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What constitutes "research?"

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by Maigret Man, Dec 22, 2005.

  1. Maigret Man

    Maigret Man Nontrad premed
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    Folks,

    This is a basic question, I know but what does doing research mean? I ask as other pre-meds I know are doing research by working in labs (for little or no pay). Is hands-on lab experience more desirable?

    I am a nontrad. I just left a non-health care job for a research assistant position at an academic medical center. I recruit and test patients for a research study. I have a lot of patient contact (and the possibility of getting my name on a paper or two). Does that qualify as research?
     
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  3. QuantumMechanic

    QuantumMechanic Avatar=One of the Greats
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    I'm sure your experience counts as some form of research. Med schools probably place the most value on research that is done as independently as possible while still being "good" research, but I doubt many applicants are first authors of an article in Nature so I'm sure you're fine, especially relative to other nontrads who probably (?) lack any research.
     
  4. g3pro

    g3pro Dr. Mogley
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    Research is something that pompous pre-meds like to call what they do to make themselves seem bigger than they are, to give them extra credibility, and to apply to "research" schools when they know they are in it for the name of the school and to make more money in certain specialties (radiation oncology, orthopedic surgery, intervention cardiology, dermatology, etc). Dishonest to say the least. Yet that's why most premeds do it. And they screw over the people who are going into academic medicine or biomedical research. Sad, but that's the state of pre-medicine.

    :thumbdown:
     
  5. crazy_cavalier

    crazy_cavalier T3-Weighted
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    g3pro totally nailed this question. I know many premeds who do "research" and quite frankly, it's all a load of BUNK.
     
  6. 45408

    45408 aw buddy
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    so, did you do any research?
     
  7. unicorn06

    unicorn06 Senior Member
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    Not true. At my school (top ten research institution), science majors are geared towards research from day 1, and many bio/chem/biochem majors spend 20-40 hrs/wk in lab DURING the school year. Students take a lot of pride in their honor theses and often publish their work. Many of the projects are very independent and are often self-designed. It may be true that pre-meds are doing the research because it looks good on med school apps, but that doesn't diminish the hard work that they put in or the tremendous amount that they learn. Research can be slow, monotonous, and frustrating, but it teaches independence, problem solving, data analysis, communication, and innovative thinking. It also forces you to develop your scientific lit reading skills and teaches a healthy skepticism for science and data analysis.

    IN SUM, it's not a load of crap.
     
  8. unicorn06

    unicorn06 Senior Member
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    And in response to the OP's question- You are doing research, but it's clinical research rather than bench research. There are pluses and minuses to this, as I'm sure you know. The patient contact is a plus, but some med schools prefer bench research where you are designing your own project and working independently...
     
  9. Zoom-Zoom

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    I love doing "research" (helping in the lab). It is fun and really cool to see how (in my case cancer) research is done. You guys are too pessimistic. It is important for future scientists to understand what science really is, to see where our textbooks come from...just like it is important to get clinical "experience" too...so you know what healthcare is all about.

    g3pro, you sound bitter and immature. Relax :idea:
     
  10. g3pro

    g3pro Dr. Mogley
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    Don't kid yourself.



    A lot of the motivations are a load of crap though:

    Read on SDN "top ten schools like to see research experience" >>> mommy and daddy want me to go to an ivy league med school >>> I need to do research as an undergraduate.

    Sadly, that's the case for most people.
     
  11. Zoom-Zoom

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    :confused:

    Once again, you sound pessimistic, bitter, and immature. Grow up.
     
  12. g3pro

    g3pro Dr. Mogley
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    Nope, you're wrong: I'm very realistic. I don't share other SDN members' "2.5, 26J? oh, you'll do fine, apply to the top schools, and hope for the best!!! :) " If you're not being realistic about the motivations many people have about research, who knows how realistic you will be when you talk to your patients: "Your cancer is, like, kind of rapidly spreading through your body, but doggone it, you'll pull through, buddy!"

    Please.
     
  13. jon stewart

    jon stewart Senior Member
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    now now,

    no more catfighting ladies.
     
  14. Zoom-Zoom

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    Thats fine. I'm sure many people use research to better their application. But this process might just better prepare them for their career. There is a reason why med schools want you to have research experience. Furthermore, you are stereotyping all pre-meds into one group. This is unfair and has two effects: 1) you force those of us who are legitimately interested in our research to oppose you views, and 2) you suggest that there is something wrong with research experience even if you are only doing it for the way it looks, which is a flawed perspective. These things are inherently beneficial for someone persuing a career in science...just like every other class we have to take and every MCAT subject we need to know that we will most likley never use again. They teach us how to think scientifically, and also show a motivation and willingness to do so. If this seems too optimistic for you, then maybe you need some valium. If you are unable to see the value in research, then you most likely have not done any, and thus have no idea what you are talking about :smuggrin:
     
  15. p00psicleSTICK

    p00psicleSTICK cat's in the cradle
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    Speak for yourselves guys, I've worked in my professor's lab for 3 years, got my name published in his paper, and did independent research then wrote a thesis. It was the best experience I had in college.

