Thursday Born

The everyday life of a medical student (who was born on a Thursday).

The Research Trap

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I think somewhere around 90% of my classmates (maybe more) will do research this summer. How many of them want to do it? How many of them will enjoy it? How many of them are just doing it because it’s just another box to check off on the list of things we feel we must do in order to obtain our dream residency spot (which is a very vague notion for most of us, considering we don’t even know what medical fields we want to go into)?

I’m not sure how I feel about this. I do think that it’s important to try research when you’re in a field in which research plays a huge role, but most of us have tried research before. It was a box for us to check off in order to get into medical school. Given that, what value is there in all of us doing research just because? You might be tempted to say, well, the labs get cheap labor for a summer, but how much help are we really? Perhaps it’s different in other labs, but where I worked last year (I did research full time for a year), someone who was around for two months was likely to be more of a nuisance than an asset.

We have a summer abroad grant here (eight or so spots), and if you also do research while abroad, you can also apply for half of the usual research stipend you get if you stay in the US. From what I have learned of last year’s group, nearly all of them did research, and none of them have much to say about it. The reasons why their summers were amazing had much more to do with where they were than what they were doing.

Do not get me wrong. There are medical students who love research (somewhere out there), the obvious culprits being my MD/PhD classmates (and the eight or so MD classmates attempting to transfer into the program). However, there is also a large proportion of us who are ambivalent about research, who downright don’t like research, who will do it this summer, because they feel like they have to. At least a good deal of us are looking to try different kinds of research, clinical instead of bench.

I can’t make a terribly strong argument against it, but I don’t feel it’s right. Honestly, there’s a part of me that wishes I didn’t have a summer, just a 3-4 week vacation that I could happily use as an actual vacation.

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Written by Aba

January 22, 2010 at 1:37 pm

Posted in Medical School

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