What you need to know and how to get started...
Research for premedical students is an experience that is encouraged by all medical schools, and is a fairly common specific requirement for many medical schools. Research is defined as involvement in a scholarly or scientific investigation of a hypothesis. It needs to be supervised by an individual with verifiable research credentials. Premedical research may be in any discipline and performed at any site. However, it must involve the testing of a hypothesis. Writing a research paper for a class or doing data entry for a professor are not what medical schools are looking for in terms of a premedical research experience.
The primary purpose of premedical research is to facilitate the learning of critical-thinking skills, which are important in the practice of medicine. The intent of a premedical research experience is not to prepare the student to conduct research in medical school, although that potential certainly exists if the medical student desires to do so. Rather, the premedical research experience is encouraged to enable the medical student/physician to be a better “consumer” of research. This entails being able to analyze the results of other’s research, and then assess whether it has applicability to their respective practice. This requires a basic understanding of the scientific method, as well as basic research methodology and statistical analysis. That is why the premedical research may be in any discipline, and isn’t required to be ‘lab’ or ‘bench’ research. Being listed as an author on a publication or presentation can enhance the student's competitiveness for admission to medical school.
Other benefits of a premedical research could include:
- You gain a deeper understanding of the scientific process... develop research questions, and form and test your hypotheses.
- Assisting in research gives you hands-on experience in your field.
- Work closely with a faculty mentor and have the opportunity to connect with other faculty and other student researchers who work in your area of interest. You may build a strong working relationship with a faculty mentor and be able to ask for a letter of recommendation.
- Hone your leadership and teamwork skills as you collaborate with others.
- Gain academic credentials that will help create a well-rounded resume, publishing your work and working with a research team.
- Learn valuable life skills for life and school such as professionalism, time management, learning how to use online research tools.
- Learn to effectively communicate your ideas and how to analyze and critique the work of others.
- You learn what it’s like to work in a lab and learn about the planning of experiments, writing grants and how to report findings.
- You may publish your work.
- Opportunity to discover new knowledge and expand about what you already know.
- Earn academic credit, scholarships, stipends and/or other awards for having conducted research.
- You can get paid. Sometimes as an employee and sometimes as a scholarship.
There are many opportunities for undergraduates to participate in research at BYU. Most students will get involved in research in their major. Start by listening to faculty in your classes. Often they will discuss their research in the context of the class. Follow up with the professor if they are conducting research that interests you. You may also look on department websites. There will be a link for the departmental faculty, which will typically list professor’s research interests and/or recent publications. The College Advisement Center for your major may also be aware of research opportunities within that College. The Simmons Center for Cancer Research also provides opportunities for many students. Further information may be found at https://sccr.byu.edu/
Summer Research Opportunities
There are also numerous opportunities for summer research away from BYU. Application timeframes will vary by school and program. Many applications open around November 1, others may be in December or early January. Deadlines are commonly around February 1. Make sure you pay attention to the application deadline for any programs to which you may interested in applying to. Many of the programs offer stipends (some include housing, meals, and/or transportation assistance). Often there is an opportunity/expectation to present your research findings at the conclusion of the summer research experience. Some of the programs target underrepresented minorities, and almost all require participants to be a US citizen or a permanent resident.
The largest program is the Summer Health Professions Education Program (SHPEP). This is a six-week summer program for college freshmen and sophomores interested in medicine, dentistry, or other health careers. There are currently 12 universities participating in the SHPEP program. The mission is to strengthen the academic proficiency and career development of students underrepresented in the health professions, and to help facilitate a successful application and matriculation to health professions schools. More information may be accessed at www.shpep.org
National Listing of Summer Research Opportunities
The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) maintains a current list of potential research sites. You can consult the list here.
BYU Premedical and Biomedical Research Internship at Stanford, Harvard, Vanderbilt, and the University of Utah.
For the past three years, BYU has placed 16-20 undergraduates in research internships at the medical schools of Harvard, Stanford, Vanderbilt and Utah. Research opportunities include basic science, clinical research, health policy, health disparities, and health outcomes research, depending on the focus of the supporting faculty member. Students will help with projects at various levels, including project conception, grant writing, data collection, analysis, presentation, and writing. Mentors come from diverse medical specialties, including endocrinology, anesthesia, surgery, neurosurgery, neurology, genetics, oncology, pulmonology and more. Students participate in weekly journal club meetings with fellow interns and BYU alumni with focus on preparing for a career in medicine. Although our focus is towards premed students, those interested in graduate work in biomedical sciences are also welcome and encouraged to apply. Application due date is Dec 31.
Interns generally receive stipends of between $4,000 and $8,000 to support their summer work.
Contact email: email@example.com
Other opportunities across the country:
National Institutes of Health (NIH) Summer Training Programs in the Biomedical Sciences www.training.nih.gov/programs
University of Alabama Biomedical Research Program
University of South Alabama
University of Arizona Summer Research Institute
University of Arkansas Medical Sciences
University of Cincinnati Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) med.uc.edu/SURF/experience
University of Texas-Southwestern Summer undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) utsouthwestern.edu/education/graduate-school/research-opportunities/surf/
University of Utah Native American Summer Research Internship NARI) docs/nari-docs/nari-application-2020.pdf
University of Utah Opportunities
Summer Genomics Internship
Huntsman Cancer Center Programs
University of Washington Insight depts.washington.edu/hiprc/education/insight/
Vanderbilt School of Medicine Summer Science Academy https://medschool.vanderbilt.edu/vssa/
Virginia Commonwealth Univ Summer Academic Enrichment Program dhsd.vcu.edu
Washington University in St. Louis Summer Research Opportunities https://wustl.edu/research/summer-research-opportunities/
For further info, you may also contact: Dr. Philip Budge, MD, PhD Asst. Professor of Medicine Infectious Diseases Division WashU School of Medicine firstname.lastname@example.org (He is LDS & a BYU alum, and is very willing to try assist BYU students)
AMGEN Scholars Program https://amgenscholars.com/us-program/
A more complete listing of summer research opportunities at allopathic medical schools may be found at: students-residents.aamc.org/chosing-medical-career/article/summer-undergraduate-research-programs/
For MD/PhD-focused summer undergraduate research programs: aamc.org/professional-development/affinity-groups/great/mdphd-summer-programs
We also maintain a binder in the PPAC, that contains the flyers/pamphlets that we receive regarding summer medical research opportunities. You are welcome to come and peruse at any time.