tony1853

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I am now 85% sure that I will finish my bio BS and apply to medical schools, opposed to going the PA route (my original plan). My wife and I are still hashing out the whole thing...

Anyway, when I return to school this summer, I want to look for research opportunities. When I was last attending ('96-'98) I had a great undergrad advisor who focuses on seabird ecology. We had a great relationship, and if he has some room for me, I would love to work on some research with him - even though it would be ecology.

Do you guys think I should look for bio or chem research instead of ecology research? Would it be of greater value on med school apps?
 

ntmed

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tony1853 said:
I am now 85% sure that I will finish my bio BS and apply to medical schools, opposed to going the PA route (my original plan). My wife and I are still hashing out the whole thing...

Anyway, when I return to school this summer, I want to look for research opportunities. When I was last attending ('96-'98) I had a great undergrad advisor who focuses on seabird ecology. We had a great relationship, and if he has some room for me, I would love to work on some research with him - even though it would be ecology.

Do you guys think I should look for bio or chem research instead of ecology research? Would it be of greater value on med school apps?
Congratulations on your decision.

Let me preface my answer by noting that I got a PhD before medical school, and that my research background definitely opened doors for me in medical school and during my residency interviews this year.

However, I personally don't think that research experience will help an applicant, unless that person gets published as a primary author or is able to secure research funding.

So if you enjoy research, try to find a lab where you can not only contribute, but also investigate your own questions. A good research advisor should be happy to help you get published in exchange for the labor you contribute to his/her lab. A bad research advisor will be happy to pimp you, but never give the opportunity to work on anything yourself.

But if you don't enjoy research, that's okay. What's most important is that you demonstrate a spirit of excellence, dedication, and compassion is whatever ECs you are involved in - whether it's research, teaching, athletics, community service, or anything else that floats your boat.
 

chloejane

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ntmed said:
Congratulations on your decision.

Let me preface my answer by noting that I got a PhD before medical school, and that my research background definitely opened doors for me in medical school and during my residency interviews this year.

However, I personally don't think that research experience will help an applicant, unless that person gets published as a primary author or is able to secure research funding.

So if you enjoy research, try to find a lab where you can not only contribute, but also investigate your own questions. A good research advisor should be happy to help you get published in exchange for the labor you contribute to his/her lab. A bad research advisor will be happy to pimp you, but never give the opportunity to work on anything yourself.

But if you don't enjoy research, that's okay. What's most important is that you demonstrate a spirit of excellence, dedication, and compassion is whatever ECs you are involved in - whether it's research, teaching, athletics, community service, or anything else that floats your boat.
I have to disagree to some extent... I have a graduate degree from a microbiology lab, and there is no way that my advisor or I (as the 'evaluating senior scientist'- it was a new lab... doen't really carry as much clout as it sounds) would allow an undergrad with little to no hands-on benchwork experience to start pursuing thier own ideas without quite a bit of discussion and justification. What I think is more typical (and also a great learning experience) is to work with one of the grad students on an ongoing project. You might or might not get published, but you will definately learn some technical skills as well as some things about perserverance, frustration, and motivation. Research can be much more difficult and less exciting than many people let on. I loved it, but I am one of a few...most people don't love it. And, if you don't love it, it becomes a chore to get the simplest of experiments done. So, consider both sides when opting for or against research. Also keep in mind that getting to the point of publishing takes a long time with much dedicated hard work and it is HIGHLY unlikely that you will get first authorship.
However, I do think that if you enjoy it, schools will see it as a positive attribute to your character- especially the things such as learning how to problem solve, team work, perserverence, ect.
So, good luck!!! :)
 

ntmed

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chloejane said:
I have to disagree to some extent...
I think chloejane and I probably agree more than disagree. And for what it's worth, like chloejane, I've also run a lab as a PhD researcher that was supported by extramural NIH funding. But I do believe that an undergraduate who is successful at research is someone who not only provides labor, but who also is given the opportuntity to investigate in some way. This might lead to something basic like a poster or an oral presentation at a student research day. For others, it might be a more significant publication.

Like chloejane appropriately tried to qualify from my response, this isn't automatic. The student will need to make a significant investment. I also believe a good research advisor will help a motivated student attain this goal.

Back to the OP, the reason for my original comments was to address your question about which lab you should volunteer at. Basically, my answer was that if you want to do research as a way to strengthen your medical school application, you might want to pick the lab where you will have the better chance of getting published. But if research isn't your strength, that's okay, too. Find something other than research to do. The important thing is not to do research, but to find an EC that you can excell at.