3rd year Canadian medical student happy to answer questions!

DrJay
Posted: 7:05AM May 03, 2012 UTC
UPDATE July 11, 2012:

My name is Josh, some of you might know me as the guy who started MedHopeful. For those of you who don't know me, I am currently a 3rd year Medical Student at UofT and I have run a blog called MedHopeful for almost 4 years now which provides stories and advice relating to undergrad, scholarships and medical school.

I originally wanted to remain anonymous in this thread because I was working on a few new projects (like a new group blog I had started) with some medical school classmates who wanted to remain anonymous. However, after long discussions and thinking, I decided to go back to primarily posting on MedHopeful. I also figured that I was OK not being anonymous (my friends still want to be, which is fine and I understand why).

In any case, I am happy to answer any questions, and for those of you who didn't know, I started a similar thread like this last year on the old Student Awards forums, which you might also find useful:

http://forums.studentawards.com/yaf_postst13046_Ask-me-anything-about-applying-and-getting-into-Medical-School.aspx

* * * * *

Hey everyone,

I am a 3rd year medical student at a Canadian medical school. My first 2 years were spent mostly in the classroom learning anatomy, physiology, disease, treatments, etc.

I started 3rd year in September 2011, and since then, I have been in "clerkship" - which means I have been working and learning full time in the hospital - seeing real patients everyday, and learning to diagnose/treat their illnesses. I have to say, it's very different from what I imagined. No matter how much you try to learn what it's like to practice medicine (e.g. shadowing), you really don't know what it's like until you do it.

I found these forums very helpful while studying in undergrad and applying to medical school. I'd like to give back by answering questions about medical school if anyone has any.

I'll try to be as honest as possible. I just won't be revealing any personal details as I'd prefer to remain anonymous.

Ask away! :)

P.S. I now blog everyday about med school life, getting in to med school, undergrad tips, etc. (see signature)
Was this helpful?
yes 0
322 Responses
happygleek
Posted: 7:05AM May 03, 2012 UTC
That's super great that we have someone like yourself to answer our questions!

What was your undergrad degree? Also, are there any past nursing student/nurses in your program?
Was this helpful?
yes 0
DrJay
Thread Creator
Posted: 7:05AM May 03, 2012 UTC
Thread Creator
@happygleek wrote
That's super great that we have someone like yourself to answer our questions!

What was your undergrad degree? Also, are there any past nursing student/nurses in your program?



thanks! :)

My undergrad degree was in the life sciences, specifically biology.

Absolutely, there are past nurses/nursing students in my program. Med students come from many diverse backgrounds. While it's true that many med students come from a life science background, there are also many who have done very different things, including nursing, arts, engineering, business, and many more.

I think being in nursing is actually an advantage in the med school admissions process because you already have significant health care experience, which not only helps in the med school interview (e.g. answering health care questions, talking about communication/team work experiences, etc.), but you also have a leg up when you start learning in the clinical environment with real patients.
Was this helpful?
yes 0
larissa42
Posted: 7:05AM May 03, 2012 UTC
I have a few questions,

What was your university GPA?
Can you give a summary of the med school application process?
What have you found most challenging about med school so far?
Are you sleep deprived and stressed 24/7? lol

Thanks for taking the time to answer questions on this forum, im sure a lot of people will really appreciate it, myself included :)
Was this helpful?
yes 0
larissa42
Posted: 7:05AM May 03, 2012 UTC
oh and also what type of volunteering, jobs, research or extracurriculars did you do in your undergrad years?
Was this helpful?
yes 0
DrJay
Thread Creator
Posted: 7:05AM May 04, 2012 UTC
Thread Creator
@larissa42 wrote
I have a few questions,

What was your university GPA?
Can you give a summary of the med school application process?
What have you found most challenging about med school so far?
Are you sleep deprived and stressed 24/7? lol

Thanks for taking the time to answer questions on this forum, im sure a lot of people will really appreciate it, myself included :)



No problem! Happy to help :)

My university GPA was somewhere in the 3.9's.

