Most students interested in BS/MD programs understand that some amount of research is desirable. But what types of research are options and is one better than another?
There are basically three types of research that can work for BS/MD programs. The first is the student’s own research often done for science fairs. This may be completely independent or a takeoff of some research done with a college professor. Either is fine. With this type of research you don’t need to win science fairs but it will strengthen your application if you do well as least at the state level. This is generally the most time intensive type of research.
The second type of research that is appropriate is research done under the guidance of a college professor. You will need to find a professor to do the research with and it will involve helping the professor with his or her research. This can be done during a single summer or during multiple summers or even on occasion multiple years.
When students talk about getting published it is usually this type of research that they are talking about. Getting published is something that college professors work on and they will sometimes include their lab assistants on the publication as additional authors.
This type of research gives the student a good level of research background but also has the additional benefit of providing some indication of maturity since it takes a fairly high level of maturity to ask a college professor if you can work with them in their lab.
The third option for research is at one of the research programs held by various colleges around the country every summer. These are generally what is known as pay for play because you just need to pay for the experience you receive. This type of research is less desirable than the first two options but if you haven’t been able to do anything in the first two categories these options are better than having no research experience at all. Some of these summer college programs provide a strong exposure to research while others are more oriented toward just talking about research and how it is done. The former is obviously to be preferred.
I have had students admitted to BS/MD programs and studies about Humanized Mice without research experience but you will be a much stronger candidate if you have one of these types of experience. If you get started early enough I generally recommend one of the first two types of research to strengthen your application.
Karthik Ravi says
Hello, I am Karthik Ravi and I am a 10th grader from Michigan. I am extremely passionate about the medical field and I have shadowed doctors as well as am doing some genetic research with a local professor at the University of Michigan. I was reading about this program and I was so happy to come across this website and the youtube videos because it cleared up so many questions. I was just wondering at about when is the right time to begin thinking and researching about a medical program after high school?
Todd Johnson says
We start working with students as early as 9th grade but most commonly start in 10th or 11th grade. As long as you have been doing the required activities of health care related volunteering, shadowing, research and taking the right classes, then almost anytime can work to start working with us.
A G says
Hi Mr. Johnson,
Thank you for the article. I was just wondering if BS/MD programs like to see the second type of research even if it means I don’t get published. I play a pretty large role in the lab I research at, but I research under a grad student’s project. He is very nice and helps me a lot, but he won’t be publishing any papers for a while. THank you.
Todd Johnson says
Don’t worry about getting published. While nice, this is not that big of an issue and many of my students have done very well in the BS/MD admissions process without being published.
Hello Mr. Johnson
Thank you for providing meaningful information.
I work as a research assistant in a mid-size health care company.
Few physicians have allowed me to get published as the first author at medical conferences. We have got accepted into two big size conferences.
Would this be meaningful for my BSMD applications if yes how could I be able to show this on my resume?
Thank you in advance,
Todd Johnson says
Being published isn’t necessary for BS/MD applications but isn’t a bad thing to have. If it is a peer reviewed journal it is preferred. You could either list this as part of the activities on the common app for research or it there isn’t room for that, it could be put down as part of the additional information section of the common app.