Applying to Medical SchoolExtracurricularsGap YearHigh School Students & BS/MDPre-Med Academics

Why Should You Do Research?

Here are five reasons why you should do research:

1. Research is the lifeline of medical advancement

Essentially every single treatment, diagnostic tool and medication in Western medicine is a result of research. Without dedicated researchers, there is no way to develop better ways to prevent, diagnosis and treat disease. Medical schools want to know if you are serious about medicine. One way to show them that you are is by being involved in the very thing that allows medicine to continually evolve. Undergraduate research, no matter how small, contributes to the greater good of medical advancement. The contribution you make can be an important step to helping people all around the world. Next time you pick up a pill, remember that behind it lies challenging and innovative research.

2. Research is an opportunity to do something novel

The whole point of research is to discover something that has not been previously known. Although other extracurricular activities are important, they do not provide you the opportunity to take ownership of a project that may lead to a novel scientific discovery. Research requires you to think outside of the box. It is much more intellectually stimulating than filing charts in a doctor’s office. Ultimately, medical schools want students who know how to push the status quo. Doing research shows them that you know how.

3. Research provides mentorship

Mentorship from your principal investigator (PI) and post-doc or graduate student is incredibly important for your growth as a scientist and student. Also remember that your PI will most likely write you a significant letter of recommendation.

4. Research often provides school credit

Doing an independent research project can often take place of difficult upper division electives. It often ends up in an easy A.

5. Research can give you an advantage in your classes

Many life science majors have research integrated into their curriculum. Having a research background can help you better understand the class material. Also almost every upper division biology class requires you to read scientific papers. It’ll be much easier to read and understand them if you already had practice in lab.

Final tips:

  1. Look for research early (1st or 2nd year)–This allows you to do more advanced research as an upperclassman, giving you a leg up on the competition
  2. Do not do research for a PI if you cannot do independent research in the future–Not having an independent project goes against the whole point of doing research
  3. Apply for research scholarships and fellowships-Free money for something you usually do for free (also looks good on resumes and medical school applications)

Edward Chang

Edward Chang is the Co-founder and Director of Operations of He graduated from the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and is currently a urology resident at the University of Washington. He also attended UCLA as an undergraduate, graduating with a major in Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology. If you are interested in contributing to, please contact him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @EdwardChangMD and Prospective Doctor @ProspectiveDr.

Related Articles

Back to top button