I wrote a really long summary of the med school application process in a new premed website I am starting with some classmates. I don't think I'm allowed to post the link... but you should be able to find it, if you know what I mean ;)

In short, the med school application process is basically:
1. Complete at least 2 to 3 years of undergrad. Make sure you take any prerequisite courses (each med school is different). Mean while, keep up your GPA, get involved in your school and community, and take the MCAT.
2. In the Fall of your 3rd or 4th year of undergrad, you are eligible to apply to med school - this usually involves a list of your awards/activities, a personal essay of some sort, and 3 reference letters (this varies from school to school). Keep in mind that many applicants are also Masters and Phd students, as well as people in the working world who have previously completed undergrad degrees.
3. In Feb-April, med schools send out Rejections and Interview Invites. The interview is usually either a traditional style interview (1 doctor and 1 med student doing a 30-45 minute interview with you) or the Multiple Mini Interview (where you do 10 different 10-minute stations where you must discuss ethical scenarios, act, etc.).
4. In May, for applicants who were interviewed, you find out whether you were accepted, waitlisted (this means you might get in if a spot frees up) or rejected.

The most challenging part about medical school is the volume of information you are expected to know. There's a lot of memorization. I am the type of learner who is more into "understanding why", but a lot of medicine is just knowing the facts, which has been particularly challenging for me. If you don't like rote memorization, medicine can be really frustrating sometimes.

Medical school is as stressful as you want it to be for the most part. No one tells you how much to study. Some people go to the library and study everyday. Others cram days before the exam.

In terms of sleep deprivation, once you start clerkship (3rd/4th year) and are in the hospital full time, there are some days when you will be "on call" where you work 24 hour+ shifts. Depending on what department you are in, you may or may not sleep during those 24 hour shifts.

Medicine has it's pros and cons, but I don't think it's as glamorous as many people think. It's one of those jobs where you don't realize how tough it can be until you're knee deep in it. There are definitely quite a few people who end up regretting going into the profession.
Was this helpful?
yes 0
DrJay
Thread Creator
Posted: 7:05AM May 04, 2012 UTC
Thread Creator
@larissa42 wrote
oh and also what type of volunteering, jobs, research or extracurriculars did you do in your undergrad years?



I did biology lab research in the summers for a few years, but never wrote a paper or went to a conference or anything. I was involved in things like music groups, volunteering with health facilities, social justice groups, etc.

I know everyone says it, but it's true - there isn't any magic formula to getting into med school. If you have a pretty good GPA, MCAT and ECs, and some luck, you have a pretty good chance of getting into med school, even if it takes a few tries.
Was this helpful?
yes 0
DrJay
Thread Creator
Posted: 7:05AM May 04, 2012 UTC
Thread Creator
I just wrote this to sort of answer the common question "what ECs should you do to get into med school?" You might find this useful:

Probably the #1 question I get asked by premeds is: "What extra-curriculars did you do to get into medical school?"

Premeds ask this question for a number of reasons. For one, they want to know what works - am I doing things even remotely attractive to medical schools? And secondly, they want to know how they match up - am I doing enough?

However, I think it's a dangerous question to ask because it can mislead premeds into thinking they need to do X or Y to get into medical school.

Just to clarify for those who haven't had this question answered before: there is NO magic formula of ECs and volunteering to get you into medical school.

If I surveyed my entire medical school class, I would find a huge variety of experiences.

There are Masters and PhD graduates with publications, research conference presentations, etc. Then there arts graduates who have never done any academic research in their entire lives.

There are sports addicts, who joined every single school sports club and team. Then there are those who immersed themselves in music. Or social justice causes. Or none of the above.

The only common denominator among med students and their ECs is that they worked really hard. They realized that quality was more important than quantity.

All that said, if you could only do one EC, I would recommend that you do something in community leadership.

When I say community leadership, I'm basically saying having a leadership role in a group or club that does something positive and meaningful for your community. 

Just find something you like doing and make a community leadership activity out of it. If you are interested in social justice issues, become the president of a school social justice club you believe in. If you like teaching math, go start a local tutoring group. If you fancy hockey, go coach a local kid's hockey team. And don't just do the bare minimum - make it great. Grow it. Do something aewsome.

