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what exactly counts as research?

Discussion in 'Medical Students - MD' started by peace84, Mar 21, 2007.

  1. peace84

    peace84 Senior Member 5+ Year Member

    Oct 27, 2005
    i'm trying to make plans for this summer...and while i don't want to do research, i'm thinking it may be necessary. i looked at some match data and for many specialties a very high percentage of students (75% or more) that successfully matched had participated in some form of research. these numbers seem really high, so i'm wondering if they might include summer structured clinical experiences or community service projects as well? anyone have any insight?
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  3. Dakota

    Dakota Senior Member Physician 10+ Year Member

    Sep 5, 2005
    The NRMP data isn't worth very much because I think it basically includes anyone who has done research ever. (At least, this is what I've heard, someone correct me who has better info).

    Having said that, some specialties in particular pretty much expect research (derm, neurosurgery, etc). Depends on what you want to do.
  4. mudphudwannabe

    mudphudwannabe Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Dec 18, 2004
    There are lots of opportunities in public health or clinical research that would be great if you're not interested in laboratory work. I wouldn't worry about it "counting" for something though -- you should do what you're interested in.
  5. Green Chimneys

    Green Chimneys Meatwad's Worst Nightmare 7+ Year Member

    Feb 2, 2006
    How important would you say it is for the research to be in the field you intend to match?

    If I spent a good deal of time doing quality, publishable research in cardiology and eventually decided to go in to surgery instead, would I be on equal footing with people who did no research at all? Would it be considered, but only slightly? Could it possibly be looked upon unfavorably as a lack of commitment and conviction in the field?

    In short, is it worthwhile to start research before you are certain which specialty you want to pursue?
  6. Critical Mass

    Critical Mass Guest

    Feb 23, 2007
    I just answered this in pre-allo: (subsitute PD's for adcoms)

  7. Green Chimneys

    Green Chimneys Meatwad's Worst Nightmare 7+ Year Member

    Feb 2, 2006
    While I appreciate your response, that doesn't exactly answer my question, Critical. Once you get in to a good lab and start doing significant work, it's ulikely that you're leave to work in a completely different field. Thus, even if you want to do research early in your undergrad medical years, it's possible that you would lock yourself in to an academic niche that doesn't coincide with your clinical interest. I'm wonding if it would be better to wait to undertake research projects until your career goals begin to take shape or if it's better to just dive right in if you find an interesting project and a PI willing to fund it. The issue of wanting to do the work is a non-issue here, it's the scope of the work that I'm concerned about.
  8. Pinkertinkle

    Pinkertinkle 2003 Member 10+ Year Member

    Oct 16, 2003
    I'm sure it lies somewhere in the middle. If your research was published in journals familiar to those in the specialty, they'll be familiar with the quality of the work and will be more apt to read the abstract and talk to you about it. If your work is published in the journals of another specialty, they won't be so eager to look up the impact factor, etc... to assess quality or to read the abstract. Most likely you'll get the credit for being able to do good research (which is important), but it won't be as good as having papers in that specialty. You'll certainly be a lot better off than the no research people.
  9. Critical Mass

    Critical Mass Guest

    Feb 23, 2007
    Green, I hadn't read your Q but was rather responding to the OP in my above post. Sorry for the misunderstanding. I'll go back and quote you from earlier so that I can address your Q this time.

    I have a lot of experience with bench research in the academic wet lab setting as well as a little bit of work in the clinical arena.

    I've been thinking about summer research because my first year is winding down. Most of my M4 associates agree that summer M1-M2 research is c.v.-padding fluff because it rarely leads to publication and is undertaken with little focus on a specialty (and/or doesn't lend itself to hands-on clinical research). So with that in mind, I would generate full fire power toward destroying USMLE I during M1/2. Yeah doing a little bit of something in your free time may pan out in a minor way later on, but you cannot change your step 1 after you pass it.

    So my advice to everybody early in their medical training is to worry about waxing step 1 and sort out the other details later when more doors will be open to you.

    In a nutshell, one of my most popular opinions on allo has gone something like this. For the preclinical years, prepare for step 1. When you think that you are ready for it, you haven't studied enough. After you've waxed every practice question available in the USMLE database and board review books, you just might be close to being ready, but you are not. When you can correct the errors in high yield and first aid, you still have some studying to do.

    When your gorgeous wife disrobes, ties your wrists to the headboard, and demands that you make love for hours, the first thing that should pop into your head is how to slip out of the knots so that you can get back to your studying. Okay, maybe that's overdoing it a little bit... (no specialty is worth that kind of sacrifice)

    I think that you get my point. If you shine on step 1, your opportunities will be plentiful regardless of what sort of niche you believe you've developed. If you pair a stellar step 1 with some good M3 clinical evals and sprinkle a smidgen of specialty-specific research during your M3/4 selectives, you will have whipped up a recipe for a pleasing match. :hardy: :clap: I would say, however, that non-specialty-specific research is better than none all; but the step 1 trumps both.

    If you want to generate primary literature in the basic sciences, then MD/PhD would be a much better choice.

    In reference to finding a lab to settle into, most med school faculty recognize that med students are a transient presence in their research programs. You show up for a few hours here and there, review a couple of case studies, get listed as author #4 on a couple of clinical papers, and go about your otherwise busy schedule. If you have time to devote a lot of effort into the type of basic primary science commonplace to grad school, undergrad research, or summer programs, some may feel that you're not prioritizing properly.

    After having said all of that, it won't hurt you to do some research early on, and the zeal that you display for the pursuit of knowledge will serve you in any interview setting when it comes time for residency. If you get an opportunity with a project that you enjoy, by all means take it if you have time. Just don't let it hinder your studies.

    And by all means get yourself a gorgeous spouse. The above scenario probably helps with your stress level (though I wouldn't know :()
  10. Green Chimneys

    Green Chimneys Meatwad's Worst Nightmare 7+ Year Member

    Feb 2, 2006
    Spouse? :thumbdown:...too much hassle, nagging and commitment. Steady source of no-strings-attached booty instead of having to waste time going out to look for it? :thumbup: bring it on.
  11. braluk

    braluk SDN Surgerynator Moderator Emeritus 5+ Year Member

    Apr 30, 2006
    The Big Easy
    The thing I wonder is, exactly when would research you do be signficant? I think most agree here that summer gigs are going to be unable to yield much in terms of the coveted publication. Forget the third year. Is fourth year the "ideal" timing when you're taking specialty electives? Would you even have time before you start applying through ERAS to even yield anything significant if you start research in M4? It would seem to me that the year after you graduate seems to be the only time that doing research is reasonably feasible, particularly for the competitive specialties that require that one year of research during transitional.
  12. Critical Mass

    Critical Mass Guest

    Feb 23, 2007
    You bring up a good point, and I think that this is why places like Duke and Baylor have contorted their curricula to make more time for research.

    The advice I get is to cram it in during the M3 selectives that you have (true, not much time) or to arrange it in the afternoons when you are doing stuff like geriatrics or derm. Since M4 begins in July, there is also time to get 'er done between before you apply/interview.

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