Research/Publications for IM

Discussion in 'Internal Medicine and IM Subspecialties' started by John Snow, Aug 21, 2015.

  1. John Snow

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    Hey guys, I'm an MS2 and just started my second year. I did some basic research during the summer, but literally got nothing out of it (not even a presentation).

    I'm interested in IM (after that not sure) and come from a top 40 allopathic school. I've been researching this a lot, but couldn't find any solid examples. I was wondering if I need more than this past summer in research to qualify for a mid to top tier IM program?

    I don't like research and I'd much rather focus on step 1. I know this is kind of a nebulous question, but all of the my fellow second years are continuing with their summer projects and I'm kind of feeling paranoid.

    Thanks!
     
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  2. ArkansasMed

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    You do not need to have research to match at most of the mid to top programs. The top say 10 you need something (usually a poster or paper or two) and certain programs are very research heavy and want multiple pubs (Brigham is very research oriented). Of course if you do have it then it helps a ton but not having it will not end you either. this is what I'd focus on to match at a top 20 program.

    1. Clerkship grades (especially medicine, honor it).
    2. top quartile (second for the lower end of the top programs) and AOA (if you have it) for the big 4 and possible a few others like Penn, Duke etc.
    3. Strong letters of rec from IM people. Status of professor matters but content of the letter matters more. (Status being professor vs associate vs assistant etc)
    4. Step 1: 230 is the cutoff for most screens actually, some programs want higher (240) but it's not as scary of a cutoff as deem or the sub specialty Surg fields. The only caveat is most of your fellow applicants will have these 250+ scores at the top programs and it may hurt you if you are equal to them in a large pool and need something to rank you off of.
    5. Step 2 ck: this actually matters a bit more. Want to go up on this and some programs screen for it. I think Columbia takes this score pretty seriously.
    6. Sub I grade (want honors) probably should be 3rd on this list but I am too lazy to reorganize it all
    7. Research: order of impressiveness is paper, national presentation, poster then just doing research. If you can't get any of the above ask to do a review article, chapter of a text book or case report. You can always find someone who's in need of a second author to help them complete a project.
    8. Other leadership activities. This can be huge if you excelled at the above to help you be very competitive, however, it won't make up for a low class rank or step score.

    Research doesn't usually get you the interview, but it does add to the "wow I can see how this student will give back to academic medicine in the future" idea that most of these admission committees look for. Keep in mind all the top end IM programs are producing future fellows or academic minded docs so they look for this in their applicants. Hope this helps.
     
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  3. Nivakia

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    if you can collect data and submit something within 1 - 2 weeks then i say go for it.
     
  4. Elixir6

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    This person has zero business giving advice as they clearly understand nothing about research/publication.
     
  5. John Snow

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    Thanks for the advice! I think I'll focus on Step 1 and then try for a chart review or something like that third year. Hopefully that'll show enough commitment without me actually committing lol.
     
  6. Shaq

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    As an MD-PhD student at a very reputed, research-heavy school (top 25), let me comment on the value of research.

    As someone who cares deeply about science and wants to do research professionally as a laboratory scientist, it pains me to see so many of my MD colleagues pursue research for the wrong reasons - namely for the purpose of advancing his/her residency applications. Sadly, I think that even many MD-PhD students view their PhD simply as a means to get into a competitive residency. In this process of resume building, we tend to forget that the true purpose of research is to make a discovery and benefit society. Any other motivation for pursuing research, in my mind, is just a waste of everyone's time.

    I think that the so called "top" medical residency programs seek out people with research experience not because they think that this makes them "better" than people who don't do research. I think it is because they want to recruit people who will go on to become academic scholars in their chosen discipline - people who will advance the field. If you honestly don't want to do research, that is fine, but that also means that you should go to a residency program that better fits your goals. A program that is research intensive, such as UCSF or Brigham, is probably not the best place for someone not inclined to do scientific research. This doesn't mean that someone who doesn't want to do research, or has limited research experience, won't be as great a doctor, it just means that a so called "top" IM program may not be the best place for that person. In fact the idea of dubbing a program "top" makes me cringe. I think that these places are just different, and are looking for a specific kind of candidate. They aren't necessarily going to recruit the "best" candidates, although the people who do get into them tend to be among the best.

    To corroborate these views, I have spoken to many faculty at my institution who graduated from places like MGH, BWH etc, and they unanimously say that a major factor that these programs use in recruiting is whether or not someone has the potential to be a thought leader in some academic discipline - be it biomedical research, clinical/translational research, public health or other fields. Clinical excellence and solid grades are expected at these places as well, but this is simply not enough to get you into places like BWH. There has to be some evidence that you are going to do something beyond just being a great doctor.

    To answer the OP - here is what I will say. The question you should be asking shouldn't be "what can I do to get into a top residency program", I think the questions you need to ask are:

    1. What can I do to become the best doctor possible and learn the most in my limited time in medical school?
    2. What is it that I want to do in my medical career and what experiences can I pursue to gain the necessary skills to achieve this goal?

    To me, it seems like you don't really like research. My suggestion to you is - DONT DO IT! Find something that you are interested in and pursue it! Do you want to learn a new language and spend a year working in some other country? Do it! I don't know what it is you like, but you need to figure it out and do it. Get a vision for your career and follow it with intensity.

    Regarding Step 1 - I do think the score matters, but maybe not as much as you think. Do as well as you possibly can. Shoot for a 250 - that should keep you in the running for most residency programs in most specialties. Even if you fall a bit short, don't sweat it. The most important thing is to spend your time doing what you like and to do that thing well. If you can do that, it will show on your application and you will shine.

