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Research Experience can give you an Edge in Residency Match Programs

Do you know the most dramatic day in the life of a Caribbean medical school? It’s not the first day of rotations when students are thrown into the den with actual patients, neither is it the beginning of the anatomy lab, when students find themselves contending with dead bodies. Its match day: when doctors-to-be get to know where they will be completing their residencies.

Match-day can be construed as the epic finale to a taxing process. After more than a year of laborious clinical rotations and two years of basic science training, fourth-year Caribbean medical school students devote months after months interviewing with dozens of residency programs, at notable institutions across the Caribbean. Students not only have to leave a remarkable impression on the residency program directors, but also scrutinize whether their attraction is reciprocated.

After the interviewing part is done with, hospitals get down to ranking their favorite students, while students rank their hospitals in order of preference. Who would want to while away their precious time on a program that just isn’t the right fit? After both sides have given in their preferences, students keep their fingers crossed and wait on edge while an algorithm spits out the results!

What if we confide in you that prior research experience can lend competitive students an extra edge, making them seem more lucrative in the eyes of their choicest hospitals? As the 2016 NRMP Program Director Survey revealed, 44 percent of program directors cited interest and involvement in research as an indispensable factor that they consider while scheduling applicants for interviews across a wide range of disciplines. Beyond the letters of recommendation and other nitty-gritty details, publications and research experience give program directors a whole new way of evaluating applicants.

What Does Research Experience Tell Program Directors?

Having ample research experience is a testament to the fact that a student is a strong candidate for a particular residency program. When it comes down to a final standoff between two equally deserving candidates, the one with even a little research background shows more promise of adding a tad more to the program. Students boasting viable scores and research work that is at par with other MD applicants, let director rest easier knowing that the candidate is worthy.

Which Type Of Research Is Best For A Residency Match?

As a rule of thumb, any research experience Is enough for strong applicants to gain favor with the residency program director. Especially for Caribbean medical school students looking to pursue a career in certain competitive specialties, such as ophthalmology, radiology, or orthopedics, program directors almost always favor applicants who can show completed clinical research in those fields, rather than students with basic, or Bench science research experience. This is because it proves that a candidate already has experience dealing with patients. Students who are drilled in coping with disease states and people are more favorable to directors seeking out people who could, later on, join their teams. This could potentially give you a bigger boost in your career than you know just yet!

However, you need to keep in mind that while research is a way for Caribbean medical school students to stand out, program directors across all specialties also look at other factors while making a final decision, such as a prospect’s Medical Student Performance Evaluations, letters of recommendation, and USMLE/COMLEX scores. While pursuing research in the specialty of their choice students also need to remember to keep up their grades and test scores, in order to be seen as a worthy candidate.

Will Research Help you Later On In Your Career?

Students are required by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education to complete medical research during the course of their residency program. This is why students who have already conducted research in a certain specialty will find it an essential component of their postgraduate training.

The scholarly activity that the student was involved in at their Caribbean medical school will become a solid foundation on which to build upon during residency. Having prior research experience will also help them get a head start on their chosen specialty and they will have a little bit more experience when they’re doing research as a resident. This research will help bolster their application should they decide to pursue fellowships afterwards. Those who have already wet their feet in research during school, will find it easier to do it as a resident or during fellowship.

Not only that, research will also help you in your professional career when you will constantly need to understand new findings, look up out-of-the-box treatments, try your hands at unorthodox cures, and patient management techniques just like continuing medical education does. Using evidence-based information to find cures and diagnose patients is the obligation of every practicing physician and students who know how to read and interpret current medical literature, thanks to their academic research involvement in their Caribbean medical school, will be best suited to the task. Inevitably, everything you will learn during your research will come in handy in your professional life.


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