant.

So how much does the research really matter?
 

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I abhor research too. I have so much respect for people who do work in the lab all day.

Doing research is quite significant to the med application, I think. Especially if you want to go to a school that's research-oriented (i.e., Baylor). But maybe if you do a LOT of clinical work, it'll make up for it? Or maybe try to find research in a subject you're truly interested in.
 

iduwanna

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So I snagged a great research position under a wonderful professor at my university in July, and have been working in his laboratory ever since.

Graduate studies in O-chem has always been been a an academic/career path I considered because I thought I would enjoy it.. but honestly, I find research tedious and often discouraging (having to start over so often to find the ideal conditions blargghhh it's awful). In other words, I hate it and I often find myself wishing I could be anywhere but lab.

However, I know research is "good" for the med resume, so should I just stick it out so I have something more to write on my application? I feel I'm not getting much out of it, because I hate it so much, and sticking it out for a blurb in my medical school applications just feels like I'm abusing my prof's resources and his kindness (he's dead-set on me graduating to work in his lab.. has no idea I want to be a physician, I feel too guilty to tell him).

Nevertheless, because my grades currently leave something to be desired, I'm desperate to hold fast to any experience that could make me a better applicant.

So how much does the research really matter?

Research isn't necessary, but clinical experience and good grades (especially in the prereqs) are.

Why don't you volunteer in a hospital, shadow some doctors, and improve your GPA with the time you've been spending in the research position that you hate?
 
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Absolutely NOT.
I have had 5 interviews so far and None of them have said, "why the hell have you not done research?"

On the other hand, I have had probably around 3 interviewers say that research is not necessary for a physician.

I want to do some sort of clinical research when I get to medical school though just because it sounds like my cup of tea.
 

bobsagat

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You have three options as I see it:

A) If you love orgo and think you might enjoy a different type of research, then switch to another orgo lab. You'll get some research under your belt and you can quit hating every second you spend in lab. It doesn't sound like you're doing anything you feel is productive, and if you get to an interview and someone asks you about your research you want it to sound exciting and meaningful. Your attitude seems to imply neither.
B) If you hate all research, then like someone said you can quit and spend time working in a hospital or studying or doing SOMETHING that's more worth your time.
C) Just stay in lab, waste your time and be incredibly bored working for someone that you're going to end up shafting in the end.

Why you'd go with option C, unless you're graduating this December or something, is beyond me.
 

Decicco

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I hated research too, but stuck with it for a semester (only 8 hours a week). I hated it the whole semester, but now am starting to enjoy it now that I have built up the basic skills to be confident in myself. Maybe I'm just weird, but perhaps stick with it for awhile longer?
 

HeatherMD

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Research isn't necessary, but clinical experience and good grades (especially in the prereqs) are.

Why don't you volunteer in a hospital, shadow some doctors, and improve your GPA with the time you've been spending in the research position that you hate?

I have shadowing scheduled for next month and with only 3 weeks of the semester remaining, I'm pretty certain I'm finishing with a 4.0, so the grade problem is as resolved as it's going to get lol

I don't have time to volunteer in a hospital... but you're right, I totally would if I wasn't at the lab. *sigh* I feel sooo guilty bailing on my professor because he has been nothing but awesome, but I REALLY hate this!

I think I'll finish the semester in the lab.. then if I'm ever asked about my research interviews I can just say that, if nothing else, it made me certain graduate studies was not for me and medicine definitely was!
 

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Hate basic science research? I got two words for you

CLINICAL RESEARCH


learn it, love it, get published by it, EAZY
 

drbetty

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Hate basic science research? I got two words for you

CLINICAL RESEARCH

it's true that a lot of ppl equate research to pipettes, rats, and being in a lab, but clinical research can be much more enjoyable!

if the OP likes Ochem, what about tutoring or TAing?

do something you like, life is short and med school/residency is looonnngg!
 

Invictusmaneo

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I have not even walked by research lab, but have received interviews at 6 out of 7 schools I applied to, and 1 acceptance so far. I am a reapplicant, and when it was obvious that I was not getting in last year, I called the admissions offices of the schools who did not accept/interview me last year to see what I could do to improve my app for this year. I was expecting them all to tell me to do some research, but every school I talked to said that it was nice, but not necessary. If research is not working out for you its not a big deal, at least you got your hands wet with it. There are many things you can do to improve your application without driving yourself insane with boredom. Try to boost your medically related volunteerism and get a lot of clinical exposure and I am sure you'll be fine.
 

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How do you get involved in clinical research?

same way you would get into basic science research. It starts with finding a PI (usually a physician in the hospital) who is doing a lot of research. Teaching hospitals (at your university) and VA hospitals are usually full of these kinds of people.
 