The power of doing a community leadership activity is that it allows you to develop and demonstrate key qualities attractive to med school admissions committees:

1. Leadership - this is obvious
2. Teamwork - anyone who is a good leader should in theory be a good team player as well
3. Communication - you can't be a successful community leader if you can't communicate well
4. Commitment / good work ethic - if you are successful, you probably worked damn hard at it
5. Service - serving your fellow human being and creating positive change in your community

Not only will you have developed important skills for being a good doctor, and for being a competitive applicant, you will hopefully have invoked some meaningful, positive change in your community. It's a win, win, win situation.
Was this helpful?
yes 0
WKHC
Posted: 7:05AM May 04, 2012 UTC
@DrJay wrote
I just wrote this to sort of answer the common question "what ECs should you do to get into med school?" You might find this useful:

Probably the #1 question I get asked by premeds is: "What extra-curriculars did you do to get into medical school?"

Premeds ask this question for a number of reasons. For one, they want to know what works - am I doing things even remotely attractive to medical schools? And secondly, they want to know how they match up - am I doing enough?

However, I think it's a dangerous question to ask because it can mislead premeds into thinking they need to do X or Y to get into medical school.

Just to clarify for those who haven't had this question answered before: there is NO magic formula of ECs and volunteering to get you into medical school.

If I surveyed my entire medical school class, I would find a huge variety of experiences.

There are Masters and PhD graduates with publications, research conference presentations, etc. Then there arts graduates who have never done any academic research in their entire lives.

There are sports addicts, who joined every single school sports club and team. Then there are those who immersed themselves in music. Or social justice causes. Or none of the above.

The only common denominator among med students and their ECs is that they worked really hard. They realized that quality was more important than quantity.

All that said, if you could only do one EC, I would recommend that you do something in community leadership.

When I say community leadership, I'm basically saying having a leadership role in a group or club that does something positive and meaningful for your community. 

Just find something you like doing and make a community leadership activity out of it. If you are interested in social justice issues, become the president of a school social justice club you believe in. If you like teaching math, go start a local tutoring group. If you fancy hockey, go coach a local kid's hockey team. And don't just do the bare minimum - make it great. Grow it. Do something aewsome.

The power of doing a community leadership activity is that it allows you to develop and demonstrate key qualities attractive to med school admissions committees:

1. Leadership - this is obvious
2. Teamwork - anyone who is a good leader should in theory be a good team player as well
3. Communication - you can't be a successful community leader if you can't communicate well
4. Commitment / good work ethic - if you are successful, you probably worked damn hard at it
5. Service - serving your fellow human being and creating positive change in your community

Not only will you have developed important skills for being a good doctor, and for being a competitive applicant, you will hopefully have invoked some meaningful, positive change in your community. It's a win, win, win situation.



Thank you so much for this! This is probably the best thread on here so far. Thanks!
Was this helpful?
yes 0
This post was deleted
DrJay
Thread Creator
Posted: 7:05AM May 04, 2012 UTC
Thread Creator
@WKHC wrote
Thank you so much for this! This is probably the best thread on here so far. Thanks!




No problem! Glad you are finding it helpful :)



@aquarius wrote
A family friend's son from Dalhousie got into Western with full 4 years scholarship with just one EC and that was volunteering at the soup kitchen from the age of 9 and  he also got accepted at Dalhousie and Queens.

Another medical student that I meet at Ottawa open house did his undergrad at Trent and never had a single EC because he was working to support himself .

My mom asked her client what ECs did her daughter did to get into Macmaster and she said was nothing.  The daughter did her 1st year at Western then transferred to York in the hope of getting higher GPA.

My family doctor's son got full scholarship to Ottawa from UFT and his only EC is singing in the church choir.

I think ( my personal opinion) , LUCK players a bigger role in getting into a medical school than ECs.




Definitely, luck plays a big role in getting into medical school. There are always many more qualified applicants than there are spots. But that's why I think if you have a competitive application and apply enough times, most likely you will get in at some point.
Was this helpful?
yes 0
murphyDrizzle
Posted: 7:05AM May 04, 2012 UTC
I was really stressed and confused about this whole process so i can't tell you how happy i was to see you taking time out of your busy schedule to help us out. I know you must have your hands full with med school so I'll try to be as brief as possible.

