Is Research Required?
Many prehealth students, especially premeds, ask the question, “Do I need to do research to be a competitive applicant?”
- If you want to have a career in medical research, you absolutely, positively should do some research, and get letters of recommendation from your research supervisors.
- If you want to be a practitioner, a healer, a clinician, and have no desire to do research, then research is not necessary.
However, if you can fit some research experience into your schedule, it is an extremely good idea, especially if you would like to get into an MD program in the United States.
- More and more applicants to medical school report some sort of research experience
- Research experience can help you highlight your formidable intellectual skills
- Research--if you like it--might help make you a more interesting applicant
- Perhaps you would be able to get a very good letter of recommendation from your research supervisor
Now after reading this, don't go running after any old research experience just for the sake of it. Take the time to consult your interests and your schedule. Proceed in a reasonable fashion, and make sure that you do not sacrifice your grades. All other things being equal, an A student without research experience is likely to be a stronger applicant than a B student with research experience (unless we are talking about a research-oriented program like an MD/PhD)
If you have made the decision to do research, you have a good number of resources to help you find the experience that is right for you. See below for links and resources.
Please remember that regardless of whether you want to be a dual degree (MD/PhD) medical researcher or a practitioner who conducts no research at all, it is important to have health-related experience. But above all, remember that strong academics are a basic and first priority for which there is no substitute. You want to make the most of your education by studying hard, mastering your material, and learning the reasoning skills that you need to be a life-long learner and problem solver.
The Academic Associate Program of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Stony Brook University was one of the first of its kind in the US and has served as a model for many similar programs since. This program is comprised of undergraduate students from Stony Brook University who staff the emergency department and screen patients for clinical studies. The program was established to introduce students to clinical research while facilitating patient enrollment in clinical studies in the Emergency Department.
Eligible students include junior (U3) and senior (U4) undergraduate students at Stony Brook University. The program is one of many University externships in which students receive academic credit for life experiences. Students receive one academic credit for participation and are expected to complete weekly four-hour shifts over the course of the semester. Returning students and those who excel have the opportunity to assume increasing responsibility and involvement in ongoing and independent research projects.
Over the last decade hundreds of students have participated in our program. Many students have conducted independent research projects that have been presented at regional and national meetings and published in peer-reviewed medical journals. Graduates of our program have also gone on to successful careers in medicine.
For more information, please contact us at UHMC_Academic_Associates@notes.cc.sunysb.edu or call (631) 444-8347.