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Research lab: volunteer or get credits?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by akhan45, Aug 3, 2011.

  1. akhan45

    2+ Year Member

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    Hi all, quick question. Do you guys think its better to volunteer in a research lab or to sign a contract to earn credit-hours for the lab? Do you think medical schools look down on those who volunteer in labs compared to those who get paid/units?
     
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  3. desi0chick

    7+ Year Member

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    Why can't you do both? Obtaining credit hours isn't pay and no they don't. If I'm not mistaken, it's the experience that matters the most.
     
  4. hey akhan, quick question. Do you think it's better to just sign up for an account to muck up the forums with a thread about something that's probably been asked before when there are already two threads on the front page about research already or trying the search function first at the very least?
     
  5. HH Holmes

    7+ Year Member

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    Calm yourself, he's new. At least he didn't make an MD vs. DO thread and rather asked a valid question. Plus, the other two threads were 1. A stupid 'how did you?' thread and 2. A closed thread on something not related.

    OP: Figure out your schedule and how the course is graded. Research/Independent Study is different at each school in terms of the time commitment and credit hour compensation. Figure out if you have time to take an average semester course load and volunteer X amount of hours in the lab or if including it in your course load will benefit you more. I am not sure how you can list such on the AMCAS, as I haven't applied to medical school yet, so I will let someone else answer that.
     
  6. akhan45

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    Apologies for offending you...
     
    #5 akhan45, Aug 3, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2011
  7. akhan45

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    I would but unfortunately our school has a very limited amount of spots they can give for students seeking credits.

    Thanks Holmes, the problem is that my preferred lab isn't offering me credits so I was just wondering if it was still worth volunteering in.
     
  8. The benefit of getting credits is that you can get an easy A on your report card with the commensurate GPA boost but I believe desichick is right about the experience being the most important. If you can obtain a strong letter of recommendation and maybe a poster or a publication then it should be a worthwhile experience even without the credits. At the very least, you can get a sense of what academia is like and also figure out if you enjoy doing research, which can include a lot of idle time and frustration.
     
  9. ponyo

    ponyo 人魚姫
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    DEFINITELY go with the lab you like. It will be way more fun, you'll be able to dedicate yourself to it and learn a heck of a lot more. Lab work can be incredibly tedious and painful if you aren't interested in the science and a few credits would not be worth it.

    Also you might ask the PI after a semester to give you credit... by which point he'll have sunken thousands of grant dollars on your project and have a vested interest in your staying in the lab.
     
  10. Polarbare50

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    Absolutely agree with Ponyo:thumbup: If you need the GPA boost, the rationale is justified, but research is an EC because it's obviously not required. If you slave yourself in a research opportunity that you are not remotely interested in even if you get credits, you will have more contempt for the process of research, more likely will have done a poor job and learned less, and be significantly more stressed.

    I believe that you should do research that you will enjoy because you will be more likely to succeed when the work inevitably becomes more difficult or takes up longer periods of the day. Plus, an enthusiastic commitment to a research project will probably impress your mentor (Do I feel a future LOR?:xf:) and can give you something to talk about if research ever comes up in your interview.

    I hope you still have the opportunity to join the lab you want to be in.
     
  11. ElCapone

    ElCapone Don't Lawyer Me
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    What he said.

    Love the blog btw.

    Yes. That's what I'm doing also. But be sure to read the Protips on Joining A Lab thread just to make sure you're in the right lab.
     
  12. Little Justice

    Little Justice a.k.a. David Ben-Avram

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    I cannot imagine this mattering one bit to anyone in admissions.

    Either way, your application and letter of recommendation should just say that you were an unpaid research assistant. Any professor who feels the need to mention in your LOR that you were "paid" in credits (or mention that you were not even paid in credits) has sniffed too much pet ether. They should be be focusing on what you did to help out and what you learned.

    The credits are an issue that only really concerns your relationship with your undergrad university, not your future med school, but that leads to some other issues to consider:

    Credits might help you get further along to graduating, or to satisfy full-time status for financial aid purposes. If you don't need them to graduate then they're just an unnecessary expense.
     

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