Know Your Research

by Eric Goldwaser

The advice that I give to medical students is the importance of research - not just in doing it and having an appreciation for it, but in KNOWING it.

At my first national conference where I was presenting some research, I began to wander around to the other posters and started asking students to talk about their work.  I found, to my surprise, that the vast majority of people cannot talk about their research that has THEIR own name on it, for a substantial amount of time, or with anything of substance or weight to it.

So, I took this notion of the difference between DOING research, and KNOWING it, to heart.  I now ask everyone who I interview to tell me about the research that is on their resume.  It is painstakingly transparent the students who don't know what they did in lab.  But moreover, it says something about their character.  If a student does not care much for research, which I understand is a vast majority, then it means that they are doing something that they HAVE to do.  The thing is though, you are going to have things that you don't want to do for the rest of your life, ESPECIALLY in medical school and beyond.  So, to not give 100% of your effort and attention to something like research translates to all the other things that you will not want to do down the road but will have to do.

The point of the story is to emphasize how important it is to know the research that you did - not every pipette and intricacy, but enough to have an in-depth conversation about it.  After all, if you put research on your resume and can't convince your interviewer that you had a vested interest in it, it begs the question about the legitimacy of the rest of the resume.

Finally, if you are presenting your work at a conference, you need to have three talks ready to disperse at a whim - a 3 minute one, a 5 minute one, and a 10 minute one. You must also be able to speak to either a PhD, knowledgeable in your field of research, or to a 75 year old family medicine doctor without an ounce of knowledge of your field of research, because most likely the judges will be one of those two categories.

Best of luck with your research and interviews!

Category: Interview

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