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Where to gain research and clinical experience?

A photo of BrunoMars BrunoMars
I am planning on attending uOttawa Biomedical sciences.

My main concern is this, where may I gain clinical and research experience, and how? Like what do I do to gain the opportunity?

I want to become a doctor, but I know that good grades and a solid MCAT wont get me in in comparison to someone who has experience and research history.

Any advice will be appreciated.
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A photo of mynameismattgotmlgo mynameismattgotmlgo
Clinical experience can be tough to get: health care is very regulated. You might be able to shadow a few doctors, but that's about as good as it gets. Other than that, your "clinical experience" will very likely be limited to calling out names in the ER waiting room.

Research experience is a lot more realistic. Professors (and their graduate students) are always in need of help. It's really as simple as looking for professors who are doing research that interests you, and then contacting them by e-mail, phone, or in person, saying that you're interested in their work and would like to get involved. Some will respectfully turn you down; most would love the help.
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A photo of inthemaking inthemaking
Clinical experience is hard to obtain in human med because of liability/confidentiality issues. A lot of the med students I know went on volunteering excursions to Costa Rica, Dominican etc through organizations like VIDA to get hands on experience. If you have any connections with MDs, you may be able to shadow someone. Most hospital volunteering programs are limited to working the gift shop, handing out meals, running errands etc.

Research experience is pretty easy to gain if the university is research-oriented. I just sent out emails to profs whose research I was interested in, went for an interview, and got a position as a lab research assistant. Look for a position well in advance though, most labs are filled before the summer semester starts.
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A photo of willeh willeh
Is a research position realistic for a first year? If so when would be the best time to apply? And are they paid work or is it like volunteering?
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A photo of mynameismattgotmlgo mynameismattgotmlgo
You don't hear of too many first years in research positions, but that's probably because first years typically don't know about them. Most of the time, the work is very simple, so what year you're in doesn't really matter. Two of my friends, for example, trained neurologically deafened cats how to respond to red dots on the wall in front of them. You don't need to know neurophysiology and neuroanatomy to teach cats to look at a red dot.

Most of the time it is just volunteer work, though it can easily turn into a paid position (for the summer [usually via NSERC undergrad scholarship] and/or for the entire year) and even into a graduate degree. Lots of people are willing to do this type of work as a volunteer, so professors feel little need to have to hire someone. From your perspective, what is good about being a volunteer rather than an employee is that, as a volunteer, you're not obligated to work. If you're bogged down with school work, then it's no problem to skip out on a shift.
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A photo of inthemaking inthemaking
The earliest I've heard of someone obtaining a research position is at the end of their 1st year (started up in April). Most profs wouldn't want a straight out of hs kid with no university level background in their lab, mostly because they likely won't have any lab experience. Once you start taking uni courses with labs, you obtain more lab experience and have a least a basic understanding of techniques used in wet labs through gen bio, gen chem, organic chem, cell bio, etc which makes you much more attractive as a research assistant. It depends on the lab, but I was quite involved in mine (had 3 of my own projects under my prof - my own cell cultures, own lab bench, own key for weekend/evening access, own reagents etc) so it can be quite a commitment for a prof to take on a 1st year student who doesn't really know what they're doing. But once again - depends on the lab, and also the department (eg. psych labs where you run trials are always taking on 1st years because it doesn't take much to explain an experiment to a subject and record data).

I sent out emails in May to start the following September, but I would advise even earlier (March/April) since that's when any current students may be graduating/leaving the lab and there will be available spots.

I started off as "volunteering" (not technically volunteering because it was for course credit), and then after the course was finished, I was paid.
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A photo of ktel ktel
I know the U of A offered summer research opportunities to high school students, mostly girls, but I think they opened it up to boys as well.

Getting research opportunities is also much more difficult in the sciences as opposed to engineering, for example. It seems like my department was practically begging undergraduate students to do research at times.
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A photo of uncharted1111 uncharted1111
I have a friend who managed to get into a pretty famous lab during the second semester of 1st year, but she had previous lab experience from high school. Most other people I know started working in a lab the summer after 1st year or at the beginning of 2nd year. Some are paid and some do it as volunteer work.

Earlier this year was really scared about getting into a lab, but it wasn't nearly as hard as I thought it would be. In September (beginning of 2nd year for me) I emailed about 14 professors expressing my interest. After meeting with a few of them I had a handful of labs that I was able to pick from which was great.

I think the biggest thing is simply putting yourself out there and showing professors that you're willing to commit the time and energy. Pretty much everyone I know who wanted to get into a lab was able to find one. Your experience may vary though.
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