For medical school applicants, strong MCAT scores and grades are heavily emphasized, but what many potential students are missing is the experience that sets them apart from their peers. This experience, which can be gained through research programs, is what admissions departments are looking for to check if an applicant has the qualities of a great future physician.
How Research Programs Help Your Resume
While they aren’t a requirement for medical school applications, research experience is still extremely important to your overall value as a future student – especially if your grades and test scores aren’t as high as your peers. By showing an early interest in medical subjects and immersing yourself in programs, you’ll show admission departments that you have the work ethic, maturity, and inquisitiveness necessary to succeed in school.
Besides benefitting your medical school resume, having research experience can deepen your understanding of what you’ve already learned in school and further develop your critical thinking skills. Ultimately, becoming a doctor means being a lifelong learner, so medical schools want to make sure that your program encouraged you to stay curious about the field.
When choosing research opportunities, stay genuine with your choices. A big mistake seen with potential students is that they’ll try to get as much experience as they can but within subjects that don’t completely interest them or show what they are capable of. By doing this, you can show schools that you care about quantity over quality. Admission departments would rather see you were in a few research programs that were done over a longer period. This shows your dedication, patience, and passion for medicine.
How to Get Research Experience
Check Out Your University
One of the best places to start your search is within your alma mater. Through your university’s website, identify any faculty members within science or medical-related fields that may be already working on research. Contact them directly and see if they have any opportunities for you to be part of their team or to even shadow their daily work.
By utilizing your university, you’ll also be able to take advantage of everything your school has to offer. For example, the faculty member you work for may know about any affiliations the school may have with local hospitals and other facilities, which means you’ll have another source for research opportunities and networking!
Association of American Medical Colleges
The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) is a fantastic resource as it includes an organized, in-depth list of research opportunities. Students can search for everything from clinical and research options to summer internships at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Besides the extensive lists of programs that AAMC provides, they also serve as a resource that future students can turn to with aspiring stories, career path research, and much more. AAMC ensures that if future students use them to find opportunities, they can also use them as a direct source of information to make their time in medical school more comfortable.
Local Hospitals and Other Healthcare Facilities
Institutions, hospitals, laboratories, and other healthcare facilities should be one of the first places you check, as they are always doing studies and will often have job listings for research assistants. Start by looking at organizations that are local to you first and then move further if you aren’t finding any researchers or programs that interest you.
Network for Opportunities
Contacting family, friends, and fellow university alumni can help lead you in the direction of any open opportunities. Networking is an extremely useful way of getting into research programs because you’re going directly to sources that have correct, internal information. Because these sources are people who know you, they can also vouch for your information and help you gain other great contacts to become more familiar with your field.
If you don’t have anyone close to you in medicine, you can network with current and former employers, former professors, and even use your university’s career services to aid your search. The possibilities to gain connections are almost limitless, and only require you to go out and see who you can meet!
What AUSOMA Can Do for You
AUSOMA’s application is streamlined so you can focus on providing all the necessary information about yourself and your schooling background. We require a personal statement that explains your desire to work in medicine along with any leadership roles, accomplishments, or achievements. This is where your research experience will be looked at by our admissions department.
To ensure that you can give all the information and show your true potential, we recommend starting your search for research opportunities as early as possible. This will allow you enough time to make any arrangements, make your connections, and find a program that best fits your interests.