This forum made possible through the generous support of SDN members, donors, and sponsors. Thank you.


Membership Revoked
5+ Year Member
Jan 24, 2017
Reaction score
1.) Are organized summer opportunities ( ) more or less valuable than research throughout the school year with a professor?
( ) I feel the latter would be a better opportunity to have long-term involvement and get to know the people in charge (who could possibly write a better LOR/LOE)

1.5) I have seen people say so many times "There are much better opportunities in the summer than taking classes" yet nobody says what they actually are. Could somebody please list some high-value summer activities?

1.75) What is the value of organized programs like the "Summer Medical Leadership Program"? Are these just money-makers or do they actually open any doors?

2.) Is basic life science research favored over clinical research? (I found a source, directly from a General Surgery residency, saying they prefer basic science research in m1/m2 over clinical research, and clinical research in m3/m4) Do medical schools have a preference of what kind of research you do in undergrad? To be honest, because of my aquarium background I think it would be fun to find research with coral or some kind of reef ecology (if those opportunities even exist around me.) I just worry it would seem irrelevant.

3.) Can undergraduates do research independently, as non-biology majors?


Members don't see this ad.
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user
If you are a student who has yet to take the MCAT and is looking for research experience:

U-Michigan SMART program is probably the best there is of its kind. *free MCAT instruction over the 8 week period* on top of the research experience in a faculty lab at the medical school, guaranteed poster, guaranteed shadowing, attend the MSTP retreat (good for getting feedback on potential application with program directors in person if you are interested in applying dual degree), free housing on top of a 4400$ stipend and 200$ for travel. So. good. I wish I knew about it when I was trying to study for the MCAT.

If you are looking for something other than research, the NYU Project Healthcare program is a good option.

"Clinical rotations are scheduled randomly in five-hour blocks, seven days a week, from 7am-11pm. Participants should expect to be scheduled for at least three to four randomly assigned shifts per week. Rotations take place in the Emergency Department (Adult Emergency Services, Pediatric Emergency Services, Psychiatric Emergency Services, Urgent Care, the Emergency Ward/ICU, and Social Work), the Operating Room, and the Cardiac Catheterization Lab. Participants receive their schedules for the entire summer at the end of their orientation week.

During shifts, participants are expected to perform structured tasks that will assist doctors, nurses, social workers, patients, and administrators. These tasks include, but are not limited to, making up stretchers, stocking supplies, and patient transport. In addition, volunteers act as patient advocates, performing such duties as making phone calls on behalf of patients, monitoring patients’ length of stays, and interpreting. At times during the summer, participants may be asked to spend a shift collecting data for quality assurance research in addition to their assigned Project Healthcare research. All of these tasks provide an invaluable service to Bellevue, while at the same time offering students the unparalleled opportunity to observe and assist in clinical care."

Super awesome clinical experience at one of the nation's oldest and storied public hospitals in New York City. Downsides: No stipend. Upside: Cheap housing for New York (~230$ a week for 11 weeks in NYU housing is like 60-70% off NYC rent in that area).

To answer #3. Undergraduates can do independent research in any field, just find a faculty mentor at your university who has a project that fits your goals and interests or apply for a summer program where you can have that experience. Many exist for the sciences, fewer for the non-sciences but they are out there as well. Check out this list in Classics for example. Google is your friend. One of my friends is a Math and Bio major and did research at the Museum of Natural History in NYC one summer. They pay really well and he has published two papers with that group over the two summers he has been there studying phylogenetics.
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user