Hello! I am a non-traditional applicant who just graduated with my master's in applied bio/bioengineering. I studied engineering as an undergraduate and always thought I wanted to go into industry with biotech, but I've interned for a few summers and came to the conclusion that industry is not for me. I took some pre-med courses because I considered the pre-med track, but I got a C in a few courses (chemistry lab, physics 2) and I also did not pass calculus 3 (retook it and got a B letter grade). My current gpa is a 3.4, with a science gpa of 3.1. I'm looking to take 2 gap years to take some classes, take the MCAT, and work to get more clinical and/or research experience.
As it stands, I have 2 offers ahead of me and am not sure which to take. One is a research tech position with the opportunity to partake in translational studies. It is mostly benchwork, but the lab is in the hospital so I can shadow/volunteer at the hospital right after or before work to get some clinical experience. In that sense, this job seems like the better option because I get scientific research and clinical experience. Students in this lab have also successfully been accepted into medical schools. The second is a clinical research coordinator position, which will allow me to more directly interact with patients (e.g. take their vitals and measurements), work with doctors and nurses, etc. But I am a little hesitant about this position because I've heard it's heavily administrative. The PIs of both labs are great and established mentors, I'm just not sure if I need more research or more clinical experience. I did research as an undergraduate, but it wasn't significant. I did it on the side and just helped in the lab (didn't own any independent projects). I also have little to no clinical experience. I collaborated with surgeons for my senior capstone project and participated in animal surgeries for my lab, but I didn't interact with patients. I would really appreciate any insight on any of these positions.
Clinical experience is more important than research.
Do not bank on being able to go in early or stay late to shadow as you need permission and may not have it, especially during the pandemic.
Do not go off of people having worked there getting into medical school - you do not know what their app was like. Maybe they had 4.0s and 515 MCAT. Maybe they already had 100's+ hours of clinical experience. Working somewhere is not what gets you in. It's everything combined, but GPA/MCAT are the most important, arguably followed by clinical experience demonstrating you know what you're getting into as much as one can without yet being in it.
Research is good, especially for someone who wants to make it a career, or is applying to MD/PhD or DO/PhD programs. However those are very competitive, and without an MCAT, your overall lack of research already, and lower GPA, you would not be competitive for these programs.
While research is good, it should not replace or take precedence over clinical experience/exposure.
Times are tough right now with many new hires not happening, and much shadowing/volunteering not occurring in person. It would be better to at least search for something clinical first in case anything is available before deciding to go directly into the research route.
With all of that said, if you are unable to secure anything clinical because of the pandemic, then the one in the hospital sounds a little more promising, not because you "will" be able to volunteer or shadow, but because it is possible (not guaranteed).