Research? Intercalated study options? These may be the last things on your mind (if at all) when thinking about a medical school. However, it may be a good idea to explore what each university offers to its students for engaging with extra studies or research outside the regular medical programme, in order to maximise your career opportunities after medical school. For example, University of Queensland offers extended research opportunities in the form of extracurricular voluntary activities.
Many universities offer summer research studentships, often along with scholarships. These are exceptionally valuable opportunities to gain medical or non-medical research experience without compromising or delaying your medical studies. Such endeavours may be beneficial for you when considering further study after medical school or embarking on an intercalated study route (see below).
Some organisations ask students to come up with their own research project, while others provide students with an existing project and a supervisor. Research into ageing, cancer and mental health are common, but studentships can involve many different areas of research.
Summer studentships are an appealing prospect for many students, and entry can be competitive. Entry is generally based on the academic achievement and proposed project of the student, and an interview is also required for some projects. Students generally receive compensation of $300-$500 per week for their contribution.
If you are prepared to spend more time studying to obtain another degree, you should consider universities which offer intercalated options to combine your medical degree with a Doctoral (PhD) or Master’s (e.g. MPhil, MPH, MMedSc). Students will temporarily stop their medical degree studies to focus on their intercalated degree, and resume their medical studies once the intercalated degree is completed. Intercalated degrees can be accelerated, so a Masters will take one year to complete while a Doctoral degree will take three years.
Usually, these pathways are highly competitive and demanding, but if you wish to get into a particular research field, speciality or profession (e.g. a medical school professor), this may be an attractive option for you. The admission process for intercalated degrees differs between universities, but medical students generally need permission to apply for the intercalated degree before they can actually apply for the Master’s or PhD. Applicants will need to maintain a strong academic record in the first stage of their medical degree before applying for permission.
Remember that you don’t have to choose between being a medical doctor or a medical researcher. You will be surprised at how many medical doctors engage with research activities. You may find these articles from the British Medical Journal (‘Why all doctors should be involved in research’) and The New York Times (‘We need more doctors who are scientists’) of interest to you.
Are you interested in attending a medical school in the UK instead of Australia or New Zealand? Check out Medify’s UK Medical School Admissions Guide.
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