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lab or clinical research

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by moonlight, Mar 18, 2000.

  1. moonlight

    moonlight Junior Member

    Jan 12, 2000
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    Hello all,
    I'm a sophomore going into my junior year. I did the HHMI Research Training Fellowship last yr. It was a great experience and I really enjoyed it. This year, I applied to about 14 different internship programs and got into 2, UCSF and Harvard. Ok, here's my question: If one is thinking about medical school, and have a choice of doing either laboratory research or clinical research and and opportunity of shadowing Dr's -- which one would be the better choice? How do most premeds spend their summers? I'm curious, I just want to see if I'm on the right track. Any comment is greatly appreciated.

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  2. The answer to your post depends on what kind of doctor you want to be. Generally speaking, you have two major options: 1) be a traditional doctor whose major occupation is to see and treat patients; or 2) become a
    medical scientist whose major responsibility is to do research.

    Now, if you choose option #2, then you should pursue research at all costs above clinical experience. I know that goes against traditional belief, but most MD/PhD applicants have relatively little clinical experience but 3 years or more of solid research experience. So probably one lengthy experience in a clinical area would be enough. Remember, the primary quality of an MD/PhD applicant is their ability to do independent research. Being able to deal with people is less important for a research doctor than for a clinical doctor.

    For option #1, you probably want to do the opposite: pursue clinical experiences at the expense of research. One research experience is more than enough for a traditional premed, but you need significant experience in a clinical setting.

    Overall, for option #1, one summer spent in research, and all other summers spent in clinical experience (as well as during the school year) would be ideal.

    For option #2, one summer spent in clinical experience, and all other summers spent in research would be a goal to shoot for.

    Like some premeds, I will be doing research (National Institutes of Health) this summer. I would say the majority of premeds pursue clinical experience, but its hard to make generalizations.

    "There is nothing more powerful on this Earth as a man who has nothing to lose. It does not take ten such men to change the world--one will do." Elijah Mohammed

    [This message has been edited by baylor21 (edited 03-19-2000).]
  3. joanna

    joanna New Member

    Mar 14, 2000
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    As the previous post mentions, your question does depend on the type of doc you want to be. Also, it depends on what your research interests are--you should go for what is the most interesting for you by all means or the research won't mean much to you and that may show during the application process. However, I can tell you what worked for me (I'm currently in my 2nd yr in med school)... I spent the summer after my junior yr doing biopsych research (with rats) which turned into a senior honors thesis. The first year after graduating I did bench research in a Harvard lab. Then, I switched gears and did clinical research for 2 years. I have to say that doing clinical research was really key for getting into med school. I think more and more schools are looking for applicants who have expreience working with patients in any setting, whether it be research, a camp counselor for children, orderly (spelling??), hotline counseling, etc. Also, it is a must to shadow a physician! So, if you want my advice---do the clinical research and shadow as many different docs as you can. Make sure that contact with patients is a definate part of the research for you--not all clinical research positions for undergrads involve contact with patients so find out what the deal is with that before you do it. Just my two cents.... Good luck!

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