    On the other hand, if you have the attitude of "I'll just do some BS research to put on my resume without really committing", that will certainly show - either on your application or your interviews. Nothing comes easy in life - you got to be willing to commit a significant amount of time and energy to it. But if it is something you like to do, that shouldn't be very difficult.

    PS (not to be mean, but just to be realistic) - The people who may interview you at BWH will have experience talking to candidates who have published substantial work as first authors in journals like Cell or Science. They will also be interviewing people who were Rhodes scholars, or candidates who played a division I sport in college. Pretty sure a chart review completed by an uninspired medical student won't impress the Brigham lol. It will just end up being a waste of your time.
     
  7. Crayola227

    Crayola227 The Oncoming Storm
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    Hallelujah QFT.

    I never had any interest in research but I did it anyway. That's the game. But I never pretended to care about research at my interviews and frankly that puts some community programs at ease. I encourage people who just want to be good attendings in the community somewhere anywhere to save themselves the hassle and go to a good community program.

    One benefit is that all these med students doing it for fluff are providing cheap labor to the PIs who actually give a ****. Paying your dues.
    It's unfortunate though if these same students are then posing for programs.

    I've talked to people who wanted to do neurosurgery or heme-onc, but hated research and didn't like the fact that programs don't prefer to train neurosurgeons or oncologists that aren't going on to contribute to advancing the field. It's a small community. If you want to just do cases or see patients move into a field large enough for you to just practice status quo. There's enough FM docs for the lot not to have interest in research and the ones who do can carry the field. Much the same, leave the academic institutions with amazing research opportunities. Just because your app by numbers can get you into Harvard doesn't mean you should go.

    TLDR
    PIs can use uninterested med student slaves regardless
    fluff your resume being said labor if you must but don't BS programs
    don't take opportunities from those who can really use them - be a doc to help people, do research to advance knowledge, go to the programs that meet your goals
    re: your goals - life is too short to worry about how good your CV looks - it should reflect putting time towards advancing your own well being, that of your loved ones & society (which usually does the trick of making your CV look good anyway)
     
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  8. GOLDMARK

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    I think all of this advice is useful if we lived in utopia, but ultimately, if everyone else is playing the research game, it would be stupid not to. I was in this shun research group for all of med school and though I have received three top 10 and a couple more top 20 invites, I constantly find myself wishing I had done some BS research (the definition of this is pretty broad- even a simple case report or book chapter counts!) to fill the quota some tier programs are looking for. That being said, I do know somebody who has gotten invites from almost all top 10 including the big 4 with zero research and no desire to do so but this person is AOA, gold humanism, and >260/260. So if you are going to stay away from research, know you will need stellar stats to make up for it. Also, I don't think these top places are just looking for thought leaders. I'd be surprised if even half of the residents at top 10 institutions fulfill this definition.
     
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  9. IMreshopeful

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    Absolutely agree with this. As a senior resident at a program now I came away with excellent scores and reasonable grades in medical school but research primarily in undergrad only - this ended up working in my favor because it opened up opportunities for me.

    This also matters when you go into fellowship for two reasons. Firstly even if you aren't interested in research as a career you still have to do something for fellowship applications because it's something that will be brought up on all of your interviews and you will be expected to know and talk about it. It will make you more competitive as an applicant. Secondly, you have to do something in fellowship research related almost always and this will help build those skills. If you're not interested in a research career, that's okay, but you have to play the game.

    And as for the top places looking for "leaders" in the field, the vast majority still go into fellowship and many times still into practice. Don't underestimate the degree to which people are willing to play the game and fake their way through.
     
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  10. Shaq

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    I see where the previous two posters are coming from. I would argue though, that there are ways you can appear competitive while not doing research. In other words, I do believe that there are ways one can pursue his or her own interests, while building meaningful experiences that would enhance one's CV. I have seen this on many occasions with applicants who, on SDN, would be considered to have modest scores/academic credentials.

    What a pitiable state we are in, that we need to go through checklist items to advance in our careers.
     
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  11. dozitgetchahi

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    The most hilarious part of this 'status quo' is that very few practitioners in supposedly 'research-heavy' fields actually do research. Fact: most heme/onc docs and neurosurgeons work in the community and do zero research, but the programs all want research from applicants. Thus you get this situation where everyone poses as this big academic type at interviews with a buffed-up research CV etc; then, 95% promptly drop the research in residency or fellowship.

    In other words, don't hate the player(s) - hate the game.
     
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  12. ArkansasMed

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    It's actually a bit of a conundrum if you think about it. The top programs are the best because they produce the future leaders in academic medicine. It can be safe to say that most department heads and top researchers rarely practice clinical medicine or have time to given that they are excelling at another part of the medical field. They probably could get away with sub-par clinical training and still be excellent at their primary job. Can easily be argued that MD/PhDs who want 90% of their time to be research would benefit from a residency program that does some form of intern year and just focuses the rest of their time on become better researchers or focuses on that leadership skill set .... They really don't need the excellent clinical training to run a lab (may need it to get into a top fellowship in their field and take care of the complex patients seen at these hospitals, but that's a different story). They just need to know the basics of clinical medicine and the few condition they are doing research on in depth.

    Most would also argue that research heavy places like Brigham and Hopkins also have some of the most complex patients that get brought to them and some argue the best clinical training (whether that's true or not is another debate). It would also make sense that really sharp and clinically focused docs would seek out these places to become the best trained docs possible and would then enter either non-research/teaching focused academic positions or private practice. Ironically, residency admissions committees usually look for more than just the solid student with clinical potential and a lot of these residents get in due to research or some amazing accomplishment of applicants that RARELY deals with direct patient care (D1 athlete, Rhodes scholar, musician etc).

    In reality, you probably need a mix of both to really get the most out of these places.
     

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