So, just how important is research as a pre-med? How does one secure a spot in a lab with a great mentor? Can research help an applicant get into medical school?

The high quality of medical care we enjoy today is built upon years of effort by physicians, PhDs, and other medical professionals investigating the causes of and potential treatments for disease. The tireless effort of countless medical professionals has made many once life-threatening diseases and conditions a faded memory. Research experience for helps pre-med students to think as physicians and influence their practice of medicine. It also has the potential to open new doors, as many residencies look for research experience.

Many universities worldwide recognises the importance of research in pre-medical and medical education and encourages students to take an active role in their respective fields of study. This type of hands-on experience not only enhances what they’re learning in the classroom, but it allows students to start contributing to the world of medicine at an early stage in their career.

The formal research opportunities that are currently offered in some universities include:

  1. Six weeks of funded research during summer between years one and two.
  2. One year of research, with stipend, between years two and three or three and four.
  3. An elective during the fourth year.
  4. The research pathway during fourth year.

Doing research as a pre-med is incredibly important as a pre-med because of the following reasons:

  1. You need a mentor: regardless of what you want to do in life, there are two things that influence you more than anything else in the world: the books you read, and the people that surround you.
  2. Medicine is a lot of science. Yeah, pre-med is filled with a lot of sciences, and many of those have labs associated with them.
  3. Showing dedication is a powerful attribute. Doing research does take up additional hours, and yes, it can be frustrating to juggle everything while trying to get into medical school.

Another type of summer opportunity that I think is very fantastic is a global health opportunity; traveling to another country to volunteer and learn more about global health, as well as learn about a different culture. A friend of mine just traveled to Geneva to work with the UN. That certainly seems like an experience that would make medical school admissions officers stop and pay attention.

Summer, a time of year that always leaves ambitious premeds confused about how to spend their time. There are so many possibilities: volunteering at a clinic, shadowing a physician, taking classes, or traveling abroad. If you asked me which one is the best, my response is that you might as well flip a coin. For me there’s no particular formula, no right or wrong answer. You do what you love, you do what fits best with your schedule, or sometimes you do you do whatever you can get.

There are so many options for things you can do during the summer to get experience and improve your resume. I have focused my summers on doing research, but you don’t have to follow the same route. Studying medicine is such an anomaly – there are many roads that can lead to it.