Leaving lab for the summer to do research somewhere else? (sophomore summer undergrad)

This forum made possible through the generous support of SDN members, donors, and sponsors. Thank you.


New Member
Oct 15, 2023
Reaction score
I am having trouble deciding whether I should leave a lab, for the summer, that is very supportive to go do a summer research program at another university.

The lab I am currently in has a very supportive PI, I have tons of independence, and it is very close to my home so I can easily continue my volunteering and clinical experience commitments over the summer.

The PI told me that they encourage students to go out and do summer programs at other institutions. They also said they want to publish data that I helped generate and I would likely be involved in creating figures for that paper. I believe that if I worked in this lab over the summer I could help pump out the publication in time for medical school applications.

Alternatively, I want to gain experience working with vertebrates, something my institution does not do. I also would like to have the opportunity to network with PI's at medical schools and earn their recommendation for my upcoming applications. However, I am rolling the dice as I do not know if I will be placed in a lab with a PI who is available to summer undergrads. This would also be my summer to study for the MCAT and I am unsure if I should take a gamble with all the variables involved.

Please help me decide on what would be the best use of my summer if I want to apply to both md and md-phd programs in my junior (next) summer.
I appreciate any advice.

Members don't see this ad.
I don't think you'd lose either way, but if MD/PhD is what you are going after, I'd go for a summer research fellowship at an institution with more resources to do research than your (presumed) small undergrad institution. You need to get an idea of what that culture is like, and some summer research programs will have opportunities for you to at least chat with clinical faculty if you work at a medical center. Pick the program where you have the most confidence you will be placed in a lab with a mentor that supports you regardless of the topic. And believe us, you'll find the time to study for the MCAT.
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user