Securing a Research Assignment

Good Morning OPM!

The hospital at which I volunteer has two tracks for its Independent Student Volunteers: clincal and research. At the moment, I am completing the clinical track; meeting with patients, observing surgeries, and shadowing the trauma surgery service.

In the fall, I will begin my post-bacc program with the following courses: Gen Bio, Gen Chem, and Pre-Calc. My question is: should I seek a research position before or after I complete the above listed courses?

Any advice will be greatly welcomed!

I have recently finished my bio and chem prerequisites and just started on a research assistantship and am finding myself inundated with cool assignments because “I am more experienced” than most of the undergrad volunteers. But it really depends - one girl started at the same place with zero prereqs done and has a job there now in her application year. More important seems to be that I am working in an area of great personal interest, and my supervisor can really tell because I am clearly really psyched - so she keeps offering me new things to do and telling me that she’s going to write me a great letter of recommendation when I am done! So, I think it could be worthwhile to keep your feelers open for that really interesting research opportunity that really motivates you.

Part of it depends on what kinds of techniques you would be doing in your gen bio and gen chem classes. I did research last summer, before taking any science courses, and honestly, the general education science courses I took the year after doing my research work would not have helped me at ALL with the research I did. That said, I have heard that at some universities, they do more advanced techniques than what we did at my school, so perhaps it depends on the level you would be experiencing. Also depends on what type of research work you would be doing.

Last semester, I took a research methods course, and that class WOULD have helped me in my research work, but that’s because it was specifically geared to research methodology and techniques.

Personally, I would go with when it best fits in your schedule, and when you really have time to devote to it. If that means doing it now, and they are willing to train you, then go for it.

Lorien and Meg:

Thank you SOOO much for your responses! I am going to investigate this prospect more and see where it leads me. I just didn’t want to overwhelm myself in the first year of class. As you mentioned Lorien “i need to make sure that the time in lab will fit into my schedule.” One could have all of the best intentions to try something new, yet completely do poorly at it because they “bit off more than they could handle.”

This is why I adore OPM…there is always great advice!