Clinical

Finding Summer Research Opportunities

Christina Cortes
Published on May 23, 2022. Updated on May 23, 2022.

In this blog, Christina talks about summer research opportunities. She offers some tips about how to prepare for it and how to look for a research program that will be the right one for you. 

Research isn’t for everyone, and in the end, there are tons of medical school students who did not do research over the summer and still match into amazing programs. After all, most medical school students only get one summer so it’s best to do something you are passionate about. With Step 1 coming up in year two, I also recommend finding some time to relax and rejuvenate before a strenuous year of studying.

Preparing for the Search

First and foremost, I highly recommend perfecting your CV. Get a variety of opinions from friends, mentors, and career counselors. Personally, I found looking at some of my peer’s CVs particularly helpful.

There is a great Osmosis blog that has tips regarding how to create a strong CV. Also, I recommend to start building relationships with faculty as soon as you start your first year! You will often need recommendations for research programs.

Next, I would take some time to think about what you are interested in and what you want to gain out of your summer. Was there a topic you found especially interesting during your first year? Is there a specialty you are interested in or a specific faculty member you worked well with?

Also, take some time to think about what type of research you want to do. Do you want to do a literature review or bench research? Qualitative or quantitative? These are all important questions, and you should have a general idea of your answers before you start to network.

Networking

Second, third, and fourth year students have all been through this process before. Reach out to them! They are almost always more than happy to help. I would recommend reaching out to older students you personally know. If they don’t know of any opportunities for you, chances are they know another student or faculty member that may be able to help you.

Osmosis illustration of Christina talking to a careers counselor.

Reach out to your school's career counselor or other research faculty. You can also try to reach out to residents at the local hospitals. When emailing someone about a research opportunity, make sure to have a professional and effective email drafted. Include a short blurb about yourself, why you are interested in their specific research, and the specific dates you are available to meet and participate in the research. Also, make sure to include a current copy of your CV!

Research Programs

If you don’t want to do research at a local hospital there are several big/combined programs! Some combine research with leadership and community service opportunities. Many even include stipends which is always a plus! Some of these programs can be pretty time consuming, but you do get the opportunity to meet new people and even live in a different city - just remember to keep in mind your goals for the summer. When searching for such opportunities, I had a lot of luck with simple google searches using the keywords “medical school research fellowship” or “summer medical research opportunities.” During my searches, I found that many of these programs have pretty early deadlines (late December-early February) so make sure to start looking into these early. Also, several programs will require a recommendation letter so keep that in mind!

Other Summer Opportunities

As I said earlier, research is not for everyone. Additionally, there are MANY opportunities for research over your third and fourth years. In the end, you should do whatever will make you the happiest and refresh you for a long, strenuous year of step studying. Some examples I’ve heard from older students: volunteer, work, travel, maybe even get married!

About Christina Cortes 

Christina Cortes is a first-year student at Mercer University School of Medicine. She hopes to match into an OB-GYN residency. This summer she will be researching polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) with a local embryologist. 

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