August 9, 2020

A Pre-Med’s Guide to Finding Research Opportunities in Undergrad

Work, Activities, and Extracurriculars
Nishtha Sharma

A Pre-Med's Guide to Finding Research Opportunities in Undergrad

Venturing out into the world of research is an important experience that pre-meds should receive while they are in undergrad. Research is a field that is intertwined with medicine and participating in research opportunities allows pre-meds to learn the value of innovation, discovery, and creativity. While research offers you an abundance of knowledge and expertise, research also looks great on a pre-med’s medical school application. Medical school admissions want to know if you have explored other fields of science before making a commitment to medicine. Research helps students step out of the pre-med mindset and allow their creativity to take charge. An added benefit of doing research in undergrad is the possibility of whipping up some paper publications as an undergraduate student! Not many students can say they have been published in undergrad. However, if you research with the right lab for a significant amount of time, you may able to get your name on one of their papers!

Now that I have gotten you excited about research, allow me to guide you on your quest to finding research opportunities at your undergrad institution.

Get connected with your school’s Pre-Med/Health Sciences department

Starting at your school’s pre-med/health sciences department is the best way to start digging up research opportunities. Your pre-med advisor can play an important role by connecting you to professors who are looking for students to work in their lab. Also, be on a lookout for research programs that your school offers for incoming freshman. For instance, The University of Texas at Austin is well known for their Freshman Research Initiative program.

Reach out to your science professors

Most science professors have their own labs where they are doing LOTS of their own research. If you are at a large institution, it is likely for most of these professors to receive large funding/grants from their school or government to conduct research. Many of these professors are looking for an extra pair of hands in lab to speed their research up. Therefore, reaching out to these professors and setting up a meeting with them to discuss potential opportunities is a great way to seize your research experience. If you work with one research lab for a couple years, your chances of being published can increase!

Apply for Summer Research Programs

While trying to devote long hours in the lab, research during the school year can become extremely stressful. However, summers are a great way to spend time doing research and crossing it off your checklist. AAMC provides a list of summer research programs and internships you can apply for. These programs are a great way to network outside of your school and build meaningful relationships with people. Some of these programs even offer a stipend to cover your living expenses when you come to their city to do research. Getting paid to research and exploring another city sounds like a perfect package for a pre-med. You can check out more summer research opportunities at the National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation’s websites.

Conclusion

Research is truly an incredible experience for pre-meds. You get to see the behind the scenes of medicine and understand the origin of many discoveries. Some people find their passion in research and continue to pursue their PhD’s, while others affirm their decision for medicine by appreciating what role research plays in medicine. It is important to remember that research is a massive time commitment. Therefore, you should structure your schedule accordingly and mentally prepare yourself for the time you will be sacrificing for this extra-curricular. At the end of day, it will be all be worth it!

Feel free to reach out to our AcceptMed advisors if you have any questions or need guidance on finding research opportunities! Good luck!

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