1. Do medical schools look at what undergrad school you went to? Meaning do they prefer one over the other or does it boil down just to the marks you received?

2. Besides from getting high marks, volunteering a lot, what else can we do do increase our chances to get into medical school?

Once again, thanks alot for your help!
Was this helpful?
yes 0
DrJay
Thread Creator
Posted: 7:05AM May 04, 2012 UTC
Thread Creator
@murphyDrizzle wrote
I was really stressed and confused about this whole process so i can't tell you how happy i was to see you taking time out of your busy schedule to help us out. I know you must have your hands full with med school so I'll try to be as brief as possible.

1. Do medical schools look at what undergrad school you went to? Meaning do they prefer one over the other or does it boil down just to the marks you received?

2. Besides from getting high marks, volunteering a lot, what else can we do do increase our chances to get into medical school?

Once again, thanks alot for your help!



1. Medical schools will tell you that it doesn't matter what undergrad school or program you went to, as long as you have the necessary GPA and prerequisites.

For medical schools that use strict GPA cutoffs (e.g. University of Western Ontario), this is definitely true - it doesn't matter what school you went to. 

For schools where it's not exactly clear how they use your GPA (e.g. UofT), no one except the admissions committee knows for certain. Maybe they do, maybe they don't, but I suspect it does not play a significant role. Every medical school class has students from many different universities in Canada, including the "easier" ones.

2. Getting a good MCAT is really important because every school uses it differently. For a school like UofT, all you need is a 9/9/9/N. For a school like Western, you might need a 9/10/11/Q. The point is the better you do on the MCAT, the more medical schools you are eligible for. The MCAT is a tough but important test, one that you want to take a few times as possible, so when you are studying for it, really study your hardest.

Also, I think some applicants forget how important it is to spend the time to put together a great application. You've spent the last 3+ years working your tail off to have great marks and a great resume - truly, you can spend 1-2 months working your tail off even more to turn that resume into a great essay.

Don't write your essay last minute. Really spend time thinking about which references you want to ask, and give them advanced notice. You've worked this hard already, you owe it to yourself to present the best version of yourself to the admissions committee.
Was this helpful?
yes 0
murphyDrizzle
Posted: 7:05AM May 04, 2012 UTC
Oh Ok that really clears up a lot of things for me. Thanks alot i appreciate it!
Was this helpful?
yes 0
stordz
Posted: 7:05AM May 05, 2012 UTC
I have to decide between doing an undergrad in science at Acadia, a small university, or an undergrad in chemical engineering at McGill. I'm also waiting on Mac Health Sci but I'm being realistic and expecting not to get in. 

Do you know any engineers who are in medicine? I also know it is a GPA killer, which is the only reason I'm hesitant of accepting it, however should I decide not to pursue medicine it would give me a good back up. 

Or would it be better to take science at a small university where I would be able to have a very high GPA and more spare time to do EC's? Thanks!
Was this helpful?
yes 0
DrJay
Thread Creator
Posted: 7:05AM May 05, 2012 UTC
Thread Creator
@stordz wrote
I have to decide between doing an undergrad in science at Acadia, a small university, or an undergrad in chemical engineering at McGill. I'm also waiting on Mac Health Sci but I'm being realistic and expecting not to get in. 

Do you know any engineers who are in medicine? I also know it is a GPA killer, which is the only reason I'm hesitant of accepting it, however should I decide not to pursue medicine it would give me a good back up. 

Or would it be better to take science at a small university where I would be able to have a very high GPA and more spare time to do EC's? Thanks!



Absolutely, I have friends who studied engineering and are now in medicine. The main challenge they had was getting used to more rote memorization in medical school, as they said engineering was mostly understanding-based.

You're right it's a tough decision, in terms of how it will affect your marks. I'm not sure how different your GPA would be between engineering and science.

Talk to friends who are now in chemical engineering - how are their marks compared to their high school marks? Also, reflect on life after undergrad - if you don't get into medical school, what would you rather do? And how important is medical school? For some people it's the only career they want, for others they would rather focus on engineering, and if they get into med school great, but if not they are still OK.

