What's Acceptable "Research"

Hi all, I am new here, I’m a Native American female, Sophomore premed at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. I just went fulltime there, was taking about 9 creds per semester as I was also taking a full load every day doing a Surgical technician program, which I finished in June.
It’s SO DAMN HARD to find a mentor! While UNLV has a very high premed acceptance to med school rate, their advising board isn’t the greatest. I am wondering if anyone has input… what’s enough physician shadowing?? I’ve shadowed an ENT, a Dermatologist, and can probably shadow an Opthalmological Surgeon and a Neurosurgeon. Total will have been about 6 weeks with the ENT, 5 weeks with the Derm, and hopefully 2 weeks each with the Eye guy and the Neuro guy. Is this enough??? I’ve also spent about 6 weeks in the OR assisting in various surgeries.
Also, what constitutes research? Does it HAVE to be chemistry? Does it have to be lab based? I want to do research with my Medical Anthropology professor, not in the lab. Any opinions on this?
Factor in I want to go to a top school, hopefully Ivy League. Extra considerations there?
And oh, btw, does anyone have problems settling down to do their calculus studying?? How DO you get over it? LOL.

I would say you have plenty of shadowing. I would concentrate on getting in more time in a clinical postition either vounteering or paid.
I don’t know why your research wouldn’t be counted. What exactly would you be doing? You are correct though, if you are shooting for Ivy League, you have to have research and a good amount of it. They do look for that. A friend of mine applied there and he had 4 years of research.
AS for calculus… I never did learn how to study for that class. I had no idea what I was doing most of the time. I had a newly graduated PhD as my prof and she had NO idea how to teach. Somehow I earned a B evern though I have no idea what I was doing.
I guess make sure you are away from distractions and turn on a timer and study for an hour without stopping. Then take a break. Good luck.

I can’t answer your questions about research, but for my the best way to study calculus was doing problems over and over. I had a prof who, although a very nice man, couldn’t bring his Yale level genius down to our level to explain things. I pretty much taught myself calculus (and ended up with an A).
Another strategy I employed for problems I didn’t understand was to sit down with the solutions and go through them. For me, it was a great help to go through multiple problems and try and figure out why they did what they did. Once I figured out how they solved a few problems, I could then take that strategy and solve them myself.
Good luck!

Hi, AmyB, thanks for your reply. What else in the way of clinical do you think they will need? I’ve worked 6 weeks as fulltime unpaid extern for an ENT surgeon, and 5 weeks same for a Dermatologist, as well as the weeks in the OR as a surgtech. Do you think that won’t be enough? I’m taking on a position at the local Native American Center, if I do volunteer work I’d rather do educational stuff there than work more in an office.
As for the research, I don’t yet know what they will have available next year. The Professor I want to work with does a lot of Diabetes work with Native Americans. I’d rather do field work than lab work, even if it’s sociology or even archaeology. Of course that could possibly change, but at present I’d rather work with people and am wondering if that is viewed like lab research.Thanks for your insights.

Hey another Amy! Thanks for your tips on studying Calculus. I don’t have too much trouble understanding it… it’s more of a block on doing it at all. I just can’t seem to make myself sit there and open the book.

2 Amys on OPM.
Schools usually want to see volunteer time over a longer period of time. Pre-meds should really start doing something as soon as they decide they want to go to med school. The Native American volunteer thing would be a nice addition to what you have already done. Are you still doing those others things though? You want as long as you can for your ECs so it doesn’t look like you only did them for a short time.


I want to address some ideas about the Ivy League. First off, there’s no “have to”: the most important thing is that whatever you do, you do it with passion and you do it really well. So, not everyone at Harvard or any other such place has done research, although it’s true that many have. Research is definitely excellent training for the kind of medical training that is most highly valued at the sorts of schools you are apparently considering. Second, the kind of diabetes research you’re describing would be excellent for three reasons: 1. it is something that interests you; 2. it is clinically relevant; and 3. passion about a particular community, particularly one that is underserved by medicine currently, is in itself an asset. Finally, research in other fields can also be good, particularly if it meets two or three of the above criteria. (For instance, an archaelogical project that looked at the history of nutrition and disease in Southwestern peoples before the arrival of the Spanish would be a great pre-med project.) Lab research is great if you are interested in it since it helps you think critically about science and scientific evidence; but other kinds of health research are great too.

Finally, you may want to look at:


as another program that you would be perfect for, and might be perfect for you.

If you email me offline at


I will also give you a contact (a Native American older med student) who can also give you information about networks of Native American medical students and physicians who can help you get where you want to go.

Good luck!


Oh, thanks so much! I have written you already!

TBruce you may also want to look into doing a SURF at Mayo. There is an excellent physician here who is very very involved with the Native American community. PM me for further details…