Jump to content
Premed 101 Forums

Recommended Posts

What seems to be popular for students interested in research is to often do it in summer.

 

I was wondering if, with the new flexible foundation curriculum, it would be feasible to do research during the school year. I'd personally like to leave my summers alone for travel and relaxation but in case I decide to pursue a competitive specialty, it seems necessary to have research on my CV. Is it possible to do productive research on this schedule while still having some semblance of a life during school?

Link to post
Share on other sites

What seems to be popular for students interested in research is to often do it in summer.

 

I was wondering if, with the new flexible foundation curriculum, it would be feasible to do research during the school year. I'd personally like to leave my summers alone for travel and relaxation but in case I decide to pursue a competitive specialty, it seems necessary to have research on my CV. Is it possible to do productive research on this schedule while still having some semblance of a life during school?

Check out this sample student timetable from U of T: http://foundations.md.utoronto.ca/sites/default/files/Sample%20timetable%20%E2%80%93%20year%20one%20Foundations%20Curriculum.pdf

 

First let's assume that people doing research in the summer spend 40 hours/week for 16 weeks. That's 640 hours over 1 summer. Assuming you and the other person are equally productive, you'll need to spend the same time, 640 hours to accomplish the same amount of work in research (i.e. poster, publication).

 

In the new foundations curriculum you only have 1 day of unscheduled time a week. Let's call this 9-5, 8 hours. One day a week is not a lot of time because most people spend it catching up on class, prepping for exams, volunteering or shadowing in the hospital/clinic. You'll find that your classmates might also plan social events on those days because everyone has the same day off.

 

Scenario 1: You ignore volunteering, shadowing, catching up with school, friends etc. and work in a lab for 8 hours/week. In one academic year (36 weeks, Sept-May), you'll have 288 hours of research experience. This is 45% of the time that someone dedicating in the summer would have. Unless you are slightly more than twice as productive as them, it would be very difficult to achieve the same progress as them.

 

Scenario 2: You spend half of your one day off volunteering, shadowing, catching up with school, friends, etc. and particpate in the lab for 4 hours/week. In one academic year (36 weeks, Sept-May), you'll have 144 hours of research experience. This is 22.5 % of the time that someone dedicating in the summer would have. Unless you are more than 4x as productive as them, it would be extremely difficult to accomplish anything in research.

 

Scenario 1 is unrealistic (trust me, you'll want to spend time shadowing or hanging out with friends after a tough week of class) and even then, you have to be more than twice as productive. Some professors would find scenario 1 attractive but almost no professors will agree to give you a project with the potential to publish in scenario 2. If you're honest with yourself, if you're likely to spend a few hours sleeping in, catching up with recorded lectures or hanging out with your friends on your one day off. That's not considering the fact that you could be using the time to shadow or volunteer, things that you'll need for residency applications.

 

In conclusion, it is extremely difficult to achieve something of significance in research over the academic year even if you devote all the scheduled free time to it. This plan is not enough to be competitive enough for a competitive speciality where people dedicate full summers + academic year to publish.

 

I'm also interested in this topic, especially regarding the 20-month CREMS research program (same question as above....how feasible is it?)

Let's first consider the chances of getting into the CREMS program. Looking on their website (http://www.md.utoronto.ca/research-scholar-programs),

 

The number of student/mentor pairs accepted into the program is dependent on the available CREMS funding. For 2017, we expect to be able to fund 10 students. Qualified student/mentor pairs will be determined by a CREMS Advisory Committee.

 

While CREMS was advertised as a way to gain research experience in medical school, the first factor to consider is that an only a very small fraction of the class (3.8% or 10/259) of the class will be able to get into the program. It is extremely competitive to get into CREMS because there are people with previous research experience and publications that want to continue in the same field with top U of T researchers and those who have no research background that want to explore research. I believe the program used to admit 20 people but the number has decreased year over year to 10.

 

Speaking with a few people who have participated, the consecutive 20 month program can be a bit arduous to complete. The program runs from second term of Year 1 until the end of August between Year 2 and Year 3 medicine. By participating in the program, you're essentially giving up two summers that you could be doing other things (i.e. Two separate 4-month research programs, travelling the world, volunteering in a different city). One thing to consider for residency applications is that you'll be getting 1 reference letter from CREMS but if you do two separate 4-month research programs in the summer of Year 1 and 2, you can explore different fields in medicine and get 2 reference letters for CARMS.

 

20-months is a long period of time, five times more than an usual 4 month summer project, to be spending on one project in one lab. Most students entering medical school change their specialty by the time they reach Year 2 or 3 and if your research doesn't match up with the speciality you end up applying to, it might cause you more harm than benefit. For example, in Year 1, a hypothetical person called Ronald gets accepted into CREMS and works on a cardiology project for 20 months because he thought he wanted to be a cardiologist. But through clinical experiences during Year 1/2, he realizes that he is super passionate about Ob/Gyn and wants to do that for the rest of his life. At this point he can't really switch projects or quit CREMS. For residency applications and interviews, he's stuck with a huge project not related to the speciality that he wants. By participating in CREMS in Year 1/2, he's given up the opportunity to participate in other research (research during clerkship in Year 3/4 is extremely difficult). I can also almost guarantee that this will come up during residency interviews and he'll have to explain why he dedicated so much time to another field if he was truly interested in Ob/Gyn. His application would've been a lot stronger if he spent the summer of Year 2 working on research in Ob/Gyn.

 

I have spoken to people in extremely competitive specialities and they all said a competitive applicant should dedicate ALL their electives to the particular speciality and all their research and activities should demonstrate that passion about the speciality (i.e. all clerkship electives dedicated to cardiology, published cardiology research papers and volunteered with Heart and Stroke foundation). 

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
×
×
  • Create New...