It really comes down to your personal priorities, which I know is hard to figure out at this point in your life. But for sure, try and talk to others currently in engineering and see how they are finding it. If any engineering students/grads are reading this thread, input would be helpful too! :)

Best of luck.
Was this helpful?
yes 0
Bowchickawowwow
Posted: 7:05AM May 06, 2012 UTC
Thanks for taking the time to answer questions. I was wondering if you took Orgo in the summer? Also, what 2 years in Health Sci were your highest averages?
Was this helpful?
yes 0
DrJay
Thread Creator
Posted: 7:05AM May 06, 2012 UTC
Thread Creator
@Bowchickawowwow wrote
Thanks for taking the time to answer questions. I was wondering if you took Orgo in the summer? Also, what 2 years in Health Sci were your highest averages?



Nope, I didn't take orgo in the summer, but I know many students who did. I think you should take orgo before the MCAT - it's the one science most students don't have much exposure to prior to university.

I got into Mac Health Sci, but I didn't actually attend the program.
Was this helpful?
yes 0
Bowchickawowwow
Posted: 7:05AM May 06, 2012 UTC
@DrJay wrote

@Bowchickawowwow wrote
Thanks for taking the time to answer questions. I was wondering if you took Orgo in the summer? Also, what 2 years in Health Sci were your highest averages?



Nope, I didn't take orgo in the summer, but I know many students who did. I think you should take orgo before the MCAT - it's the one science most students don't have much exposure to prior to university.

I got into Mac Health Sci, but I didn't actually attend the program.



Oh, what program did you attend, if you don't mind answering. What else courses do you suggest taking that would benefit me for the MCAT? 
Was this helpful?
yes 0
TH3U
Posted: 7:05AM May 06, 2012 UTC
is med school actually extremely hard as people claim...like will an average b student from high school have any shred of chance surviving in med school. And how hard was the mcat? Do you believe you someone who did not major in sciences but majored in psychology or something but took some science courses have chance of doing good on the mcat?
Was this helpful?
yes 0
DrJay
Thread Creator
Posted: 7:05AM May 07, 2012 UTC
Thread Creator
@Bowchickawowwow wrote

@DrJay wrote

@Bowchickawowwow wrote
Thanks for taking the time to answer questions. I was wondering if you took Orgo in the summer? Also, what 2 years in Health Sci were your highest averages?



Nope, I didn't take orgo in the summer, but I know many students who did. I think you should take orgo before the MCAT - it's the one science most students don't have much exposure to prior to university.

I got into Mac Health Sci, but I didn't actually attend the program.



Oh, what program did you attend, if you don't mind answering. What else courses do you suggest taking that would benefit me for the MCAT? 



I'd rather not give details, but I went to a regular life sciences program.

For the MCAT, the most important courses to take are 1st year physics/chem/bio and organic chem. Physiology would also be very useful, but I think if you have a science background, you will understand the study materials for that OK.

Was this helpful?
yes 0
DrJay
Thread Creator
Posted: 7:05AM May 07, 2012 UTC
Thread Creator
@TH3U wrote
is med school actually extremely hard as people claim...like will an average b student from high school have any shred of chance surviving in med school. And how hard was the mcat? Do you believe you someone who did not major in sciences but majored in psychology or something but took some science courses have chance of doing good on the mcat?



1. I think how well you do in undergrad is a better indicator of how well you will do in medical school. High schools across Canada are very different - a B in one high school might be an A in another. Since there are fewer universities in Canada, it's a lot easier to know where you stand, since you are being compared to many more students. Also, undergrad is of course harder than high school, and you will have to work harder. If you can handle undergrad, you can definitely handle medical school.

The material you learn in medicine isn't harder than the stuff you learn in science / kinesiology. The difference is that in medicine there's a lot more information to know. If you can handle science/kin-type courses in undergrad, and you're willing to put in the effort, you can handle medical school.

2. The MCAT isn't easy, but it's definitely a test where the more you study and prepare, the better you will certainly do. I think that people in science programs who are used to doing multiple choice tests and who are already taking physics/bio/chem courses will of course be more comfortable with the MCAT than people who don't normally take science courses. But if you are a psych major, took physics/chem/bio/orgo and felt OK, you will probably be OK for the MCAT.

