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Hi everyone, 

First-year med student here. I was wondering if anyone could shed some light on the usefulness of pursuing research in med school in terms of CARMS applications/competitiveness for residency. Specifically, a few questions:

1. I've heard that research in any specialty is well regarded, even if it isn't the area that you end up applying to. What are people's thoughts about this?
2. Clinical vs. non-clinical research. Would a research project in Medical Education carry any weight? 

Thanks guys!

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I wouldn’t kill myself to do the research as it is not going to be a deal breaker for matching whether you have or do not have research in my opinion. I would wait and reconsider as end of 2nd year approaches. I did a literature review during 3 weeks over one summer and was published. It did not help me in the slightest for CaRMS. 

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1 hour ago, Bambi said:

I wouldn’t kill myself to do the research as it is not going to be a deal breaker for matching whether you have or do not have research in my opinion. I would wait and reconsider as end of 2nd year approaches. I did a literature review during 3 weeks over one summer and was published. It did not help me in the slightest for CaRMS. 

So what did you do?

Assume my CV is blank

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8 hours ago, MarsRover said:

I plan on just doing clerkship and being a good person. Then just my normal non-impressive hobbies on top of that. 

Amen. I have to admit that sometimes I get caught up in the bubble and feel like I have to join the rat race. My take is, if you like something and feel passionate about it, do it. If not, don't. But always try to be a good clerk. 

I guess time will tell.

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38 minutes ago, Mithril said:

Research can help set you apart from other candidates in extremely competitive fields, but your LORs and evaluations during clerkship prior to CaRMS are worth quite a bit for residency programs.

Research can also probably help you get strong letters of reference. If you've done research with someone in your field of interest for 2+ years, that person's opinion of you would be considered strongly. This is especially true if that person has also supervised you in a clinical setting.

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4 hours ago, Snowmen said:

Research can also probably help you get strong letters of reference. If you've done research with someone in your field of interest for 2+ years, that person's opinion of you would be considered strongly. This is especially true if that person has also supervised you in a clinical setting.

I would definitely not submit a LOR to Carms from a research supervisor unless they have supervised you in a clinical setting as well. The exception to this is the extra LOR you can submit to UofT IM (or other programs that specifically say you can submit an extra letter focused on research/education/community etc.)

I know research is not going to make or break your application, but I feel like the majority of students have very similar transcripts and LORs (with very few exceptionally good or bad students) and research may be able to tease apart the people in the middle. A lot of it also comes down to luck: if you can book an elective in your speciality/location of choice, who your preceptor is, how long you get to spend with one preceptor on elective, etc. Of course take this with a grain of salt because I have not gone through Carms yet.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I just emailed someone the following on the same question, although was geared towards an anesthesiology application....

Sure - at base level research will improve your application.  But is this a reason to get involved in research that you don't feel strongly about? Absolutely not.  There are lots of things that will improve your  chances of getting interviews.    programs likely will be just as interested in a different interest/skill set that you bring to the table. Or even more likely, they are interested in getting a diverse set of residents with different skill sets.  For example, some of the other residents in my group had an interest in things like POCUS, simulation, public health, global health, medical education, business management....  So instead of perseverating on research, I think the real advantage you can give yourself is having an area of interest that both demonstrates your interest in anesthesiology and is a useful skill that you will bring to your residency cohort/career. 

Remember that getting into residency is just the next hurdle in the marathon. Fellowship interviews, job interviews...You're going to have to do this process over and over again. If you have something that genuinely interests you and you can see wanting to pursue it post CARMS match, do that instead.  This way you can continue to build on the skills you have started to develop in medical school throughout residency and quite possibly for the rest of your career. 

On the flip side, I also had friends without a special project or research interest who were completely awesome technically, did a ton of anesthesiology electives, had good mentors who championed their interest/wrote great letters, got to know the right people.... and got more interviews than I did. 

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Also - I did a research project in clerkship. My preceptor wrote one of my reference letters, even though they did not work with me clinically.  I had heard the same advice as above but chose to ignore it. I felt that my preceptor knew me the longest/best and would take the time to prepare a knock out letter.  Anecdotally it worked out great for me, although I will never know what programs other than the one I matched to thought of that choice.

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I'm working on my second research project. Neither this one nor my first are in my field. In fact, both are decidedly not. I'm applying to family med, both of my research projects have to do with radiology which I have never intended to pursue. 

Honestly, I picked them up out of interest. I was planning to apply to OB/Gyn for a while which is pretty competitive so I thought research might help, but ultimately I did these projects because I find the stuff really interesting. Medical physics was my backup to medicine.

As I'm about two hours away from submitting my CaRMS applications (*deep breath*), I can't really say if it helps or not. Fills up space on my CV nicely, I suppose. 

 

 

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