    It really depends on who you work with and your commitment. MOST med students take research very lightly (thus the negative attitude here) but it's no different from them doing volunteer work that's really worth nothing. In other words, don't do it just because "med schools want it." Put some time and effort and you'll see why med schools wanted you to experience research in the first place.
     
  16. novawildcat

    novawildcat Senior Member
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    Research is much better than going to class. You are free to work at your own pace and there aren't even any tests! I did research in math for 2.5 straight years and did research in chemistry my last semester as a senior. Research is much more interesting. The professor can write all the theory crap they want on the board, but a lot of times theory goes right out the window when you actually do an experiment. You feel like a million dollars when you finally are able to come up for proof or figure out a proof to a problem that took you 3 months to solve/get through.
     
  17. FictionalGirl

    FictionalGirl Senior Member
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    Its true that a lot of "research" is just helping in the lab, but everyone has to start that way to learn what they're doing.

    For the first 8 months I worked at my lab job i was free volunteer labor (i got a credit out of it, hoorah) and i was just helping and learning and they were seeing what i had a knack for.

    When it turned out I could splice and slap together almost any gene and my gels were freakishly readable (can't say the same for my protein skills)
    the professor actually hired me to work on a project and iw as in charge of making the gene constructs

    another year later he gave me the option of starting my own research project using my own design and my own brain. So i was always helping with real research, and then i got to do my own research.

    its all learning and then if you want more you get to me more independent. we're not phd's so research is research.

    IF YOU"RE JUST WASHING TEST TUBES THOUGH - NO, THIS DOES NOT CONSTITUTE AS RESEARCH EVEN THOUGH PEOPLE PUT IT ON THEIR AMCAS! hehe you have to have been exposed to carcinogens, mutagnes, and teratogens on at least 4 separate occasions to do real research. haha
     
  18. potato51

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    Pre-meds who are doing "research" just to pad their applications are the ones who prefer cleaning glassware/maintenance work, and not actually getting involved in a project... from my experience at least. But they can always say that they "joined a research lab" on their applications. A pre-med junior once came up to me and asked what he could get involved with in my lab, and I offered him a couple of pretty involved projects, but when he found out the PI was going to write him a recommendation letter b/c he was in my lab anyway, he said screw it, he'd stick with mindless database work. Ugh.

    Reminds me of hospital volunteers who claim "clinical experience" when all they really did was hand out candy to sick kids.

    The pre-meds (med students too) I've worked with (or who now work for me) who are doing real research seem genuinely interested in their projects, and I hope and predict they'll be the most successful of the bunch.
     
  19. p00psicleSTICK

    p00psicleSTICK cat's in the cradle
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    whoops, still don't know how to delete posts. ^^;
     
  20. p00psicleSTICK

    p00psicleSTICK cat's in the cradle
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    Haha that's one reason why I quit "volunteering" at hospitals...

    I started out doing menial stuffs in lab at first also... but then I slowly moved up and now I am the oldest/most experienced undergrad in our lab and I use other freshmen/sophomore as my lab monkeys. Hell my professor doesn't care, he is behind me 100%! :p If you want to do some good research, start early, and be patient until you move up. And pick the right professor who does research in something that interests you. Good luck!

    O and, what's a good way to find some volunteering jobs @ hospitals that doesn't involve reading books to kids in the playroom, being the receptionists monkey, or handing out candy like you said? I want to do something more meaningful...
     
  21. 63768

    63768 Guest
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    those premeds that do "research" and do scut work in the lab will be found out by adcoms. i'm sure they've seen enough bs to see through it, and if they're malicious enough they'll quiz the student on the research and back them into a corner. g3pro, i understand your resentment/anger/dislike for those premed students who exaggerate their experience.

    yet there is a lot of worthwhile research out there. for example, the research i am currently conducting is not basic science. it's clinical and the principal investigators are asking these questions and having me run everything to improve the care they provide. real research improves the quality of care or techniques doctors provide.
     
  22. potato51

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    For those kinds of volunteering tasks, I wouldn't suggest going through the volunteering office. They'd give you whatever's available on a set list, usually something lame. I'd directly ask a doctor or other healthcare workers what you can do.

    When I volunteered in the ER, I was officially assigned to handing out warm blankets or retrieving medical records. That was fine for a period of time, but then I befriended one of the medics who let me in on some procedures and unusual stuff, like handling severed fingers or emergency deliveries. Was a great volunteering experience that was not supposed to have been.
     
  23. BerkeleyMD

    BerkeleyMD Senior Member
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    Clinical research >> Basic science research

    Getting patient contact while doing research is the best combo, adcomms flipout over this stuff. Even if all you are doing is consenting and enrolling patients into clinical trials, its still research. You are a contributor, as opposed to the originator of research.
     
  24. 71263

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    :laugh: Sounds like the summer before my senior year!

    RASENGAN
     

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