Tip #2 — Research

After of course 1.GPA and 2. MCAT scores, extracurriculars are divided into two main categories: volunteer work and research.

Volunteer work is decently easy to get involved in, quality volunteer work, or medical related volunteer worker harder.

Research can be tricky. Anyone can get into a lab, but to guarantee you’re actually doing work is nearly impossible. For me, this wasn’t the direction I was headed. Luckily, my freshman year I was able to get in contact with a friend of a family friend doing research down here, and out of the blue landed my dream research position. For the past year and a half I’ve been working with Dr. Laura Greci, inspirational MD,MPH,  doing non-clinical public health research at the VA San Diego. This is good because 1) I’m actually working with data and even human research subjects (uh, yeah). And 2) I’m not stuck taking out trashcans or doing report work 30 hours a week in a bio lab. Our main work is virtual emergency preparedness for VA employees – aka virtual emergency preparedness drills through a large multi-user virtual environment… sounds kind of techy and complicated but it’s actually pretty cool. Now I’m working with Dr. Greci and a surgeon from Maryland to write a paper of field hospital site selection…

Back in February I even had the privilege of helping to put on a workshop the at annual Medicine Meets Virtual Reality (MMVR) conference in Newport Beach. (Got a legit name tag and everything). It’s basically a forum to demonstrate new technology and an awards ceremony to recognize what’s working. For our project we basically  brought the computer lab straight to the Marriott, allowing attendees to tour our “island” which includes the virtual hospital and various other areas for training and testing.

Video and info from the conference is here under Medicine Meets Virtual Reality Conference: February 10-12.

It really is important to get into some type of research both for the learning aspects and experience, as many students turn to research in parallel to practicing medicine, and there are even some who strictly go into investigation. For me, I need the social aspect of medicine; I certainly don’t see myself ending up in a lab. But PH is definitely an option…

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