Research is an important part of the medical school application process. Medical schools often look for pre-meds who have done some, or substantial, research as part of their undergraduate careers. One of the Core Competencies for Entering Medical Students is in fact Scientific Inquiry. Under thinking and reasoning, the AAMC states:
Scientific Inquiry: Applies knowledge of the scientific process to integrate and synthesize information, solve problems and formulate research questions and hypotheses; is facile in the language of the sciences and uses it to participate in the discourse of science and explain how scientific knowledge is discovered and validated.
Applicants who can demonstrate scientific inquiry through research are going to be at an advantage when it comes to their medical school applications. Gaining clinical laboratory experience is incredibly beneficial, as is clinical research. Being able to publish these results is even more beneficial and something that medical schools look very favorable upon. Whether it’s a first author publication or you are just part of the group, showing that your research culminated in a scientific paper is great. If you can’t, you want to at least be able to put an abstract presented at a conference on your resume.
One of the most common questions we get is how to actually get research experience. The best way is typically through your own undergraduate university and scouring the website for professors who are doing work you are interested in. Once you’ve found that potential faculty mentor, it’s important to contact them with a strong email indicating your interest. Schools often have research databases, such as this one at the University of California Riverside:
Searching for your particular undergrad school will likely lead to even more research opportunities. For instance, UC Riverside has many additional research areas outlined, like this list of programs in the Department of Psychology.
Below, we’ve included a sample letter to base your ideas on. Of course, every student should personalize this letter based on their areas of interest and the benefits of working in a particular lab.
Dear Professor X:
I hope this email finds you well. My name is ____ and I am an undergraduate student majoring in ______ at the University of ____. As part of my education, I would love to be more intimately involved in a laboratory and yours jumped out at me because of the emphasis on ________. I have a background in ______ through some of my undergraduate course work to date, which includes ________, ______ and ______. I was especially interested in the work you have done on _____ (research the website and find articles that jump out at you).
Moreover, I really enjoy _________ because of the impact it can potentially make on ________. My goal with a research position is to gain long-term exposure and be able to help the laboratory in any way I can, advance my own scientific skills and of course, help advance science. I am able to commit x hours or more, if necessary.
Would it be possible to meet with you to further discuss and my possible involvement in research under your guidance? I appreciate your consideration and look forward to hearing from you.
Best of luck in obtaining a research position! It will pay dividends for your application. Contact us at MedSchoolCoach if you have any questions about being a pre-med.
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