• Why should medical students consider doing research? Being able to formulate research questions, design studies to answer those questions, and communicate the results of research studies is an important skill for medical professionals. Research helps push the field of medicine forward–it creates new knowledge about disease processes, novel therapies, improved surgical tools, and innovative patient programs. Being able to think critically about gaps in medical knowledge and conducting research to fill those gaps are not only very marketable skills, but also helps you to contribute to the medical field and impact patients’ lives in a far-reaching way.
  • When should I do research? The best time to participate in research is the summer between your MS1 and MS2 years. This is your first and last summer of medical school, and you will have approximately 8-9 weeks to fill. There are many ways you could choose to fill this summer, and joining a research team in field, disease, or specialty that you are particularly interested in is a common choice among medical students. Check out our suggested timeline for students wanting to do research over the summer for more details on when to start thinking about this summer.You could also seek out more long-term research positions and commit a few hours a week to a research team throughout the school year.
  • Do I have to do research? No! You do not have to do research if it does not fit into your vision for your career path, if you do not find it fulfilling, or if you would prefer to use your time to build other skill sets for your medical career. There are many other ways you could choose to spend your summer between MS1 and MS2 years, including volunteering, shadowing, or traveling.
  • Do I have to work in a lab? Also no! Research is a huge umbrella term that does not just include working in lab, and medical students can contribute to research in many different areas, including clinical trials, public health, surgery, primary care, women’s health, environmental health, aging, health policy, and health disparities research. Check out our “Resources for Finding Research Opportunities” pages to get started on your search for opportunities both within UNC and outside of UNC.
  • Okay, so I think I want to do research. Where do I start? Start by checking out our tips for medical students who want to do research. Then check out our next few FAQs on where to find research opportunities and funding.
  • Where can I find research opportunities? There are so many opportunities to do research both here at UNC with a research mentor or principal investigator and outside of UNC at other hospitals or through external fellowships. Check out our “Resources for Finding Research Opportunities at UNC” and “Resources for Finding Research Opportunities Outside of UNC” pages for links and information on finding research that interests you.
  • How can I get funding to help support my time doing research? There are lots of ways that medical students at UNC can get some money to support their summer research activities, including project funds and fund to cover housing and living expenses. Check out our “Funding Sources” page to get you started.
  • Do you have other questions that weren’t answered here? Check out some of these other links for additional sources of information, or email the WMS VP of Research and Publications, Allie Bukowski (alexandra_bukowski@med.unc.edu), with your questions.