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What makes someone competitive for summer research programs?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by DrDre2017, Aug 7, 2015.

  1. DrDre2017

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    So I'm already thinking about summer research programs that I want to apply to for summer 2016. I know that you're supposed to show what you can bring to their lab, and if they feel like you can make a good contribution, that makes you more competitive.

    I am considering getting involved in research on campus this fall, for at least 10 hours/week I'm assuming. The one opportunity I'm looking at is clinical research that would also let me practice my programming skills. But I also want to get some clinical experience and do some non-clinical volunteering, and join some clubs. It's all kind of in the air as to how much time each of these things will take, and I don't want to overbook myself because I haven't done much thus far other than work a few hours per week and attend sporadic club meetings.

    So I could put off doing research until next summer, but I don't know what skills I could offer to a lab other than familiarity with doing research... And I don't have any research or clinical experience, or much non-clinical volunteering, so I don't know how to prioritize. Any advice?
     
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  3. Aprilpanda

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    I take it that you want to do research on campus and aren't sure if you qualify or you can handle it?

    Personally, I have done research and taken classes at the same time and it hasn't been too much. If you have taken classes full time and doing well, I don't see how you won't be able to handle research on the side. In regards to the research, don't stress about it a lot. If you need technical skills, most of the time you will be trained and you will be working under supervision of a professor or PhD student.

    I think more than anything, don't try to rush and do whatever you can to fill our your resume or application. Time and time again, schools emphasize on quality of work and research rather than how many hours and researches you have been part of.

    Good Luck!
     
  4. DrDre2017

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    @thesunofyork I'm a junior, and I have a research opportunity in mind. I just don't know how flexible those 10 h/wk can be. Do people usually do research at nights / on weekends? I am taking Orgo, not interested in MD/PhD, and am kind of interested in research (I'm just really craving the chance to use what I learn and apply it to something, and also learn a lot about things that I won't see in class). I'm taking 14 credits (though it's 18 hours of class).

    @Aprilpanda You're right. I just have so many options, it's hard to tell what's best to pursue now and what's best to put off...

    If I have 105 waking hours/wk and take out 18h for class, 6h of work, 11h for meals, 2h for going to the gym, 3h for church, and 5h for a few random meetings, I'm looking at about 60 hours MAX of time to study (which, if it's 2-3 h/credit, that's 36-54 h :eek:) / do research / do clinical and non-clinical volunteering / live my life... :cryi: So that's 6-14 hours for ECs / life. No research, I guess? My credit load is only going to increase after this semester though. *sigh* IDK how people do more than 2-3 ECs at a time...
     
  5. Lucca

    Lucca Will Walk Rope for Sandwich
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    These kinds of calculations never really work for undergrads because time is never spit that diligently and it is rare that one actually spends that much time studying for every class. I might spend 0 hours on all classes and like 50 hours studying for a single class. Or spend like 20 hours on two classes that week and on nothing else. I might spend 10 hours total studying for everything. I mean this kind of time split is pretty standard.

    As for what you should do? It sounds like your motivations for research align more closely with the typical pre-Med motivation ("I want to learn, I want to apply my skills) than the scientist motivation ("I want to contribute something new to science") so if I were you I would seek out a professor on campus who's work you find interesting and simply email them with your interest and willingness to learn. They will probably take you on. 10hrs/wk is probably enough if you are interested in learning rather than being seriously productive (which is totally OK, this world needs more than just research scientists but all docs should understand how science is done). For your MD application it is probably more important to find some kind of longitudinal clinical volunteering experience as soon as possible. Finding a good one can be harder than finding a good lab and it's a critical component of your application while "research experience" can be ticked off in a single summer 10 wk program.
     
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  6. Gandyy

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    You mean that you have to actually spend time studying for math and science classes and then laugh at the other many joke non-science classes that pre-meds have to take.

    They told me business was "hard". I took Micro, macro, advanced macro, and upper level finances. All easy as hell.

    I've heard the same about English, humanities, sociology, psychology, etc etc. All easy. Hardly had to study.

    Then comes in Orgo 2 like a train. Studied hellas for Orgo 2.
     
  7. DrDre2017

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    @Lucca That sounds good, thanks!
    @Gandy741 Lol, I'm only taking one non-STEM class, and it's writing intensive (>20 pages worth of papers), so it'll take some time (I'm a slowwww writer).
     
  8. Gandyy

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    Thats the thing, non science classes CAN be a lot of dumb busy work. But thats all they are. They are never actually HARD. Or at least thats how it is for me.
     
  9. FutureOncologist

    FutureOncologist I support cancer... research
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    Did research for 4 years and 2 summers of intensive research at a medical center through different undergrad programs.

    I have met fellow peers that had a ton of research and met peers that had none coming in, hoping to find out if they want to pursue it during the fall and spring. What makes you competitive, of course, is prior research experience. I was in lab from 4 - 25 hours/week (depending on the year) and I made excellent grades with it. Generally speaking, when you're initially doing benchwork, you won't be doing much outside of the lab other than reading research articles. But if you stick with a lab, you'll start helping grad students with data analysis and compiling the data into meaningful statistics. If you really stand out, down the road, you'll be able to draft different parts of the paper (e.g. the abstract.) This, though, is far down the road where you are acclimated to the lab and juggling classes and ECs.

    For the peers that I worked with that had no prior experience in research, they had stellar GPAs and were all upper-classmen, so they have had upper-level bio, chem, physics, math, etc. GPAs (3.85+). They also had good ECs (leadership, clinical volunteering).

    Also, every med student has had a full course load. With my upward trend, I was constantly studying and trying to make a 4.0 for the semester while juggling 2-3 leadership roles, volunteering, increased research demand, attending class, socializing, fraternity engagements, as well as keeping up hobbies (for me, weightlifting.) On top of that, to gain the muscle that I wanted, I needed 8 hours of sleep each night. Finding the time for ALL of that was hard and I did have to let a few things slip from time to time to focus on what is more pertinent at the time. College isn't about how smart you are, it's about how well you can manage your time.
     
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  10. Lucca

    Lucca Will Walk Rope for Sandwich
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    Depends on where you are at. I thought Orgo 2 was really straightforward. I studied, read and discussed intro philosophy with a small group every day and still got an A-. Physics has been the hardest science class I've taken tbh. Math requires practice. My humanities classes have been no joke though
     
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  11. DrDre2017

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    @FutureOncologist This is aggravating my inferiority complex, lol. Tell me your secrets... :bookworm:
     

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