Tip for Finding Research Opportunities as a Pre-medical student

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Kayla is an MD/MBA student at Florida International University Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine and Chapman Graduate School of Business. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Sciences from the University of South Florida and a Master’s degree in Clinical Embryology from the University of Oxford. Kayla is interested in pursuing pediatrics. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, painting, and spending time with friends and family! 

In 2019, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) reported that approximately 60% of incoming medical students took part in a research experience. For pre-medical students, research allows you to exercise your critical thinking skills through applied knowledge. You also get to explore different medical specialties and learn how the medical field advances. If you are new to research, here are a few tips on getting started!

Finding a Research Mentor

The first step in starting undergraduate research is to find a research mentor. There are a couple of ways that you can do so. 

Contact your undergraduate research office

Academic institutions often have offices dedicated to research or even an Office for Undergraduate Research (OUR). The OUR is designed to connect undergraduate students with research faculty. They often have a list of recruiting projects and may even host seminars on getting involved, preparing your CV, and presenting your research!

Ask your professors and advisors

Ask your professors and advisors about the research that they are working on and see if any of the topics pique your interest. They may also be able to introduce you to other faculty that can mentor you. 

Search for faculty in your area of interest

If you have a topic or area of interest in mind, you can search faculty at your institution accordingly. Faculty love to see that you are passionate about a similar area of research!

Also, note that as a pre-med student, your research does not have to be strictly clinical! Study a topic that you are passionate about! If you are not studying a clinical topic, make sure that you can talk about how the experience and skills gained help you to be a better physician!

Look into nearby hospitals, clinics, and laboratories 

If there are hospitals, clinics, or laboratories nearby, you may find that there is research being conducted there. You can look up providers to learn about their research interests and see if they published recently. Note that it is more likely that they are research institutions if they are university-affiliated. 

Learn about semester or summer-long programs

Many universities also host semester or summer-long research programs that may be based on a specific research field. Here is a list of programs from the AAMC. 

Presenting your Research

While working on your research, learn how to share your work with the academic community. You don’t need perfect results to present or publish. You can share preliminary findings, protocols, and even when your results are not what you expected. Ask your research mentor for guidance on this. 

When looking for ways to present your research, look up…

Local/institutional conferences

Many universities host their own undergraduate research days or conferences. If your university doesn’t, this could be something that you could help organize! 

National/organizational conferences

Many national organizations, such as the American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA), host annual meetings that accept presentations from pre-med students. Look up organizations related to your research field to learn about their annual meeting deadlines and abstract submission requirements. 

Peer-reviewed journals

Look up peer-reviewed journals in your research field to learn about their abstract submission and publication deadlines and requirements. 

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