Join Drs. Marinelli and Mehta as they discuss research as an essential pre-med activity and ways in which you can get the best experience possible![1:36] Dr. Marinelli’s experience with finding research opportunities.
The majority of Dr. Marinelli’s experience is in clinical research. In undergrad, she worked for a neurosurgeon and ran two clinical trials. Between undergrad and medical school, she took a gap year where she continued to work on clinical trials, which she explains was a great experience that helped develop her professionalism and patient communication skills. Additionally, it showed her how research can affect both physicians and patients.[3:19] The difference between basic research and clinical research.
Basic research is going to be something where you will spend most of your time in the lab. It may be related to patients or be far removed from them and have some sort of clinical applications in the future. Clinical research is actually working with patients and testing different treatments.
Either one is okay to do and they both can add value to your application. It may be easier to hit the ground running with clinical research because you may need less lab skills, but it is rarer to be designing your own experiment. A lot of medical schools do want to see basic research skills as well because you are more likely to be designing your own experiments.[8:58] How can students get involved with research and who can they contact to start the process?
It’s important to be proactive. If you’re a freshman, look into if there are any departments in your college with available research slots. Waiting until your junior year, especially at a big school, can sometimes be too late. Dr. Marinelli recommends reaching out early to departments in areas that you are interested in or to professors with research that sounds interesting. Clinical research can be harder to find, but it also involves being proactive and reaching out to hospitals. Even doing research outside medicine can have a big impact on your application.[14:16] How do you put research experience on paper so that it stands out?
Avoid scientific jargon as much as possible; people who may not be in your exact area will just overlook it. Include one or two sentences on what your project was in layman’s terms, with the remaining part focusing on your takeaways, lab skills you learned, and how the research can affect actual patients.