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also, as for whether or not you need research,


yes you need research, if not now, then eventually

especially if you want to get into any even semi-competitive specialty through a somewhat respectable fellowship program later. Ofcourse you have more time to accumulate research experience once you are in med school, but I'm telling you, you will be even shorter on free time in med school.


also some schools (like UCSD) require a research thesis in order for you to graduate.
 
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HeatherMD

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it's true that a lot of ppl equate research to pipettes, rats, and being in a lab, but clinical research can be much more enjoyable!

if the OP likes Ochem, what about tutoring or TAing?

do something you like, life is short and med school/residency is looonnngg!

I already TA ochem =)

Thanks guys, I'll look into clinical research.
 

mbe36

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How about doing clinical research? ie Primary Care and study patient populations, access to health care, etc....

Research does not have to have test tubes.
 

lainapox

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I haven't done one minute of research or labwork outside of lab-classes, and a bunch of schools have offered me acceptances. I've got a bunch of clinical and community health experience, and I've seen enough of the physician lifestyle to know what I'm in for. Research is totally not necessary, unless you plan on doing something research-oriented in your future (which you obviously don't, since you kind of hate it). Get some clinical exposure, not just for the sake of the application, but for your own sake (so you know what you're getting yourself into). Call up some family friends who are doctors, if you have any, or some local offices and ask if you can shadow for a day (and if they like you, they might invite you back). If that doesn't work, try to get a volunteer position at a hospital or clinic, or work as a medical assistant (or "general office assistant" who happens to perform the function of a medical assistant [at least the ones that are legal without the certification]).
 

lainapox

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also, as for whether or not you need research,


yes you need research, if not now, then eventually

especially if you want to get into any even semi-competitive specialty through a somewhat respectable fellowship program later. Ofcourse you have more time to accumulate research experience once you are in med school, but I'm telling you, you will be even shorter on free time in med school.


also some schools (like UCSD) require a research thesis in order for you to graduate.

No, you really don't. I've never done research, and that hasn't stopped me from getting into medschool. As a physician, you don't have to do research. In fact, most of the physicians that I know don't do ANY research because they see patients all day. Science and medicine aren't the same thing - medicine, in my eyes, is an application of science, and you don't have to do one to do the other. For some specialties, and some med schools, you will need research. But why would someone want to go to a research-heavy school if they hate doing research?! That just seems silly to me.

OP - you really don't have to do stuff you don't have any interest in (that isn't a clearly stated pre-requisite) to get into medical school. If a particular school rejects you because of your lack of research experience, why would you want to go there, anyway? They obviously don't have the same values as you, in terms of what is important to a medical education. You honestly CAN just do what feels right to you, what interests you, what fuels your intellectual passion.
 

CarrieBad

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Once upon a time, I HATED research. Chem research just isn't that much fun, but I would suggest giving bio research a shot. Or clinical research. There is so much stuff out there, you could find something you are passionate about! If not, no one can say, "why didn't try research?" And you can say, "I tried it and it just wasn't my thing."
 
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I know that not having any research will not necessarily keep you out of medical school, whereas not having any clinical experience will.

However, from personal experience, it's really nice having some research experience to talk about when your interviewer is a PhD :)
 

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Disclaimer: research was my main undergrad EC, therefore, I'm going to always advocate research when possible :)

I recommend sticking with it, at least through the end of the semester, if not the rest of the year. What you're running into is typical of the frustrations of basic science research; basically, every project is going to fail the first time you try it, and probably the second and third times. The first few months on a project are always angst-ridden and frustrating. A lot of people tend to go in with the false conception that they're going to do some kick-ass experiment and have a publication ready in three months, and that's just not the reality of basic science research. And if you don't have the patience for the bumps along the road, then hey, it's not for everyone, and like everyone has said, you can get into med school without it. In fact, having about half a year like you do will put you somewhat ahead of the game, so there's no shame in saying you tried it and found it wasn't for you.

However, if you can make it out of those first few months, THEN it gets fun, because you actually know what you're doing and what direction you're going! You start really looking forward to going into lab and start squeezing extra time into your schedule to get in there, because you're SO CLOSE you can taste it... it's during those weeks that research is really exciting, and you thank your lucky stars that you stuck through that first half-year of headaches.

So yeah, it's a pain when you get started... but, as with most things in medicine, if you can stick with it, it's totally worth it later (IMHO) :)
 

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Based on my experience and from my peers opinions at a large research institution, I find that generally those who find basic research interesting and generally stick with it have superb mentors behind them from the start. If your mentor (not your PI) is someone you can get along with and encourages you, it really makes the research experience enjoyable and exciting. However, if you get someone that treats you as a free lab slave, then I would suggest changing labs ASAP.

