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Hi everyone

I am a grade 11 student in Alberta and I was wondering if there are any research opportunities I can take before I enter undergraduate studies.

My desired university is the University of Alberta.

Additionally, it would be very helpful if you guys could share any research or health related extracurriculars you guys did in high school.

Thanks!

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The heritage youth research summer student (HYRS) program is actually exactly what you would be looking for. https://www.ualberta.ca/medicine/about/communities/community-engagement/student-summer-prgms/hyrs-student-summer-research-program-2020

You won't be able to do anything this summer (it's too late, and COVID is an issue), but you could potentially get a position next year. Generally speaking unless you go through a formal program like HYRS you just need to email professors and ask if they would let you work in their lab for the summer.

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I did research extensively in high school, leading to publications. I'm glad I started early bc it opened up so many doors for me in my undergraduate studies (e.g. Paid research positions, close ties with professors, put onto big projects, etc). So it's great you're looking into it so early. 

 I recommend you try out your high school co-op program as they may have connections with local laboratories for hs students like you to work with. Also try emailing clinician scientists or professors to see if you can do anything. Don't expect to get anything back but be proactive. 

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On 6/12/2020 at 12:39 PM, adhominem said:

The heritage youth research summer student (HYRS) program is actually exactly what you would be looking for. https://www.ualberta.ca/medicine/about/communities/community-engagement/student-summer-prgms/hyrs-student-summer-research-program-2020

You won't be able to do anything this summer (it's too late, and COVID is an issue), but you could potentially get a position next year. Generally speaking unless you go through a formal program like HYRS you just need to email professors and ask if they would let you work in their lab for the summer.

Unfortunately I applied but did not make it for this summer. Are there any other formal programs that you know of?

Also, if I were to email a professor, would I have to be accepted into their university first or can I email them without being accepted?

Thanks!

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On 6/13/2020 at 5:12 AM, IloveMemes said:

I did research extensively in high school, leading to publications. I'm glad I started early bc it opened up so many doors for me in my undergraduate studies (e.g. Paid research positions, close ties with professors, put onto big projects, etc). So it's great you're looking into it so early. 

 I recommend you try out your high school co-op program as they may have connections with local laboratories for hs students like you to work with. Also try emailing clinician scientists or professors to see if you can do anything. Don't expect to get anything back but be proactive. 

If I were to email a professor, would I have to provide a reference or resume or something like that? Or could I just ask for a research opportunity?

Thanks!

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12 hours ago, CaribPirate said:

If I were to email a professor, would I have to provide a reference or resume or something like that? Or could I just ask for a research opportunity?

Thanks!

Provide a resume, no reference needed. Email them by giving some talking points about their research and how you would like to learn more by working with them. 

Once they accept you as a volunteer, any kind of technical paperwork will be handled by admin staff. 

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12 hours ago, IloveMemes said:

Provide a resume, no reference needed. Email them by giving some talking points about their research and how you would like to learn more by working with them. 

Once they accept you as a volunteer, any kind of technical paperwork will be handled by admin staff. 

Okay thank you so much! Could I do it in the summer or does it have to be during the semesters?

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On 6/9/2020 at 6:25 PM, CaribPirate said:

Hi everyone

I am a grade 11 student in Alberta and I was wondering if there are any research opportunities I can take before I enter undergraduate studies.

My desired university is the University of Alberta.

Additionally, it would be very helpful if you guys could share any research or health related extracurriculars you guys did in high school.

Thanks!

OP: I've mentored a lot people in research and I love research. One of my mentees is just about to get her first author publication in a major medical journal and I'm thrilled. The first question I ask to any student is why do you want to do research? You'll also need to familiarize yourself with what type of research you want. If it is in healthcare - basic science (working in a lab and performing lab techniques), clinical research (collecting patient data, ethics approval, enrolling patients), review papers (essentially summarize findings of published primary data papers or meta analyzing them), or public health / health policy / health systems research (quality improvement, guidelines, collecting data, surveys).

If you're doing it for the sake of medical school, you can easily save yourself a lot of time, frustration, and grunt work and volunteer in a lab or with a research group during undergrad to fulfill the "research/scholar" aspect - I know a good portion of people that get in without publications or presentations and just volunteer experience during undergrad.

If you're doing it cause you're interested and would do it regardless of medical school application - 100% go for it. It'll be some of the most incredible experience's you'll get and you'll immerse yourself in a new world and social environment. 

I'll share my personal experience with you; I started research in second-year undergrad, at the time after 30 cold emails, I was taken under the wing of a research physician. I will not deny, I wanted to do research because of a combination of curiosity and for med school applications. However and luckily, curiosity won. I became really immersed in my project and consistently learnt outside the scope of it. I asked for more and showed eagerness to learn. By third year, I had sent manuscripts off for publication and had papers accepted for conferences across two continents (my supervisor generously funded me to travel to both and present my work - I was amazed). During third year I took on more projects and my supervisor gave me the autonomy to structure projects around research ideas I came up with myself. This led to a few more publications. By fourth year, I had to condense the number of research entries by over half for my med school application and research/academia experiences were the crown jewel of my application - had I asked myself in second year if that was ever a possibility, I woudlve thought it to be a joke. During this journey, I met other really notable people in research, division directors, med students, residents, internationally renown physicians, many of which I stay in contact with and have taken on projects with. Meanwhile I know friends that got into research in first year and high-school - they disliked the experience. I admire their resilience for continuing their work at the lab, however, they produced something tangible (first publication) later in fourth year - to them it didn't matter because it wasn't an experience that they really resonated with.

Moral of the story - do research for passion, not for med school. The best med school apps have a narrative to them, you can tell from reading an app what an individual truly enjoyed. You can also tell if they're passionate about an experience during an interview because their eyes and body light up when they recall their memories. 

 

 

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The above by @scholar_and_benchpress is a great perspective and something I wholeheartedly agree with; definitely take it to heart OP! Couldn't have put it any better.

On 6/16/2020 at 7:46 PM, CaribPirate said:

Okay thank you so much! Could I do it in the summer or does it have to be during the semesters?

To answer your question though, typically labs are easier to get into during the academic year, but they operate all year round so there’s no issue with trying to get in for some summer work too.

Importantly though, don’t be discouraged if your success rate on replies/interviews from your inquires is quite low; many labs will not take high school students as a default rule (this was true for every one of the labs I worked with throughout undergrad and my PhD). That said, if you’re genuinely passionate or curious about research it’s definitely worth it to persevere! Any kind of research experience is invaluable, even if it isn’t exactly what you envisioned doing right off the bat. At worst you learn something about yourself and your interests which is really underrated imo.

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