I am a senior in college who just turned premed last year. However, due to poor academic performance I will be working and doing a post bacc for a few years after graduating.
I have been hearing a lot of conflicting information about the importance of research among fellow classmates and advisers. Some say it’s essential, others say that you shouldn’t do it if you don’t like it, since lack of interest will show in your application and will make you worse off. I personally have little interest in doing research, and in any case as a senior I don’t have much time left to work in a lab before graduating. How do non traditional people who have already finished undergrad handle the research “requirement”, or is it not as important as some would suggest? I know it’s not a deal breaker, but with a 3.1cum, 2.5 science gpa (hence the need for a post bacc), perhaps I need to do research to compensate?
Before I answer your question, I will tell you that I am interested in research, so that has affected how I have treated this question for my own situation. (I did research last summer and will be doing it again this summer.)
But in your situation, if you are not interested in research, I would think about it this way: research is very time-consuming, and energy-consuming. I know this from experience. If you are not interested in it, then I think it would likely be better to invest your time and energy in things that you are interested in and that will also further your pre-medical ambitions. I.e., improving your grades in your post-bac, developing relationships with your professors (for LORs), doing volunteer work, shadowing, getting leadership experience, etc. That’s just my opinion; others may think differently on this.
Best wishes to you!
Research is only essential if you’re trying to apply to an MD/PHD-MSTP program. It’s not required but almost essential is you’re applying to one of the research powerhouses like Duke or Johns Hopkins because your competition for those schools has some. Otherwise it’s a nice EC to have if you’re interested in the research side of medicine.
If you do want to do some research you could try to locate a place to do clinical research. That way you get exposure to medicine while getting the research experience. I lucked out and found an internship doing clinical research for a large orthopedic practice, which is a double bonus because I’m interested in orthopedics. Like Terra said, it is very time and energy consuming, I do a lot of grunt work.
A fellow oldpremed I’m in class with told me when he talked to the dean of admissions of UNC Chapel Hill, she said absolutely do not do research if you’re not interested in it. It highly annoys interviewers when they asks students about their research experience and they are obviously not excited about it or do not even really know what the research was about.
I agree with Terra that you ought to focus on the other aspects of your application before thinking about research.
On this journey, you have to keep in mind that no one knows the actual formula of what your admissions board would like. You must act, feel and do everything within your power to get the best application you can.
I am a nontrad student. Finished undergrad in Bus Admin in 1996. I had not been in school in over 12yrs. But, once I started my journey and took it seriously. I got mostly A’s in my prereq. I applied for a research program at Baylor and UT Medical School. At that time, I did not have microbio or org chem. I was told to seek out what I wanted. I even interviewed with a couple of professors who had labs at the med schools. (I just went to the schools website and emailed their offices that I was interested in volunteering.)
I got the spot in UT research program. I was told by my cc advisors that I would never get a spot. What do they know? “Never accept “NO” from someone that does not have the authority to give it…”
So, do not think about all the things you don’t have. Focus on what you do have. I was probably the oldest student there. I did not care. I gave it my all. Now, I have the reserach notched cleared with a published abstract. And I know I am not the research type…LOL
Do what you must… to get what you want…
GO FOR IT…