Tips to Further Your Research Experience

In a COVID-19 world

Medical related research experience is an important part of your medical school application.  Where your application currently stands (in terms of research experience) and whether it makes sense to pursue more research opportunities, is an important consideration.  

For premed students hoping to gain some additional research experience before applying to medical school, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic created new challenges to that goal. At a time when so much medical research has launched, the odd reality is that it is hard for students to find places on research teams. Hospitals and other clinical facilities are limiting entry into buildings, as are research labs at universities. 

As a 2020-2021 applicant to med school, you will likely find yourself in one of three applicant categories.  First are students who already have robust research experience. Second are students who have some research experience, but this research may not be related to science or health care and it may have involved few participation hours.  Finally, some students may have no research experience at all, and they face the prospect of applying to medical school without having had these opportunities. If you little to no research experience, do not panic. While research is a good thing to have on your med school application, it is not the sole determinant of your admissions worthiness.

No need to panic. Here are some helpful tips to further your research experience

  1. Think about other activities that can add meaning to your application – like an online class or volunteering to deliver groceries to those at risk for complications from COVID-19, and pursue those.
  2. If you find yourself unable to participate with in-person research environments due to COVID-19, reach out to a mentor or faculty member involved in an interesting project and offer to help with literature reviews or data analysis. Both types of work are critical to the research process, and they can be done remotely.
  3. If you are unable to secure a research position, and if you are absolutely sure you want to do research prior to enrolling in medical school, you have the option to delay your application to a later cycle. The option to apply to medical school will exist whenever you are ready to take it.  Medical schools are sensitive to the disruptions resulting from COVID-19. While it is important to present the most complete application possible, try to adopt some flexibility in your definition of how your application should look.

Every prospective medical student is applying in the midst of a pandemic and has been impacted in some way. Medical schools are adjusting their expectations, and so should applicants.  Take a deep breath and lets recalculate your path.  

Written by Amy Sellars

Independent Education Consultant - Medical School Admissions Advisor

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