Schwann

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Aug 20, 2008
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Hi,
I have been working at a laboratory for around 3 years, where I take pictures of eye anatomy, assist with tear collection, and other laboratory tasks. However, I have not had my own research project. I am a little confused as to what is considered research.

Should I find another job where I am given a research project to work on, should I volunteer at a hospital, or should I stay at my current job?
 

URHere

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Nov 20, 2007
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Hi,
I have been working at a laboratory for around 3 years, where I take pictures of eye anatomy, assist with tear collection, and other laboratory tasks. However, I have not had my own research project. I am a little confused as to what is considered research.

Should I find another job where I am given a research project to work on, should I volunteer at a hospital, or should I stay at my current job?
If you've been there for three years, I don't think it's out of the question for you to sit down with your PI and ask to be more involved. If you have been a reliable assistant, and have spent more than a few hours a week in the lab, I think your chances are good of ending up with your own project.

If this lab has been more of a "few hours a week" gig for you, then you really aren't going to be able to manage your own project in such little time at your lab or any other.

So my advice is, if you are in the lab at least half time (20ish hours/week), then ask for your own project. If not, find something else like volunteer work or resign yourself to staying at your current job without your own project.

And to answer your question: what you have been doing counts as research, but it is not independent research. Independent research means that you carry a project through from start to finish - planning the study, collecting the data, analyzing the data, and writing it up/presenting it.
 

Mobius1985

10+ Year Member
Apr 4, 2007
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Lot's of things can count as a research experience. here is the ranked list contributed by LizzyM, one of SDN's regular adcomm members:

11. Housekeeping and supply ordering.

10. Helping others with projects, serving as a research assistant or technician.

9. Animal surgery.

8. Pilot work prior to writing a proposal for a testable hypothesis.

7. Responsibility for testing a hypothesis.

6. Funding of your project (not your PI's funding)

5. Poster presentation at a student event

4. Podium presentation at a student event

3. Poster presentation at a regional or national meeting in your specialty (published abstract)

2. Podium presentation at a regional or national meeting in your specialty (published abstract)

1. Authorship in a peer reviewed, national publication.
 
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Schwann

10+ Year Member
Aug 20, 2008
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Also, what type of clinical experience does medical school require? I have been working in a pathology laboratory with residents, sometimes going up to the O.R., taking anatomy pictures, and helping the resident log in cases. Do I need to do anything else to be more involved? I just feel like I haven't been doing enough. Please give me your input. Thank you.
 

Mobius1985

10+ Year Member
Apr 4, 2007
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Admissions committes will prefer to see experiences where you are having face-to-face interactions with sick people. The activities you describe all sound very interesting, and I'd include them, but they do not fulfill the expectation. Your research experience is more than adequate and you would need "your own project" only if you are intending to apply to the highly-selective, top research schools. All schools, however, expect to see a decent amount of clinical experience on your application (ideally, about 1.5 years) to show you've tested the vocation, have a good idea of what doctors do, and still want it. Shadowing docs, though observational and not interactive, is another important component to demonstrating your dedication to becoming a physician. Don't forget that altruism is another important "expected " component, usually demonstrated with volunteerism. Volunteering (rather than working) in a hospital or clinic or nursing home, etc, counts toward both expectations.
 

Schwann

10+ Year Member
Aug 20, 2008
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Do Medical schools verify your volunteer experience? The reason is that some of the places I volunteered at might have no record that I volunteered.
 

justdoit31

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Jul 13, 2008
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No they don't verify unless it is highly suspicious- ie you claimed to volunteer 1000 hours at this organization over a period of a year.

I would talk to the PI about seeing if you could get more involved but I think if you don't have good volunteer experiences you will want to do that as well
 
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