Was this helpful?
yes 0
DrJay
Thread Creator
Posted: 7:05AM May 07, 2012 UTC
Thread Creator
Just wrote this, inspired by this thread:

Can I do ANY undergrad program and get into med school?

The short answer is yes, absolutely. You can do any undergrad program you want and get into medical school. Whether it's engineering or science or business or arts - it's definitely possible to get into medical school.

How do I know? I just look at my medical school classmates and all the variety in their educational backgrounds. While it's true that most med students have a science background, that's because most students who want to do med school choose to do science for that very reason - it's not because med schools prefer it.

That being said, the MCAT has a lot of science, and so of course a background in science makes taking the MCAT a bit easier. But if you're willing to put in the work, no matter your background, doing well on the MCAT and getting into med school is certainly possible.

In addition, a lot of medical school is like a science undergrad. There is a lot of rote memorization and multiple choice tests. Those with a science background will be used to it. Students from a different program may find some challenges. For example, some engineer classmates of mine say it was a challenge to move from "understanding" in engineering to a lot more "rote memorization" in med school. I'd suspect a similar challenge occurs for students who are used to readings/essays in an arts program.

So if that's the case, why shouldn't all premeds just take science? Well for one, getting a good GPA is a big deciding factor for med school admissions, and you will probably get a better GPA in a program you enjoy. In addition, what if you don't get into med school? It's a very competitive process and the truth is the odds are against you. It's important to think about what you can use with your undergraduate degree in the event med school doesn't work out. If you are picking your undergrad degree, e.g. in science, solely to get into medical school, you need to accept the possibility that things might not work out. If this isn't okay with you, then perhaps getting a degree more practical for you and that could lead to an acceptable alternative career is a better choice.

In conclusion, while coming from a non-science background might pose some challenges in the admissions/medical training process, you are the deciding factor in your success. If you want to be a physician, and are willing to put in the extra work, you can do it, no matter what undergrad program you take. Just remember that it is a competitive process and you need to be willing to accept the possibility medical school might not work out for you, and plan accordingly.
Was this helpful?
yes 0
DrJay
Thread Creator
Posted: 7:05AM May 10, 2012 UTC
Thread Creator
Another message I wanted to share, something I think is really important for anyone interested in medical school:

Why "wanting to help people" is not a good enough reason for medical school

If you are reading this thread, presumably you are interested in becoming a doctor. But why?

Before you read on any further, I'd like you to spend a few minutes reflecting on the question: "why do you want to do medicine?"

It's a short yet challenging and important question. It's important because every medical school is going to ask you this question, whether on an application or in an interview. More importantly, medicine is not a walk in the park - unless you know why you are interested in medicine, you may end up realizing it is not everything you hoped for.

The difficult thing about a career in medicine is the ambiguity. In all seriousness, ask yourself, how much do you really know what medicine is about? What a doctor does everyday?

For myself and many of my peers, we had no frickin clue what it meant to be a doctor. I shadowed here and there, which I'm sure many of you have done as well. But until you actually have to do what a doctor does (and believe me, we don't even do this until the 3rd year of medical school when we start our clinical rotations), it's hard to know what type of medicine you would want to do, and perhaps, even whether medicine as a whole is right for you. C'est la vie I guess.

But I digress. So why do you want to do medicine? I mean, until you actually do it, your personal reasons are all you have to go by, so let's get back to that. While there are many (valid reasons), including "I am interested in medical sciences", "I like having a respected, well-paying job" (the one that no one admits to but is true), etc. probably the most common reason people admit to is "I want to help people".

Now don't get me wrong, if you tell me you want to do medicine because you want to help people, I believe you. I don't doubt it at all. I'm glad so many people want to make a positive difference in the world. But if this is your only or primary reasons, you should step back and reflect on that.

There are many great professions that "help" people. In fact, most professions, no matter how great or small, "help" people in some way. Teachers help students learn and master material. Social workers can really help and change the lives of vulnerable clients. Scientists can help find new and better ways for us to live our lives. In health care, nurses play a crucial role in helping to cure illness and maintain human health.

