Want to improve your critical analysis skills and have your portfolio shine?
As the title of this article emphatically suggests, research is the answer! As a former University of Sydney academic and cancer research scientist, I devoted the last five years of my career teaching medical science to undergraduate students in tutorial and laboratory classes. I frequently liaised with some of the country’s leading clinicians and asked them what skill they believed the new generation of doctors would need to be competitive for future specialty fields.
Their responses were almost always identical: medical research. Reading between the lines, research is important for both entry into medical school and obtaining positions in training programs post-graduation. Both career junctures require close attention; however, as the pre-medical division aficionado this piece will discuss the former.
There are a select few GEMSAS medical schools in Australia that include a portfolio in their assessment process: the University of Wollongong, University of Notre Dame Sydney, and University of Notre Dame Fremantle. All these institutions require evidence of leadership in the community, some form of community service and volunteer work, and an academic profile. The easiest way to consolidate your academic profile is by joining a research program. You do not need connections or a prestigious academic network to do this — you just need to know where to look. I would suggest browsing your university’s webpage for research lab profiles and email prospective lab heads your interest. Keep in mind that you want to stand out and make your email shine — you only really get one chance per research group, so keep all correspondence professional. Do this by reading up on your chosen lab’s recent peer-reviewed publications and by making suggestions on where you can help or how you would fit in. It really is a numbers game and rejections are rife in medical research. Nonetheless, there is plenty of proverbial research lab fish in the sea; just keep applying!
The GAMSAT and UCAT exams require individuals to apply critical analysis to novel pieces of information… sound familiar? That is because medical research is no different! Taking on a research program will present you with the necessary tools to critically evaluate new evidence and ultimately provide the best patient care. Therefore, I firmly believe that medical research helps you become a better physician. At the Institute of Medical Education, we provide expertise in exam and portfolio preparations.
Be sure to contact us today to tailor your very own pathway into Medicine. We look forward to working with you!