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I understand Research experience becomes important when chosing competetive residencies like Neurosurgery and Ortho. I wanted to know the appropriate time to do these research programs (are summer programs Okay) also, does undergrad research counts, and will an NIH(National Instutite of Health) summer Research program for Medical students enhance your application for Residency in these programs (Neuro and Ortho).


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Yes, summer programs are ok.

Yes, undergrad research counts.

Yes, an NIH research project may help your application.

Typically, medical students engage in research during the summer and winter breaks between first and second years. A few have significant work done before medical school and should list that on their applications.

The best research is long-term, medically relevant and results in a publication in a peer-reviewed journal (first author, preferably). Barring that (and having that is pretty unusual for most medical students), something you find interesting, preferably related to your future residency field and can discuss in detail during interviews is best. "Name brand" research projects (ie, an NIH grant or summer program) do not inherently improve your application if your duties were limited to Chief Cook and Bottle Washer. Learning the principles of research and making a significant contribution to the work, is, IMHO, more important than working at some high-powered place. That said, the more people you meet while doing research (and impress), the better off you will be when application time rolls around.

Hope this helps.
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Dr Maxy:

I'd agree with Dr Cox -

I initially took a year off to do some reseach (which eventually turned into a PhD project!) - I remember that while discussing my upcoming time away during my MSII year, the Ped's Residency director commented to me that anyone can take a year off, it's what you do with that year that sets you apart.

Research is a funny thing - and serendipity oftentimes has a large part in whether or not a publication can results. As such, if it were me, and I was only taking a year away and wanted a first author publication - I would ensure that I had a clear hypothesis, with all resources available to answer the question available to you (and if you are not familiar with the techniques, someone who is willing to show you!) before you begin you year out. The decision to do either clinical or bench research (or both!) will also impact on the likelihood of publication, too.

In addition, while high profile places look great on CVs, just make sure you will not be just another face in a power-house laboratory - a good relationship with a PI will ensure you get what is perhaps the most important aspect of your intermitting for a year - the ability to evaluate the evidence critically and approach medical questions from a scientific viewpoint.

Best of luck!

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