So, you see yourself as a doctor or a dentist and you want to know whether doing research will help you. Help? It can, but it depends. Is research required to become a doctor (or a dentist)? No. Do lots of students get into medical or dental school without doing research? Absolutely. So how do you know what you should do to become a competitive applicant who gets in? Great question!
Let’s talk about doing research, or not, to help you get in.
We need to start with the most important question regarding doing research, and that question is: Do you like doing research?
Honestly, we get straight to the core of the matter with this one question. Because if you don’t like doing research, then there are plenty of other ways for you to dedicate and devote your time, efforts, and energies in helping you grow and develop into an amazing and competitive candidate. Usually, if a student isn’t driven by research, they tend to be more patient driven, and they seek out Incredible Experiences that allow them to directly engage people and the clinical setting with goals of learning about the human spirit, the human condition, behavior, needs, fears, challenges … and this list just goes on and on. There are so many ways for you to develop your patient care personal attributes, skills, lessons learned, and values. And instead of forcing yourself to do research when it doesn’t call to your heart – which is a waste of time for you – it’s best for you to find the activities and experiences that mean something to you, inspire you, … call to you, for real. Those are the experiences that will grow you into your Best Shining Self, and they will help you become the competitive applicant you need to be to get in.
Now, if on the other hand, you try research and you love it … then get in there and get researching! Having been a researcher, I can tell you, it’s its own way of life. Research comes with its own personal attributes, skills, lessons learned, and values. Some of my favorites are things like: learning how research informs clinical practice and in turn how clinical practice informs research (It’s a cycle of hopeful lifesaving discovery, my peeps! It can be awesome and exciting!); learning problems solving skills; truly understanding the scientific method; learning where a lot of our knowledge about health and healing come from; gaining a specific attention to detail; learning how to think critically and evaluate outcomes … and this list goes on and on.
If you love doing research, then do research. I suspect you will find yourself being drawn to medical or dental schools that have research components (not all do), and in turn, if you do well in your research endeavors, they will be drawn to you. Does this mean that you should pursue an MD/PhD or DDS/PhD? Again, that will come down to you and your personal goals and how you see yourself living your life and your career – how you want to contribute and spend your time. If you want it, go for it. If you don’t, then don’t. …But MK, I want to ensure I get a good paying job. … I hear ya. If you love what you do, then you will find your niche, and once you find it – should it be healthcare – then rest with confidence, the peeps are always going to need healthcare. You will have a job. And at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter whether your healthcare practice comes with research as a foundation or not, or whether you are clinical researcher with a patient load in your area of expertise. What matters is that you love what you do so that your patients will get the best healthcare they can and need from you to help them heal, regain wellness, and/or maintain wellness.
And before I wrap this up … I just want to make sure to state this important fact: Whether you choose to do research or to not do research as part of your prep, be sure to get clinical/patient care exposure and experience. Because where research is optional, clinical and patient care experience is not. You’ve got to try on taking care of peeps to learn lots of good things about caring for people … and to show your future schools you’ve tried it and know you like it. If you don’t, you won’t be competitive!
So. Do you like doing research? If you don’t know, it’s worth trying on to find out. Get the answer – it’s important! Once you know, you’ll be able to guide your path with whether to do research or not to help you become a competitive applicant. The point is, whatever you choose, you choose what you love and what inspires you … and you will become the competitive applicant you need to be to get in!!!
Big Hugs and as always, wishing you happiness and success!!!