Shadowing a Doctor

February 15, 2016

undergrad research blog

For many undergraduate students, the thought of spending several hours in a lab doing research may seem boring, repetitive and fruitless; not any student’s idea of fun. However, the truth is there’s a lot more to research than just test tubes, centrifugal machines and pipettes. Research is directly related to independent and critical thinking, creativity and most importantly, discovery. Think about it: all knowledge gained in any academic discipline as come from some form of research.

The practical benefits of doing undergraduate research are numerous and far reaching. If you’re an aspiring medical student, here are some of the reasons why you should consider spending time doing research as an undergrad.

Perform better in the classroom

If all knowledge is derived from research, then understanding the basic principles of research will help you develop a better understanding of the complex theories and topics taught in a medical classroom, irrespective of whether or not the subject overlaps with your research.

Solidify your interests

Research helps you gain better insight into your career goals. Identifying the kind of research you’d like to do forces you to consider your areas of interest. Do you have a passion for learning in general? Would you like to know more about how the heart functions? or does your interest lie in genetics or molecular biology? As you engage more deeply in your research, you’ll get to realise what interests you and what doesn’t. It can help confirm your desire to pursue medicine or it may point you in another direction.

Identify your strengths and weaknesses

Some medical specialties require a very particular set of skills. Superb manual dexterity and an eye for precision are mandatory if you want to be a surgeon. Do you possess these qualities? As you spend time in the research lab, you will become more aware of your limitations as well as areas in which you excel; this can help you make better choices when it comes to choosing a specialty.

Build a network

As an undergraduate researcher, you’ll almost always work with a mentor, either alone or as part of a team. Having a mentor is an invaluable asset for anyone who is considering medical school. They can serve as a career counsellor, friend and job shadow candidate, and can also provide a compelling recommendation letter to support your med school application.

Strengthen your med school application

Undergraduate research will count as a huge point in your favour when med school authorities are assessing your application. It’s a great way to stand out as an applicant.

Learn to work in a team

The ability to work as part of a team is an essential attribute for anyone working in healthcare. If you’ve never worked as a team member before, doing undergraduate research is a good time to get familiar with the concept. It can be challenging when you are just starting out but by the time you’re done with your research, you will learn the ropes of working with a team, which will prepare you for a lifetime of teamwork in the field of medicine.

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Gap Medics provides year-round hospital work experience for people aged 16 and over. Our shadowing placements offer a unique insight into the work of doctors, nurses, midwives and dentists – helping students to focus their career aspirations before embarking upon medical training.