Don't expect to become a scientist overnight, master the subject material, or gain the trust of any of the staff working in the lab probably until 1 year. If you come back the 2nd year, everyone definitely respects you more and you gain more freedom/independence.

Well I may just be speaking to the choir here, but in the end, I hope you can come to realize how rewarding research can be, after you get past the monotony.
 

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No, you really don't. I've never done research, and that hasn't stopped me from getting into medschool. As a physician, you don't have to do research. In fact, most of the physicians that I know don't do ANY research because they see patients all day. Science and medicine aren't the same thing - medicine, in my eyes, is an application of science, and you don't have to do one to do the other. For some specialties, and some med schools, you will need research. But why would someone want to go to a research-heavy school if they hate doing research?! That just seems silly to me.

So, primary physicians working in private practices, yes they don't need research. For everything else, I argue you do. Also, like I told him before, even if you don't need it to get in to med school, you will need to do it sometime down the line. So might as well start building that portfolio while you still have lots of free time. Because believe me when I say, med school eats up your free time like nothing.

If you want to go into any kind of competitive specialty (and not even only for highly competitive stuff like radiology or cardiology) you need to have research to get into a respectable residency/fellowship.

And if you are a physician in an academic hospital, you have to do research or you will not be able to progress in your career at all. Clinical is only a portion of what doctors in teaching hospitals have to do. They are almost required to do more research.
 

lainapox

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So, primary physicians working in private practices, yes they don't need research. For everything else, I argue you do. Also, like I told him before, even if you don't need it to get in to med school, you will need to do it sometime down the line. So might as well start building that portfolio while you still have lots of free time. Because believe me when I say, med school eats up your free time like nothing.

If you want to go into any kind of competitive specialty (and not even only for highly competitive stuff like radiology or cardiology) you need to have research to get into a respectable residency/fellowship.

And if you are a physician in an academic hospital, you have to do research or you will not be able to progress in your career at all. Clinical is only a portion of what doctors in teaching hospitals have to do. They are almost required to do more research.


That's true. Very true. I agree.
However, I maintain my position that if the OP has no interest in research whatsoever, she might want to consider a specialty down the line (and, more relevant to her current situation, a medical school) that doesn't involve research. I definitely think she should give it a fair shot now, and not drop it because she might be in the initial "this sucks, nothing is working, I hate research!" phase, which might be followed by some big and rewarding and personally fulfilling breakthrough. I think that if she gives it a fair shot and still doesn't like it, what's the point of planning to go into a field that involves doing research? That's like planning to go into a specialty that you hate, when you have the option of going into one that you love. Then again, if you and I disagree about what should motivate one's medschool and specialty choice (for me, it's what makes you happy and fulfills you), then this disagreement/argument/debate/exchange of disagreeing ideas is kind of useless since we're working off of completely opposite premises.
 

GoSpursGo

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That's true. Very true. I agree.
However, I maintain my position that if the OP has no interest in research whatsoever, she might want to consider a specialty down the line (and, more relevant to her current situation, a medical school) that doesn't involve research. I definitely think she should give it a fair shot now, and not drop it because she might be in the initial "this sucks, nothing is working, I hate research!" phase, which might be followed by some big and rewarding and personally fulfilling breakthrough. I think that if she gives it a fair shot and still doesn't like it, what's the point of planning to go into a field that involves doing research? That's like planning to go into a specialty that you hate, when you have the option of going into one that you love. Then again, if you and I disagree about what should motivate one's medschool and specialty choice (for me, it's what makes you happy and fulfills you), then this disagreement/argument/debate/exchange of disagreeing ideas is kind of useless since we're working off of completely opposite premises.

I believe that poster's point is that even if you don't have to do research in the ultimate specialty that you want to get into, if the residencies are sufficiently competitive (e.g. dermatology, radiology, certain surgeries), you're going to need research in your portfolio to have a shot against everyone else who HAS done research.

It's similar to med school apps: if you're ok with just going to *A* med school, or even a mid-tier one, then you don't really need research. However, if you want to get into a Top 10 where there's a huge research bent in the school's mission (Harvard, Stanford, etc), you're going to need it, even if you have no intention of doing research once you get there. Similarly, if you want *A* residency, or mid-competitive one, you don't need research. But the most competitive residencies, even if you have no desire to do research in your career, will require some research on your application.
 

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The short answer is: to get into med school - no, to get into competitive residency - yes.
 
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