It's not a matter of whether you want to help people. The bigger question is to ask yourself how you want to help people. Because we all help people in our own, but often different ways.

You need to ask yourself "how do doctors specifically help people, and do I want to help people that way?"

I encourage all premeds to search for the answer to that question. Read, talk to people, do whatever it takes. If you find the answer to this question and you still want to do medicine, then go for it. If you can answer yes to that question, medicine may be a very rewarding profession for you. If your answer is no, then perhaps it is time to think whether an alternate career would be more rewarding for you.

Believe me, it is not an easy question, but I believe it is one of the most important questions you need to ask yourself before dedicating yourself to medicine.
Was this helpful?
yes 0
DrJay
Thread Creator
Posted: 7:05AM May 13, 2012 UTC
Thread Creator
Hey everyone, another post I wrote, hopefully some of you find it helpful:

Do I need to do research to get into medical school?

There is often a mad scramble among premeds to do "research". Students freak out when they fail to get a professor to say yes to them. Unlike school clubs or volunteer work, research isn't something you can just sign up for - you have to convince a professor or researcher to say yes.

For those of you unfamiliar with the term, "resarch" in the premed world refers to the non-curriculum activity of working with a scientist supervisor and his/her team to uncover new knowledge or apply current knowledge to produce something new. For premeds, such scientist supervisors are usually university professors or physician researchers working at a teaching hospital or university.

So do you really need to do research to get into medical school?

The short answer is no, you don't. There are many medical students who never did an ounce of "research" but still get in. That being said, doing some sort of research can strengthen your application in many ways.

First, doing research instantly gives you access to a potential academic referee. Most medical schools like to see at least one of your reference letters come from someone in academia at the university level. Most undergrads don't know any of their classroom professors well enough to get a letter. Especially if you are in a science program where your classes can have as many as 1,000 students, it's pretty hard to stand out. But working in a small team environment with a professor can lead to a solid, academic reference letter.

Secondly, many physicians are also researchers. In particular, when admissions committees ask physicians to help interview applicants, they ask their own faculty members - who by definition will often be researchers. As academic physicians, they will naturally be impressed by applicants who have done research and who are likely to contribute to the future of medical research.

Thirdly, it helps enhance the academic aspect of your application. Many applicants have great grades. Research will help you stand out even more.

Does it matter what kind of research you do?

Any research is good research. Of course, the more relevant your research is to medicine and health care, the better. And if your supervisor is a physician, then of course, your reference letter is even better.

But as an undergraduate student, it's often not easy to get a physician researcher to say yes. If you want to do research, get your feet wet in anything that you can. The fact that you've done some is great in the first place. But again, it is by no means mandatory, and if you dont' want to do it, then don't - it says nothing about you as a future physician. Many physicians are also not interested in research whatsoever.

Do I need to have publications and conference presentations?

While those would be fantastic to have, many medical students who have done research don't have any publications or conference presentations. It would most definitely strengthen your application, but definitely not necessary to get in.

Hopefully that helps answer questions you might have about research and getting into medical school. If you have any other questions, feel free to ask!
Was this helpful?
yes 0
d0nut
Posted: 7:05AM May 20, 2012 UTC
Thank you for this wonderful thread.

I am in my senior year of high school and I have been very interested in pursuing medicine for quite some time now. I was wondering how you feel about IMG (International Medical Graduates) and the process of coming back to Canada after studying medicine abroad.

Specifically, I was thinking about attending a 6-year Medical University/School Program in Eastern Europe, and then coming back to Canada to do practice. I have heard from many that it is a great opportunity because you finish school faster and you could reside in Europe to practice (which is very appealing to me). 

However, if I do decide to study medicine in Canada (but attend a med school abroad), then what complications would occur? I know for a fact that more pressure is put on IMG students when it comes to getting a job or even residency. They are looked down upon because of the fat that they took an alternative route and are not Canadian-based students.

IF you know any information regarding IMG, please let me know as time is running out and I need to decide what to do!


P.S. Roughly how many years of schooling does a Canadian doctor (studying entirely in Canada) undergo? 
Was this helpful?
yes 0
Looking for the old community? Click here