Nov 23, 2010
14
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Medical Student
I have noticed in my interviews that if I say I'm not sure about research or that I want it as an option that they have all assumed I did not want to do research (they said it outright). This is at programs where research is optional and only half the residents do research. I am wondering if I am hurting myself in the interviews by not appearing to be 100% committed to doing research. Do they rank people higher that want to do research even if it is at a program that is "optional"?

I have also told them that I'm not interested in the 7-year programs and I'm also not sure of this strategy because then they really think I won't do research. The reason I said it is because I wanted them to know that I was more interested in their programs. However, I realize this is a giant game and I want to spin my story the best way possible.
 
Jul 24, 2009
63
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Resident [Any Field]
I am assuming you are mostly referring to academic programs. with that assumption:

I know it is annoying to play the game, but in general, unless you are categorically opposed to research, you should say you're "interested". that's not a commitment, just leaves the door open. The problem is that in many programs, mine included, research is "optional" but that really means that only one person a year can opt out of the 2 research years. this caused a problem in my program a few years back when 3 residents did not want to do research. It is alot easier for more people to want to do it than slots (i.e. to then have them all write proposals and choose whose is most valid) then force someone into 2 years extra. I don't know if it will affect your ranking (unfortunately, I don't think it gets that granular at bigger programs, i.e. your interview score and academic credentials are what get you slotted into X quartile, in general). Regardless it probably safer to err on saying you are interested (but then be prepared to actually end up being the one who has to do research if a bunch more of your colleagues want to do it even less).
 
OP
G
Nov 23, 2010
14
0
Status
Medical Student
I think I will take your approach. It seems that if I want the "option" it means I'm not interested to them. Seems better to keep all the doors open in this crazy process.
 

filter07

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Yes this is a big game. Having sat in some ranking meetings, it is not enough to just say you are interested in research in abstract, general terms. You have to demonstrate to people that you are interested, not just say it. For example, you would ideally mention your past history of research. Presentations, publications, etc. To demonstrate your future interest in research, don't just say "I'm interested in research" but say "I am interested in research in [something specific]." Follow that up with something like, "I noticed that someone in your department is doing research in [something] and might be interested in pursuing that"

You guys really have to do your homework. It doesn't take much effort to look up research going on from browsing the department's website or looking up some attending's names on Pubmed.

I am an at "academic" program so it is expected that people will say they are interested in research. That doesn't count for much unless they can back that up with a little bit more substance.

Also, keep in mind that interviewers have a bias towards certainty. In other words, they prefer "I am interested in doing basic science research in pediatric surgery" rather than "I'm not sure but I'm open to anything". The latter might be closer to the truth, but to interviewers, it's not really clear what to make of that type of open statement. At least with the former statement they know where you stand and how you would fit in logistically. But be careful with being too specific unless you have some background in it. You would sound pretty silly saying that if you had no exposure to pediatric surgery or did any research/involvement remotely related to that.
 

Winged Scapula

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treehorsio and filter are correct.

In most programs where research is optional, it is not *really* optional in many cases. We also had the same problem with different numbers going in than coming out, which was one of the reasons the program apparently went to a 7 year requirement.

Play the game.
 
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