The Essential Guide To Medical Research Pre-Medical School
Advice & Insight From Medicine Application Specialists
Medical research fascinates many people; in fact, it might even be the reason why you decided to do Medicine! Either way, engaging in medical research before you start medical school is not at all a requirement, but it can be an amazing experience. If you’re considering this, here is the essential guide to pre-medical school research!
There are many advantages to getting involved in research before the start of medical school. First of all, it might be an experience to strengthen your love for Medicine or shows you how varied your career can be; remember that being involved in research does not have to be your life, many healthcare professionals have an academic side to their jobs!
Moreover, because of how unusual it would be to see this on a medical application curriculum, getting involved in research could give you a winning edge on achieving your offer. It would be something very few people mention on their personal statement and discuss in their interview, making you much more memorable!
Obviously, if you’re aiming for a place on a graduate entry medicine course and you have already done a biomedical degree, having research experience up your sleeve might not be so unique.
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There is no ideal time to get involved in medical research; the earlier you do it, the longest you’ll have to reflect on those experiences and leave time for important revision (UCAT preparation, A-levels, etc.). However, you will also be less skilled and knowledgeable, and you might struggle to get involved in serious projects. Find a balance that works for you! Be mindful of the fact that medical research is a long process; studies can take more than five years to be published and you’re unlikely to be able to be an author at this stage in your career. Just being involved in a project will be a great experience; choose how long you can commit to it!
This is the tricky part. As you go through medical school you will have many opportunities to be involved in research: you can join the Academic Medicine society, approach lecturers and clinicians and ask them if they have any opportunities available for you… but these are unlikely to be readily available to you before you have started studying Medicine. So, if you are keen to get involved, you have to be proactive in searching for opportunities.
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Competitions – in some countries, these can be a common route to get involved in research projects. They can be on a local level or national; they might offer an internship at a research lab as a prize.
School – it is always useful to talk to your teacher about what options are available to you: most will be impressed by your interest! Best-case scenario, some teachers will be involved in academic projects and will be able to involve you; if not, most will have some connections in the research world and will be able to direct to who to contact or might even contact them for you. Make sure you clearly state what your time commitment is and what topics you’re interested in!
Work Experience – It is most definitely worth keeping your ears open whilst doing work experience in hospitals; many consultants will have ongoing research projects and will be happy to have the input of willing students. This is often an excellent way of being involved in published medical research prior to even starting medical school.
Independent – open your laptop and browse. What is the closest research institution to you? Can you contact anyone at a close-by university and ask them if you could kindly just shadow a researcher? Try to convey your interest and your willingness to give a hand within your abilities.
Make sure that you think about the opportunities you have been offered, if you’re lucky enough to receive them. Don’t be afraid of turning down something that you know you will not enjoy or that will require excess time commitment (thus compromising your UCAT and personal statement). At the same time, consider that you cannot be too picky, as these are usually opportunities reserved for more qualified individuals. When you do choose the best fit for you, make sure you are proactive and interested: prepare in advance and your supervisor might be so impressed they will be happy to write you a reference letter or a positive evaluation. Consider keeping a diary to be able to reflect on your experiences. What skills have you learned? How will they change the way your practice Medicine? Did this experience convince you that research is your future? This experience might even direct your university choice, focusing on institutions that value research more than others.
I hope this essential guide to pre-med research was helpful and best of luck with building you medical application portfolio.