Clinical Research Associate work experience for medical school


I need some research experience before I apply for a medical school. I am thinking about signing up for clinical research associate training. It is a self-paced course. I will have to find a CRA job and work for at least two to three years.

I would appreciate your opinion/suggestions about my decision.


Why do you feel you need research experience? Although it can be helpful when applying to medical school, it’s certainly not necessary. I would argue that pre-req grades, extracurricular activities and shadowing/health care experience are more important than research experience.

I had zero research experience when applying to med school and I know a lot of fellow med students who had (and still don’t have any) no research experience.

If it’s something you want to do because you’re truly interested in it, fine, but don’t do it just because you think you need it to get into medical school.

Thanks for your response. I really appreciate it.

Unfortunately, I have taken all the science courses (required for pre-med)and I didn’t do a great job to begin with. I always wanted to get into a medical school and I took the science courses with this intention. But a lot was going on in my personal life. I made a mistake of not stop taking the science courses during that difficult period of life. Instead, I just made unrealistic promises to myself to work harder next time. Nomatter how much I tried, I ended up getting mostly C grades in courses like organic chem and biology.

I’ve recently spoken with the MD/PhD program director of Georgia Medical School System. He thinks that doing research would certainly help in PhD part of the program. I am also hoping that the research experience might make a positive impact on my admission file. But to get into the MD/PhD program, I must pass both positions as a PhD candidate and medical student.

I will appreciate your suggestion about what I can do to make myself a better candidate for a medical school.

I have one more question. What do I have to do get the shadowing/health care experience. I know, I can volunteer at a hospital but I may not end up with a lot of experience related to patient care. I suppose, paid professionals like nurses take care of that.


this is my 2 cents.

First of, I have been doing research in a Medical Center and mentored PhD, Master and medical students, and pre-med as well. Doing research may help, but if you don’t intend to go the MD/PhD route, then I don’t think it really helps much. Now if you want to go MD/PhD, then absolutely, doing research is definitely a must.

As far as volunteering, I am no expert. I think that you should volunteer in places where you feel that you can bring something. The act of volunteering is to help without expecting anything else in return. If you volunteer just in hospitals, it might show that you expect medical school admission. Not that there is anything wrong, but beefing up the resume a bit before applying may not be the best way to go. I’d volunteer in something that 1-interests you (pushing wheel chairs all day and bringing coffees to doc may not be that great, what do I know? I have never volunteered in a hospital) 2-something in which you might have competency /skill that could help others (like Spanish translators in hospitals or computer folks who may help old or young people…).

Shadowing on the other end seems pretty important because you can say that you’ve seen it and that’s really what you want. This is more an opportunity to taste the water a bit, check at various specialties, and bring some good stuff during an interview or in your essays.

But like you, I am not a med student and I know little. I have read and heard so many things… Beware of not just doing things because others do. Do what you like, show compassion in your own way.

Again my 2 cents.

Thanks for your opinion. I appreciate it.

Yes, you’re absolutely right! I should only work towards a career for which I feel compassionate. I strongly believe (because I have read in so many physicians’ biographies) that there is great diversity among medical students. Everyone’s struggling path to get to the medical school is unique. It happens because you do what you believe is right and not because you have been following someone else’s footstep to get to the medical school. However, there’s a certain type of combination every medical student must have. It involves excellent GPA, volunteer work (bringing coffee to senior doctors doesn’t count), excellent MCAT scores, scientific publications, even research.

I feel that the best thing for me to do is to repeat undergraduate courses to boost my GPA. Do an excellent job with MCAT. Maybe, volunteer at a hospital and be sure to get involved with patient care (or places where real action takes place). This will help me in MD part. Finding a job in clinical research will definitely help in PhD part. This is going to be my unique path to get into the medical school :o)