Technically no. However, having research experience, in addition to clinical experience, can help strengthen a pre-med’s application to medical school. Medical school is extremely competitive and doing quality research work can boost a student’s resume. Start looking around for potential labs that are hiring and need research associates. Freshmen year is not too early to start research work. Medical schools will appreciate an applicant who has spent many years in the same laboratory.
One word of caution is to stay away from labs and professors who only want you to do the lab’s “dirty work.” In other words, they just want you to clean beakers and flasks and do data entry. This type of work, though it is in a research lab, is not research work. Many labs require you to do this before you are given more responsibilities which are fine. However, be wary of labs that give no opportunity for upward responsibility. Make sure to talk to your employer before you agree to join their team. Make sure he or she knows that you are applying to medical school and would eventually want actual research responsibilities.